Jad Gillies gave a syndicated radio interview where he spoke about HILLSONG UNITED's 'People' album
As any follower of Christian music will tell you, Hillsong United originated as part of the Australian megachurch Hillsong in 1998 and since then have broken all sorts of records in terms of people attending their packed out performances and album sales. Their latest set 'People' is another huge hit currently at number two in both America's and the UK's Christian music charts. 'People' was recorded live in Sydney and has already established more Christian radio hits than any album in the whole history of modern worship. This week's Hot Christian Songs chart lists nine (yes, nine) hits: "Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)", "Another In The Fire", "Good Grace", "As You Find Me", "Highlands (Song Of Ascent)", "Ready Or Not", "Clean", "Starts And Ends" and "Holy Ground". Jad Gillies is one of Hillsong United's six worship leaders together with Joel Houston, Jonathon "JD" Douglass, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith-Gaukrodger and Benjamin Hastings. Jad gave a syndicated radio interview in which he talked about the ongoing Hillsong United phenomenon.
Interviewer: Why the name 'People'?
Jad: The name 'People' is inclusive. It's for everybody. That's the first thing that I'd love everyone to take away. Even the tour that we're on we call it the People tour. We didn't call it the Christian tour because we want people to be welcome, we want people to feel like this is something that could be theirs, that they could kind of be a part of, or connect themselves to. So I think it kind of sums up the Church is made up of people, it's not a building, it's not a set of doctrines, it's people. So I think that's the really cool thing and I think we'd love for everybody to understand that the greatest resource that we, that the Church has, that God has, is his people.
Interviewer: Why a live recording?
Jad: We kind of got back to how we used to do it, to be honest. Write songs, sing them, sing them at youth group, or sing them in church, or sing them at services or whatever and try and capture what happens when people kind of grab hold of something fresh or a new thought or a new angle of thinking that they haven't thought about. We recorded this album at our Creative conference in October in Sydney, and it was really cool to just see the new songs be taught in the same week that they were recorded. So I'm kind of glad that we did end up with a live record because they're actually way more fun.
Interviewer: Tell me about the song "Good Grace".
Jad: Joel describes it as a big hug. If it wasn't a song, if it was something else, it would be a big hug. I think for us, that song reminds us the most of the old songs that we used to kind of sing when we were growing up. It's not the coolest song in the world but as far as we're concerned we believe that the world needs to be singing it in the sense that it's great to kind of remind yourself, it's great to confess to the name of Jesus, it's great to reach for God, to be together in fellowship and worship God. So I think it's obviously not the coolest song out musically and all that kind of thing but to be honest we're really passionate about the fact that it says what it needs to say, we believe, for a time like this.
Interviewer: Hillsong United had a bit of a hiatus after the 'Wonder' album. Did you guys feel the need to take a break?
Jad: We were all running at 100 miles an hour and a lot of us JD, myself, Joel, had responsibilities outside of United which were quite consuming and the travel was becoming quite immense. We went to Israel and I guess we were recording, we were trying to finish off other projects for other bands, we were kind of doing other stuff and I think it got to the point where we were like "woah man, I can't keep going at this pace, I can't keep doing this". I remember for myself we had the album 'Wonder' coming out and we were going on these promo trips and I just remember walking down into my kitchen and saw my wife and I was like "woah, I don't think I can go on this trip". So I called Joel and I called out to our manager and said "I'm not gonna come on this trip" and then immediately I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. So it was obvious that I just needed to make a couple of changes and take some time and so at the end of those promo trips I think Joel was feeling the same way, Taya was as well, JD was kind of in the same boat as myself. So they decided not to travel for the rest of the year, and then that year became another year, which was last year, when we recorded an album at the end of the year. So things are feeling pretty good now, we've made a few changes to the way things work, which I think is a lot healthier, and also we're kind of shifting around our responsibilities at home trying to make it a little more sustainable. But we're definitely excited when it comes to this album. It kind of feels like how it did when we were just kids recording albums and kind of not knowing what was gonna happen, that was kind of the feeling recording this album, not really knowing what was gonna happen, but that sense of faith and excitement in teaching new songs was there which was a really nice, familiar feeling to have. So, I think we're on the right track, I think we just needed to re-calibrate.
