America's BLEACH have been attracting much attention with their snappy brand of pop rock. Tony Cummings reports.
There's a song on the Bleach album 'Static' which really sums up the band's direction. "I want to stick like static/Grace/Gold is fantastic, I deserve plastic/Or none at all," intones the band's lead singer Dave Baysinger over a catchy pop rock riff. Says the singer, "The whole idea of the album is a celebration of the Christian life. The joy, the happiness, the peace from Christ...kind of like a party, thanking God for his grace. It's about sticking to God like static."
The band from Kentucky have experienced God's grace over the last two years. What started as a weekend ministry has turned into the band touring the US with acts like Seven Day Jesus. In the process they've picked up a Dove for "Epidermis Girl", a catchy cut from their 'Space' debut for ForeFront. But in all the activity the band have definitely kept their focus.
Barnhart, Matt Gingerich (drums), Todd Kirby (bass), Dave Baysinger (vocals) and Brad Ford (guitar) met during their studies at Kentucky Christian College, the school that Audio Adrenaline also calls their alma mater. In fact, a couple of AA members dramatically impacted the future of this up-and-coming band. "When I was a youth ministers Barnhart, "I made one of my kids go give Will McGinniss a tape because I was too scared to. Will got a tape and somehow liked it, which is amazing. It was a pretty bad tape. So Barry (Blair) got it and he came and produced a demo for us. He was just going to shop it around to different record companies (in Nashville) and he showed Eddie DeGarmo at ForeFront. Eddie really liked it and came and saw us and then it all just kind of happened from there."
Two band members began their college studies in youth ministry, and another studied elementary education. So it's no surprise that Bleach has a youth-orientated ministry that goes beyond garage music, moving toward one-on-one conversation. "When kids come to our shows," says Ford, "we're praising the Lord and were there to tell them about Christ. A lot of times we walk right off the stage and mingle with (the kids) and talk with them. We don't run away and go hide in some booth and have an assembly line go through. We usually go out and just hang with them after the show. Sometimes we don't get out of the show until two or three hours after it's done."
"You have to build a relationship with people before you can really minister to them," says Gingerich. "Nobody wants anything shoved down their throat. People don't care what you say unless they know that you care."
The new album is what Dave Baysinger calls more listener friendly' than their previous release. This is because there is more of a focus on melody. "We've matured a lot as musicians, and as a band we've gelled better. For the album, we basically sat down, locked ourselves into a house and wrote the songs."
As a result of their years of experience, Bleach has begun to take their music even more seriously. "We've really seen the urgency of the Gospel a lot more, we really see the need more, pow. We were kind of naive at first." The 11 songs of 'Static' are a combination of all five members of the band. Bleach takes a unique approach to song writing. They have no set 'formula', and share the workload very evenly. The lyrics are the result of collaboration, and everyone |as a hand in every song, but often in a different way. For example, a member may write a melody for one song, and a guitar part for the next. This results in diverse pop rock with a thread of consistency underneath it all. The glue for 'Static' is the catchiness, the melodies that easily stick in your head.
Bleach have had their share of hard times and frustrations. One week, during the tour with Seven Day Jesus, their vehicle broke down five times. This did not prevent them from playing their shows, however, I'm not one to say that everything is a demon, but there is definite spiritual warfare going on.
The shows that are the hardest to get to end up being the best ones," Dave points out. As four of the five musicians in the Nashville-based band are married, it is difficult for them to be away from their families. Dave says, however, "I wouldn't trade it (the band) for the world. I can definitely see God's hand in it." When asked what he would like to say to his listeners, Dave replies, "I'd just tell them about the love of Jesus... I know that sounds cliche, but we have the answer to life. There can be joy in the midst of tragedy. Not a happiness, per se, but a joy, a peace. I'm happy and I have a reason to be."
Guitarist Brad Ford is optimistic as to where Christian rock is heading. "I see it just getting bigger and not even being modern rock or 'alternative'. I think people are just being less afraid to try different things. Especially in Christian music, it's kind of breaking through a little bit more now. I hope that if anything, we'll see more people just writing realistic music and realistic lyrics. I don't think people should worry about the style of music anymore. I think that's becoming less of an issue. I think when people start to see that the people who do this music are just like everybody else, (they'll see) that there's not too many connotations they can put with it. And I hope to see more of that, where ,there are people that maybe don't have as much talent, but have creativity and a heart to do it."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.