Tony Cummings went in search of some info on turntable hitmakers THE ESCAPE
With such an avalanche of independent releases flowing out from every corner of Christendom it is no little achievement for an "unknown" independent artist to make it to the playlists of Cross Rhythms' three radio stations, particularly when a CD is the artist's first release. But this is what has happened to Burton-upon-Trent-based indie rock band The Escape, whose punchy "The Urgency" is currently connecting with Cross Rhythms listeners. We spoke to two members of the band and singer and songwriter Alistair Goodhead explained how The Escape (Alistair, lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano; Philip Clay, lead guitar; David Holmes, bass; Michael Coltman, drums) first came into being.
"In summer 2008 I was asked to put a band together for an event called Party In The Park in Burton-on-Trent. I had played with Phil before at various youth events. I knew Dave from other church events (and through five-a-side football!). Dave knew that Phil Coltman (our esteemed manger to be) had a son who drummed. We had no idea if he was any good, but we asked him along and it turned out that he, Mike, was very good. The rehearsals and the event itself went really well. We clicked as a group of lads and as musicians, so the decision to stay together and see what would happen was a no-brainer."
The band's surprise radio hit came from the 'Urgency' EP released on 1st October last year. Remembered Phil Clay, "It was the first time for us in the studio as a band. We recorded up in Gateshead at Broadwater Studios and spent five days working on the four tracks. A couple of the tracks were new to the band that week. These were 'Our Joy' and 'Glory to God', they are the most raw and basic sounding tracks on there but they're my favourite two. Ali wrote 'Our Joy' about a week before the recording and I wrote 'Glory to God' a few days before. The second verse was actually written in Newcastle whilst watching 'Revenge of the Sith'... I don't think you can tell.
Phil continued, The actual recording sessions went really well. Gav Richards from YFriday produced it for us, he was excellent and just what we needed for our first recording. I remember when Ali played the guide track for 'How Can I' on the morning of the first day, and all Gav could say was "that was 8 and a half minutes long". It's a good job he was there... we had a brilliant week, and we're looking forward to the next recording."
Ali spoke about their song "The Urgency". "In practical terms, the song came about fairly quickly - having had the idea I put the two verse chords together which give that sense of urgency. Having jammed with the band around this, I added the pre-chorus chords to give a change in dynamic before the up-beat chorus. Mike and Phil wrote the drum and guitar parts respectively, and then Dave created his delightful bass-line. I wanted to write a song that captured the idea of becoming lukewarm in our walk with God. The first verse asks where has the urgency and passion gone that is so prevalent when we first come to faith. I think most people can relate to this contrast of being 'on fire' for God, and then the way that life can dull those flames if we allow it to. The second verse then considers how a lack of passion and urgency in our faith can leave us inward-looking and uncaring for those who have real need - hungry, both physically and spiritually. So far, so depressing! The chorus lets us know what we must do if we find ourselves in this slightly sorry state. We must cry out to God to meet us in our need to change, asking him to show us more of his character, and to change our hearts. It's a humbling thing to admit that the reality for many of us is that our passion for our 'first love' has waned over time. However, God can work with humility and reality - so there is hope for us all."
The Escape are thoroughly enjoying their growing gigging experience. Ali's particular favourite gig so far was a Sunday night at the Costa coffee bar in Loughborough. He recalled, "It was the first gig where we didn't have any home support, and none of the audience had heard of us. The night completely rocked and we had an amazing time."
The band are now busily writing and rehearsing material for their next recording. Said Phil, "We're probably hitting the studio again early 2011. This will give us time to work hard on the songwriting and composition. We don't want to rush our next recording or record just for the sake of it. We want to do a good job and give people some quality songs."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.