Friday, February 18, 2011

The Story Behind the Song: Lock Down

Hey Friends,

I'm excited today to tell the story behind "Lock Down" because out of all the songs we've written it's been one of our absolute favorites. "Lock Down" is the second track on our fourth album, Where I'm Found, and it's also our radio single for CHR format radio stations. The story for this one goes back to the spring of 2006, and what's funny about it to me is that the song was born from an error in my guitar playing.

In early 06, we were having a band practice and I was trying to work out some accompany chords for the song "Mercies". I'd always played the same thing as Andrew and I wanted to change it up and play a different guitar part. In the end, Andrew ended up playing some cool ambient sounds on electric while I stuck with the same chord progression as usual on acoustic. But in my failed attempt to use different chords for "Mercies", I kept accidentally playing some funky, dissonant chord (that I still don't know the name of) rather than the Bm7 I meant to play. I kept making this error as we tried to play through the song so I finally stopped and showed Andy and Kaitie what I was doing wrong. As I played the Bm7 and the mistake chord back-to-back a few times I realized they sounded pretty cool together. I started jamming on the chord progression until Kaitie joined in with a funky, rhythmic bass line and Andrew started ad-libbing random, humorous lyrics to a catchy melody. Before we knew it, Sam had heard that we were playing something new and joined us with a pen and notebook handy. Within a few minutes, she'd written the first verse and handed the lyrics to Andrew to replace his dummy lyrics. Andrew also started playing a guitar lick with some attitude that ended up being the lick you hear after every chorus and between verses. We were having a blast writing this one!

Ironically, our neighbor at that time who lived across the street from us--though very kind--had a bad habit of peeking through her blinds to watch us every time we came home or stepped out our front door. While we were writing "Lock Down" and getting into the lyrics, we couldn't help but start to feel creeped out. It was dark outside and we had the curtains in the room open and we started feeling like the Devil literally was prowling around our house and peeking in our windows. All the while, our neighbor across the street was probably peering through the blinds thinking we'd lost our sanity!

The easiest part of writing a song is the very beginning when you have a burst of creativity and start writing. The song can be anything you want it to be at that point. It's once you've established the theme and structure of a song that it starts to get tough. And that's exactly how it went with "Lock Down". Musically, there wasn't much difficulty because the entire song is made up of those two chords. But the lyrics were another story. Sam wrote the vast majority of them with some help here and there from the rest of us. Most of what we did to "help" her was say, "Hmm, I don't think that line really works. Maybe try again." She was a great sport and wrote several versions of the song until she was nearly crazy. But the final product ended up being a song that I can hardly believe we wrote. The lyrics are so off-the-wall and yet so deep that it reminds me of Steve Taylor's lyrics in Newsboys songs like "Shine". Maybe that's a bit pretentious of me to say, but I can at least tell you that Sam credits Steve Taylor for inspiring such insane lyrics!

"Lock Down" has been an incredibly fun song to play live. The first time we played it at a show, we were elated by the response from the audience. The kids in the audience were even jumping up and down and pumping their fists, which was behavior completely unheard of at a Truth Bomb concert in the past. Up until that time, we had jokingly called ourselves a ballad band as we seemed incapable of writing anything with a tempo over 85 BPM. The lyrics also seem to stick with people, which is awesome. For us, if people love the sound of a song but don't remember it's message, it's not even worth playing. The purpose of writing music is to communicate a message.

We hope "Lock Down" serves as a reminder to Christians that we are in a spiritual war. Ephesians 6:10-13 says, "Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand." Our goal with "Lock Down" was to reveal the tactics of the Devil and encourage the saints to take up the armor of God and stand against the spiritual forces of evil. This song is our battle cry.

 "Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour." 1 Peter 5:8

You can listen to "Lock Down" HERE or buy it on iTunes HERE. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review: The Charlatan's Boy

Hello Friends,

I am an avid reader and have been since the first grade. Which pretty much means I fell in love with books as soon as I could read them. Recently, I discovered that WaterBrook Multnomah, a company that has published many of my favorite authors, has a cool program called Blogging For Books. WaterBrook Multnomah mails me free books if I will blog reviews for them. As long as I keep reviewing books, they'll keep sending them. If you love to read too and don't mind writing reviews, then I highly recommend you check out Blogging For Books.

The first book I have received for review is The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers. Here is my review.

The Charlatan's Boy is the story of an orphan named Grady who lives in the frontier land of Corenwald. Grady has spent his whole life--as far back as he can remember--playing the part of a live, in-the-flesh he-feechie in huckster Floyd Wendellson's traveling show. Floyd never gives Grady a straight story about where he came from and who his real mamma and pap are, leaving Grady feeling forever out-of-place. Though Floyd is not the sort of character Grady prefers to be around, Grady remains loyal because "you've got to love someone", and Floyd is all he's got. And besides that, the feechie show is where Grady feels the most like his true self.

The Charlatan's Boy didn't keep my attention very well during the first half of the book, but the second half improved. The end of the story provided a very unexpected plot twist that left me, surprisingly, very happy with the outcome. Over all, this fantasy novel left me wishing the story were as fascinating as the beautiful cover.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Until next time,