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Showing posts from 2010

FBR on Boundless - Lisa Anderson Interview

  Listen to the entire interview with the Boundless podcast host, Lisa Anderson .

Inner View

In the midst of economic woes, I have a personal and vested interest in utilizing my creative gifts to earn a living. Recently, I had an opportunity that looked promising towards such an end. Within a 24 hour window, I had: 1. An email in my inbox asking me to contact the interested company as soon as possible regarding an interview, 2. The phone interview, 3. The physical interview, 4. The job offer, and most importantly of all 5. An opportunity to trust in Grace. My attitude initially was very poor. I did not expect to be offered employment, and as a matter of fact, I had actually planned on such a contingency, so as not to be disappointed. Thus far, I had chosen to disregard the Savior's provision and lovingkindness in favor of another attempt at control. Having not interviewed for several years, my skills were quite rusty. Thankfully, the hiring manager was not overly seasoned, and God brought me favor during the interview process. In what seemed like a dizzying blur, the int

Halfway House

Imagine an architectural undertaking of grand proportions. Vast arrays of room after room, and seemingly endless passageways wind on and on. Dust hangs in the air with the busyness of construction and activity. Hammers pound, shovels scrape, and ropes groan under the burden of change. Layer by layer the structure begins to take form, with painstaking attention given to each blueprinted detail. The first several weeks are a blur; the next few months a flurry of motion. Subtly, the pace alters ever so slightly. At first, it seems, it's just one hammer swing that's out of sync. The rhythm of the builders loses a little of its efficacy, but is still humming along. The edifice is taking shape now, and the purposes of various spaces can be speculated. Growth in size appears to be exacting its cost from the labor, however, as things continue to gently slow. Ebbing strength dictates more asynchronous behavior and development becomes sporadic. Eventually, all movement grinds to a halt

Keep it to Yourself

Once upon a time, I heard that if I didn't have anything nice to say, then I shouldn't say anything at all. It seemed logical enough. I certainly appreciated, I thought, living in a realm of silence rather than negativity. What I couldn't see, however, was the seeping, wispy black cloud sneaking steadily through a crack in the door. I bought into the idea and it allowed a slow yet constant stream of grossness to flow into my space. With silent darkness as their incubator, the lies began to take shape and grow. Though their development was subtle, there were several points along the way when I was startled by the inundation. Spores gave way to ground cover, which gave way to small foliage, which eventually became a forest so thick that I could barely distinguish what was right in front of me. The problem, you see, was not that I wasn't saying anything nice. Rather, it was that I had become confused as to what nice was. That word had gotten thrown into a tumultuous sp

Could it be True?

One of my personal favorites from the message of TrueFaced is the principle that talks about God's design. Being currently stuck somewhere between underemployed and unemployed, I've had ample opportunity to give this some thought. Admittedly, I am the sort of person that would much prefer to leave the Savior out of the equation. In a practical sense, give me a paycheck and a time clock, and I will gladly give my allegiance to...myself. The writers of TrueFaced echo sound biblical counsel that speaks of the incredible purpose that we are built into. Beyond and superseding the mundane, the Father's intimate knowledge of His children allows Him to perfectly craft their development into a vibrant and integral part of His body. His ways are perfect because His knowledge is perfect. No one in the universe is more qualified to dream with and for us than our God. Previously, this concept has been foreign to me not because it did not sound alluring, but because I failed to belie


Today, I had the privilege of playing a well-worn contemporary tune with what I believe to be an oft-confused message. In my previous existence as a legalist, I understood this message to be self-focused. Even more recently as a recovering grace pharisee, I had a warped view of what the text was really saying. In typical Western fashion, I operated as though I had intimate knowledge of the author's intent and heart attitude through the lyrics, though I had taken zero initiative to discover what that was. Today's message was just reiterating how the Gospel is relational, period. There is no skirting the issue. We as human beings are aligning ourselves either with God or with ourselves, and there is no middle ground. If we choose to ignore the relational component of the Good News, then we cheapen grace and effectively nullify the work of Christ at Calvary. We assume the form, but deny His power. It was a great reminder of the Savior's tremendous love and our inability to d

Here I Raise Mine What?!

