Tony Cummings talked to Gareth Gilkeson and Patrick Thompson of celebration band REND COLLECTIVE
Wikipedia calls Rend Collective "a Northern Irish Christian experimental folk rock worship band" though since they settled on a fixed personnel and released their first record label album 'Organic Family Hymnal' in 2010 followed by 'Homemade Worship By Handmade People' (2012) the experimental element has kind of drifted away. What has not drifted away is Rend Collective's huge impact with the worshipping Church. 'Campfire' (released in 2013), 'The Art Of Celebration' (2014), 'As Family We Go' (2015) and 'Campfire II: Simplicity' (2016) have kept them well and truly in the church-going public eye. Now a new release, the compilation 'Build Your Kingdom Here: A Rend Collective Mixtape', will clock up more sales for Integrity Music.
As well as their impressive recorded output the folk rockers are extraordinary road dogs. Band members, technicians, wives and children tirelessly undertake tours all over the USA (they are currently in the middle of one) and will be taking in a British tour beginning in Stoke-on-Trent on 1st February 2018 followed by gigs in Bath, West Bromwich, Liverpool, Derby, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Huddersfield, Cambridge, Guildford, Southampton, Eastbourne, Folkestone, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Inverness, Glasgow and Belfast. In all this jaw-dropping activity drummer Gareth Gilkeson and guitarist Patrick Thompson still found time to talk to Cross Rhythms.
Tony: Considering the label that Wikipedia have currently saddled you with, how do you think we should refer to Rend Collective?
Gareth: We don't call ourselves a folk band, we're a celebration band, so we just go with whatever feels good. Sometimes the electric drums, you know hitting a note on a keyboard is just as hard, isn't it Patrick? (Laughs) Not really, no, it keeps you in time more.
Patrick: The force you hit it with it's the same thing. With conviction, it's all about conviction. (Laughs)
Tony: Were the band directly involved with this compilation
album with the confusing subtitle 'the mix tape'?
Gareth: No we weren't involved with it at all. [The record company] wanted to do a compilation of songs that had done well from our back catalogue so they went ahead with it. We didn't really know anything about it.
Tony: But why bring the mix tape in? It isn't a mix tape, by my understanding, unless you go back to the original meaning of mix tape.
Gareth: You're asking a guy who wasn't involved. I know what you're saying, I suppose a mix tape in our day was whenever you would record your favourite songs off the radio.
Patrick: There's definitely a couple of songs on there that we thought 'I wouldn't put that in a collection of our greatest hits,' not that I would put many, we don't have many that go on greatest hits. But there's a few that I'm sure meant something to some people.
Tony: When I reviewed 'As Family We Go' I felt it was an excellent album in some ways and certainly the songs are up there, and indeed the arrangements are pretty good, but it lost that little bit of a folk tinge which I thought was part of who you are.
Gareth: Yeah, I think that's very astute. We probably agree with your review. To be honest, we had recorded 'The Art Of Celebration' and changed our own record label and partnered with Capitol. They were pushing for us to bring out a record quite quickly, so I think the process was too rushed, and we put all the folk-stuff stupidly on the deluxe part of the album and not on the main part. So I think it was just all a little rushed, we didn't have time to think the track-listing through. I mean we've been working on a record now - I've had the track listing for six months and we've already changed so many things. It's amazing what time does. You decide 'no that's a terrible song' or 'that's a good song', we've probably changed the track list, written new songs, taken off old songs. But [because the standard version of 'As Family We Go' lacked folk-orientated stuff we decided to do] 'Campfire II' - for our sins [and on that] we decided that we would go back and redo some of the songs on 'As Family We Go' in a more folk-style.
Tony: Cross Rhythms said that a couple of your live re-recordings are better than the studio originals.
Patrick: (Laughs) Yeah we agree with that, that's why we did it.
Tony: Getting back to that mixtape labelling on the compilation, when I first saw the title, I thought they were remixes of all the tracks. That seemed a reasonable assumption with that name.