The Cross Rhythms Festival saw the UK debut of top German band NORMAL GENERATION? Mike Rimmer spoke to the band's Simon Voigel.
The latest album from Normal Generation? sees the band going in a different direction. After their distinctive brand of Euro-dance music saw them heavily featured on the Cross Rhythms playlist, 'Outsiders' sees them stepping in a new direction, forming a live band for even more explosive gigs and most exciting of all playing in the UK in the summer!
Simon Voigel explains about the musical changes. "It wasn't a decision we made consciously, but rather came about naturally as we were in the process of producing an album that corresponded more to our own musical tastes and influences. The first two albums were much more dance-orientated, which was fine for a time and certainly established Normal Generation? in the European Christian music scene, but as the band has developed so have our musical priorities. The dance focus was more Steve's influence than anything else, but I'm much more of a Lenny Kravitz fan, so the new album was really liberating for me. Cross Rhythms described 'Outsiders' as a pick and mix CD, which is true to an extent, although our main goal with the album was to combine dance and rock influences and I think these can be found in most of the songs. As always when recording the album we were striving to produce something that would come over well live. You'll find songs that perhaps only really hit home when you see them done live.'
That is something that we'll all be able to experience at the Cross Rhythms festival this summer. Now equipped with a live band to back them rather than tapes, there's a new dynamic to the band's music and ministry. And newn opportunities too. Simon shares, "We've been together as a band for five years now and have always toyed with the idea of breaking into the mainstream, but the time was never right and God didn't seem to open the door. However, while we were recording the current album we got to know some influential people in the secular music industry who were keen to do something with us. To be honest it wasn't an opportunity that we immediately jumped at because we felt the new album had a particular message for Christians, but we stayed in contact with the record company people and left it up to them. At the end of last year we eventually signed a deal with Polydor Records and will be releasing the single long For You' in May."
The band are clearly excited about this new opportunity and are planning ahead. "We're spending a lot of time working out exactly how we are going to do this thing." Simon confesses, "We are on the verge of getting massive radio play, a video on MTV, television appearances and all the rest, but we're stepping out of a world we know well into a world we know nothing about. We're standing alongside bands who have been created solely to make money. The message is "look good, feel good". We want to put a song into the charts that worships God and we want his message of love, grace and forgiveness to penetrate the hearts and minds of the people where they are."
With a move into the mainstream, NG?'s latest album title seems even more poignant as they stand as outsiders from the culture around them. Simon is clear that the title is more than just a catchy name for an album. "In a way we are hoping it will become a new movement." He confesses, "It stands for people who know this world is not their home, who don't apologise for being Christian, but want to change the world despite being hated by it."
Simon is clear that the band is so much more than just music. "It is a
means to an end." He enthuses, "Our focus, as ever, is winning people
for the Kingdom of God. Now we are entering a new phase, but the aim
is the same. We've always been an evangelistic band, but the key now
is to present the Gospel in a way that attracts rather than bores
people. In the Christian scene we felt as if we were reaching the
boundaries of our ability to be effective. Now a whole new arena has
been opened up and it's our responsibility before God and the Church
to be worthy carriers of the Good News. We want to be faithful
ambassadors of a Christianity that is alive, well and accessible. Many
have tried in the past and failed. The Church has earned itself a bad
reputation and so much of what Normal Generation? will have to do is
changing people's perception of the Christian faith."