A new contemporary worship band from Bournemouth RACE have caught the ear of Mike Rimmer.
Race's 'Thoughts I'm Feeling' is an independently produced debut that is worthy of wider attention, if only because musically it doesn't fit into a comfortable three-minute pop song format. The full line up of the band is huge, consisting of seven people but Robin Coward explains that originally Race were a fluid scratch band for worship events. "We wanted to get something more stable going, but never seemed to find any other people who could give much time to a band." But at the start of the summer of '97, things started coming together and the line up settled.
For Robin it was a significant step forward in his songwriting and performing as he says, "I'd always wanted to be able to play the songs I was writing with a decent band, and we were all really encouraged by the way things fell into place, and it happened in God's time. Everyone brought their own little something, which was good and made things fresh. We tried to get together regularly, so we could make good quality music." Listening to the six-track album, Race have certainly succeeded! At first glance you could be easily fooled into thinking that this was an EP since it only contains six tunes. However the longest is eight minutes and the shortest five minutes so the songs on the album are all pretty epic. Robin explains why, "We had a year of playing various gigs before we pulled the album together." He says, "I think because first off, we were a live band, we made the songs long, so that people could get to know them well just after one hearing."
There seems to be a bit of an explosion of British bands in the last couple of years in the wake of the success of Delirious? and Matt Redman. I wondered where Robin felt Race fit into the scene. He responds, "I think God has been building up a lot of people to do this sort of work. It's an excellent way of evangelism, and there are a lot of good musicians who want to use what God has given them for his work. It's trying to make Christianity accessible to those who only get to hear the bad things about it. Things are getting exciting when bands like Delirious? are playing in HMV and breaking into the charts. If that's where God wants us to go too, then that'd be great - invading the culture, and all that." So where is it that Race are headed? "One of the big debates at the moment seems to be who Christians should make music for." Robin continues, "I suppose maybe I've said that badly, because we do it for God, but what purpose do the tunes serve? We have tried to mix and match, doing some outreach events and some worship. We did a jazz cafe thing, which worked really well, mixing our songs with covers. There's been a lot of good response to the tunes, from non-Christians, so I think the next stage may take us into the pubs and clubs - we want to present the gospel in a non-threatening way."
Robin picks a couple of his favourite songs from the album. The
opening cut "Would You Smile On Me" is the newest song on the album
and he says "it just seemed right to start with it, although it's a
little different. I love singing it, because it's a song of thanks -1
suppose its message in a nutshell is forgiveness is something to be
happy about. "A Cry For The Lost" is really personal, how I feel about
my mates who don't know Jesus. It's a prayer that God will use us in
bringing people to him."