Friday, April 25, 2008

What the Hell is 'Christians in a band'?

so after reading in my bible the other day i got to thinking about bands and their connection to Christianity. i think i'm going to make less of a point in this post and more trying to start a discussion/thought-process

i hope that this reference to the Bible and Christianity will not turn away non-believers but spark discussion. I believe that if you truly believe in Christ, that you cannot 'kind-of' be a Christian, or pick your spots, or whatever, you're a Christian first and foremost, everything else comes second. I'm not condemning these bands or whatever, i'm just wondering what everyone thinks when they hear these quotes.

I was reading the Gospel and i came across the part about the cost of following Jesus. it was Luke 9:57, and he it is;

57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

58Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

59He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

60Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."


After reading that, i wondered how bands could say 'yea, we're Christians, but we don't want to be preachy or in your face, if you want to talk about religion, we'll talk, but we won't initiate.

What if Jesus had told the disciples to go into towns and just wait for people to approach them? don't hurt anyone's feelings? just let people be who they are, don't bother them unless they ask?

i don't know, just a thought, here are the quotes from different bands. I basically just google-ed "[band name] Christian band" and used the results to find quotes on the subject. sorry there isn't more referencing, but you'll get the idea:

AS I LAY DYING:

"I'm not sure what the difference is between five Christians playing in a band and a Christian band. If you truly believe something, then it should affect every area of your life. All five of us are Christians. I believe that change should start with me first, and as a result, our lyrics do not come across very "preachy." Many of our songs are about life, struggles, mistakes, relationships and other issues that don't fit entirely in the spiritual category. However, all of these topics are written about through my perspective as a Christian."

Tim Lambesis,

UNDEROATH:

"I feel like I want people to know we're a Christian band," vocalist SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN says of UNDEROATH's collective devotion. "But at the same time I don't like tacking God or the fact that we're Christian onto something to sell more records. I don't want just to be marketed as a Christian band because I think we go beyond that. Tags can be limiting." ]

"For us it's a fear of stereotype," GILLESPIE explains. "Like, 'You're Christian, so you can't be my friend.' I mean, Jesus was at lunch with whores and hookers! Still, our Christianity defines who we are."

DEAD POETIC:

Are you comfortable with being called a Christian band?

Yeah. We don’t call ourselves a Christian band necessarily, but we are all Christians. We couldn’t separate our beliefs from our music if we tried. We all grew up in Christian homes, and it’s just such a major part of our life that whenever we write songs about our life, it just comes out. Haste the Day

Do you get opposition from other bands and fans for being a “Christian” band?

Brandon: This is the way I look at it, everyone stands for something. If there’s somebody out there who’s going to give you crap for what you believe in then, screw them. There’s tons of people we know how stand for certain things and it’s just common decency to respect what somebody stands for, you don’t have to agree with it just respect them. There’s extremely, political and straightedge bands out there, and we have a matter of respect for all those bands and we’re Christian. That’s what we’re about, by no means do we go, “Hi, we’re a Christian band, Dead Poetic.”

Zach: I think it sucks. We’re just a band, who happens to be Christian. They don’t call Beastie Boys, “Buddhist Rap“. They don’t call Godsmack, “Wicca Rock”. You live your life how you want to live your life. And I don’t know when that started getting put on the front of a genre of music, like it’s a different style or something.

Brandon: Like, “Ok , well this is their band, just so I know what area to put it in the store, who do they worship? Who’s their god? Are they Buddhist? Ok, well we’ll put them in this section.” It’s just a stupid, stupid thing.

Zach: I think DC Talk just ruined it for all of us. The only reason that we don’t like being called a “Christian” band, is because of the freaking bands that totally ruined it from the get go; we don’t want to be associated with them at all. We want to be associated with bands like, Glassjaw, Thrice and The Revolution Smile. It’s just stupid that something like that can be put on a genre of music, when it has nothing to do with music what-so-ever. It’s really stupid. But no, we get along with everyone. We’re just a band playing with bands, we don’t care if their Buddhist, Christian, Wicca, or whatever. We’ll be friends with any body.

COMEBACK KID:

Figure Four are a Christian band. What is the spiritual stance with Comeback Kid?

Andrew: Whether or not everyone has the same opinions on God and spirituality, both bands are spiritual bands simply because of the individual members and what they bring. However, neither of the bands are ministry bands. There is no agenda that is trying to be pushed.

However, there must be expectations placed on you by Christian, mortal listeners.

Andrew: Yeah. I think sometimes people want your band to be what they want it to be. However, you can't let that kind of stuff get to you. You can't let people tell you what your band should be. Personally, I think everyone should live their life honestly and how they think they should live their life. All of us in the band see life differently from each other, yet we agree about a great many things. But for us, it's a personal thing.

