Slanted Records' Virginia-based rock foursome, DecebeRadio has had a tremendous kickstart to what they are planning will be a lengthy career in Christian music, since releasing their self-titled debut album
in June of 2006.
That album was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album and earned the group four Dove Award nominations, including nods in the Best New Artist category and Song of the Year for “Drifter.” That night the band claimed their first Dove Award when DecembeRadio was honored for Rock Album of the Year, an impressive feat for a new band.
Their winning streak continued at radio where “Love Found Me” and “Dangerous” heated up rock radio airwaves while “Drifter” and “Find You Waiting” became back to back Top Five hits in the CHR format and won fans among AC listeners as well. “Dangerous” became the theme song for the Discovery Channel’s “Hazard Pay” program and was used in the CBS-TV drama “Cane.” DecembeRadio was named Breakout Band of the Year at the Rock Radio Summit and were the only Christian act touted among Billboard Magazine’s 2006 “Artists to Watch.” Christianity Today named them Best Band of the Year and Best New Artist.
With the recent release of their sophomore release Satisfied
, the stakes have risen and the pressure has built, as they always do with any successful launch. The first week saw the album chart at #3 in CCM sales, making it the week’s highest Christian music debut, as well as landing at #116 on the Top 200 BILLBOARD chart. With first week sales doubling that of their lauded debut, fans are ready for more of DecemeRadio.
NRT's Senior Editor Angel had an opportunity to speak with lead guitarist Brian Bunn on the expectations of writing another hit record, how the band got to where they are now and what they've learned along the way.
Hi Brian, and welcome to NewReleaseTuesday.com. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to interview you. Why don’t we start off by talking about DecembeRadio’s latest release Satisfied. Tell us the story behind the song “Satisfy Me.”
There have been times in my life when I’ve tried to find satisfaction in so many things other than God. Whether it be through a new musical instrument, material things or money, God has continually shown us that our relationship with Him is the only thing that can truly satisfy us. We just wanted to write a song that represents how we feel spiritually. So when we wrote the chorus, we came up with this cool music and started singing the line, “Only you can satisfy me,” and it sounded great! Not only is “Satisfy Me” the title track of our new CD, but it was the first song we wrote for the project.
Can you explain some of the other themes on Satisfied?
"Find You Waiting" tells an extraordinary story of faith. Our producer, Scotty Wilbanks, had a friend named Chris Odell, from Atlanta, who had cancer. We had the opportunity to meet him a week before he passed away. At Chris’ funeral his wife stood over his casket raising her hands and praising God, even in the midst of her sorrow. The second verse in “Find You Waiting” says:
I’ve seen a widow cry through her sorrow/And still raise her hands in the midst of it all/And Lord, I’m reminded that when I was weary/ You carried me, yes, You carried me.
When Scotty shared the story of what happened at the funeral, we were inspired to write “Find You Waiting.” For us, this song has a very special meaning. It means a lot to me to know that no matter where I am or what I’m going through, I can always find God there waiting for me.
“Better Man” talks about all the things in life we’ve gone through and the things we’ve regretted doing. If we truly seek God and learn from our past mistakes, it makes us a better man or woman. I have a cousin who recently got her life right and is living for God now. She was into drugs, but over the past few years she has turned her life around. Now she is helping other teenage girls with the same problems and leading them to Christ.
"For Your Glory” is our first radio single and the last song we wrote for the album. We wanted to write a verticle worship song that we could sing to God. Of course, all our songs center around God and what He’s brought us through, but this time we wanted the focus to be on worshipping Him. Our songs have simple messages but they’re powerful. “For Your Glory” reminds us that everything we do should be for the glory of God.
I loved every song on the album! The lyrics really spoke to my heart, and I’m sure many more people will be inspired by the empowering messages you’ve presented on this project.
That’s always been our prayer—even as we were going into the album—that God would anoint each and every song, and first and foremost, give us the lyrics that He wanted the people to hear. And He really did that!
What message do you want people to come away with when they listen to Satisfied?
Our goal is to encourage and uplift people. We certainly hope every song on Satisfied
will touch each person in a different way and that God will use our music to speak into their lives.
Our first record had a lot of darker songs such as “Razor” and “Greed.” Even though we liked some of that, we truly realized we’re a bunch of happy guys! We like to have fun onstage and in our lives, so we didn’t want this album to be as dark as the last one. Our latest project still rocks hard, but it’s just a happier album overall.
With the success of the previous album under your belt, what was the atmosphere like when you went into the studio to record Satisfied?
We were a little nervous when we first started writing the second record because we wanted to avoid the sophomore slump. One of our goals this time was to make sure every single song on the album worked well in a live concert setting. When we wrote our previous album, we really didn't think about how the music would translate live. But after we released our first CD, we had a few years to go on various tours and perform live. The experience we gained on the road helped us to learn what songs work well live, so we took all that knowledge back into the studio with us. That played a major part in the CD.
On your album cover Satisfied, I noticed you’re standing in a swamp with the other band members. How did you come up with the concept for your CD cover?
