It's not every day that an independent Christian rock band from a small town in Alberta finds itself among the heavy hitters of their genre.
Rock band West of Here has a lot of different labels applied to them: alternative, Christian, independent, but also a pretty substantial one: Rock Song of the Year winner.
The group--which is made up of brothers Taylor, Matt and Tristan Adams from Alberta Beach--has only been active since April 2014, but they've already made quite an impression on the rock world. Since their formation, they've been working on their debut record, The Journey, and have played for small events and venues in their local area. But West of Here couldn't be contained to their little province.
Having released singles to Canadian radio and received airplay all across the country, West of Here made its way into the collective consciousness of Canada's Christian rock scene, and in 2015, they were nominated for two GMA Covenant Awards--Rock Song of the Year for their single, "Run," and New Artist of the Year.
Now, West of Here is looking South of There, with opportunities and dreams of sharing their music and ministry with the rest of North America and the world. I asked Matt Adams some questions to introduce West of Here to the U.S. and the rest of the Christian music sphere.
You're a band of brothers. Talk about how you started playing together, and at what point you knew you wanted to do this seriously together.
We grew up in a musical household, with our parents involved in a band of their own. As kids we grew up listening to our father writing and performing some of his own music with our mother and family friends. We looked up to them and wanted to do the same, so we were naturally immersed in music from an early age. It started out as a hobby, but as soon as we began writing our own music we knew we wanted to make a career out of it.
How did your upbringing encourage what you're doing today?
We grew up in a Christian home with parents very involved in ministry with a heart for helping those in need. We learned quickly what is really important in life, and to keep God in the center of it. Today we are continuing to try to stay focussed on God and His plan for our lives and for our music.
You're from a town of 865. How did you get your music out there in your community? How'd you get your start?
Music really became a love of ours after we performed for the first time at a talent show, when the three of us were between grades two and six. From there on we continued to play for small events and churches in our community.
The album is called The Journey. What's the journey you're taking people on with this release?
With this album we were really hoping to take the listener through a journey to surrender. There is a battle waging for our souls as we speak, and that battle can only be won if we surrender to Christ, who has already been victorious.
Fifteen tracks... in an era of EPs and 9 to 10-track projects, what made you put forth the extra effort on this release?
Through the recording process we continued writing and coming up with better songs, so the album gradually grew and we embraced it as we were able to offer more to our listeners.
How do you go about songwriting together?
I do most of the songwriting of the lyrics, basic melodies, and chord progressions. We then collaborate to arrange and finalize something that will speak creatively and intelligently to the listener.
Describe your sound and your live show to someone who is just getting to know you.
Our style of music is one we hope can appeal to all. We're inspired by artists like Switchfoot, Tenth Avenue North, and NEEDTOBREATHE. It is mostly guitar-based but has a unique balance of modern rock, pop, and acoustic rock. Every song is written with a purpose and has a message to share in attempt to immerse the listener into a melodic story of their own.The Journey also has a slight medieval theme ringing through the lyrics, melodies, and overall production. Our live show is musically unique with instrumentals and moments meant to bring the listeners into a musical journey.
Talk about the spiritual and musical climate of Canada, and how you fit into it.
Canada is simply a smaller music market, very similar to the U.S. Artists rely mostly on radio to promote their music and touring can be a challenge as most of Canada's larger cities are few and far between. But all across the country people are looking for new music with purpose.
What's been your biggest surprise as a band so far?
Our biggest surprise as a band is probably the difficulty of getting your music to the masses. Even with plenty of radio play it is tough to reach people and create a large fan base because of the smaller Canadian market.
What's your calling as best you can tell?
Throughout our short musical pursuit we have had many events/miracles that have taken place that simply to continue to point us in the direction we are currently headed. God is continually leading us to pursue a career in music, and until he decides otherwise we will continue to transition into full time music ministry.
What's next for you, and how can people be praying for you?
Currently we are focussing on booking concerts and promoting our recently released album The Journey in attempt to build our brand and spread our message. We are working towards gaining exposure in the U.S. and perfecting our craft as performers, music creators, and Christ followers.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He just released his first EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
NEW! EXCLUSIVE FEATURE Christmas In Music Part 2 We asked your favorite artists about Christmas traditions...
NEW! EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Worship on the Horizon Horizon Music shares the sounds coming out of ...
NEW! BEHIND THE SONG DEVOTIONALS
Hannah Kerr & Melanie Penn 'Emmanuel' and 'Immanuel' ... yep, both spellings!