Scott: ...And expectations can be taken on a wider scale than religion. In general, if you look up to a band and expect them to be something they are not, you end up getting disappointed. In fact, I just got done writing a song about that very subject. It's about building someone up and putting them on a pedestal, only to watch them fall because they are not going to be what you want them to be.

Andrew: Also, some people don't stop and realize I formed Figure Four when I was 16 years old. I'm 23 now. A lot of my views have changed. I look at life totally different now.

Jeremy: A lot of bands will be unified around a certain topic or issue, but change over a period of time. The listener is removed enough that they are in an ignorant position and maybe don't understand the position a band is in. It's the same way with the way people expect certain things out of politicians. There can be a lot of unnecessary pressure placed on a band.

THRICE:

We're definitely not a Christian band. We've never been into being preachy, never been into spreading any kind of word. It just came from [lead singer Dustin Kensrue] singing about issues that he was having--a lot of those were faith-based. Some people are turned off by that. Then there are a lot of people who are like, not even from a Christian standpoint, [and they say,] 'Dustin's lyrics have helped me start exploring why I'm here, what I'm doing here, justifying my existence and stuff.' I think that's a good thing. I'm not a Christian, and I'm not exactly sure what I believe in. But I do believe in looking for answers and being open to a lot of different things."

-Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge

Reed says Destroy the Runner's spirituality is subtle.

"I've been to P.O.D. shows where they would preach from the stage, saying they are representing Jesus Christ. We're not that kind of band. We all share beliefs that are portrayed in our lyrics, but we're not out to be a ministry band. We don't want to make anybody uncomfortable."
\

CF - When you were on Tooth and Nail you were always known as a Christian Band. What makes a band a "Christian Band"?

YURI - Well, I think it's different. I think that there is sort of different opinions about that. I guess we sort of got in that market because of Tooth and Nail. We were Christians. We are Christians. But we just play in a punk rock band. We never preached on stage. We never handed out tracts at our shows. We just didn't even know that was something you did. We were just a regular band.

When we were signed on Tooth and Nail, they were booking us pretty much so we were playing churches and those type of venues. That's when we realized that there are a lot of expectations on a band if they are Christian, because you have to preach and all this crap. We just said no, that's not us.

Were not going to lie and say no were not Christian and we're ashamed, but we just didn't want to change for people. So we got sort of black balled in a way and a lot of fans kind of like freaked out because in an interview we said you know we're not a Christian band…

We're Christians.We play in a band. But we're not a Christian band. Some people were like "What? You lied to us all this time." But for us what we believe is what we believe. That's what we've come to in life, that is where our lives have led us. But we're not up there to push that. Some of that comes out in our songs. Because we are Christian, but it is not like a big preachy mission type thing some of the bands do. That's cool with them, but it's not for us.

CF - Be who you are.

YURI - Yes

ANBERLIN:

I think we're categorized like that a lot because we're on Tooth & Nail Records, which, years ago, was known as a Christian label and never lost that reputation. I don't care who listens to our records. If it helps people in whatever circumstances they're in, that's amazing, but I definitely don't classify us as a Christian band." Elsewhere, Christian has remarked, "[My faith] affects every single aspect of my life, but I'm not a preacher, I'm an entertainer.

EMERY:

I know for a while it was a big fad to like have a lot of Christian bands were just Christian guys in a band so I mean first and foremost we’re Christians above anything else ... obviously ... the band is going to come and go and it will be over one day and that’s just the way it goes. It’s just like any other occupation. We are Christians first and foremost and therefore it has to impact what we do everyday as our job and in our lives so I mean… everyday we’ve got tons of Christian fans that their like, "Hey you guys are the best Christian band blah blah blah or one of the best or whatever," and that is fine, but we gave up on trying to draw that line because it’s pretty much you have to get out of the stigma of being labeled a Christian band where non-Christian people will listen to you because if you play in only Christian venues or you play with all Christian bands all the time you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot for as far as having a career goes and even as ministry speaking ...
... I mean there is a place for that. There are bands out there like worship bands and stuff that are great at that and I think they are called to do that but we definitely are not called to do that. We tried it, we played in churches before and we have played with a lot of Christian bands several times and we felt really really out of place, we kind of felt like, it was almost like God was saying this isn’t what you guys are supposed to be doing. Not that it was anything bad or anything like that but we just didn’t have that spirit of fulfillment that we feel like we do have now because we relate so much better to people, to crowds like this than we do youth group crowds


what do you think? lets get some comments going...

12 comments:

popsadie2 said...

There are expectations in "christian music" that I feel limit the art of musicians. Personally, I listen to alot of these bands and find their more open to interpretation style more interesting than your standard CCM band. They have more freedom to write and sing about life in general from a Christian perspective..rather than having to have a certain amount of Jesus per minute's in their lyrics.