This fall, I've been working hard at making official what has to this point only been a hobby---a recording label. As I continue to reiterate, Far Beyond Rescue is step one in trusting God with music (and everything else for that matter). Some of the subsequent steps are playing out to be, "Hey world, I've been busy recording things for nearly ten years now and I'm trusting God to do something with it in His time." As I've gone digging through my hard drive, I've stumbled across many recordings that I had completely forgotten about. Thus far, I've found over 60 songs that are what I feel to be retail-ready. With a little more work, the record label will have the entirety of its catalog available on iTunes, with music videos to follow on YouTube. One of my favorite hymns brings to light a principle I've been pondering lately in regards to singing the praises of our Master. "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" references the Israelite Eben

It's All in the Presentation

Music has had a long history in my life, especially as it relates to what dyed-in-the-wool midwesterners would term "special music". The irony that someone singing a solo on Sunday morning is referred to in different vocabulary than the rest of the worship service says something about our skewed church culture...but I digress. One of my first memories of singing in church was a solo I did when I was just four years old. I sang a song entitled, "Pound, Pound, Pound", wherein the composer, Lowell Lundstrom , talks about the story of Noah. I remember climbing the seemingly endless four stair steps up to the podium area. I turned and faced a small sea of faces and had the first taste of gripping fear that I can recall. I timidly waded through the song, at one point forgetting an entire phrase of lyrics. Many years later, I had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem for a packed crowd at a high school basketball game. Full of self confidence, I dismissed the choir

Grace in Sanctification

Almost a decade ago, I visited the campus of a very well-known non-profit organization with the intention of meeting with a teen magazine editor. Being very naive and ignorant to the ways of the music industry, I assumed that scoring this meeting would be a shoe-in to "success". Fortunately for me, the magazine editor was extremely gracious and took nearly four hours out of his work day to meet with me and my brother to discuss our musical endeavors. Though he was one of the nicest and most genuine people I had ever met, I soon became aware of the awkwardness of the situation. Because he was so kind, I felt quite free to share about my own personal struggles with the christian life and pieces of my story. In the end, my brother and I walked away with a ton of free stuff and a much improved understanding of why this magazine was probably not our best approach at that point. As stated by the first words spoken to us by the editor, " can I help you guys?" 1

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

Originally, my arrangement of this song was to be recorded with the full band. However, with the addition of the Irish interlude and the "Holy, Holy, Holy!" reprise, a different musical texture became necessary. In previous musical endeavors, I have often played solo, so I was comfortable recording this tune as such. Sonically speaking, this hymn was to be an ethereal and distant splash on the project. The text was included because it speaks of the hope that we have because of the victory won by Christ. This song is where the cry for rescue is answered by the sovereignty of the Lord. The irony of the victory, as portrayed by "Rejoice, the Lord Is King" is that the victory is all-encompassing, yet calm, peaceful, and serene. The still, small voice crushes the cacophony of noise and confusion rendered by the enemy. The tender reed has crushed the whirlwind. In a pragmatic sense, this melody was included with the older demographic in mind. As grinding, layered sou

Holy, Holy, Holy!

Once upon a time, I attended a church plant where the opening hymn every week was "Holy, Holy, Holy!" As a child, I found the practice to be tiresome and wondered why anybody would think that was a good idea. As an adult, I have a different perspective. This is now one of my favorite hymns because it focuses on one of the great qualities that distinguishes God from mankind - His holiness. Opening with such a profound statement every week was and is so appropriate to remind us fleshly beings what an amazing God we serve. In the arrangement and recording of this song, the Lord was so good. The final version ended up having more than sixty separate audio tracks, and was almost nightmarish to edit and mix. But time and time again from the on-the-fly arrangement to the extended jam that became track thirteen, God was blessing this particular song. Someday, I would love to revisit this arrangement in a worship service setting with a full orchestra, choir, and praise band. I think

