After gaining considerable exposure at Soul Survivor and delivering a play listed mini-album, HEAT now weigh in with a spiffing debut album. Kelly Smith spoke to the group.
With more southerly climes a-calling Manchester's Heat packed up promptly and made the transition from the Manchester environs where they have been involved in the Heat youth ministry, to the shining lights of Watford, where they are now active participators in the renowned Soul Survivor church.
Frontman James Gregory told Cross Rhythms, "For a couple of years we'd felt like God had a change for us at the end of 2001. We were all part of the Eden project in Salford, Greater Manchester which involved living in a pretty rough area and getting involved in lots of youth work. In some ways we needed time out from the intensity of living where we were and the pressures of being at Eden, but mostly we felt God wanted us to be in a place where we could learn a lot more about worship and church."
The pending swarm of summer festivals and events have laid out a colourful array of gigs for this now five piece ensemble who are more than just your average band. The Heat line up is James Gregory on vocals and guitars, Hayley Gregory delivers the magnificent saxophone, John Maiden is on bass, Esther Lane on backing vocals and Chris Lane takes up the drummer's position. With recently departed keyboard player, Oggy, who felt like God was calling him to other things, the band have been without a regular keyboarder but were by no means held back from producing their astounding new album, 'Is It Any Wonder' on which Chris Brown, a close friend, joins them playing the Hammond, in follow up to their mini-album debut 'Can I See Heaven'.
Said Chris Lane, "We worked really well with Trevor Michael who produced it, and he was great at getting us to be creative. He also came up with lots of really good, fresh ideas too. We feel this CD better represents who we are and how we play together."
And as if the achievement of the new album that has the potential to
sell in huge numbers is not enough for Heat, the band have still continued in their
ministry. "Although we've now all moved down south we're still running
our monthly Heat
youth meetings in Salford and Stockport. It's really good to still be
part of what's happening in Manchester and our vision is to provide a
place where young people and youth leaders can come and meet with God
and be refreshed to live their lives for him," said James Gregory.
Galvanising scores of young people into action for God has been at the epicentre of Heat's repertoire. One of the most memorable moments arrived in the form of 2K1: The Urban Adventure, which was a mini Message 2000, where over 800 young people landed in Salford to become involved in practical social action and basically reach out to the Salford community.
"We felt like lots of the prayers we'd been praying for years for Salford were answered that week. Just one example is a few years ago we did an open air worship event in Buile Hill Park in Salford. About 100 people came and we prayed that one day there would be hundreds and hundreds of young people flocking to the Park to worship God. The field where we prayed that prayer was where they put the 2000 seater tent for 2K1, and we were well excited to be asked to lead worship on a couple of the mornings for the 800 delegates who'd come to worship God," commented Chris Lane.
"Probably our highlight of the year so far is Spring Harvest, where we led worship for a week with the 14-16 age group," continued James. "We really liked it because as well as leading worship, we were involved with leading cell groups and running seminars on subjects like worship, playing in a band and prophecy. It's a privilege to see the young people get closer to God as the week progresses."
There is a lot more in store for the band though. Heat turn up the volume and prepare themselves for what lies in wait for them in the summer. A youth event in Northern Ireland, worship training events and the Soul Survivor festivals are lined up alongside a whole host of wedding bookings, giving an example of the popularity and ministerial quality that Heat are being recognised for. The implications of the numerous appearances they will make over the next few months and the release of the new album can only point towards well deserved success. Soon their mantelpieces will surely be decorated with awards as they rise to counter-culture stardom. And to be honest, is it any wonder?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.