Catching Up with Sanctus Real's Matt Hammitt
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Senior Producer
Nominated for three Dove Awards and a top Billboard’s Christian Songs hit in “Lead Me”, Christian rock band Sanctus Real has had a good year. Lead singer Matt Hammitt has enjoyed the success of their album, Pieces of a Real Heart, but all of the year's ups have coincided with the severe health problems his son, Bowen, has experienced since his birth last year.
Recently, Matt Hammitt updated CBN.com about Bowen’s heart condition, the album he was inspired to write as he son fought to live titled Every Falling Tear, and Sanctus Real’s present and future plans.
How crazy has this last year been for Sanctus Real with the success of your album, Pieces of a Real Heart?
Matt Hammitt: Well, it definitely has been a good year for us, all in all, things that God has done, the release of our album, and our personal lives, and the life of the band as well. Our biggest record … to date. As a band it has been really good with “Forgiven,” “Lead Me,” “The Redeemer,” all [of these songs from the record] really did really well on radio. Sales are better than ever. So, on that front it's like pretty great to feel some momentum picking up over the past year.
But, my life has been quite a whirlwind, with the birth of our third child, Bowen. And so the crazy thing about the album really is that it came out on March 9, 2010, and it had all the songs about heart on it. Then, a month later my wife and I found out that our son, Bowen, only had half a heart. So, God's been really working a lot of little miracles in the midst of a hard personal time for me and showing me that He's been there, through it all. Undoubtedly, that He's planned a rhythmic story that we're honored to be able to walk in.
About the album, you have said, hands down, Pieces of a Real Heart, is not only your favorite album, but it's the best work you've ever done. Why do you think that is and can you top it?
Hammitt: Yeah, from front to back this album is, I think, song wise there’s more depth, and each song hasn’t been on any other albums before. Lyrically and musically, we spend a lot of extra time working on some of the intricacies of the musical parts throughout. It's our opinion, I think for all of us, that it's the best. I wouldn't expect all of our fans to think that. I've heard multiple fans voice multiple opinions about which album they think is the best. But, in our opinion, it's the best we've done, because I think we've put the most unified and strong effort towards it.
I think we're going to top it. The hard part is to say, can we top “Lead Me”, the song that really ministers so deeply to people, to families. The impact of that song has been beyond anything we've seen in terms of a song impacting a wide demographic of people, especially people in such a deep way. It's kind of unique in its reach, but I think we will be able to top it musically.
Are there concrete plans for a new Sanctus Real album?
Hammitt: Yeah, yeah, totally. We're writing it right now. We already have several songs written. We're going to record next May, and we're going to wait till next fall (2012) to put it out. It's a little bit longer of an album cycle than usual, but being that it's our sixth album, we figured we'd really invest the time into it.
You’ve said that as you’re growing older, your songs have a little bit more depth to them. What sort of deep areas are you going to go into do you think?
Hammitt: A lot of our writing is about how your eyes open as you age, how God uses some of the things that feel like tragedy in your life to really open your eyes to new spiritual truths. So it's already a theme, just the way God is maturing us and digging more into those out-of-reach areas of our lives from marriage, to friendship, to just personal struggles.
Your solo career launches with your debut, Every Falling Tear, on Sept. 13, 2011. What was the inspiration behind this project?
Hammitt: When I found out that our son was sick and that it wasn't certain he was going to be born, as a father it stirred up a lot of emotions in me. There was a lot of uncertainty. I started writing out of that. I started writing about God’s faithfulness and learning to trust Him no matter what the outcome would be for our family. I also started writing some songs for my son. I thought it was going to be actually a lullaby project that I just wrote and recorded on my own. So, I wrote a couple of songs that are reminiscent of lullabies, but then as I wrote, most of the songs turned into songs that really could minister to our whole family. The goal was for me to write, finish these songs, record them, so we could play them in the hospital. The truth would be with us about God's faithfulness in this really hard time. That's what we wanted, just for His word and for Scripture and prayers to be washing over us in songs specifically designed to be sung over him, over Bowen.
Then, the more I started finishing the songs and as we recorded the songs, I realized it's a project. It's not just for me. It's something that I think would really minister to other people walking through hard times. So, it's kind of what it evolved into. It was hard to find time to record it with everything going on. Jason Ingram was the producer, and I just trusted him. I really trust him a lot, not only as a friend and co-writer, but as a producer to help mold these tracks. I just said, “Hey, gotta record this in a few days. Five days. I want more than anything for people to be able to hear the message in the song. It's not going to be fancy production, let's just make it happen.” And he did. He got some guys together. We recorded it, and did everything in five days.
Do you have an update on Bowen?
Hammitt: Just went to the cardiologist last month and found out that he probably actually won't need his surgery till spring of 2013. We thought it was going to be much earlier than that. That's a good indication because it means his heart is strong enough that it's going to stay longer than they thought it would, till his next surgery. They don’t even want to see him for another five months. So I think he's doing just fine. We're praising the Lord for that.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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