Rock Your World

By Andy_Argyrakis
Posted: Mon, 08/11/2008 - 21:26

album promo image for Rock Your World

After Edmund keyboardist Yates takes a break from the keys to entertain the crowd at Projekt Revolution

By Andy Argyrakis, Senior Music Editor,

After Edmund Rocks Projekt Revolution
Outside of the Vans Warped Tour, Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution is arguably the largest alternative rock outing on the road this summer. Aside from boasting those hit-making headliners, this year's line-up includes Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell, dance rockers The Bravery, hardcore heroes Atreyu and pop/punkers Hawthorne Heights (to name a few). But when the traveling festival recently pulled into Atlanta's spacious Lakewood Amphitheater earlier this month, the bill also featured faith-based alt-rockers After Edmund, who were one of three winners during MTV2's prestigious "Rock the Revolution" contest.

"There were about 150 area bands who signed up and viewers voted on who would ultimately make the top 12," says the group's keyboardist, who goes by the moniker Yates, phoning in after the gig. "We wound up in that next rank with somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 votes and the folks at MTV choose us as one of the acts to warm up the Atlanta show, which was a true honor to be recognized."

The group played the final local slot on what's known as the "Revolution Stage," presenting an innovative blend of electronic elements and fuzzy distortion fromtheir latest CD Hello (Slanted). And as is their tradition, members switched instruments several times between the set, adding a hearty dose of artistic diversity to the all-day experience. "Christian audiences are awesome, but this show was great because it was out of our comfort zone," continues Yates. "We were kind of nervous going into the show, but after we were done, we realized people are people and they like music period. It was really cool to see the same songs and same parts of the show go over just as well with a mainstream audience."

Outside of being relieved, the guys were admittedly humbled by the experience, especially when validated by the MTV2 crew (who filmed the festivities) and other acts on the tour (most notably Atreyu). But rather than using the event as a springboard to greater fame, the group simply hopes the show was able to expand its ministry platform beyond the church's walls.

"We don't want to be one of these Christian bands that goes out there overly protective of who we are, but at the same time, we want to make sure the message is not preachy or condemning [to non-believers]," adds frontman/guitarist Mitch Parks. "We just told everybody at the end of the set that Jesus loves them and we'd love the opportunity to meet them, which is really when the conversations that have the most impact happen. We didn't necessarily get to pray with anyone or lead them to Jesus in those few moments, but we certainly did everything we could to further His name and let people know He loves them, which yielded a really positive response."

Southern Rocker on the Straight and Narrow
As a member of Atlantic Records signee Mama's Pride throughout the late 1970s, singer/songwriter/guitarist Danny Liston kept the elite touring company of the likes of Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band and The Allman Brothers. The southern rock superstar even served as a player in Gregg Allman's band and was lined up to be on the second leg of Lynyrd Skynyrd's infamous Street Survivors tour. That was of course until the headliners' frontman Ronnie Van Zandt died in a plane crash. These days, Liston is still sorrowful over that tragedy, but also finds divine providence in the career diversion, if only for the fact that his life as a non-believer was spiraling out of control.

"I would've gone to even darker corners had Mama's Pride went on that tour," he admits during a face-to-face chat on a radio tour stop in Chicago, citing simultaneous addiction to alcohol and drugs. "[At that time], the only real peace I ever found was when we were on stage, but the minute you go backstage and get back into real life, if you're not happy with who you are, those problems are right there waiting for you when all the applause and encores are over."

After the Atlantic era, the famed player temporarily retired from music and opened a restaurant in St. Louis with his wife, who became a Christian and tried to get her husband on the same track. She even got the entertainer to church one night when the preacher specifically addressed addiction, but Liston went straight to the bar after the service to drink 13 beers out of additional denial. However, his heart finally softened two years later, leading to a full-fledged Christian conversion after running against the tide for so many years.

Fast forward to today and Liston finally released his debut Christian disc No Other Name (Koch), which picks up in the snarling tradition of Mama's Pride. "A lot of artists become Christians and they soften their style, but I've always been a southern rocker, so this CD is exactly who I am!" he says of the collection, which was cut in Memphis' famed Ardent Studios (Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The White Stripes) under the production of Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, George Thorogood). "My heart is to run into as many guys [from the old days] that I can to show them there's life on the other side of this [mainstream rock n' roll] deal. You don't have to be afraid of God or think you're too screwed up to go to church, which is the biggest misconception. God loves you just the way you are and it's not some club where you're either in or out."


About the Writer

Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, 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, and 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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