BMer916 said...

i think the artist who is expressing them self, with a Christian perspective is great, i just find it interesting when "Christians" try to separate themselves, or fight Christianity into their own goals/bands/teams...

if you believe in the Bible, and what it says, then you are Christian first and foremost, then your singer or a drummer or whatever. don't try to make Jesus fit into your agenda

popsadie2 said...

I suspect that some of these "Christians" are trying to separate themselves from a label that contains associations other than "follower of Jesus Christ". Contemporary Christian Music also has associations of 'religious right' 'republican' 'judgmental'...etc. and I don't blame artists and musicians for separating themselves from those associations.

BMer916 said...

thats fine if bands want to separate from a label, or venue, or whatever because of the limitations. most of these bands want to reach a broader audience than say, Tooth $ Nail might let them.

but that still doesn't' explain the "we don't talk about our faith unless someone asks" stance that a lot of "Christians in a band" seem to take

popsadie2 said...

true. I see your concern about that stance. Still, I do believe that the lyrics of the songs of many of these bands lead to these kind of discussions anyway. For example, when Thrice sings "come all you weary"...which is basically Matthew 11 in song, the fans start asking questions and this begins dialogue about the bible and the singer's faith.

Scott Lenger said...

Why do musicians and other artists seem to get all the attention.

Is there a difference between a Xian salesperson and a 'regular' salesperson.
What about a Xian truck driver, or a Xian real estate broker, or a Xian Emissions tester, or a Xian software developer?

Does this mean that if I'm a Xian and I make websites that every site needs to have a link explaining how to ask Jesus into your heart?

Personally, I think the idea of 'Christian' as a musical genre reduces what it means to be a Xian to lyrics.

I think being a "Xian" musician should also affect how you treat club owners and other bands, how your music is created, packaged, and distributed, how you spend your income, and how you travel from show to show.

The passage in Luke is usefull to start answering what is a Christian band but you also need to consider the whole of Scripture such as the parable of the Good Samaritan, Pauls letters to the Churches, the Golden Rule, the Wisdom Literature, the 10 Commandments, and definitely the Sermon on the Mount.

Scott Lenger said...

I think you alluded to this but I'll mention it anyway.

Whether you define yourself as a band member who happens to be Christian vs a Christian who happens create and perform music with other musicians is an important distinction.

BMer916 said...

"does this mean that if I'm a Xian and I make websites that every site needs to have a link explaining how to ask Jesus into your heart?"

i think what i'm trying to say, which i had a typo in the first comment, is that people seem to be trying to fit Jesus into their priorities.

i'm not saying to be preachy exactly, but to be proud, and be a light for Jesus, don't make it convenient just for you.

i believe i stated that i feel like some bands are Christians using music as an outlet or art versus a ministry, and thats great. but where do we draw the line outside of that? aren't people excited to tell others about Jesus?

Rachel said...

I think this whole controversy is a bit silly because even if you are a Christian band, you shouldn't be "preaching" to the Christians. The non-believers need to hear the rants about spirituality, and Jesus and faith and all of that and bands like Anberlin, and MxPx, being on a Christian label get that stigma. So what, only believers are going to listen to them? The non-believers keep faith and spirituality at arms length because they hear the word "Christian". If they don't take on that label people are gonna like them for what they are then those deep lyrics are going to get to them. Its the same with leading someone to Christ. It's not the bands job. It's God's. Emery has a lyric about that, "It's not our job to make everyone believe". It mentioned something about Jesus being around the lowest of the low, the prostitutes and the thieves, thats who he wanted to get to.

Anonymous said...

...Its the same with leading someone to Christ. It's not the bands job. It's God's. Emery has a lyric about that, "It's not our job to make everyone believe".

All I have to say is - didn't Jesus say - Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." So, it is our job!

Kaleb Ashenafi Chase said...

I'm not sure anyone really knows how to address this issue. However, they know it is an issue that needs to be addressed. I think these bands are searching for an answer to the dilemma faced by Christian artists but haven't yet found the best solution.

I don't think that Christian needs to be a label put in front of a genre of music. It's music no matter what you believe. If it's hymns and praise categorize it in worship music but if it's folk by a Christian artist, classify it as folk.

I agree that being part of a Christian label carries expectations and stigmas that are negative to a band of Christians. Being a Christian band can greatly limit your audience. But you must decide who you want to be your audience. There is nothing wrong with wanting to uplift and encourage believers but if you want to reach people, you aren't going to get very far in the Christian music industry.

However, it does not mean you hide your beliefs and views from your listeners. You can write about a relationship with Christ without being preachy. You can talk about your life and experiences in Him at your shows without turning people away.

Being afraid of a stereotype or of making people uncomfortable...Yuck! Obviously, all of us have these fears at points in our lives but we are called to rise above these fears, not allow them to rule the way we live. Being a Christian is not going to secure you a safe life, but just the opposite. You have to be willing to step out in faith and take risks.

Qiana said...

Well said.