We originally planned on using another picture. But one day, as we were preparing for a photo shoot, our manager said, “Hey guys, I got a cool idea! What if we found a swamp and went down to it this afternoon? You can put on your nice clothes, walk into the water and get your picture taken." The irony there is that you’re all dressed up while you’re standing in a swamp.
We laughed about it at first, but toward the end of the day we actually found a swamp. So we went down there, took off our shoes, rolled up our jeans a little bit and walked right into the water—and stood there for 45 minutes while we got our picture taken. It’s a good thing we did it because when we got the pictures back, those were by far our favorite!
Were you concerned that there might be fish and snakes swimming around you during your photography session?
[Both laugh.] And leeches, too! To be honest, yes. But some of our songs like "Believer" and "Satisfy Me" have more of a swampy, Southern sound, so we thought the whole swamp theme fit our music—and we went with it!
When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
Josh and I have been playing music together since we were 12 years old. To be honest, as soon as we started playing—I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I didn’t know in what capacity it would be, but I knew that I loved it, and it was a gift that God had given to me.
How did DecembeRadio get its start?
When Josh and I were in middle school we started performing in bands together. Back then we played mainstream cover-tunes. But around the 10th grade we felt like God wanted us to do more for Him. There was a time in our lives when we worshipped music and wanted to be rock stars because we thought it would satisfy us and make us happy. Anytime the focus is on those things, God will let things fall apart since you’re not serving Him. God reminds us that our relationship with Him is the only thing that will ever satisfy us. We knew at that point we had to follow God, because He’s the only way to go—and that’s what we did. We started leading worship and writing our own Christian songs.
After we graduated high school, we started traveling on the road with Billy Wayne, a Christian evangelist from Tennessee. Billy was like a spiritual mentor to us. We traveled with him for a couple of years as part of his backup band, and through our travels we met Eric (our other guitar player), who decided to join us. After that, we formed the band and just started performing at various places. Boone, our drummer, is the newest guy to join the band. We got his number from our producer and called him up. Once we met him at a gig, we knew Boone was the right guy for the job!
I understand that after DecembeRadio’s inception, you contracted a virus that paralyzed three-quarters of your vocal chords. Were you the lead singer at the time?
I was the lead singer, but I started having trouble with my vocal chords. My voice started cracking a lot at the shows, and I couldn’t sing the songs or hit the notes that I needed to hit. So I went to a voice specialist in North Carolina and found out that three-quarters of my voice was paralyzed. I can’t remember the name of the virus, but they told me that my condition could improve or it could be permanent—they just didn’t know.
It just so happens that Josh has always had a great voice, but he was a little shy at first and didn’t want to sing lead. Of course, Josh and I have been good friends for many years. We’ve grown up together, played music together—we’re like brothers. So, even though I was worried about the situation and was wondering what to do next, Josh was able to step in and become our singer. God always equips us with the right people that we need to get the job done!
To be honest, when we were writing a lot of the songs that we wanted to do, my voice was much smoother and didn’t fit the style of the music we wanted to play. It’s funny how God worked it out. When my voice became paralyzed, that forced Josh to become our singer, and his voice ended up fitting the style of music that we do perfectly! God has shown me that we can always find a blessing—even in bad times—if we’ll let Him work through our circumstances.
Were you unable to talk or did the virus just affect your singing ability?
It just affected my singing. For some reason, I can sing really high or low, but I have no control over my mid-range, which is exactly where I need to sing to have power as a male vocalist. I went through a series of vocal exercises, but none of that really helped. I’ve been praying about this lately, and I know if God wants me to have it back, He will make it happen.
DecembeRadio has toured relentlessly over the past two years. I heard you’re on the road approximately 200 days a year. What drives you to continue to work so hard at what you do?
Being a musician is not necessarily a glamorous lifestyle. It’s a lot of hard work, and we have to sacrifice a lot of time away from our families and wives. I always tell people not to do it unless you absolutely have to, unless you’re absolutely sure this is what God has called you to do. As hard as it gets at times, and as much as we sometimes get discouraged and want to give up, we know that we can’t. We have to keep pressing on because this is what God has called us to do.
Can you share any stories from fans who have been impacted by your music?
A few weeks ago, we had a guy come up to us at one of our shows. He said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I sat next to you on an airplane in Atlanta, Georgia, about three years ago. Through your music I’ve come to know Christ, and you’ve had a part in helping my life change forever.” We had no clue that talking to him on the airplane three years ago would have that kind of impact on his life. We love to hear stories like that!
So what has God been teaching you lately?
Over the past year, I’ve had a tendency to react negatively toward a lot of things. I was focusing on the [problems] instead of letting God work through my circumstances. God has been showing me that whenever I go through a discouraging situation, that should be the time when I draw closer to Him and learn from Him. That’s when I need to rely on His strength and the hope that He gives me. I’ve learned that even though some things don’t look good, He’s working through them and He’s got it under control. Romans 8:28 says: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans before we go?
We love our fans! We’re very thankful for your support, and we hope to see you at a show soon!
To find out more about DecembeRadio visit www.decemberadio.com or www.myspace.com/decemberadio.