Interviewer: "Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)" is a very powerful worship anthem.
Jad: Everyone in our band has a different part about the song that they love. I love the defiance and contempt that it has for the enemy. I guess it's the "healed and forgiven, look where my chains are now", it's "death has no hold on me" you know, like I just love that that's the bit where we sing and the band ramps up and we sing powerfully and it's kind of like this sense of contempt towards the enemy or defiance that God has saved me and you can do nothing about it and that's one thing that I love. It's kind of like a confession of faith. One thing that we do out on this tour is Taya kind of asks people if they're going through something, or they're going through a struggle, then this is what we confess in the name of Jesus. So I think for me a really powerful thing to do is to remember. Remember what God has done and remember what the truth is. Remember what it is that he has achieved and what he has forged because that is now the truth and we can stand on that truth and so I think we often forget, we kind of get confused or we get distracted by what's going on in our lives when a lot of times all we need to do is remember the truth. When we remember the truth then all of a sudden we can grow our faith. Because the Bible says "faith comes through the hearing of the word" and so when we remind ourselves of what God has done, we remind ourselves of who God is, well that's when we receive faith, so that's what I love about that song.
Interviewer: 'People' has become the biggest Hillsong United album released to date with well over nine million streams and climbing. How do you stay grounded?
Jad: It's a real blessing to actually be planted in church at home when we're not travelling. That for me has been a massive blessing. It helps ground you because, for me, I'm involved with the creative team, I help lead the worship, I help build the teams there. We've got lots of campuses, 30 something campuses in Australia. So we're all involved in that while we're at home and that actually helps lend a lot of perspective when it comes to keeping in mind what's important. Building the church, making sure we're keeping that fresh perspective on the Gospel but also the purpose for the church, the purpose for all of this, the purpose for the platform that we've been given. We wanna make sure that stays in the forefront of our mind and making sure that we're using this platform to encourage and inspire people to serve people. It can get quite monotonous, especially touring, we basically are in a different venue every night. Tonight we're in a place called Fort Myers in Florida and we will do something similar to what we did the night before so in a lot of ways it can be very same-y. My kind of process is to, when we're singing the songs, when we're playing the songs, my kind of little trick is to make sure I'm processing the words as I'm singing them. 'Cause I find that when I process the words, when I actually think about it, when I don't just go on auto-pilot, but I think about the words and I process them, they become true again and they become real again. So I'm inspired to kind of sing on behalf of the people that are in the venue and hoping that they would kind of catch hold of that perspective as well.
Interviewer: You've been a worship leader with Hillsong United for 16 years. Today the band are more successful than they've ever been. How do you deal with all this success?
Jad: In a month's time everybody who's making a big deal of it now will be making a big deal of somebody else. So although we need to kind of acknowledge what God has done and the opportunity that we have with this album and the success that we've had so far, at the same time you have to remind yourself that all of this kind of attention is fleeting, so it's going to be gone in a month's time and so if you draw value and peg your identity too much to this stuff then you end up kind of being bankrupt at the end of the day. So I think we're all really weary of that and understand how things work and although we're honoured and we take seriously the fact that this is new ground for us, we want to be really careful because we are just church kids basically. I mean I go home and I pick my kids up from school and I do normal life back in Australia where no one even cares who you are so that's kind of a really cool wakeup call I guess. So those are the contrasts of this life you know. In America you get stopped in the streets and people ask you for your autograph or people ask for photos. But in Australia no one will get out of the way for you. It's kind of like the best little re-entry into reality I think. It's a cool way to be, for me anyway.
Interviewer: What are you hoping that listeners will take away from 'People'?
Jad: The first line of "Good Grace" is pretty much my take away. People come together. This world even within the Church is fragmented and disconnected. So I believe that we all just need to remember that we're human and that we're people and we are our best when we come together and we come together with a common connection. I mean the biggest hardships in history have also produced the greatest revivals in history. I believe that we as a human race obviously across the religious landscape need to understand that we're better when we're together, which I think is important.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.