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Greg Thompson's arrangement of this hymn has been a favorite of mine since helping Richard Rieves with his church plant in Fort Collins six or seven years ago. I favor this arrangement because it can be played upbeat and though the structure is not difficult, it has a memorable tune. A couple of years back, I attempted a dance rock version with a borrowed chorus and new melody from the hymn "And Can It Be that I Should Gain" . This call-and-answer chorus seemed to work well with the various youth retreats I was playing, so it stuck. On a technical note, the drums were recorded acoustically and later replaced mathematically in post production. The integrity of the original performance was maintained, though the samples were altered to fit the electronic style. The band all agrees that this was one of their favorite tunes to record because of its experimental, electronic, and uptempo nature. I thoroughly enjoy this hymn's emphasis on how madly in love with us

Unto My Lord Jehovah Said

This brief interlude was included last minute as a nod to Irish hymnody. Though I have some Irish heritage, I mostly chose to include a stanza from this hymn as a means to further the effect of "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and because I love the droning qualities of ethnic music. As a bonus, it allowed me another opportunity to attempt vocalization in a differing genre and style, which I found challenging, to say the least. For the production heads out there: the droning sounds were created by layering bowed electric guitar sounds. A cello bow with dark rosin was used.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

This hymn has always brought back good memories for me. My grandparents attended a large Baptist church that had a penchant for singing what I would call "classic" hymns. "Sweet Hour of Prayer" was one that I took too because it had a very memorable tune as well as being written in a sing-songy 3/4 time signature (like a waltz ). A couple of years ago, I had been asked to arrange some hymns for use in worship, and I wrote a chorus for this version. I sung it several times with positive feedback, so it was a natural choice for the FBR project. Moreover, I felt that a song focusing on prayer would be more than appropriate for inclusion in a work directed at the modern church in America. Our wealthy and blessed nation has so little room for God in part because we have so little felt needs. Even our homeless citizens and prisoners enjoy a much better quality of life than their counterparts in much of the rest of the world. With this in mind, I don't think we can

Nothing But The Blood

One thing that I frequently miss in being a part of Presbyterian tradition is foot stomping, knee slapping passion. I grew up with a grandfather that love love LOVED bluegrass music, and I still have fond memories of listening to tapes with him that were reminiscent of the entirety of the " O Brother, Where Art Thou? " soundtrack. As a kid, I was also exposed to the landmark Michael W. Smith album, " The Live Set ", which featured his adaptation of "Nothing But The Blood". Because this lyric is so simple and yet profound, it proved a great candidate for inclusion on FBR. Since the arrangement was also a different genre from the other hymns, I had little trouble making the decision. One element that was added with great joy was the bass solo in the middle by the very capable Vern Mullins. The bass solo was a critical must for me personally because I am often struck by the funny ideas that evangelical america has about music in church. Traditionally (a

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Some have questioned the inclusion of what has become a stereotypically Advent seasonal hymn on a non-Christmas work. This song became a part of FBR because of its invitational message that recognizes the lordship of the Christ. The under currents of the project speak of man's desperate need for an ultimate answer and this text pictures gospel rescue beautifully. As much as "Out of the Deep I Call" was a reference to the 90's, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was a tribute to the 80's. Personally describing it as a hybrid of Johnny Cash and Depeche Mode, I enjoyed the U2-ish guitar riffs laid down by Ben. Indeed, the arrangement ended up being so unique that I chose to stay with the original melody and chord structure, so as to not completely alienate the worshiper. Though I have fielded several comments in praise of this version of the tune, I have to admit that it was not an easy feat. After nearly two hours of rehearsal, this track was simply not coming

Joy Again

This reprise of the album's ending track developed as a simple warm-up exercise as I was practicing the piano part in my home. I got completely and totally sidetracked and was inspired to press "record". The resulting track is a short clip of a live and unrehearsed jam take. The resulting name is a play on the word "rejoice". The piano heard in the recording is the wonderfully out of tune console acoustic instrument in the corner of my living room.

