“We Are Not Alone.” It is more than simply an album title. It is a confession that pulses with a white-hot intensity through every song of St. Augustine, Florida-based rock band StorySide:B’s latest project; and courses through the lifeblood of each of its members.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Lu Rubino and drummer Jordan Mohilowski banded together in 2003 to win the band division of the Exalting Him talent competition. It didn’t take long for their unique sound and intense work ethic to entice Detroit native Ron McClelland to join the band on bass and keys. The irrepressible Texan, Preston Pohl soon added his stellar guitar chops to the mix. Since then StorySide:B has patiently honed their diverse backgrounds and musical proclivities into a unique and unified sound which has inspired a mad following of fans who have - in turn - propelled the band into the forefront of the Christian music scene.
Was there some secret ingredient behind StorySide:B landing their first single, “Miracle,” at #2 on the Christian Hit Radio chart? Some magic formula that materialized the band onto the same stage with the likes of rock pioneers Disciple, rising star Red, and Dove nominee Leeland? Some gimmick, some slight of hand that propelled their follow-up single, “Everything and More” into the Top Ten Most Played Songs of 2006?’
In a word – ‘Yes!’ Yet the secret of StorySide:B ’s phenomenal rise in popularity is really no secret at all. It has to do with a tenacious road-dog work ethic, a steadfast determination to succeed, an equally adamant refusal to compromise, and oh yeah, the knack for crafting great songs that stick in your head like gray matter superglue. And it doesn’t hurt when the band decides to ratchet up the intensity a half-dozen notches on their sophomore release.
“We definitely stepped it up from Everything and More,” explains frontman, Lu Rubino. “I liked our last record, but I don’t think it clearly conveyed what was on our hearts. I thought it was time to make a bold statement about who we are, where we are coming from, and what our message is. The name of our band pretty much sums it up. Story Side A would be what people see on the outside. Story Side B is what’s on the inside - our hearts and our relationship with God. That’s what this album is all about.”
To help craft that message, the band turned to producer JR McNeely, who has engineered and mixed projects from everyone from Relient K to Underoath. Rubino credits McNeely with freeing the band to concentrate their efforts on creativity rather than the mechanics of building an album.
“It was a good choice,” Lu declares. “It took the pressure off. We were no longer afraid to push the limits of what we wanted to do musically. We were no longer afraid of getting shot down.”
Sporting a sound that tangles the hook-laden rock ‘n’ roll with the radio-loving pop sensibilities, StorySide:B ’s remarkable follow-up CD, aptly titled We Are Not Alone, hammers their message home with an impressive series of solid rock anthems that includes the no nonsense crowd-pleaser, "Fall Down", the conversational "Tell Me What You Think of God", and the acoustic ambient pop ballad, " Sister". Incorporating every nuance of their instruments to embellish their lyrics, the band employs a variety of motifs to convey their central theme - We Are Not Alone.
“It is really easy to feel separated from God because of guilt or shame,” Rubino muses. “That separation is really just an illusion, because God is with us all the time. In the midst of our loneliness and alienation, it only takes a couple of minutes to be still and ask Him to come back, and at that point He always says, ‘I was here all the time.’”
Bassist Ron McClelland points to the peace-evoking ballad, "Be Still", as a prime example of their spirit-opening music. “It meets people where they are. We’ve all gone through tough times when you wonder if God even hears you. But I don’t think God is moved by us running around in circles and getting all upset. It’s in those moments when you have to just settle yourself, to be still and know that He is God.”
“We’ve already seen the impact that song has on a crowd,” adds drummer, Jordan Mohilowski. “People begin worshipping and singing along the very first time that they hear it, closing their eyes and putting their hands in the air. I can really see it resonating in their lives.”
Rubino offers the melodic rocker, "Tell Me What You Think of God", as another song the band expects to have a major impact on their audience. “It is conversation provoking,” he explains. “I think God really shows up when He resonates between people, and they get excited about talking about Him. It is not, ‘Let me tell you what I think about God,’ but it allows people to express what they are feeling about God.”
While StorySide:B poured blood, sweat, and tears into We Are Not Alone, Preston Pohl, the band’s spontaneous guitar slinger, is quick to point out they are equally committed to their live show. And though they steadfastly refuse to settle for status quo performances, Preston insists their music is not some high-minded, esoteric mess that only an art snob could love.
“We love Interacting with the crowd,” he declares. “When we’re rockin’ and the crowd is rockin,’ I love it! I love everything about it! When I’m doing what God has gifted me to do, I feel His pleasure. No matter what I’m going through, when I’m on stage playing guitar, my worries go out the window.”
“I love the show, too,” Lu ponders. “But more than that, I get excited about the after-show. That’s when I get a chance to give. I love to interact with the crowd and listen to their stories. That’s when I realize we are making an impact, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
"StorySide:B is about making good music," Jordan adds. "Music is a powerful thing. It ministers to me and brings me into a better place, spiritually. But more than that, we’re about making music that has eternal value. We may not always see the immediate results, but we believe we are planting seeds in good ground. That is important to us.”
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