Pop trio Mass Anthem
picked their artist name based on their mission: to take their anthem--the Gospel of Jesus Christ--to the masses. Since coming together in college, they've sought to do this by crafting high-energy, exciting and current songs that communicate the life of faith in all its many facets.
Making their large-scale debut with new album Through People Like Me
, these Chicagoland guys on NRT's Indie Artist Watch are making some noise with a hearty crop of summer anthems. On the heels of the album release, I found out the essentials about Mass Anthem from Chad, Tyler and Joey.
So how did Mass Anthem begin? Two of you are brothers, obviously. But how did you create this musical endeavor?
Chad Sowards (lead singer):
We created this band as students at Judson University located in Elgin, Ilinois. It was there that we felt a calling on our life to create music that was relevant to today's culture, but also carried the same Gospel in a new and unique way.
At what point did you realize you had something, and needed to move from Chicago to Nashville?
Tyler Sowards (drums, backing vocals):
We had begun working on the record Through People Like Me
, and had a lot of writing sessions in Nashville. We wanted to continue to build relationships with other songwriters and producers, which was difficult from Chicago because we were so far away. So in September of 2016, we packed up and moved to Nashville. It's been the best decision we ever made as a band.
What's life been like since moving to Nashville?
It has been a grind. People think that when you move to Nashville, things will just begin to happen for a music career. What we've learned is that it takes extremely hard work every day to pursue our goals. We've had to rely on the Lord more so in the last few months than ever before in our lives. The cool thing about Nashville is that everyone is cheering everyone else on in music, no matter what genre. It's such a unique and fun atmosphere to be a part of.
Who are some groups that have inspired you, musically and missionally?
Lincoln Brewster for sure. He's inspired me ever since I was a little kid. Journey is another one that comes to mind. Missionally, I would say Newsboys. Those guys worked so hard at the beginning of their careers and faced a lot of hardships, but they've come through the other side and are enjoying long careers in the Christian music industry.
Musically, I would say Hillsong Young & Free is a big one. We love to have tons of energy in our music and have based a few of our songs off of their hits. Missionally, definitely for KING & COUNTRY. Those guys are the real deal and inspire me every day, not just to be the best musician I can be, but to be the best man I can be and the man God has called me to be.
You've made a connection with Ben Calhoun of Citizen Way. How was that connection made, and what has his mentorship meant to you guys?
Ben recruited me to Judson University in 2012 and we became great friends from then on. I give credit to Ben for helping me develop my songwriting skills. We've written countless songs on both our records, and have worked really well together in the studio. Having Ben as a friend and mentor in the industry has been so beneficial for us as a band and us as individuals. He's taught us the core values of what it takes to be successful musicians in the industry. He was the main catalyst behind Mass Anthem from the beginning and has been with us for support along the journey.
Tell us how you write songs together. How do you craft both your lyrics and your sound?
I try to write a catchy melody first and then build lyrics around the melody. I write best when I write with "track guys"--guys who build tracks from a computer that hopefully inspire the "hook" of songs, the part of the song that really draws people in. The final product of our music comes after each song is written. When in the studio, we reference multiple pop artists for each song to create something relevant, but still new.
Through People Like Me is the new album. Lots of energy, great harmonies and a fantastic, uncompromising message. What are you hoping people take away from the record?
No matter what your story is or what your struggle is, no matter what mistakes you made or make, God loves each of us so much and wants to include us in His story. He chooses to change the world through ordinary people. That's what the record is named for. We believe that He still changes the world through people like me.
What was the most memorable thing about making this record?
We have a tradition of going to Chipotle every day we are in the studio! But really I think the most fun part was creating it with friends. Our good friend Zach Kranz engineered and produced the album and we had multiple friends come to the studio to record background vocal parts with us.
Do you have a song that "almost didn't make the record" that found its way in?
Definitely. "Everything to You" was almost cut until one of the last days in the studio. We had written it a few years ago but just never felt that it was a great song. We finally sat down in the studio and stripped the whole thing down and started fresh. What came from that session is what we think will be one of the favorites on the album. We teamed up with a rapper called Beacon Light for the bridge and added a guitar solo to really make the song pop. We are so pleased with it now and can't imagine it not being on the record!
What's the biggest difference between Chicagoland and Nashville?
The heat. Nashville is very hot. Summer begins March 1.
Southern charm is real. People down South are so nice! And they have great accents.
Chicago was huge. Nashville is like a city-town. It feels like a small town or half a million people.
Are you touring? What's your live show like, for those who haven't experienced it?
We just began a tour across the Midwest and the East Coast, doing camps, festivals, and concerts! Our live show consists of Chad the lead singer, Joey playing guitar and myself playing a drum pad and singing background vocals. We have copied the idea from for KING & COUNTRY of having dual lead singer brothers. So we are all at the front of the stage, which we've found creates a ton of energy and excitement for a show. We enjoy jumping around on stage and getting the audience on their feet and having a good time.
What's next on the horizon for you guys?
We're just super excited to be on tour this summer and getting to do what we love. After tour this summer, we'll continue playing around wherever we get the chance! We'd love to go out West someday.
How can people be praying?
Pray that we never lose sight of why we do what we do. That more than anything, people would see Jesus in us. Our prayer this summer is that each person we come into contact with would be encouraged in their faith and excited about a relationship with Christ.