|Meet the Artist: KUTLESS|
|Written by DeWayne Hamby|
|Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:19 AM America/New_York|
Guitarist James Mead of rock band Kutless spoke with Christian Retailing about the group’s Feb. 11 release, Glory ($13.99, BEC Recordings/New Day Christian Distributors), and the history of the group that has sold millions of records of albums such as Believer and The Beginning.
What can you tell us about Glory? A couple of years ago, we felt the Lord was telling us that we needed to pray, to just seek Him about renewed vision for our band. As we took time out to check our hearts and search our hearts, as the psalmist said, we started to spend a lot of time together praying through, “Lord, what is your vision for our band?” When we started, we felt a clear, direct route from God that we were to be missionary-minded, evangelism-minded, [to help] those who are sent out by the church to share the gospel and to help lead souls to Christ. So we’ve always had this evangelistic drive of the band. Through the years, our music has included very pointedly Christian lyrics, seeking God through hardship. At our shows, we share the message and lead out in worship time. That’s been very important, because that’s how we started. When we started to pray for God to renew our vision, we felt Him strengthen the core of who we are and give us a new thirst to go out and specifically seek this generation.
The cool thing is when we prayed about the Lord’s vision for this record, we had come off a period of time where we were very busy. We decided to go home and shut down for a while and write together. We’ve always been the band that’s gone back and forth between rock music and worship music. For some reason, we’ve had a problem distinguishing those two. What we really want to be is a rock band that does worship music. I think we have a singular opportunity to be a band like that in the marketplace. I can’t think of many bands that have the opportunity to play on a rock stage with Skillet and the next night be with Michael W. Smith. The past records that we’ve called worship records, we’ve done the standard songs that churches around the country are doing. That’s where this record came from for us. It’s really inspired by the heavenly worship in [the book of] Revelation. When you read through Rev 4-5, see nations of the Earth worshipping before the throne. Nowadays, worship is introspective and sad-sounding. In heaven, it is this electric energy through the throne room of God. It’s all eyes on the Lamb who walks through the door, and lightning and thunder comes from Him. The whole of heaven points and says, “Holy, holy, holy, there He is—oh, wow!” That’s like rock music. Let’s do triumphant, joyful, victorious-sounding rock worship music.
What are some of the key songs on the new album? For the most part, everyone is familiar with “You Alone,” a single we released in October. It’s a pretty rocking song. It’s kind of a song to lift up the glory of God’s name: “His name is mighty in counsel, and He’s the Lord and ruler of all.” We just wanted to proclaim that, “It’s You alone, God.” We highlight one of the verses, Acts 4:12 [“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”]. We just wanted to set up God in that way. We lead off the record with “Revelation.” … Jon Micah [Sumrall], our singer, and myself wrote this song. If you look at Revelation 4-5 and read along as you’re listening to the song, it’s pretty much what is happening [in heaven]. Another one is the follow-up single to “You Alone” called “In Jesus Name.”
How long have you guys been playing together as a band? I joined the band in 2001 and we weren’t called Kutless. Jon Micah and I were the only originals.
With that history, have you had a chance to mentor any new musicians and bands? That’s certainly a realistic aspect of us. When we started, I was 18 and had just graduated high school. It takes a little time to stop feeling like you’re the youngest around. Honestly, we had to kind of carve our own way. Radio stations would turn our CD over and see Tooth & Nail and say, “We’re not playing that.” Rock ‘n’ roll music wasn’t really on the radio. In Christian music, you had rap, rock or metal, so we were just trying to carve our own way. It took awhile for people to feel receptive to us. Now I feel there are tons of bands, so many. A lot of them, they do ending up telling us, “I’ve grown up listening to you.” I think what we realize is it’s no different than just sharing life as we’re supposed to as Christians. One of the most beneficial things any of us can do as Christians is pouring into a person. I’ve always viewed discipleship as honest friendship. It’s really edifying. It’s encouraging, mutually beneficial for guys to share about the wisdom that they’ve learned from God’s Word. It’s really beneficial for the person younger in the faith. We’re very happy to say we love each very well. We view each other as closer than brothers. We’ve stuck to our calling and tried to serve each other as a band. If we have anything to share with a band, it’s that.