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Date: 2 March, 2012
What does the title Homemade Worship for Handmade People mean?
The idea of the home-made worship came about as we actually literally recorded it in our own homes! It was mostly recorded in our drummer Gareth Gilkeson's spare room, and so it's literally home made!
I think the point is that we wanted to get across and one of the things wanted to capture is is that worship is something that should be coming out of our real lives; coming out of the place where where we're eating; where we're meeting our friends... where we're doing our real life. That's where worship really counts. And that's why we wanted to capture it in the home.
As far as being handmade people goes... well, I guess that's just a little allusion to the places in the Psalms where it talks about us being being knit together by God and that idea. As much as we're part of the creative process, so is God.
You've been very careful as a group to stay low-key and avoid becoming celebrities. But how do you maintain that when there's been such a huge buzz behind both your albums?
Well, I'm glad that you think there is a big buzz behind us! Sometimes I'm not too sure! I guess the way we manage that idea of celebrity is that it's not necessarily a bad thing to be known, but it is a bad thing to present yourself with an ego.
Coming from a collective of musicians and being very much a family of people who are travelling together, I think that we manage to keep each other quite grounded. We're quite a large community and we are very accountable to one another. So that's really helped.
I guess as well there are some things about the way that we present the band that go against that sort of celebrity culture. For instance, the leader of the band is actually the drummer Gareth.
And we have two lead singers, so there's not just one focal point in the band. You would really struggle to try and work out in the main guy is in the band – and that's because there is no main guy! It's just a bunch of people representing church and trying to point people to Jesus.
For people who may not have heard of you before, give us a history of how the band came together.
The band was formed out of a students' church movement called Rend which happens in Bangor, which is a town or the northeast coast of northern Ireland. It was a place where it had almost nothing to do with music.
Sometimes it is assumed that it was some sort of artsy community but it really wasn't. It was just a place of prayer and evangelism and street work and that sort of thing. So we all formed relationships out of that.
When that eventually dissolved about five years later, we had formed these really tight relationships and learnt loads of things on our spiritual journey.
And so it seemed to make sense to those of us who were musical to kind of catalogue these and and record them in the form of songs and we made some EPs which eventually we put together and took the best of them and that was the first album, the Organic Family Hymnal. And so the collective was formed.
Has your percussionist got something against dustbins?
Ah, Ally Gilkeson – the 'Girl Who Bashes the Bins'! She doesn't have anything against them as such, but she does go through them quite quickly! She averages about one dustbin a month. I would say the bins are usually irrevocably dented after about 30 days on the road with Ally. She's a lot stronger than she looks!
And who influences your lyric writing the most?
I guess it would be different for all the band. But we're all very much into our reading and we try to make sure that we are putting good stuff into our brains. For me, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's the Cost of Discipleship has influenced nearly every lyric I've written since I read it a few years ago. It has just been one of the most formational books that I have read.
Also, we're very interested in poetry and all of that and so people like Wendell Berry and John O'Donohue and those sorts of poets have really influenced the way that lyrics probably come out of the band.
You've been on the road with a number of high profile Christian leaders – people such as Shane Claiborne and Francis Chan. What has it been like touring with such people?
We've only had amazing experiences – especially with the two that you've mentioned. It can be very inspirational; the way Francis Chan and Shane Claiborne live their lives is really something!
I don't think I was prepared for how much integrity those guys would have and how much the way they speak would be reflected in the way they compose themselves on the road.
I think for us it's fantastic to be connected with people who are doing real kingdom work. I think music makes sense best in the context of ministry. And so some of our most rewarding experiences have been on the world like that.