Susanne Martin reports on grassroots pop rockers CROSSBEAM.
Of all the hundreds of grassroots British Christian rock bands making CDs, trying to get on the British festivals and generally making themselves busy, Watford-based Crossbeam are one of the most interesting. For a start, their 'Love To Live: Again' independent album is well above average with a compelling line in crisply delivered pop rock. Secondly, two of the band members are Roman Catholics (which in a church era where the Pope sees fit to denounce rock music is no mean achievement). And thirdly, as anyone who saw Crossbeam play at the Celebrate event will know, they can deliver an excellent stage performance. So with all this going for them, now seemed a good moment to quiz the Watford rockers about their past and present.
Crossbeam first came into existence when two budding musicians, Steve Szymsnski and Tom Bonard, met at a summer camp in the New Forest in 1998. Tom remembered, "We realised that we shared many of the same passions. So, inspired by our faith and love for music, by the end of the year we, with the help of our good friends, had played three praise and worship gigs under the name Icthus. As the millennium approached, it was felt that the band were being led in a different direction. Thus, in early 2001, the new improved streamlined band Crossbeam came into existence." By that time the band had picked up more members, including Cath Slattery on keyboard who is now the wife of Steve. Their first album 'Love To Live' was made when Steve and Tom were just 15 years old, and was independently released at the Catholic Family Conference, Celebrate, in early 2003. The band developed further and in September Liam Lynch was first introduced to the band.
The following year saw the release of their second album 'All I Believe Is You'. Liam explained that the album came as the band "had grown from a group that used to lead worship at local church halls and events into a more gig-orientated band. This album was aimed towards the folk that knew us as lead worshippers and in engaging those that had discovered us as a gig band." Then in the summer 2005 the band completed work on a re-recording of their first album now titled 'Love To Live: Again'. Tom Bonard said, "The re-recorded album breathed new life into those original songs written a good few years before and was a very successful venture."
Currently the band is made up of five members, "two Catholics, two Protestants and one who doesn't really know how to label himself," explained Liam. "One thing we have learned is that while churches and individuals dwell on the differences in traditions and doctrines we miss out on the most important factor which is a personal relationship with God. The one and same God! Once that relationship is established then the rituals, traditions, pomp and ceremony of whatever denomination you know, all start to make more sense. The reverence, the adoration. We find that as long as we keep our songs reflecting that personal relationship we won't get caught up in unnecessary divisions."
Over the years the band have gigged all over Britain but the biggest performance they've had was at Celebrate with a captive audience of a thousand people. Liam explained, "We started out leading worship for the young adults stream before we became the main concert band. We've been doing that for three years now. We were also involved in Soul In The City London, which although we could never say how many people actually stopped to listen, playing outside to the general public of Soho Square was a great experience. We made it onto the news as we were playing right outside Sven Goran Eriksson's office at the FA and it was at the high point of his affair scandal."
Crossbeam are currently working on a yet to be named new album, which Liam said "feels like a debut as it's the first one that has been worked on corporately - the same guys gigging, writing, worshipping and journeying together as a band, friends and Christians. The songs on this one contain more character, as we all understand where the lyrics and message are coming from as we know each other and each other struggles and joys which add to the passion, fear, hope or whatever story is being told." Crossbeam are also looking forward to getting back to gigging. Liam added, "We are really keen to get back onto the secular pub circuit and take what we do to the unsuspecting world as well as build on our relationships within the Christian industry. We are really happy to be doing what we're doing and can really feel God's presence in it at the moment. To make plans seems to us to be taking the control away from God so we try to keep things as open and organic as possible until one of us hears or feels something different from the Lord."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.