A hot track from the 'No Longer Silent' album by DEREK BOND was featured on a recent Cross Rhythms Experience tape. Mike Rimmer spoke to the CCM veteran.
The history of popular music isn't exactly littered with Dereks is it? There's Derek & The Dominoes but that wasn't even a proper Derek! And there was Derek in the Bay City Rollers but I think I'd like to quietly forget about him. And there's...erm...well, that's about it actually! Yet from this unpromising name has come a very tasty CD, Derek Bond's 'No Longer Silent', recently released by ICC.
Although he probably wouldn't thank me for writing this, he is a bit of a Christian music veteran. Those of us with long memories know that as a young musician, Derek Bond first came to the public eye in the late 70s when he worked with Don Double's Good News Crusade helping to take care of the worship music. He began working as part of a team that eventually became The Reapers. The line up included Rob Newey who took care of a lot of the writing for the group. It's almost a decade since the band split, so how does Mr Bond feel about the Reapers now?
"Whenever you look back on some of the stuff you've done," Derek responded, "you can always see how you could have done it better. I think we could have been sharper in what we did but it was expected of us that we were to be a middle of the road Christian band. When we did schools evangelism, it was great, it went down a storm every time. I think wherever you are at the time, that's all you can portray. I think we were effective in what we did. It's still embarrassing listening to some of the old stuff that we've done and photographs on album covers but it was valid at the time."
How does Bond see himself these days? "I've never really set my stall out to be a musician, really I've always used music as a tool for evangelism. I do a lot of universities, schools and concert tours and people will come and hear a musician but if you advertised for an evangelist, you'd only get churched people. At universities you can go and play in bars as a musician and still portray a message in a relevant way whereas if you stood up in a corner and preached you probably wouldn't"
Derek Bond released three solo albums before his current release. He has also been involved in Spring Harvest's youth praise albums which were made at ICC and through them came into contact with Split Level's Adrian Thompson. Like so many good ideas, 'No Longer Silent' was born over a cup of coffee. Bond and Thompson had a cup of coffee together at Spring Harvest '94 and the next thing he knew he was in the studio recording 'No Longer Silent'. Said Derek, "Adrian's just a lovely guy! It happened very quickly, I was almost whisked off my feet."
How would Bond describe the music? "The feel of the album is raunchy. It has a bit of a naughty feel to it. For people who normally come and hear me play, it'll be a bit more of a kick in the teeth, which is good."
Credit must go to keyboardist Phil Loose and guitarist Adrian Thompson for steering him in a new direction on the new album. A mixture of dance rhythms and some wonderful ethereal arrangements, in particular on "Touch My Life" where news reports drift in and out of the mix and Adrian Thompson uses some very strange guitar effects which I've promised to keep secret!
One of the songs that has raised a few eyebrows is "This Guy's A Christian". I put it to Derek that it sounded rather negative. "Does it really?" said Derek. "I think to a degree it is. I think often Christians get mocked and wonder why and they deserve to be mocked. I think sometimes the way we present ourselves, we're on a different planet. I don't want to mock Christians, although I do want Christians to think about how we are. Not that we should all look like something from Baywatch because that would count me out. But I do think we ought to be careful sometimes."
One of my favourites is "Good Old Moses". I wondered where he got the idea for the song. "I wrote that in Spain. I was reading the Bible where Moses had got so cheesed off with the people of God whinging. It was so wonderful reading how Moses was annoyed because he was constantly getting moaned at. I love the part where it talks about the Israelites wanting meat and Moses goes to God and tells God there is no way he (God) can provide meat for them. And God said, 'When did I become weak?' And it's almost like God laughing at Moses."
Working at grass roots level is never easy for hardworking Christian musicians, so how does Derek manage to survive financially? "We get a small degree of support from our local church. There are six people who support us regularly every month. The rest of the time we live by faith and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There are times when I would like to just go and get a job. But I can't get away from the fact that God has called me to do this. When I play live, money comes in but there are other times when we have no idea where money is going to come from and it comes in. There are other times when we have no idea where the money is going to come from and it doesn't. To a degree I'd like to sound very spiritual but the truth is, it is a bit hit and miss. People have a pseudo spiritual idea of what the whole thing is about but at the end of the day you have to work it out for yourself.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.