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Between the Liner Notes

Sanctus Real: ‘We Need Each Other’

By Heidi Krumenauer
CBNmusic Guest Writer

CBN.comLike a fine red wine, Sanctus Real allowed their new album, We Need Each Other, to age a little before releasing it to the public on February 12. Drummer Mark Graalman said the band began recording in January 2007, but allowing some time in between recording sessions gave them an opportunity to fine-tune their work. “We’d record a few songs, and then we’d take off and go back home. We’d come back again a few weeks later. We spent a whole year that way…writing as we went,” says Graalman. “It turned out to be great. In about 75 percent of the record, there are huge parts that changed over and over. It’s definitely our best record yet and is truly what we want it to be.”

Graalman credits lead vocalist Matt Hammitt with the powerful message that comes through in the lyrics. “Matt writes 90 percent of the lyrics. He spends countless hours making sure it’s exactly what we need to say. It’s very straight ahead…very obvious that we manage to avoid clichés, lyrically speaking.”

So how hard is it to keep coming up with new things to say? “There are times we’re together when God just walks in the room. It’s so cool because Matt gets so inspired that he starts singing…it just starts coming out of him. We’re always touched the most by those songs, and we end up loving them the most and so does our audience,” says Graalman.

Even though he feels passionately about all the songs, there are a couple favorites. “I like ‘Turn on the Lights’…that’s the first song on the album. I think it’s my favorite Sanctus Real song of all time. My other favorite is the last song, ‘Legacy.’ That’s the kind of music I like, and it’s just a good ole’ fat soundin’ rock n’ roll song.”

Those fans familiar with Sanctus Real’s The Face of Love album (2006) will hear a significant musical difference in We Need Each Other. “We’re always really excited about putting out a new album to see what happens. People seemed to love Fight the Tide (2004], which was total straight up pop/rock style. It was a fun, energetic album,” says Graalman. But when The Face of Love -- dramatically more melancholy -- was released in 2006, fans and reviewers thought it was a step down.

“I’m interested to see how people respond to this one because I kind of feel like we were able to pull off the best of both worlds. Musically, I think it’s a step forward. Our energetic rock vibe of the band is back. There are slower, atmospheric-type songs on it, but I think lyrically it has more of the depth of maturity that The Face of Love had.”

Success in the music industry is gauged in many ways from album sales to Dove Awards/nominations, but Graalman defines success in a more personal way.

“How do we define success? I might have answered this differently a few years ago, but after seeing how much we went through to write the songs for The Face of Love and how it touched so many people, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get that same kind of overwhelming response this time,” he says. “We’ve always heard testimonies about how the band has encouraged people, but when The Face of Love came out, stuff just came pouring in from people. Once you’ve had that experience, you don’t ever want that to change. So, if this record doesn’t affect people on that kind of level, I think that will feel like we didn’t succeed because that’s what’s become important to us. We’ve had our hopes up for Dove Awards before; we’ve won one and we’ve been nominated for 10 others, but after a while that stuff comes and goes and it doesn’t affect anything or make anyone a better person.”

Sanctus Real joins Third Day in March for a 35-city tour around the country. Don’t expect them to slow down after that. They will be on the festival circuit this summer promoting their new album.  It’s exciting, but Graalman says being on the road takes the guys away from their wives and growing families. Priorities have obviously changed for this band who started as teenagers in the music business 11 years ago. “Back then we were just a bunch of high school kids getting together in the basement and jamming. All we had to worry about was having a good time and getting kids to come to our shows. It’s different now. We make our touring schedule smarter so we can be on the road and then back home to focus on our wives and kids.”

Graalman adds that one thing hasn’t changed – their heart for the ministry of their music. “Ministry from the start was always important to us. There has always been something different about the way our band works and the interaction between all of us. The dynamic is so great…nobody could have done this but God. We’ve been through a lot, especially in the past three years. At one point we almost quit, but God is still doing things with the band, and as long as He’s in charge we’ll have the grace to keep going.”

God’s grace AND hard work, too. Graalman recognizes the Christian music industry has changed a lot in the past five to eight years. “If you want to stay in the game, you have to be on top of your game. You have to connect with your fans,” he says. And with so many new avenues like MySpace and the Internet,  Sanctus Real wisely is taking advantage of new technologies to make that connection. Recently, they have launched a new Web site for their fans: .

Resembling reality television, Sanctus members will offer a sneak peek into their personal lives with blogs and what they call a ‘podcast docuseries.’ “This will show our fans what it means to be members of Sanctus Real – our lives on the road, our lives at home – how great it is and how horribly messy it is as well,” says Graalman. “It’s everything from something as big as showing how God is moving within each of us to something as simple as how Matt installed a new microwave over his oven.”

While Graalman and the gang are excited about their new connections to their fans, they still realize the music has to be good. “We’ve seen very clearly that if people don’t like the music, they aren’t going to pay attention to what you have to say. The bottom line is it comes back to blood, sweat, and tears. Like the Bible says, a little sleep and a little slumber, and poverty will overtake you. You have to work hard and stay on top of it.”


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