Tony Cummings spoke to two members of creative worshippers RIVERS & ROBOTS

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Tony: Will you be performing any strictly instrumental gigs?

Jonathan: We're not planning to at the moment. We did consider doing some live launch when the album came out, but we never got round to doing that. It could be an idea one day, but at the moment we're just doing the regular sets.

Tony: It would have to be a venue with a lot of beanbags.

Jonathan: We wanted to try something like a museum, do a very visual event.

Tony: There's an opportunity perhaps to reach people in a different kind of way.

Jonathan: I know a lot of people that aren't Christians that listen to our music, and some of them might get confused by the lyrics and not understand what we're singing about. I guess it's a lot easier entry point. We've had stories of people using it for quiet times in schools, people buying it for that. Nathan's brother Danny goes to a church in Manchester that opened up for a prayer time after the attacks, and they played that album in the background. We've had a lot of interest from that from the community, people feeling a peace while they're in there and asking about the music. I think it's reached people in a different way than our other albums.

Tony: There isn't the same opposition to guitars in Christian music that there once was, but people in the church can still be difficult about music sounding secular. You must have encountered that.

Nathan: The way I've understood it is that we're made up of spirit, soul and body. I get deep sometimes. Music can hit you on an emotional level. Sigur Rós, for example, is amazing music - it moves you. It can be secular music, Christian music - there's just something about music. What's different about Christian music is that it can hit you on a spiritual level as well as an emotional level. It's about revealing God to people. The Holy Spirit does that. As we pray, as we lead people in worship, play our songs, hopefully it opens people's eyes to something of God. I actually think Christian music could be way more powerful than mainstream music, if we understand the way God can work through what we do. With the 'Still' album we've seen that: it hits people on an emotional level, but hopefully also it can reveal something of Jesus. The whole album is soaked in prayer; all the musicians who played on it were Christians, and we did that on purpose because we understand there's a spiritual element to what we're doing. It's not just, "Does it sound great?", it's, "Does it carry something of the presence of God?" That's really important. I'm not too concerned; I think if people don't understand what we do, that's OK. We know what we're doing, and we know what God's called us to do.

Jonathan: I have a similar view. I think a lot of beauty and creativity eventually points to God as the creator. People can sometimes tap into that without realising - in a beautiful piece of art or music. Seeing something like that, I feel connected to God more. I'm like, 'If God's that creative, and created people that can make this kind of music, it just shows the focus God has on creativity and beauty. I think it was John Ruskin who said the highest form of art can point beyond itself. There's a lot of music that just points to itself; or there's a band you listen to and you think, "They're a great band," and everyone claps the band. But to be able to make music that points beyond just you to something higher is to be able to make art that points to God - a higher purpose of art - and that's what we try and do, whether it's got words or it's just sound.

Nathan: Too often, I think, Christians look at music and think it's supposed to serve a purpose of evangelism. I love that story in Luke where the lady breaks this alabaster jar on the feet of Jesus, and she didn't do that for anybody in the room, even though everybody saw it. She took this really precious thing that cost a year's wages and just smashed it on the feet of Jesus because it was extravagant worship. An album will probably cost you about a year's wages [to record and manufacture]. We used to say, "Would we be willing to spend all this money making a beautiful album even if no one heard it, just because we want to put it on the feet of Jesus and say, 'You're worth the 30 grand we spent on this album; you're worth that extravagance'?" As a result of that, people will get touched and affected, but that's not the reason we do it. The reason is because Jesus is worth creating songs for, giving our art back to; hopefully the fragrance of that will spread out to other people, but that's a secondary thing for us. CR

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.