2007 Dove Award Winner:
Rock Album of the Year
CD/Song Compilation – Self Titled
By Brad McBrayer
Those unfamiliar with the band DecembeRadio might be surprised to know that they are not a college ensemble specializing in yuletide tunes. No, instead this is a legitimate group of Christian musicians that is quite capable of rocking your face off.
The self-titled debut album from this group has brought the hint of a rock-and-roll renaissance back to Christian music. While the recent trend has been all about praise and worship, the boys that make up DecembeRadio – Josh Reedy, Eric Miker, Brian Bunn, and Boone Daughdrill – have decided to bring back the hard stuff. Apparently it’s working. Their first major label project received a surprise Grammy nomination (they lost out to Johnny Lang) and four GMA Dove nominations (they walked away with one Dove trophy, Rock Album of the Year). All of this is confirmation that DecembeRadio’s new brand of old rock is an early favorite for Christian music’s “Next Big Thing.” It’s ironic in that their music is actually classic – similar to Nickelback, but with tinges of old Bon Jovi and Van Halen… a Christian comparison would be Shout/Tamplin or Magadallan.
Together with producer Scotty Wilbanks (former member of Newsong, and frequent guest keyboardist for mega-artist Third Day… which says he knows a thing or two about blending sounds as well as rocking out), DecembeRadio is re-introducing Solid Rock music to the population. If you haven’t heard these guys, you soon will. If you don’t have the album yet, you better get it while you can find it. And if you want to know more about them, read on, as TCP’s Managing Director Aaron Harris contacted the band’s lead singer and bass player, Josh Reedy, to ask him some questions for this month’s Feature Interview.
TCP – Who are some of your influences?
JR – We grew up on a lot of classic rock. We didn’t have Christian radio as kids, so it was mainly classic rock until we discovered dcTalk’s Jesus Freak. Prior to that, it was Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes, AC/DC and even some bluegrass in there.
TCP – When did the band first form?
JR – The lead guitar player (Brian) and I started our first band when we were thirteen. We began playing Hootie & the Blowfish covers in high school talent shows and anywhere we could set up and play (including Brian’s parents’ living room). We then realized that God had given us these talents and that we should give them back to Him rather than use them for our own glory.
TCP – How long have you been playing together?
JR – As I mentioned before, Brian and I grew up playing together. We then met Eric (guitarist) about four years ago on the road. He was playing with a praise band and strumming a Guns N’ Roses lick over a praise and worship song, so we knew he was the man for the job. We met Boone (drummer) two years ago at a winter worship camp we were doing in New Hampshire. We figured that if he, being from Mississippi, could stick it out for three weeks in the cold of NH and continue to keep a good attitude, he was the guy we needed.
TCP – How did you come up with your band name?
JR – Eric (guitarist) and I were at a worship event in West Virginia when he took a picture of an old, round-top radio with a calendar on top of it open to the month of December. It was spring semester, March I think, but the calendar remained on December. So originally it would just be the caption for an interesting picture, but we decided to adopt it as our band name. So here we are-- DecembeRadio.
TCP – Do you have day jobs?
JR – We spend so much time on the road and in the studio, keeping our equipment maintained and getting various other tasks done, and we play around 130 dates a year. So there is no time for other jobs.
TCP – What suggestions would you give to people who want to start a band?
JR – Make sure you have a goal in mind, unless you have no expectations and just want to jam with whoever shows up. Make sure everyone in the band is on the same page and will agree to attend all practices and shows and do whatever is necessary to make it to the next level. Also, you need to have a mission. Ours is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and also give people a better way to live their lives through good old rock and roll music.
TCP – Have you faced any roadblocks from being a Christian band?
JR – Yes, there are a few. It seems hard at times for retail to take a chance on a new band by bringing their CD into stores unless they have exposure like MTV. This is, of course, not always the case, but it is discouraging at times when you have a Top 5 single like "Drifter" on radio, and people are e-mailing and calling (and saying) they cannot find your CD in the stores. We are on tour constantly…and when we know we are being played heavily on a radio station and the station is telling people to go to a particular store to get the CD, but the person is unable to find the CD, we know that we missed a chance to impact somebody with our music beyond the single. Our goal is to reach people with the message of Christ, but our entire CD speaks into issues that we are passionate about.
Also, the perception of a Christian band is difficult sometimes. When our song "Love Found Me" was the free download on iTunes, many people who loved the music were disappointed when they found out that we were Christians; but hopefully some of those people were encouraged by the music and songs that they heard and decided to give the whole album a try. I'm sure glad Paul, in the New Testament, didn't give up when the going got tough.
TCP – What’s the story behind your writing?
JR – We get together as a band and collaborate to write our songs. Our current single “Drifter” started out as a melody sung on a little harmonica microphone just to get an idea down. We then filled in some vibe-y music around the chorus idea and began to jot down verse ideas. The inspiration for the song comes from Hebrews, Chapter two, where the Bible warns about forgetting what we have heard about salvation. It tells us to be careful lest we drift away from what we have heard.
It was also a nice touch when, while recording at Southern Tracks in Atlanta, Peter Stroud, the guitar player for Sheryl Crow, came in and played the slide guitar part on “Drifter.”
TCP – What are your plans for the upcoming months/years?
JR – We are starting to write new songs for our next album. We are also looking forward to releasing “Least of These” to radio and see what happens there…(and) just keep on keeping on, can’t have “no” in your heart. (Beginning back) in January, we are booked pretty solid in the Northeast. So if you’re up there, come see us!
To learn more about this artist, visit: http://www.decemberadio.com