Kutless' True Grit: Lasting the Long Haul in Music
What’s the secret to sticking around for awhile in the music industry? If there was a clear-cut answer, chances are we’d live in a world without one-hit wonders and no need to ponder questions like “where are they now?” Even if there’s no sure-fire way to last the long haul, one band that seems well on its way is Kutless, the Portland-bred modern rockers who’ve achieved platinum-plus sales status, a laundry list of chart-topping singles and over a dozen years in the business. Aside from seeing if that act has any secrets for survival, gmc also turns to burgeoning hardcore heroes MyChildren MyBride and brand-new alternative rockers Nine Lashes for other perspectives on extending your shelf life.
Kutless Lasting the long haul
To the outsider, the lives of the Kutless guys might seem nothing short of glamorous, especially considering the band’s readying the release of its seventh studio CD Believer (BEC Recordings). And though the toil of the road has certainly gotten a lot easier over the past decade after graduating from a cramped van to a tour bus, becoming established has truly been an uphill battle.
“There’s a real perception that once you get signed you’ve got it made," shares frontman Jon Micah Sumrall, "but the reality is it’s a really long journey. It’s incredibly expensive to do what we do and the money we make goes back in. As a young band, we didn’t take home a pay check because we needed to put gas in the tank to get home. It was definitely an interesting time because I was newly married and so were some of the other guys, but my wife hopped in a 15-passenger van with us and we were literally not home for a couple of years.”
Nonetheless, the sacrifice certainly paid off when 2005’s Strong Tower went gold and found the group splitting its style between modern rock and worship. That trend continues through today on Believer, which doesn’t just find the group more musically assertive, but also more spiritually anchored than ever before.
“My advice to younger bands would to make sure they’re called to be here,” asserts Sumrall. “If you’re doing this because it’s a childhood fantasy, you’re going to be let down, but if you’re out there doing it because God’s called you and you want to see lives changed, there’s no greater joy. We’ve gotten to do some amazing shows, like a Billy Graham crusade at the Rose Bowl in front of 100,000 people – it doesn’t get any bigger than that – and Winter Jam with sold-out arenas every night. But when you’re standing on stage in front of a ton of people, looking around in and of itself feels so empty. From the other side it seems so magical, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we do, but if you put all your stock into that goal, it’s going to be a massive letdown. For us, it’s ultimately all about seeing people’s lives impacted.”
MyChildren MyBride makes major strides
Since 2004, MyChildren MyBride has built a dedicated fan base throughout the worlds of hard rock and metalcore, eventually signing with Solid State in 2008. This year marks its third label release, a self-titled affair that comes on the heels of tours alongside Haste the Day, A Plea For Purging and The Chariot (amongst other notables in the scene). One element that’s allowed the group to thrive thus far is its ability to carve out its own original niche of intense vocals and thrashing guitars, which the guys hope will help them go the distance.
“[We’ve looked up to] bands like In Flames, As I Lay Dying and Rammstein, who’ve all lasted so long in the heavy music scene,” says guitarist Robert Bloomfield. “It’s inspiring because they all have their own sound. You can put any band on at random and I would know which band it was. I think that’s a key factor in longevity. Don’t follow around a trend in the music scene. Set the trend. I can’t even count how many bands that sounded like As I Lay Dying when Shadows Are Security came out [in 2005]. And come to think of it, I don’t even remember one of their band names... There’s no real answer to achieve longevity. Just do what you love to do and don’t compromise.”
Newcomers Nine Lashes looking to last
Chances are the group name Nine Lashes isn’t all that familiar to the general public just yet, but there’s already plenty of buzz behind the scenes. After a concert promoter passed on a demo to Thousand Foot Krutch/FM Static leader Trevor McNevan, the alternative rockers sealed a deal with Tooth & Nail. The group’s debut disc World We View comes under the production direction of Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, The Almost, Jeremy Camp, Hawk Nelson) and even includes a cameo from fellow veteran Ryan Clark (of Demon Hunter).
“A band’s originality makes them go a long way, though that’s not always the case,” notices singer Jeremy Dunn. “We definitely want to engage the fans and get them involved. We have patches for them to put on their clothing and be our army so to speak. We also love writing and creating, so hopefully one day we’ll be able to write a story that can be released in comic book or short film form and give fans something extra to dive in to. We just have to take it one step at a time. I’m personally not too worried because with God, there’s no reason to doubt anything. He’s been doing too many things to line this all up and that gives us a lot of confidence for the future.”
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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