By Deborah Evans Price, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
When it comes to great Christian bands, Georgia has been a training ground for some of the industry's top acts. Now following in the footsteps of such predecessors as Third Day and Casting Crowns comes Julian Drive. The band's new disc, My Coming Day, recently hit store shelves, marking their first effort for Inpop Records.
"If you look at the lyrics to a lot of the songs, they come back to that central message or theme that no matter how bad things get for us or whatever, there is always a real God that brings you through real problems," says lead vocalist Shane Bowers. "He is really there. Songs like 'One Step Away,' 'My Coming Day,' and 'Cry' revolve around that. You are really never alone when you believe."
Messages of encouragement wrapped in great melodies and delivered with passionate intensity have become hallmarks of Julian Drive's artistry. The band first gained national recognition as winners of the 2004 Exalting Him Christian artist talent search, earning them a deal with Daywind Records, which issued the band's first nationally released CD. "It gave us confidence and opened enough doors to increase our bookings," Bowers, a former bank loan officer, who gave up his secure day job as the band's popularity grew as a result of the competition. "It did open enough doors and dates to where we could make a living making music. Our fan base started growing and that exposure helped. That is definitely what [propelled] us to where we are today."
Bowers calls the Daywind release "a springboard" and though it didn't bring them the radio airplay they'd hoped, it helped give the band a national platform and paved the way for Julian Drive to perform shows with Rush of Fools, David Crowder Band, Day of Fire, Disciple, Israel Houghton, Building 429, NewSong, Superchick and Big Daddy Weave.
Bowers, along with keyboardist Shaun Bennett, bassist James Nitz and guitarist Jesse Triplett, continued to develop their sound. "We came from playing in church and leading worship," says Bowers. "We still lead worship but it has a rock edge to it; then because of my voice and my background, it's kind of rock worship with a bit of country twang. Some people described us as pop rock with a country flare and I think that is still true but I think we have tried to tone it down to where it is all a little more pop/rock. Our sound has developed through the years and I think that we finally got it on this record. It's wrapped around who we really are musically."
The band credits producer Lynn Nichols, who has worked with Switchfoot and Phil Keaggy, with helping them refine their sound. "He had heard some of our old stuff and he really got us and liked our sound," says Bowers. "He had a great reputation working with all the other artists that he worked with. We just hit it off with him and he was excited about working with us. He had a good vision."
Nichols also steered the band toward their new deal with Inpop, an independent label founded in 1999 by newsboys frontman Peter Furler, manager Wes Campbell and label president Dale Bray. My Coming Day is already earning positive reviews for the band. Their first single, "From Your Hands," has been garnering airplay and the album is full of strong cuts, including a terrific version of the Hoobastank hit "The Reason."
"We just liked the song and the lyrics made sense with what we were doing," says Bowers. "To me, if you listen to the lyrics in that song it is a vertical song, singing to God."
Fans will get a chance to hear their new music live when Julian Drive hits the road this spring, touring with another Inpop band, Article One. "Those guys are unique and they have their own thing too," says Bowers. "We are looking forward to it. It is going to be fun."
About the Writer
Deborah Evans Price has covered Christian/Gospel music for Billboard magazine since 1994. She also contributes regularly to Country Weekly, CMA Close Up, Devo'Zine, Christian Single, HomeLife, BMI Music World, and other publications.
A Nashville resident since 1983, Deborah has held editorial posts at Radio & Records, Country News, American Songwriter and Billboard. Amy Grant, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, 3 Doors Down, Third Day, Don Henley, Bon Jovi, Chris Rice, Sandra Bullock, Mercy Me, Alan Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Steven Curtis Chapman are among her many interviews. Additionally, she's a sought-after music industry analyst who has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, TNN, The Today Show, and ABC PrimeTime Live, among other outlets.
Deborah is a member of the Gospel Music Association's board of directors and a graduate of Leadership Music. She resides south of Nashville with her husband, Gary, and 19-year-old son Trey.