Were You There

FBR is about inclusivity and I felt that making sure that a traditional Spiritual made it onto the album was and is an important part of that goal. American music as a whole has been heavily influenced by these simple melodies from the 18th and 19th centuries, and I believe we would be amiss to not acknowledge their presence in historical hymnody. In researching a suitable song for such a purpose, I was sensitive to the fact that in general, most Spirituals were simplistic snapshots of biblical stories and concepts. I chose "Were You There?" because it referenced our Lord and made reference to His glory and greatness. The melody is quite singable but has some nice rhythmic breaks that I found interesting. The doo-wop style was chosen as an homage to one style of music that has distinct roots in the genre of the text. The recording was blessed by Ben's guitar styling, being uncharacteristically relevant and surprisingly appropriate for someone of his young age. Th

I Need Thee Every Hour

This particular tune will not be well-known to the listener for appearing on the FBR album. In fact, Sandra McCracken had already popularized this Kevin Twit arrangement several years ago. The reason I was so set on including it in the track list was because I felt (and still feel) that this song is: 1. Amazingly powerful and simply memorable, and 2. Quite possibly Kevin's best arrangement to date. In working on this track, it was easy to be swept away by adding layer after layer of sonic depth. The lyrics and sweeping melodic lines make for ample opportunities to utilize inner moving voices. Large orchestral underpinning and dramatic guitar parts filled out the mix to create what I consider to be a great blend of both past and present church worship. This song captured some of the best moments of what I visualize as "blended worship". Implementing sounds not unfamiliar to both the older and younger demographic, I am hopeful that this meaty song speaks well to all age

Out of the Deep I Call

In the dusty past, FBR's bassist Vern enjoyed the 90's. The spirit of the album project was to include a diverse variety of musical elements, so as to include a broad spectrum of today's church body. Wanting to steer clear of some obvious references to the previous decade, I opted for a Shawn Mullins -esque arrangement. With Garret on piano, the folk rock vibes flowed freely. " Out of the Deep I Call " is a great song of contrition, where the writer cries for mercy and reveals the inherent unworthiness mankind possesses in the presence of God. It was introduced to me several years ago while assisting in worship at Grace Church Pres. in Fort Collins, and I have kept it in my repertoire in various forms and arrangements since. I was personally excited about the final result of this particular version because I felt it encapsulated the brooding contemplative mood of the lyrics without being over-the-top. The addition of another ballad was nice to round out the m


In an alternate life, I volunteered with a ministry at New Life Church known as theMill . I came into contact with both Aaron Stern , theMill pastor, and Glenn Packiam , then the worship leader. Both exposed me to an outward-focused approach to worship, and Glenn challenged me with one principle that he keeps in mind when writing new worship songs: simple singability. Glenn said that some of the best songs are those that are memorable not just for their encouraging message, but because they have a simple melody. Utilizing this new-found concept, I penned the song "Rift". Written with some nod to the Davidic Psalms, "Rift" contains both confessional and prayerful elements. I personally found writing my first song written specifically for worship quite challenging. So many of my contemporaries are content to write songs that exclude the human condition or acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of the Savior. Being aware of this issue, I felt compelled to dig deeper an

O Love Incomprehensible

Besides having a vocabulary word in the title that would most certainly challenge most contemporary Scrabble competitors, this hymn was all but lost in obscurity until Kevin Twit got going on what became the RUF Hymnbook project. It was certainly unknown to me, and I for one appreciate Kevin's work ethic in digging this song up. The way the arrangement came about was twofold. First, I am a lazy musician that usually only glances at melodic lines and can't remember them correctly to save my life. Second, I've always had more of a bent towards rock n' roll than I've had towards bluegrass . Consequently, it has been a rare occasion when I have played and sung this version straight from the chart. In its first inception, my arrangement of Kevin's arrangement sounded like a B-side from Third Day 's sophomore album . I was helping lead worship for a Wednesday night ministry known as " Village Cross ", and the depth of lyrics found favor with the

Far Beyond Rescue - The Blog

Hello world, being that large album inserts are spendy and I like trees, I have opted to post would-be album notes on this blog. Each track will have it's own post, so feel free to search by song title, if you're interested. And don't hesitate to comment or email any questions you may have. Thanks!

