A band from Seattle who are prog rockers rather than grunge rockers, AJALON have caused a stir of interest with their album debut. They spoke to UCB's Martin Purnell.
Anyone who listens to the eclectic rhythmically and melodically sophisticated sounds of 'Light At The End Of The Tunnel' by Ajalon, on Rick Wakeman's new Hope label, will know that this classy project, produced by the band and engineer Ray Berry, is the product of many a sleepless night in the studios. Ajalon hail from Seattle, WA but have more in common with Yes and Genesis than Nirvana. What's even more significant is they are very good. Just the kind of thing that Rick said that he was looking for when he revealed his plans for Hope Records way back in the April/May 1994 Cross Rhythms. The sleeve of 'Light At The End Of The Tunnel' tells us that the band consists of Wil Henderson (vocals, bass guitar), Randy George (guitars, bass guitar, keys) and Dan Lile (drums, percussion). I spoke to all three band members and here is an edited version of our interview.
Where does the name Ajalon come from?
"It comes from Joshua Chapter 10, which talks about a time when God is judging the world in righteousness. Those who are coming against the Lord are judged very harshly while at the same time those who are with the Lord are covered in grace - Ajalon is referred to in Scripture as the grace; when God judges the world he WILL cover his people in grace and it's a promise that we have from the Lord - it literally translates from the Hebrew as meaning valley of the heart - a picture of God's peace."
How did you meet to form Ajalon?
"A mutual friend of Wil's and Randy's was singing with Randy in a two-piece band and our mutual friend introduced us - we found out we had exactly the same likes concerning our musical styles - Yes and Genesis and Marillion are our three major influences. After a while Kathy left the two-piece and Randy and Wil started a twosome and then Dan entered the picture about a year later and Ajalon was born. Dan was in Denver, Colorado and had known Randy for about 14 years - we had played in different groups together back in the secular time. Randy called Dan several times but Dan was doing well with other bands and a lot of studio work at that time. But God really called him. He packed most of the stuff he had and moved to Seattle just on faith. Two years later we're up to this point. It's just a miracle from God, that's all I can say."
You're now signed to Rick Wakeman's new record label. How did
that come about?
"Well, William miraculously took a magazine to work one day!!" "I never ever take magazines to work but I had a copy of Charisma magazine (an American Christian magazine). I read it during my lunch break and I noticed there was an article on Rick Wakeman at the time he was doing the tour with his New Gospels. At the very end of the article was a statement about how he had started Hope Records and was looking for talented, original artists and I went, 'Ah-hah!'. So I called Randy up immediately and said, 'We've gotta get a hold of this guy,' and Randy's going, 'Okay, calm down! Calm down!'. After some weeks of trying to find his address and going through a number of different channels we finally were able to send a tape of our work. We sent him all of that, all of the biographies, and on June 10th we got this letter back from Rick saying, 'You're just the sort of band I'd like to have on board.' Whoah! This is it! And from that point to this everything's just been a blur!"
So what's the future for 1997 for Ajalon?
"Initially we're hoping to kick off the US leg of Hope Records with some concerts and records, hopefully going to be doing some concerts over here (in America) and I know that we will probably be coming to Britain to do some dates - we're certainly working on that. We also plan on doing a new album - we have another album ready to go which we were hoping to get out in the summer. I think that those are some of the things we're looking forward to but I also think that there are certain things that we have yet to see really unfold that are going to be moves of the Lord - to do things that we haven't really considered. We certainly believe in faith that the Lord is going to move heavily and he's going to continue to bless what we're doing."
One final question. With all that has happened over the past
year, what have you learned about yourself in relationship with
Wil: "I'm completely in awe of it. God would take little old me, even struggling with human nature, he still took me and my desire to serve him and he made something beautiful out of it. I've learned that if you're doing the best that you can in your heart no matter how small that thing is, God will take it and he will honour it and he will bless it and that's just the bottom line - if you're doing your best for God he'll bless it."
Randy: "What I've learned is that quite often the way to move forward is always going to seem like taking a step backwards. I feel like a lot of times to achieve forward movement in my life in the Lord it requires sometimes making decisions that seem exactly the opposite of what it is you're trying to do and where it is you're trying to go. And in that somehow God changes things and you find yourself closer than you thought you would be to where you were going, to your destination. And by setting all the short term goals I've seen them come to fruition a lot of times by not trying so hard to do what I think is necessary but to allow God to work in my life for me and to achieve some of the things that were maybe a little out of my reach and God always speaks to you and lets you know, sometimes very subtly, sometimes very obviously, what things you need to do."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.