Canadian rock band All Above Me first caught our attention a year and a half ago, as their EP We Are Outcasts released, and the Calgarians made their triumphant introduction to the greater Christian music world.
In the last 18 months, the band has opened for a number of heavy hitters in the industry, appeared at major festivals, and has had the likes of Manafest and Disciple's Kevin Young lend their pipes to their songs.
The upward trajectory of All Above Me is obvious, and as they readied their new album and Pledge Music campaign, I thought it was time to check in with guitarist/band leader Guiller Contreras and see what's new with the band as they ready their next crop of infectious rock tunes.
Man, it's been a busy season for you guys! What all has happened since the release of We Are Outcasts?
Wow, so much has happened since we released our EP. We have been touring really hard for two years, mostly in Canada, but we also got to perform at Creation Fest in Washington, which was a really cool experience.
Some highlights... we had huge success with two singles on Canadian Christian radio. We won the People's Choice Award at the YYCMAs, and thanks to that we also had a TV appearance and performance on a Canadian music show. We have had the opportunity to share the stage with some of our favorite artists such as Skillet, Disciple, for KING & COUNTRY, Andy Mineo, Manafest, Family Force 5, Hawk Nelson and so many more. We also got to perform at the Billy Graham Festival of Hope in Vancouver, which was our biggest show to date.
How would you say you have grown and developed as musicians, songwriters, and people even in that short amount of time?
We have grown so much in so many ways, but we can definitely see how it all connects together. Our relationships between bandmates have grown to feel like a family. This has allowed us to speak and understand the language of music so much better, and therefore our sound, our show and our creativity as a band is at a very good and powerful place.
I would also say that with all the touring we have done, also come experiences that have helped us grow our faith and grow as individuals. At every show, we have had the opportunity to listen to our fans tell us their testimonies and it's amazing, yet shocking, the impact that our music or our show has had on their lives. We have gotten the opportunity to see that God truly is working behind our music and what we are doing as a band. With this, we have felt a clear direction of where God wants us to go and a clearer vision of how to get there.
You've been busy working on new music. Talk about what you've been creating!
Yes, we have been working very hard on our first full-length album, to be called Return to the Battlefield. It feels like now we have really figured out what kind of band we are and have established our sound. So now we feel confident in what we are doing and want to show it all on this new album. So musically, our fans can definitely expect this album to have metal breakdowns, hard rock, catchy pop melodies, worship and even a soft acoustic touch. One thing about All Above Me that definitely hasn't changed is that we create music that we enjoy ourselves and that's the way it is always going to be.
Thematically, what are some messages you're wanting to share?
We feel that this album is very strong, lyrically. We are proud of the lyrics behind the songs because they are real stories from real people. We took people's testimonies that we heard along the way and put them into songs. Some of the topics on this album include depression, human trafficking, suicide, and addictions.
Something else that we are doing on this album is worship songs. On our previous EP, we felt like we were still figuring out the whole "Christian band" label and industry. Now we have a great understanding and we know that no matter what, we will sing what we are passionate about and that is, Jesus Christ. Whether we are performing at a church or at a secular event, we will not be ashamed of our message and what we believe in.
One more thing that I will add in, we wrote our first "funny" song, and we are excited about it and it's called "Christian Rock Heroes." This song is basically making fun of our journey of rejection, being a new band in the industry. Because as much success as we've had, we have had way more rejection and doors close in our faces. This song talks about how we dream of being like our Christian rock heroes that we grew up listening to! Ha ha!
Who are some bands you're really resonating with these days? Who do you look up to?
As far as bands that we listen to, each member will have a massive list with a massive variety in genres. However, as we grow in the music industry, we definitely have a few artists that we look up to.
Performance wise, we really look up to and try to learn from for KING & COUNTRY. We have shared the stage with them a few times and it is amazing to see how they really put on a show and an experience for the audience. Another band we really look up to business wise, is a Canadian band called The Color. They are one of the biggest Christian bands in Canada and they have done it all fully independent, and we have been very lucky to have had some mentoring from them.
And spiritually, I personally really look up to a band called For Today, as I am currently being mentored by their singer Mattie Montgomery, to prepare me to confidently share the Gospel everywhere we go.
What are some lessons God is teaching you?
God has been teaching us so much in the past 2 years, but I would say the main thing is that he showed us that what we are doing is a ministry. It is not about us, it is about sharing the gospel wherever God takes us. When we released our last EP, we were looking for a record deal. Now, we are looking for people who need to hear our message. I can't remember last time any of us thought of a "record deal." We are looking for any opportunity we can get to continue our ministry.
What gets you excited these days?
We are always excited about every opportunity and door that opens up, however, nothing beats the feeling of finding random posts on the internet of fans sharing how our music impacted their lives, or that we are their favorite band. This is very exciting to us because this is how we can measure our success. It's not about filling large rooms at shows, it's about impacting people's lives.
What's next, and how can people be praying for you?
Well, we have just launched our Pledge Music campaign to raise funds for the new album. We are hoping that people will want to come together and one by one, hopefully, make an impact on people's lives through our music. We would appreciate any prayer with this project and crowdfunding campaign so that we can take it in front of the correct people that need to see it and hear it. Our music is a message of hope, freedom, and salvation through Jesus Christ, but it's not doing anything if it's not being heard by people.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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