Two years ago the band Fruit seemed to disappear from sight. Now the boys are back in action and with a new name, SABIO. Helen Knight spoke to the group's Aaron Frith and Mogs.
It has been an adventurous six years that any rock band would be proud of but for Sabio the years have provided more twists and turns than the Monaco Grand Prix. Let me give you a brief biography. In the summer of 1996, brothers Adam and Tommy Mills joined forces with Aaron Frith and Mogs to perform a one off gig for the Student Bar at Chichester College. "There were about six people there and one of them was the vending machine man." Aaron proudly recalls, "It was just that classic first gig that you read about bands in the early days." A few weeks later the band appeared at a local event called Fruit and decided to use the title of the gig as their moniker.
Appearances at Soul Survivor and the release of a couple of independent EPs resulted in Fruit being a band widely tipped for the big time. So when it was announced in 1999 that the group had been signed to a major mainstream management company there were plenty of pundits suggesting that this team could be the next Delirious?. But it didn't turn out like that. "We just found ourselves under their control and we felt like they weren't doing a good job with us, but because we signed all the stuff we were tied into a contract with them and we just needed to get out of there," reveals Aaron. At one point the management company asked Cross Rhythms not to broadcast any more music by Fruit, yet the company didn't produce the record deal that they clearly had in mind. Feeling more like a "hobby" than a full time signing, the band was caught in a stifling relationship. Although the boys had some of the wind blown out of their sails an amazing assurance of God's faithfulness remained with them all the way through. "We've had a few knocks and we have basically tried to pick ourselves up. We do not have any regrets, because we were convinced that we were doing the right thing at the time in terms of listening to God and praying about stuff and even if in our own eyes it did not seem successful, in God's eyes it was successful," asserts Aaron. "It has been a really tough journey. Faith-wise, we have grown up a lot because we went into it thinking it was all going to happen and we didn't really change or do anything. But we are learning through fasting and prayer and really asking God what he wants and listening rather than just presuming. We have had a few years where we have said where we want to go but now we feel that God has started to shout out and tell us where he wants us to go, so we are listening and are in 'receive' mode."
The group's first album under their Sabio moniker has now been released independently and gained rave reviews and radio play. It's aptly titled 'The Escape' and took a manic two months to record. Tony Cummings in CR69 gave 'The Escape' a massive 10 squares and praised their "ability to make music bristling with melodic intelligence and luminous faith" even without a big record company budget. Aaron comments, "'The Escape' is the most raw thing we have ever recorded, lyrically I think it is really honest about our relationship with God. We are sort of asking questions more than giving any answers. The whole album s collectively says in effect what we have been through over the past couple of years. We have written a unch of songs that we really like playing and we are really proud of and we are really excited about people hearing it, enjoying it and getting God out of it. You know we are just really excited about what God is going to do through this album."
Songs like "Mother" and "Frozen" reflect a deeper, naked spirituality as Aaron explains, "'Mother' paints a collage of our post-modern world. The theme is about the bond between mother and child, literally and metaphorically. It is about growing up in this fast changing techno age and in her most vulnerable moments she hears an echo in her ears of what mother always used to say and in a prodigal sense wants to return to that safe place."
Many of you would have seen Sabio at TheCall England this year, albeit a very brief appearance. "It was good, I was very excited about it," says Mogs. "I had read all their literature and stuff and it just seemed like they were saying come on to our generation. You know, stop being so slack and start living holy lives. But when we got there we spent a lot of time out the back trying to organise when we were going on. So we didn't get a feel for it to be honest." A slight disappointment perhaps, but the boys are still 100 per cent behind the vision. Recently Sabio appeared at Greenbelt and supported One Hundred Hours at Soul Survivor, which welcomed the boys back with open arms. "From start to finish, a good percentage of the perky crowd spent their time jumping on top of each other as Sabio dished out one of their best performances since sliced bread. A great night was had by all."
Despite the natural inclination to label them a Christian band, Sabio are resisting pressure to categorise themselves, "We don't want to have to give so much away," explains Aaron. "We don't want to box ourselves and say that we are a worship band or we are an evangelistic band, other people can do that but we are not going to, we just literally want to get out there with our music, we just want to get people closer to God, Christians and non-Christians. We want to inspire people, we want to make people think about their lives and confront this generation, the whole money stuff and materialism and the way people think. There is no plan we can go down, it is not written, we are just gonna go for it and see what happens."
So, what about the future? Answers Aaron, "You know it is a journey that feels like it is just starting to begin again after we have just got out of this record deal. So it is taking off again but really slowly, but we are not despising the days of small beginnings, like the Bible tells us to. So we are gonna push on and just believe that the greatest things are yet to be taken hold of."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.