RE:zound Rocks the World and Transforms a Nation
By Heidi Krumenauer
CBNmusic Guest Writer
As an independent music artist, Tempe, Arizona-based Christian rock band, RE:zound, traveled around the globe to witness to those who have otherwise been deprived of worshipping in public. Last March, the band traveled to Vietnam and left their mark as the first Christian band to play a concert in the country and lead a crowd of more than 10,000 to worship freely. Now as RE:zound’s first studio album is released this week, lead singer Jason Anderson is grateful for the impact a major record label can have on their evangelistic platform here in the U.S -- and overseas.
Heidi: Your passion to witness overseas led RE:zound to Vietnam last year. Tell me about that.
Jason: We were the first Christian band to play and worship God freely and openly at a public event. They’ve never been allowed to do that before. That was a huge breakthrough. The other way we really crossed the boundary was that I actually told the story of Jesus and invited them to receive Christ. I spent about 15 minutes preaching the gospel. Frankly, it was a dangerous thing to do, but I felt strongly that was what I was supposed to do.
Heidi: How did it turn out?
Jason: They actually smuggled us a DVD. They taped the whole thing and aired it live on television, so we have no idea how many people saw it. They did come in and shut us down during the alter call, but it was too late. I had already asked ‘How many of you have received the Lord tonight?’, and the whole crowd just went crazy. They all raised their hands, and I have a DVD showing it. I didn’t remember it being like that. It’s something that’s way above our heads.
Heidi: Would you go back to do it again?
Jason: I’m trying to.
Heidi: So this isn’t a one-time thing?
Jason: No, no, no. This is not just a one-time thing. It’s a lifetime thing…I’ll be doing it a long time. And when the music fades, I’ll still be there teaching and doing leadership conferences.
Heidi: How did you get set up to do this the first time because this is a huge undertaking?
Jason: It really is. There are some saved people in government in Vietnam, I believe – there has to be. Some government officials came up after the concert and thanked me quietly. There’s a college there of music. They had a cultural awareness concert with an American band. Part of the American culture is our faith, and we are known as a Christian nation. And we were allowed to bring that with us because it’s part of our culture. That’s how God got us in.
Heidi: What kind of limitations did you have?
Jason: They did say we couldn’t mention God or Jesus in our concert…but I said our songs have tons of God and Jesus in them. They said, ‘well, you’re approved to sing, so go ahead and sing.’ But then they said they wouldn’t show the words on the screen. I told them the words are an integral part of our show...I told they guy he’d have to turn the screens off when he saw words he didn’t like. He got busy and forgot to turn the screens off, and the words were up there the whole time.
Heidi: How did your concert in Vietnam compare to ones you’ve had here in the U.S.?
Jason: We have two faces to RE:zound. One, we lead worship at our church and we love that. And the other face is evangelism, and we’ve had to be very strategic about how we do that. We go to a city and try to get as many churches involved as we can. We invite the city to bring as many unsaved friends as possible to a free concert where I do a 15-20 minute alter call. American kids have heard about God, so it’s completely different than doing it overseas because these American kids have known about God.
The Lord has given us tremendous success…we’ve seen 30 to 40 percent come forward for first time salvation. The numbers are smaller to draw from here…like around 400 people at a concert. Overseas we have around 15,000 people in a crowd.
Heidi: Let’s shift gears and talk about your first studio album. ‘Abandoned to You’ came out March 11. How does that change life for RE:zound?
Jason: The big change for us is that radio has been more receptive with a major release. Radio is still a big force in trying to get your song out there. For me, though, the goal has always been to build the platform that I sing on larger so I reach the greater audience for the Lord. We’re a real evangelistic band. I love to do outreaches here in the states, but I love to go overseas. They love American culture. The difference between RE:Zound and Newsboys showing up in Cambodia is substantial. They know who the Newsboys are so more people will show up for them. But there will still be a huge turnout for us because we’re American. If we can enlarge that platform, that’s what it’s all about for me. We’ve seen tremendous success since we’re staying within what God called us to do.
Heidi: Jason, tell me the story behind being named MTV’s #1 Undiscovered Band in 2004. It sounds a little like you were an archeological find. What is it really?
Jason: MTV had a promotion where they took the top songs off these Web sites where people submit their favorite songs from independent artists. They put some of the songs on their site so their fans could vote for their favorite song. Our song “Angel”, off our independent release, climbed up the charts and stayed at number one for six months. People really dug the song. So, we ended up being MTV’s undiscovered band for that year.
Heidi: Thanks for clearing that up!
Jason: I know, it’s a funny thing! You gotta love all the fan driven stuff that gives indie artists a chance.
Heidi: Do you credit technology with helping you to get your music out now easier than it would have 10 years ago?
Jason: Absolutely! Barriers to the marketplace have come down significantly. We can get to the marketplace and get to the fans easier. And times are changing. It’s starting to look like the 50s…it was all about the single then. Right now, people aren’t buying records, they’re buying singles…back then it was a 45 and today it’s via a download. And now artists are being forced to take some of the art out of their music to make it commercial just to even have a name. The trend eventually will become all about the art again. I can’t wait for that era. I’m looking forward to that in the next four to eight years.
Heidi: So what’s next for you?
Jason: We just stepped up to bat for the first time with our album coming out. March 11 is us at bat. They’re going to throw us a pitch and we’re going to see if we can get a hit.
Heidi: Why should people buy your album this week?
Jason: If you’re looking for great music, there’s a lot of great music out there. If you want to join a team who has an evangelistic heart, then that’s a great reason to buy our record. I want to go to India, China, and back to Cambodia in November, and we need about $80,000 to do that. That’s where the money from our record sales will go. So buy it for that reason. Buy a record and send us somewhere.
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