Ever Stays Red is 'On the Brink of It All'
By Heidi Krumenauer
CBNmusic Guest Writer
Together since 2003 and with two independent albums under their belt , Tempe, AZ-based foursome Ever Stays Red has earned quite a fan following. But with the release of their national debut album On the Brink of It All, they are reaching a larger group – a group they hope will be inspired by their musical talent and their love for worship. Front man Dustin Carlson talks with Heidi Krumenauer about the band’s beginnings, their passion to share God’s message and their desire to share His word internationally.
Heidi: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how your band came together.
Dustin: I was leading worship with our bass player, Erick, in a church in Mesa, Arizona. My brother, Josh, who plays drums, was going to a Christian bible college called Southwestern and he was playing basketball there. Zach, our guitarist, played basketball with him and they played in the traveling praise band for the college. That’s how all the connecting points came together. I asked my brother to play with Erick and me, and we got excited about playing and writing music together. We actually bought a house together and spent about a year recording and writing our first record on our own and have been doing that ever since.
Heidi: How long have you been together?
Dustin: We met at the end of 2002, and started playing together in 2003. We actually started touring in 2004.
Heidi: Living and working together. Isn’t that too much bonding time?
Dustin: No, not at all. We have a great relationship and living together has been an awesome experience. During the last five years, we’ve basically lived out of a van. I think we all realize that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves and trying to be well-known. Everybody sees the bigger picture, so it’s hard to get upset about the little things.
Heidi: What’s the significance of the name of your band?
Dustin: We wanted something different but something that had a lot of meaning. Ever Stays Red signifies our belief in Christ and our belief that once you’re covered in His blood, it’s good for everything and gives you the staying power for everything in life.
Heidi: You’re not the first band to jump from an independent label to a major record label this year. What sets you apart from the others?
Our music is definitely a lot of guitar rock, so most people probably wouldn’t classify us as a worship band. Our live show is a rock show … there’s a 10-15 minute period where there’s a worship experience … where we share our hearts. And that’s when we hear a lot of ‘I love the show and I love the 15 minutes that you shared why you do what you do and the worship experience is something different than what I’ve had in a church service.’
There’s a lot of great music out there, and a lot of great bands that we’ve been able to play with. But if it were just about the music we wouldn’t feel as privileged to do this. We’ve been able to do some really cool stuff. Every one of us buys into the idea that God is very much alive and He has this idea of how beautiful the world could be. He’s inviting us to take part of it in our daily lives, and we feel this band is our outward expression of that.
Heidi: You’re in such a neat time right now where you can reach out to the youth a lot easier than artists could 20 years ago. How does being a rock band today gain you access to our youth?
Dustin: Sometimes after people see us at our show, they come up to us and ask us to come to lead worship at their churches, and we’ve never really done that. For us, it’s really cool to have the ability to play a rock show and in the middle of it have an intimate moment where we can invite the audience to think about what the world should be and remind them that God is with us and He’s inviting us to experience it. I think if we were to start out with worship, I think a lot of kids would shut down right there.
Heidi: Are you ever concerned about all the musical competition?
Dustin: Since we started the band, every dollar has been completely invested in the band, and I’ve never made a dime doing it. But if the band stopped today, I would find a way to get myself overseas, serving in some way. We’ve taken a couple trips … and it’s completely changed the way we view the world. I don’t worry about competition because I don’t do this to be a well-known band. We were excited about the album’s distribution deal, but only because now we can get our music out to people who haven’t been able to find our music. I’ll be OK if we never sell one record. I honestly think we play music for those 15 minutes where we can share what God’s trying to do, and if we couldn’t do that, nothing else would matter.
Heidi: You’ve toured with some pretty big names like Sanctus Real and Kutless. How did that happen?
Dustin: I don’t know. God has been really cool and He’s opened doors for us. After the Sanctus Real tour, we came out of that with friends for life. As new artists, we were afraid that we’d find out that Christian music wasn’t sincere, but we found out how amazing these guys are and that we share the same heart. It has been really cool!
Heidi: Let’s talk about the mix of songs on your new album On the Brink of It All. What do they mean to you and what will they mean to the listener?
Dustin: I think that as you go through the album, there’s a theme of finding those hopes and dreams inside you … things that have been there a long time, but daring to believe that God put those there for you. I’m starting to believe that God put dreams and desires in our hearts, and when He did that He wasn’t too fiscally concerned. Seriously, if you could close your eyes and imagine the world of finance could go away, what would we do with our time? I think the record speaks to His plan. It’s a hopeful kind of record. One of the lines in one of the songs is, “If the sky should fall, I’ll be alright. I’ll take up shelter here beneath these dreams.”
Heidi: Speaking of dreams, your band has been to Brazil twice.
Dustin: It’s funny how God works. We went to Cancun and we saw some things that really got us thinking about the doors that can be opened. A pastor in Colorado called me the next day and told me he was building a youth center and asked us to come down to Brazil and play. Thankfully, we were doing a lot of touring at the time because we had to pay our own way, so we started putting away all the money from t-shirts and CDs to pay for the trip. That trip changed the way we approach what we were doing. We started thinking about how we could tour for a year, save the money, and do another trip. The second trip was more what we wanted it to look like. We played schools, drug rehab clinics, slums … all leading up to the big event the last day with 6,000 people in this huge square. For me, it changed my life forever. I will never spend my time if isn’t geared toward what I think is God’s ultimate plan and purpose – bringing healing and restoration to the oppressed.
Heidi: I can imagine you love sharing your stories when you’re playing to the U.S. crowds.
Dustin: Oh definitely!!The coolest thing for us is being able to let people know where their money went. If you bought a CD or a shirt, you were there with us in Brazil. That was neat for us to tell people that their support of us was bigger than supporting our music.
Heidi: Will the proceeds from this album go toward another trip?
Dustin: We’ve been working on a trip to Brazil for the past year, but we found out it’s fallen through. A missions trip that cost us $30,000 before will cost us $120,000 now. We are really, really looking for an opportunity. We definitely want to go somewhere, so we’re still trying to put that all together. We want to use money raised in the states to fund missions throughout the world. We love making music and getting to share our hearts.
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