Tony Cummings reports on THE REMISSION FLOW and their 'The Light That Floods' album
Based in Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, The Remission Flow call themselves "seven ordinary musicians from across the sectarian divide." In fact, their album 'The Light That Floods', released on producer Trevor Michael's groundbreaking 7Core Music, is anything but ordinary. Beautifully produced and passionately performed anthems of worship are memorably presented with the second single from the album, "The Father's Love", peaking at 26 in the Irish Alternative iTunes chart. Two of the band members recently visited the Cross Rhythms radio studios where they talked to broadcaster Jonathan Bellamy.
The Remission Flow consists of Darren Mulligan (lead vocals, guitar), Trevor Brimage (guitar), Mark Allister (bass), Raymond Douglas (keys) and Mark Mulligan (drums), together with backing vocalists Lorraine Brimage and Heidi Mulligan. Darren spoke about the band's origins. "The seven of us are from very different backgrounds. Some of us grew up in Christian homes, some of us didn't. Some are from Catholic backgrounds, Pentecostal, Presbyterian; it's pick and mix. I played secular music growing up, toured with secular bands, and it was only when I got saved that I came to know Trevor, and Trevor kind of led me into this band."
Trevor Brimage continued, "I grew up knowing more about Christian music and being involved in Christian music, playing in bands. I moved south of the border and met up with Darren and his wife. It was through our wives that we came together. It was a toddler group I think. We have small kids, our wives met and hit it off, and obviously the two husbands were into music and playing in bands, so we were introduced and the rest is history. . ."
The pivotal point in The Remission Flow's evolution was a youth mission. Explained Darren, "At this youth mission, we invited people from all over the community - Christians, non-Christians - and just tried to show them some small glimpse of the light of God and of Christ and told them the good news of the Gospel. Trev asked me would I take part, which I did. Then we got in touch with a bass player we knew from up north, and he came. My little brother Mark, who became a Christian just about a year before that, also came on board and soon there were a lot of people involved."
Continued Darren, "Eventually God gave us the right songs to make a recording. He not only gave us the right songs, but he gave us the right man, Trevor Michael, to come along and record those songs. We never wanted anything to come from those songs. We never wanted to be famous, or to get our name known. We just wanted to put down what God had put in our hearts; to tell people about him. We just wanted to tell about what God had done in our lives, and that's what these songs are. So Trevor Michael came over and recorded the album. We fell in love with Trev, we hope he fell in love with us!" Darren laughed and Trevor Michael, who was sitting in the corner of the radio studio, joined in. The singer continued, "God has blessed everything from start to finish."
Jon Bellamy asked Trevor Brimage what his life was like before his conversion. The guitarist responded, "I was in a very bad place before I encountered God. I can blame all sorts of things about where I grew up and the Troubles in Northern Ireland I grew up with, different bitterness and anger issues and everything, but at the end of the day it was just me being a selfish little boy. Wanting to do my thing all the time, and wanting my way. It was in my early teenage years that things came to a very crucial point. I was the kind of kid that was easily led and I could have gone either way or any way, and God certainly intervened through a lot of different mediums to do with family and church and even just friends at school; how he spoke to me and brought me out of that. Because of that I'm now a changed man. That didn't happen overnight. It obviously took some time."
Until God brought them together, Darren's background could hardly have been more different. "I grew up in a very Nationalist Republican family, so I was completely at the other end of the divide. I was from south of the border, so I didn't live with the Troubles but the area I lived in was afflicted by the same problems, the same sectarianism. For example, when I grew up I didn't speak to a Protestant person until I was, maybe, 16, and that was only because she was a pretty girl, so I thought I would cross the divide there! When I was growing up I went to Mass religiously, and that's the correct word, it was religiously. I believed if I did lots of good things, if I was good to my mother, if I was good to my friends, if I went to confession, that I would go to Heaven, because I was a good person. It was only when I actually heard the Gospel preached and read the Gospels that I discovered that salvation had nothing to with me and my performance. When I realised that it wasn't about me, it was all about God, my whole view of faith completely shifted. I came to see that if the desires of your heart haven't changed then you haven't encountered God."
The Remission Flow are finding that their work with young people is facing them with considerable challenges. Said Darren, "I think life for a young person in this generation is probably more difficult than it ever has been. I think you're being pulled in so many directions, there are so many influences. There's so much peer pressure. There are so many things trying to pull you away from God. But today I'm seeing many young people who are stirred up, they're fired up for God. They're hungry for the things of God. I think, however, that we would be lying and we'd be doing a disservice if we didn't say that there's a large number of Christians in our churches and in our communities who are, it's a horrible term and I hate using it, 'lukewarm'. They think that this is acceptable, to be lukewarm, but it's not. God doesn't find that acceptable. You read Revelation and you see what God thinks of a lukewarm church. Now, I'm not saying that in a condemning way, or judgmentally, because at times my heart is lukewarm and rotten, and that's what we're saying. When it is like that, you go back to God, get on your knees, ask him for forgiveness, and he will be just and faithful to forgive you and restore your first love."
Trevor spoke about the first single from the album, "Walls". "It's about a passage in the Bible where there's a city called Jericho and Joshua's going to take it. He's been told by God that God is going to 'give it into your hands'. I've been told if anyone's going to take a city, they have the swords and the shields and they go and they bust down the walls, or try their best to, and take the city. God, however, has told him, 'You go and you march around that city seven times. When I tell you, you let a roar out of you,' I'm paraphrasing here obviously, but God said, 'Let a roar out of you and you shout, and those walls will fall'. That's where the idea of the song has come from, that's what we're talking about, walls. But those walls can be so much more than just physical walls around a city. They can be walls we have built up in our hearts. There are walls which divide families. There are walls of all types of division, whatever can be going on in your heart. It's about crying out to God. The song goes, 'We're going to shout your name and watch these walls fall down.' We truly believe that. I hope that comes across in the song. We had the privilege of having a local youth group come in, 40 or 50 of them in the studio, roaring and shouting and believing it. We pray that that comes across as people listen to it, the heart behind this, that the walls will come down if we cry out to God. No matter how big we think they are in our lives, no matter what it is that we think we can't get over, or we can't break through, God can break through it, if we will cry out to him."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.