Making up the duo The Royal Royal and hailing from the great white north of Canada, brothers Nathan and Gabriel Finochio lead worship and are creating the new sound of worship music for the church today and the church of the future. While the music is innovative and progressive, the lyrics and message speak of ancient biblical truths.
The Royal Royal's upcoming March 2014 release The Return Of The King features songs that come from a very personal place, yet are universal. The lyrics are fresh yet honest, with music that sounds like it was born far away from the church yet shouts praise with every beat.
"Our favorite thing to do as artists is create; the opportunity to record another album is a complete thrill from start to finish," said Nathan. "It's great to work with someone you know almost as well as yourself. It's 'no surprises' living, and it really adds confidence."
Gabriel and Nathan grew up in the church where their dad was the pastor. "Our parents taught us to love the church and the value of serving the church; we think serving the church is the best use of our musical gifting," said Gabriel.
The pair attended Portland's City Bible College, and their musical influences include inspiration from not only their church upbringing and faith, but also different genres of music. "Jesus inspires our songwriting most, and our love for His bride, the church," explained Nathan. "After that, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young do a lot of influencing stylistically. We grew up listening to Keith Green, and the raw passion and production and fun he communicated made it all seem so simple and straightforward."
"Sometimes we think that the music should be old and the theology new, or sometimes we think that the old themes are boring and not worth repeating--as if the blood of Jesus could run its course. Our prayer for everyone that plays this record is two-fold: that they re-discover Jesus Christ in the freshest way, and that the old things seem brand new, all over again," said Nathan.
Producers David Kuwabara and the band's Nathan Finochio worked together to create a musical paradox. "Gabe and I write, play, and talk about how we want the album to sound stylistically, and then we bring David Kuwabara into the picture, who magically materializes and structures the madness in our heads," said Nathan. The 10-song collection of The Return Of The King features the standout tracks "Real Strength," "Holding On," and "The Lights."
"'Real Strength' almost completely came together at once as a spontaneous song to the Lord one afternoon at my parent's piano," explained Nathan. "I remember being overwhelmed to the point of tears at some very practical stuff--where will I get the money for this, how will I make this situation work? It is in those moments of life where you truly find out where your hope and trust is allocated. I didn't find courage at the bottom of a bottle or an amazing new series on Netflix or even a friend's prayer and encouragement. I found my strength in God that afternoon, who is my portion and my reward, my song and my deliverer." The song is for those who have purposed in their hearts to make God their source and for God to draw you to Himself. "We pray that our generation be one that can see and move beyond the emptiness and confusion of modernity, with its constant distractions that try to fill our anxious souls, and into the presence of our living hope, Jesus Christ," added Nathan.
The song "The Lights," like many wonderful things in life, was an accident. "We unearthed 'The Lights' during a break from recording our new album in Franklin, TN over the summer," explained Nathan. "Gabe had gone out for a day of study at the local bean bar, and I had stayed back to mess with some synth sounds. I started messing with a patch and out came some melodies overtop of what I was playing.
By the time Gabe had come back, I had worked out a sketch of the song melodically; he almost instantly had some lyric ideas and out came 'The Lights'." Nathan and Gabriel already had enough songs for the record, but it turned out to be a favorite, so they decided to add it to the track listing. "I've learned to anticipate life in between the structure because God works in both just as wonderfully, and I love that even when I'm not actively pursuing Him, He never stops actively pursuing us," added Gabriel.
Lyrically, the song "Holding On" is a favorite on The Return Of The King. It describes how God is holding onto us, and we are holding onto Him. "It's always a massive blessing as a songwriter to be able to articulate a thought that works well melodically," said Nathan. "We believe this song is going to resonate with people and bless them in their spiritual walk."
While not on the road touring the country and sharing their music, Nathan serves at a church in New York, and Gabriel is the worship pastor at a church in Chicago. They have a deep respect for the local church and understand that their music, however progressive, needs to be palatable to worshippers and worship leaders. Their desire is that youth worship leaders and youth worship bands will use their music in their local contexts.
What do The Royal Royal want people to take away from their music, and the words of their songs? According to the guys, "That Jesus didn't stay home on Friday nights and play Scrabble. His words are on the lips of the church when they sing these songs. And, that they speak those ancient Biblical truths that seemed born form far away each time they raise their voices in praise to Him.