Funny Sequences

The last several days have seen a rather humorous chain of events take place to continue to shape and mold the project. Thursday night was filled with worrisome editing and critical listening and minor tweaks to try to ready the rehearsal trax for the combined youth retreat that I was leading music for this past weekend. After a sleepy Friday A.M. of trying to throw everything together to prepare, we were off to a snowy and cold weekend in the mountains...but not before sweating all possible contingencies of disaster. Thankfully, I feel that the audio was well received and overall, the retreat was a success. Funny #1: Packing almost double of everything in case of rare inland tsunami, hurricane, or amplifier failure...yes, I struggle with OCD tendencies...and I don't remember being this nervous about anything in the last 10 years! Funny #2: Loading backing trax onto iPod for performance. Friday evening, I discovered the internal iPod playlist feature! Funny #3: Creating

And That's What It's All About

Yesterday evening marked the final group recording sesh for the project. As we finished in epic style with a yet-to-be-named original composition, I was gently reminded about who is at the helm. All along, this album has been and still is fraught with challenges and problem-solving. And most would say, "That's life." Although this is true, more and more my perspective is becoming, "That's grace." It's by grace that I am challenged because I am never given more than I can bear. It's by grace that I meet with problems because I am never given more than He can overcome. I am once again very grateful that this project has not been entrusted to me and my care, but rather has been a journey and a sculpting tool. In the end, I don't know what the other members of the project will say. (I've been seriously considering filming some footage to produce a YouTube documentary about the experience.) But for me, this last six or so weeks has been nothing

Vern's Exit Interview

 Vern Mullins gives his thoughts on the final three songs that he recorded for the FBR project.

Overdubs from Outer Space

  Aaron and Ben putting in a few late night hours to add "space" to the album.

Sonic Arithmetic

One thing that has improved with time on this project is the flow of ideas. This weekend's rehearsal and recording sesh's were no exception. This was the first of two weeks of trying to squeeze in three songs each, so I knew we'd have our work cut out for us. The three songs for this section were a soulful adaptation of the Negro Spiritual Were You There? , Brian T. Murphy's arrangement of Out Of The Deep I Call , and the Christmas classic, O Come O Come Emmanuel . Our rehearsal was comparatively brief and was dampened by foul moods and the closest thing to drama that I've seen during this project. I was not overly positive coming into last night's recording, therefore. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by our nearly obstacle-free evening. We managed to nail down Were You There in three takes , which quickly lifted spirits. Out Of The Deep I Call proved to be a nostalgic trip for several of the band members, and ended up resembling something between S

Aaron Robert Interview 2

 Aaron Robert summarizes the music, goals and purpose of FBR.

Evan Schubarth

  Evan (former drummer of Wake The Giant ) shares his perspective on writing versus session playing.

Rebuilding is Hard to Do

2:30am last night found me almost falling over at the mixing desk. After four hours of slaving away, I was successfully able to restructure the Cubase file for I Need Thee Every Hour from scratch. Aligning random audio clips with no grid to guide me was unpleasant, but I'm glad that none of the recordings were harmed in the whole debacle. Even thought I was not excited about the work or staying up past 2am, it was helpful to re-examine the song from the ground up. I am already processing some ideas for a slight deviation from the original rough mix that is posted on the website .

