With Denver Bierman at the helm, Denver & the Mile High Orchestra has been entertaining and inspiring audiences for 13 years. New album Groovy releases this month from GFK Records.
How did you decide on the album title?
It’s a little bit of something old and a little bit of something new. That’s what I love about our music … it reminds you of something long ago and yet has kind of a fresh and exciting energy to it, so it made perfect sense. … This is one of these records that makes you want to bop your head and get up and dance and clap your hands. We’re like, “This is going to be a pretty groovy album.”
Did you write all of these songs?
I arranged all the music for Groovy, and I co-wrote with Jamie [Statema of Go Fish] three or four songs for the album, and then I wrote solely probably another two or three.
Who did you have in mind as your listener?
I started writing a lot of songs that were geared for my children to not just entertain them but to teach them things. … Over the course of a few years, I felt like I’d written some songs that would be really applicable to the American family and to the Christian family out there.
Anyone who has grown up in Sunday school will appreciate “Sunday School Swing.” You had fun on that one, didn’t you?
The “Sunday School Swing” is a classic big-band rockabilly arrangement that the Mile High Orchestra has been known for all of these years. ... Tunes like “This Little Light of Mine,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “The B-I-B-L-E,” “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho”—we were able to fit all of these songs into one tune called the “Sunday School Swing,” and it is so upbeat and fun.
On “Man Gave Names to All the Animals,” the reference to Fuzzy Wuzzy will get a laugh—did that one take you back?
That’s an old Bob Dylan song about how Adam had named all the different animals living there in the garden in the very beginnings of creation, so we were able to do a duet with Go Fish, which is by far one of the most creative groups out there.
Do you have a favorite?
There’s a very happy song on this album called “Brand New Day” … the kind of song that just reminds us all that God came with a clear purpose to redeem us, to give us hope, to give us a future.
The songs of worship leader and Dove Award-winning artist Matt Redman are some of the most sung by Christians around the world. His new sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records release, 10,000 Reasons, comes out this month and is available from EMI CMG Distribution.
You recorded this album live with 1,000 of your best friends, right? How did this project come about?
We decided to make a live record—as there’s such a special dynamic that happens when the church gathers together and we sing our hearts out to God. I really hope we’ve captured something of that explosive devotion on this album. We recorded it in Atlanta during LIFT, Passion City Church’s first worship leader collective. Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin hosted, and throughout those couple of days, I had the joy of leading the 1,000 or so worship leaders and pastors there in these 11 brand-new songs. It was such a dynamic experience—some very special memories that will last a very long time.
Did you write all of the 11 tracks?
Every song on the album is co-written, and I love the team of friends which has emerged over the years to do this. Friends like Jason Ingram, Jonas Myrin, Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher were all part of various songs—and I know that none of these compositions would have got to where they were without this team dynamic. Co-writing is so vital if we’re going to push creativity and find new ways to talk to God in worship songs. I don’t think many things as church are designed to be done alone.
Could you reflect on one or two?
The “10,000 Reasons” title track was a special one for me. The title comes from a line in the song which says ‘For all Your goodness I will keep on singing; 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.’ The truth is there’s never a time to run out of reasons for God’s praise. As we survey our lives, we see them covered by His goodness and kindness. When we look back over our years, we see nothing but faithfulness. When we look toward God, we see glory and grace dancing together, and mercy and majesty exploding in beautiful harmony. So, if we get up one day and can’t think of a reason to exalt Him, there’s something wrong with our spiritual outlook. His wonders are flying at us daily from every direction.
I think my favorite song on the album is “Holy.” It seemed to explode when we led it live at the LIFT gathering and recording. One of my life’s quests is to search for words and melodies that can help paint a big picture of who God is. This one is a reminder that Jesus is set apart, above all others, and He should take the highest place in our hearts and lives.
GRAMMY-nominated and Dove-winning Peter Furler releases his first independent album since the leaving the Newsboys—On Fire—June 21 from Sparrow Records (EMI CMG Distribution).
Has going solo been a significant adjustment?
It kind of has. It’s something that I’d never thought of. Newsboys was something that was very dear to me, still is dear to me. It was like a tree I planted when I was a teenager, and obviously God made it grow. Over the years it’s been such a blessing, and when it came time—really because of the non-stop touring schedule—I just really felt, to be honest, I felt the Lord tell me it was time to let the ground rest, even though I wasn’t actually tired the last couple years I headed the band, which were the best years really. I thought we were at the top of the game and things were great, but at the same time, I was getting this sense to let the ground rest. I didn’t know what it meant because I wasn’t tired or burnt out, none of the things that usually happen, but I knew I had to follow the little checks I was getting. … I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I kind of liked that. I’d had 20-odd years of knowing exactly what was happening pretty much a year in advance, but then the music itch came back.
You bring a joy to your music, just as you did with Newsboys. Are you just naturally a happy kind of guy?
I’m not a life-of-the-party type person. When I’m out on stage, I definitely like to encourage people and stir up things, cause a stir. I enjoy that to a certain degree, but that’s not who I am usually around my home. I’m not a depressed person either, it’s not that. It’s something that we have to stir up within us. We have to kind of put on something and think and watch our thought life. These songs, at the same time, they are full of joy, because that is within me also, but it doesn’t come natural. … It comes from the Lord.
The first single was “Reach,” about God reaching for us. Have you sensed that greatly in your own life?
