Dissident Prophet: Five years after disbanding the Midlands mainstream rockers are back

Wednesday 1st May 2002

DISSIDENT PROPHET are back and set to release a brand new album. Aleem Hossain spoke to lead singer Andy Jennings to find out more.

Dissident Prophet
Dissident Prophet

Dissident Prophet first formed way back in 1994 out of the ashes of a number of bands in Birmingham. Tom and Andy met while in their own secular bands, Hector's House and Doodlebug, but after Andy's conversion they both knew that Jesus had different plans. At a Hector's House reunion gig, Andy met John Large (drums) and Simon Smith (bass) of the Pink Dandelions. Things moved quickly from this point on and without a name they played their first gig as support to lona at the Irish Centre. One more gig at the Flapper And Firkin resulted in the band being signed to new Birmingham label MGL.

The band received acclaim secularly in almost everything they did with extensive national and local radio coverage for "Generation X" (from the likes of BBC Radio 1's Mark Radcliffe and Johnnie Walker, Virgin and GLR) as well as MTV video coverage. The DPs toured nationally and supported numerous bands such as Babylon Zoo, Stiff Little Fingers, Ocean Colour Scene and Fish and received rave reviews in the likes of Melody Maker and Kerrang! ("Best Newcomers"). "We were received better by unbelievers than believers," says Andy. "Christians generally seemed confused about how to respond to us, but that was okay, since our message was mainly to the unsaved. I guess if you're spiritually healthy you don't need a doctor!"

The band certainly have a lotto say and aren't afraid to express themselves. "We had our first set of T-shirts printed with New World Order pills and the occult US dollar pyramid on in an attempt to show people the prince of this world," explained Andy. "Some people thought it was a cool T-shirt, some understood the irony and others thought we'd lost the plot completely." A subsequent T-shirt featured an ancient picture of the Tower of Babel but "after printing," laughs Andy, "it looked like the Tower of Turd!" The third T-shirt featured an official European product stamp with the band's name on it. "The message was that we are unwitting subjects to a world system that seeks to own and number us."

Andy asserts, "We're not a political band but we do recognise the plain flippin' obvious re-emergence of the Roman Empire as described by the prophet Daniel. The times we're living in now are similar to the times that Jeremiah warned about. God's people will be tempted to either run to Egypt (the world) or to Babylon (one world church/religious system). Economically and politically the stage is being set, ready for Antichrist to walk on. This is no time to be asleep or drunk! We need to decide now not to compromise in the future, and to look up because our redemption is near. Our songs both past and present reflect all of these themes."

The band released a few more singles after "Generation X" and finally the album 'We're Not Grasshoppers' but by this time the record company had run out of money and folded quickly. Tom and John signed to EMI with Thought Gang and Dissident Prophet called it a season. "This was definitely the hand of Jesus looking back now. When things don't work out the way you think they will and you're a Christian, rejoice because he's saving you from dangers you can't see! A well pruned tree has deeper, stronger roots and it will not be uprooted when the wind blows." In fact it was in these wilderness years that the songs continued to flow at a time when Andy was busier than ever, working and married with three children. The fruit of those years is 'Striped And Pierced', an 18-track eclectic CD recorded in 2000.

Which brings us to the current reforming of Dissident Prophet and the imminent release of their new album, '21st Century Spin'. "Many people were asking us to do a reunion gig and play all the oldies since it seemed such a waste. Little did they know that Tom and I had the urge too, however we were more inspired to play new stuff mixed with old." Joining Andy and Tom in the new line up is the band's American import, Collin Burton (bass), Dave Odart (ex-Mustard) on drums and Melanie on keyboards and vocals. Further interest in the band was developed when October 2001 saw the single "Man From The Sky" featured in a short animation shown on Carlton TV.

"'21st Century Spin' was written in Safeway on the Coventry Road. The slippery floors, aggressive bargains and large queues triggered off the vocal riff," Andy explains. "We've changed our style a little bit, more rough at the edges, less precious. Having said that, it feels strange to think that rock has hardly moved on since 'GenX' and people still want to listen to it. Grunge is strangely still consumed. Our influences seem to be a mix of straight rock'n'roll and 70s Messianic stuff. I guess we're a bit like Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Ramones and Lamb all thrown in together."

I ask Andy what are the band's plans for the future? "We just want to get folks hearing our stuff. I've got more of an urgent concern for the stray sheep in the Church as well as the lost. Many are falling away from biblical Christianity and there are many wolves introducing false teachings. If you look in the Bible you'll see that two thirds of New Testament teaching is about correct doctrine because our conduct as followers of Jesus depends on this. This band has no specific mission. Music does not add or take away from the Gospel. I'd seriously rather just talk and reason about the truth and see people getting saved than sing, but folks want me to sing so I talk about Jesus, stretch out the words a bit, and put it to music." Sneaky!  CR

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.

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