Tony Cummings reports on the rock worship team THE MUSEUM
Kingsway are about to release in the UK 'My Only Rescue', the latest album by Atlanta, Georgia's pop rock band The Museum. It is the third release following the critically acclaimed album's 'Let Love Win' (2010) and 'This Dying Trend' (2008). The group's origins began in 2006 when Ben Richter (lead vocals, guitar) moved from Texas to Atlanta to take a job at a local church as a youth pastor and worship leader. He invited his friend Geoffrey Ashcraft (bass) to move with him. Upon their arrival at the new church they were introduced to Josh Kirk (drums). The three began leading worship together for local youth services and eventually adopted the name The Museum. After playing with various bass players after Ashcraft left to become a member of the Texas-based band Sleeperstar, the lineup was completed with the addition of Chris Brink (bass) and Loyd Rieves (guitar).
Ben Richter explained to newreleasetuesday the origins of the band's name. "Our drummer, Josh, had a chance to go on a mission trip to Romania and before going there he knew very little about the country, but he quickly found out they were a communist nation until 1989, when they had what was called The Revolution of Romania. So, he got to spend some time there. He actually played a concert in the city square and right afterwards a guy said, 'Hey, I want you to come check this thing out. It's right over in the corner,' and he goes and shows him this placed called The Revolution Museum. It's all the things left behind from the Romanian Revolution. The way that the revolution happened was that a group of just 10 Christians actually gathered in that same public city square and they began praying for their nation, and that led to protesting and riots that overtook communism in just a couple of weeks. So, in that museum, all the things that were left behind were setup to show its impact on the Revolution and Josh was really affected by it. When he came back, he shared it with us and said, 'You know what? That's exactly what we want our ministry to be about,' and that was right when we were starting the band. We didn't have a band name or anything and immediately we said, 'That's it. We want to be called The Museum.'"
In 2008 the band released the independent project 'This Dying Trend'. One critic described that album as "guitar-driven with pop-radio songs next to ballads of reflection." The project eventually attracted the attention of Seattle's Tooth & Nail/BEC Recordings and in 2009 The Museum were signed to the label. Ben Richter spoke to christianmusiczine about their BEC Recordings debut 'Let Love Win'. "I think our sophomore album is very much built on the foundation of the sound of our first album - guitar/pop-driven with a worshipful vibe to it. However, I believe we were able to expand the sound a little further with things like keys, synth and programming. I think we got to have a little more fun musically on this one."
Recording 'My Only Rescue' was a very different experience for the band. Said Richter, "The process for recording 'My Only Rescue' was night and day different than the first. The first album was a collection of songs we'd written over the previous two to three years, we worked with three different producers in three different states and knew the 11 songs from the get-go. This album we really never stopped the writing process, even into the studio. We probably wrote and considered 30 plus songs in the span of six or seven months until we finished the record. We ended up throwing half of the ones away that we walked into the studio ready to record! The song "Better Than Life" we actually wrote and recorded in one day after we already had finished the album. We decided to take another song off the record and put that one on instead! It was a cool growing process for us as a band really collaborating and writing together on a deeper level. We also loved working with just one producer for the whole project. We felt that helped us to further develop our sound, identity and cohesiveness as a band."
Ben told christianmusiczine how it was working with producer Pete Kipley (MercyMe, Phil Wickham). "Working with Pete was a whirlwind of awesome. Pete is a ton of fun and comes to the studio full of energy every day. Our first week in the studio we went 12 to 14 hours a day five days straight and Pete never seemed to miss a beat! What I love about Pete is he's straight up - he'll tell it as it is. So he's great to recognise potential and push you to get the absolute best, without ever settling for less. He found a way to bring the best out of each of the guys in the band on their own instruments, and he really pushed me to be a stronger vocalist, songwriter and leader. I'm grateful for his outlook on life and music and glad to have made such a good new friend in the process. Pete's one of the good guys."
One of the album's most powerful moments is the title track. Said Richter, "Literally, the moment I was walking into the vocal booth to record that song I got a call from my wife telling me that she was miscarrying what we thought was going to be our first child. It was a pretty devastating moment for us both, and suddenly the words we had written just a few weeks prior had a whole new meaning to me. 'Give me faith to wait on You/Give me peace to be still. . ./In the chaos all around/You're my only rescue.'"
Another of the album's powerful moments is the first single, "Love Will Find You". It was written months earlier for a friend who felt impossibly distant from God due to personal mistakes and sin. The song's relevance was confirmed when the band travelled to the Philippines with Compassion International. "There we were, after multiple long flights, a two hour van ride, a ferry ride and then a rainy ride on boats so small only four people could fit on each one - to get to an island with just four families on it. We were literally on the other side of the world, and God was already there. On his behalf Compassion was there showing God's love to people who had survived a terrible hurricane. Although we had written the lyric months earlier, we knew this would be the theme of the record; 'You can run 'til you can't find home/You can sail 'til you can't see land/There is no place you can go/Love will find you where you are.'"
Unlike many bands recording for Christian labels, The Museum have no secret hankerings to move into the mainstream. Said Richter, "We are called to write songs for the church. Whether they are heard on the radio, at one of our shows, or on the album, we hope that our purpose rings out loud and clear. If we are not living lives that bring glory to Christ and that show his love to the hurting and vulnerable, we might as well not bother singing worship songs at all. In Amos God says, 'Away from me with the noise of your songs, but let justice roll on like a river.' Do we really want to create something that adds to that noise? We put a lot of thought into every lyric and every song that we write to make sure that it is something that is true to our hearts and, more importantly, true to God's word."
He continued, "Our concept of worship continues to expand. Singing is an aspect of worship but worship is so much more. Whether we are challenging someone to trust God through their valleys, or moving people to get involved in ending slavery in our generation, it's all worship. We're excited about this record, the upcoming tour and our continuing relationships with the organisations Compassion International and Not For Sale. But mostly we are excited about what God can do through simple people like us." Josh Kirk, the one who thought of the band's name years ago, continues to draw inspiration from his experience in Romania. "We want to sustain this revolution," he says. "Like that little museum, we want to show the evidence of continuing spiritual revolution in our own lives and through these 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.