Windows 7 is Not My Idea

So, some will undoubtedly think to themselves that I am quite daft after they read this post. I myself am inclined to agree wholeheartedly. The entire Far Beyond Rescue project is being produced on...drumroll....wait for it...a PC . I know all of you sonically savvy types were prepared for me to give you the spec's on some sweet Mac machine with 18 Tb of HD space and 100 million Gb of RAM. But that sadly is not the case. Call it budget, call it ghetto, it is what it is. I haven't upgraded my rig to Mac yet, and last night, I paid the price. The fact that the price was a corrupt Cubase Sx 3 file does not exactly make my day. In the midst of troubleshooting, I also discovered (much to my chagrin) that I have multiple frame rates going on. For those of you who are lost in my techno babble, it's kind of like forcing your computer to handle a fast file and a slow file and make them run at the same speed. It bogs down the machine and does mean things to how your puter processe

Interview with Ben Higgins

 Ben (former guitarist for The Fabulous Hot Finks ) shares his perspective on the creative side of his guitar licks for the project.

Interview with Aaron Robert

 Aaron Robert reflects on the musicians' work thus far and the overall group feel of the project.

Three to Get Ready

So after a week off---for a WEDDING !!!?? What in the world??!?! One of our musicians asked for a few days off. We had no idea until he returned that it was because he was rushing off to get married !! While we are celebrating with him, I became a bit concerned because he married a woman from not just out of town , but out of state ! This means that in two weeks, he's moving away. Yikes. It will be very sad to see him go, not simply because he's a friend, but because he also happens to be a very accomplished addition to the project. Of course (like everything else on this project), God intervened in a wonderful and most unexpected way. One of the initial invitations for this project had gone out to my friend Anthony Montoya, who had temporarily dropped off the radar. Well, wouldn't you know, I get a "random" phone call and v/m from him the day of the rehearsal after I got the news...and he wanted to be a part of the project . I called him right away and told him t


During week three of the project, we're taking a hiatus from regular rehearsal and recording scheduling for some overdubs. Guitar sounds are melting my face currently, and Ben is rocking some sweetness with his new Les Paul pickups in tandem with all-tube goodness. Sitting behind the recording desk, I can calmly listen to the tones and riffs without having to concentrate on nailing the chord changes...I like the change of pace! It also gives me some time to reflect on the crazy journey that God has brought me on to get to this point in history. Allow me to expound: Almost ten years ago, I bumped into a colorful character by the name of Clay Jacobs . At the time, he had just relocated to the tiny blip of a town known as Gunnison, CO . He had just gone through a life-altering theological shift and was extremely zealous for ministry of a personal nature. He randomly showed up at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting that I was attending and nonchalantly announced that he was uns

Take Two

It's now on to week two and things are humming along nicely. After the snags of the first session, some bugs have been worked out and everyone is playing well together. Better than before, actually. It's hard to believe that this group has spent a whopping 6-8 hours sounds like it's been ages. This week, I am very excited for the sonic possibilities with guitar overdubs and some light fx. Ben Higgins ( formerly with The Hot Finks ) is a more than capable guitarist with many creative melodic and rhythmic ideas. One of the highlights of working with him is that he is very positive and keeps a good attitude during frustrating circumstances. He's not allergic to multiple takes to iron out a passage, and it's just nice to work with someone like that. One of the arrangements we're working on has presented some great electronic possibilities. A little digital voice tweaking and some other synthetic elements will most definitely make Jesus Lover of My Sou

Getting Started

First night of recording...musicians showed up on time ( that never happens ), session was drama-free ( that never happens ), and equipment was a royal pain ( that always happens ). All in all, the session went very well...once we were actually able to get started. Technical difficulties stressed me to the max as I scrambled to figure out MIDI time code conflicts and synchro errors with my soundcard. Thanks to Google and some other frustrated folks, I was able to dig through the approximately fifty thousand Cubase SX3 submenus and find the information I needed. It sounds concise enough when written, but it didn't seem that way over the course of the two-and-a-half hours it took me to diagnose and treat the problem. It is not hard to understand after this experience why engineers get paid decent dollars to do their job because problem solving while six musicians are trying to wait patiently is not high on my list of favs. Thankfully, creativity was not ultimately hindered by the