The annual Spring Harvest Bible Week has made a huge impact in profiling new worship songs and ministries. Steve Cox spoke to DAVE LYNCH.
Despite some progress in music worship during the past few years, the soft pop and middle of the road musical genre associated with Sunday morning praise and worship still cling like a damp, November mist. The '60's generation, nurtured on the pioneering sounds of the Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan, persist in turning from their radical roots to the bland and trite. Yet, there is hope in the dynamic, and passionate, originality of a pack of young musos eager to break the mould of musical mediocrity.
One young man destined to be among the leaders of this emerging generation of musical trailblazers is 23-year-old Dave Lynch. An unassuming, engineer-cum-producer, Dave is the master craftsman behind the excellent, controversial 'Spring Harvest Praise Mix '97' album. He is a freelance recording engineer, but spends much of his time ensconced in the ICC recording studios in sunny Eastbourne. The jump from engineer to producer is a fairly giant leap for this rookie producer. So how did he feel when asked to produce such a high profile album?
"I was very excited to be asked to do it, but very, very nervous as well," Dave admitted. "It's very hard, especially in a studio, when you get locked away and you don't know what people think about it. You could throw away something you thought was bad and come back later and find out it was good after all."
It was certainly a brave decision to unleash a raw, young engineer on a Spring Harvest album. So, was this young dude given a free hand in the overall production? "Sort of, but I had a fairly limited number of songs. I had a list and a demo tape. Some of the demos were very, very rough. There were something like 24 songs, but they had to be shared with the 'New Songs' album, so the choice was pretty limited. We had to fight over a few songs but, as far as style is concerned, the brief was to make it different and use lots of different styles."
Somehow, previous Spring Harvest albums have never really quite hit the mark of cultural radicalism. Whether this is due to an inherent church conservatism, which inhibits new expressions of God's creativity or simply the 'Praise Mix' albums too closely echoing the formulaic worship of Spring Harvest's Big Top celebrations, I know not. But certainly 'Spring Harvest Praise Mix '97' album, with its artful use of grunge, dance and other elements is defiantly cutting edge. Was, I asked, Dave pleased with the final product and which tracks was he most pleased with?
"Yeah," Dave replied rather tentatively. "I like listening to it. I don't normally listen to stuff I've recorded. Some hit the mark more than others. Probably my favourite tracks are 'More Than Oxygen' and the Noel Richards song, 'Come Out Of Darkness'."
UCB Cross Rhythms listeners will be familiar with the controversial musical transformation Dave has given the Brian Doerkson track, turning a Vineyard classic into an eerie, industrial drone. The monotone Irish voice that superbly complements Dave's arrangement is owned, rather surprisingly, by ICC studio manager Trevor Michael, brother-in-law of veteran Split Level frontman. Adrian Thompson. I asked Trevor how he got involved.
"It started as an accident and I ended up on the track. The first time I heard the song was on the 'New Wine' album. Matt's (Redman) band did it down at New Wine. It was a Sunday afternoon and Dave was working in the studio. I was upstairs in another studio and he said come and listen to this. I didn't recognise it at first until Dave started singing the words. It sounded totally different. Dave asked me if I was up for singing the vocals. I'd sung in a band about two years before, but I'm not really a singer. I said I'd do a guide vocal and it seemed to fit the track, so a couple of weeks later we came in and did it for real."
Dave's version of events suggested there was some gentle persuasion, but Trevor's initial reluctance appeared to evaporate under the weight of Dave's newfound authority. Okay, but could the guys, particularly Trevor, really worship the Lord to such a radically different arrangement of this classic Doerkson number?
"Yeah," Trevor continued. "At the start it was a bit weird to be on the other side of the window with the microphone, but as I got more and more into the track, and relaxed. I did. There was a lot of stuff we didn't keep as well. I just started singing what was on my mind. As far as I'm concerned that's worship."
The radical re-examination given to other standard worship songs including Graham Kendrick's "God Be Gracious" and Matt Redman's "Can A Nation Be Changed" has raised eyebrows as well as hands in worship circles. So, what has the reaction been to this year's 'Sprint Harvest Praise Mix' album?
"Really, really mixed," commented Dave. "It's funny, a lot of my non-Christian friends like it a lot more than my Christian friends. One non-Christian friend came in when we were doing some programming and thought it was really cool. He was quite shocked to hear that album coming out of the studio. There're not many albums like that coming from the studio. There're quite a lot of live albums, but we're getting a few more bands down here."
Years of religious, and denominational, teaching continue to inhibit young Christians from experiencing God's infinite creativity. As a large proportion of the Christian Church plays catch up with new musical styles and trends, young non-Christians thirst for spiritual truth. How does this affect Dave and his own passion for music?
"In the beginning, when the whole Christian music and book industry was setting up, there were no boundaries. There was a freshness. But, as the industry is getting bigger and bigger, I think we're creating artificial boundaries. Personally, I don't think there should be any boundaries. You only get boundaries from people coming into the studio."
Showing page 1 of 2