To me, it’s become more evident that God is everywhere, which we know that from Scripture. … The greatest example of Him reaching out to us is through Jesus and Him coming to earth. That’s the greatest example, but also at the same time, we can sometimes feel like we’re forgotten as people and we’re just caught up in this big world. But God cares for us individually.
“All in Your Head” talks of getting a “kick of love.” Is it a motivational song?
It is, and it’s really just a thing of not letting life pass you by. I think for my wife and I, in the last couple years I was with the band, probably even a few before that, we had another inkling, another stirring to simplify. … My wife and I bought an RV, so instead of riding in the tour bus and getting driven to shows, I drove myself and her and her little dog. We drove to every show, performed the concert, then I’d get in and drive again. It was just such a thrill. We’d stop at the KOA campgrounds and sleep at the Wal-Mart Supercenters, which was kind of strange. You’d play a show for 10,000 people in Minneapolis, and that night you’re sleeping in the Wal-Mart Supercenter. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. … We sold the house we had and bought a smaller one. We got rid of things, got rid of furniture. We’re kind of still in that process, in a way. It was a really great time for us to do that and to live the adventure—to step out and take some chances, and to not just settle. I think even in our life as Christians, to really get on mission trips and to step out a bit, or do something in your local community or local church. Any time someone’s depressed, my first advice is to say go on a missions trip—to get out there. That was the song, again stirring up folks to not settle.
What touring are you planning?
I’m looking at doing quite a few shows around the release of the record in June. We’re working all that out. Then doing a full tour—probably about 25 cities—in the fall, then, hopefully, the possibility of being on Winter Jam.
With this month's release of Captivated (Maranatha! Music/EMI CMG Distribution), Dove Award-winning Nicole C. Mullen's first studio album since 2008's A Dream to Believe In, she finds her music taking a different direction than she expected.
How did you end up going in that new direction?
I was writing my normal type of an album, which is normally in the style of funkabilly. and before I knew it, instead of the funkabilly style, I had a whole bunch of worship songs, and I looked at them and I thought, "OK, Lord, what are you saying to me?" For many years people have said, "Why don't you do a worship album?" I've never been one to want to jump on a trend or bandwagon and I never felt like it was the right time until now.
Do you have a favorite tune or two?
I wrote all of them except for one. I guess it depends on what time of life I'm going through. I think each of them speak to me differently on different days and in different situations. "Kingdom Come" (a duet with Michael O'Brien, formerly with NewSong) is one of my favorites, and it speaks about that in the midst of the chaos that's going on today, in the midst of our current events that every time you turn on the news something else is going on in our world, we need the help of the Lord. The cry that Christ even taught us and that our hearts just seem to naturally want to pray these days is to let His kingdom come, let the kingdom of God be revealed in power and in might and in the sight of all.
Who were some of the guests on the album?
This is probably the first time that I had so many guests on an album. … We have Chris August on "I Need You," we have Michael O'Brien on "Kingdom Come," we have Papa San on "My Shepherd," and we have The Katinas on "Lead Me."
What's next for Nicole C. Mullen?
There are always things to do. We have Baby Girls Club … then we have another mentorship group of teens that we work with as well, girls and guys, called Team NCN. … I have three children and a husband, and my parents live next door and my in-laws across the street. We're all planning on going to Zimbabwe in May to do concerts there. … We have been traveling a lot and we will continue to do that inside of the States and outside as well, and so our lives are full and Christ is living up to what He promised, that He gives life and that more abundantly and so I can witness to that. Every day with Christ is an adventure, and so that's the adventure that I live. Whatever the day holds, I'm not always sure because He holds the day and I have to wait until He reveals it. Looking back and just seeing what He has done, I can say it's good and it's God.
Best known for the breakout hit "Glory Defined," 2005 Dove Award New Artist of the Year Building 429 has been playing 200 live shows a year. Now a part of the Essential Records/Provident Label Group family, the band sees Listen To The Sound release this month. Christian Retailing asked lead singer-songwriter Jason Roy (pictured second from left) about life on the road and the new album.
You have been really busy touring, haven't you?
Some people think we are crazy for how many shows we play each year, but to be honest, we've really never known anything different. When we started years ago, we had a desire to connect with people on a personal level through the music we wrote, so we booked shows and toured like crazy. Social media has made it easier for fans to connect with us, but we as a band struggle with that because it doesn't feel as honest, so we still long for concerts and face-to-face interaction.
Jason Ingram, Rusty Varenkamp and Rob Hawkins produced this album. What was it like working with them?
Working with Jason and Rusty was a really cool experience for sure. Funny thing is that Jason was the guy who found me and the band back in 2003. He took me to his publisher where I would later sign my first publishing deal. Another unknown fact is that Jason was part of our first management team (Talon Management) and was heavily involved in the writing process of our first record. Sitting in the studio with him was like meeting an old friend for a cup of coffee and a hang. It was seamless and it was a blast.
This record was also half produced by Rob Hawkins, another amazing producer in his own right. It was a nice marriage of his super-hip new-school styling and my Southern rock history. He pushed us into a new vibe and what we like to call a more "West Coast" flavor that ended up permeating the record. In fact he co-wrote and produced our first single, "Listen to the Sound," and it's obvious to anyone who has followed us that he ushered in a new era of Building 429 with that one.
How many of these songs did band members write?
Every song on the record was written by the band except for the song "War Zone," which blew us away because it was an obvious tie-in to the record's theme, which was, "where we belong."
Any word for Christian retailers?
I'm excited for retailers to hear our new music, and for audiences to be truly encouraged by these songs. Life is tough, and we all struggle, but hope is rising.