Tony Cummings chatted to Chris Llewellyn, the vocalist with celebration band REND COLLECTIVE
Continued from page 1
Chris: It was the longest period of writing and recording that we've undergone before a record came out. It was about 18 months. We usually carry our studio equipment with us on the road as we tour a lot of the year and then we get up about 9 o'clock and work to 5 o'clock on studio and writing and then we play the show at night. It's almost like the little treat at the end of the day. Our main work is what we do in the studio. So, yeah, it's been about 18 months. Honestly, I'm so glad that we put in the work and that we pulled out all the stops because there's no sense of regret on this record. Anything that anybody doesn't like, we did it on purpose and that's the best you can ask for when you've finished your record, to know that you actually did it on purpose.
Tony: The last time I saw you guys was in a hotel in Manchester. Does the Rend Collective entourage get to stay in a lot of hotels?
Chris: Most of our life is spent on the tour bus now so a hotel would be a rare treat. But we have all our families, including kids, on the road pretty much 200 days a year, maybe more than that. For us it's kind of awesome because it allows us to be that family that we always said we wanted to be, right back at the start. We always said that we were much more of a family than we were a band. But back then that was more an ethos than it was a literal reality. But now we have kids toilet training in the front of our bus. We're more a family than a band.
Tony: Are you up to your limits space-wise. Are you or Gareth saying to the rest of the guys for goodness sake don't get married now or have any more kids cos we've got no more room?
Chris: We'll just make room. We'd rather slow down the music side of things that would get in the way of family life and community. It's such a blessing to be on the road, travelling and playing as much music as we do but never having to really set foot in the rock and roll lifestyle for a second. There is nothing rock and roll about Rend Collective; it's 100% family right now. There's Lego and transformers everywhere. I've been married for four years and we've recently had my first little boy, Daniel, four months ago.
Tony: Four months eh? It's smelly nappies every day, then?
Chris: Absolutely right, that's just what I was doing before I got on the phone. It's a life of showbiz glamour!
Tony: Tell me about the song "Rescuer".
Chris: It was written down to that realisation that we've just talked about, that every time you turn on the TV, every time you pick up your phone, all you can see is bad news, fake news, tragic news, something terrible. It's the realisation as Christians we shouldn't be a part of that bad news; we shouldn't be contributing to that narrative, we shouldn't be telling that story alongside media. We have hope and we have life, we have Jesus who is good news for absolutely everybody on the planet. Even the people who maybe the world thinks Jesus has no interest in. That was what the song is really about. It's an invitation for absolutely everybody to join in celebrating the Rescuer who is King Jesus. He's taken away our sin, yes, but he's also going to restore the world.
Tony: When you've finished recording a song in today's music scene the next thing to do is to film a video. I really enjoyed the video for "Good News". Whose idea was it to sit on a tractor?
Chris: That was Gareth's idea. Nearly everything that's really inconvenient or really quirky or really ridiculous, that'll be Gareth's idea. I actually had to learn to drive that tractor as well. There was a danger factor, learning to drive heavy machinery while trying to remember the lyrics to a brand new song, while trying to lip sync it and look happy.
Tony: Where was it filmed?
Chris: It was in Northern Ireland, right in the middle of nowhere. I honestly couldn't tell you where it is.
Tony: It's got some aerial shots in; that always says expensive video to me. Did it cost a lot of money to make?
Chris: Our videos are always pretty low budget, actually. Drones did the aerial shots. Praise God those kinds of shots have turned from 'I need to get a helicopter' to 'I need a remote control drone.' It's really amazing what you can accomplish now on a low budget. With the amount of content you're expected to put out nowadays, you couldn't afford to put in the kind of money that people used to put into videos because you need to do so many of them. For a band like us who have some very ramshackle tastes, we're very fussy people. It's weird. I think a lot of times things come back to us and we feel they're a little bit too polished so we're always trying to ask if people can make things a little bit worse, which must be a strange thing for everybody who has to work with us. Now the guy who's done the vast majority of our videos is called Greg Fromholz who lives in Dublin. He's now officially part of the Collective; he's a salaried member. He's contributed so much over the years, so he really is like the sixth member. He does a lot of other stuff; he's done some documentaries for Eugene Petersen and Tony Campolo. He's definitely a pro.
Tony: There's a modern hymn on the album called "Nailed To The Cross". Tell me about that one.
Chris: We wrote in response to what we were seeing in church. When you walk into church on a Sunday morning, you can see that there are some people who are engaging in 'T Rex worship' as we call it. That means your hands aren't fully in the air and you're not fully committed and mostly the reason why in my experience, when I've been doing that, is you're carrying guilt and shame from what's been happening in the week before. And it's so important for us as Christians to realise that it really is finished. That's why Jesus said 'It is finished'. The guilt and the shame that we carry has been carried and it has been dealt with thousands of years ago. So it's time for us to remember that our sins have been nailed to the cross and celebrate from that perspective. That it's not about our perfection as we come into worship but it's about his perfection. And we really can say that we stand with holy hands thanks to the righteousness that comes from God and that he gives us. That narrative is so hard to remember; that story is so hard to remember. We have to preach it over and over and that's something it says in the psalms.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.
Showing page 2 of 2