Carrollton, formerly called Mosteller, is an incredible Christian band that has been around for about 12 years. They have released several radio singles; their hit song, "Made For This" was featured in a commercial for the Olympics.
I got to chat with Carrollton's lead singer Stephen Moore and their bass player Jordan Bailey about the band's new music, becoming an independent band, their newly self-titled and independently released EP, and more.
How did Carrollton get started in music?
Jordan: Carrollton has been a band for about 11 years. We got started by leading worship at churches. Our singer, at the time, started leading worship camps and conferences, and he pieced a band together. There were four guys. And, when we got together, we all liked each other. So, we decided to commit to getting together whenever we had an event coming up. That's how the band started: just by leading worship at camps. Then we started writing songs and recording music. And, we just kept it going.
Carrollton is independent now. Has it been hard not being with a label?
Jordan: We did two EPs and a full record before we were signed. Then we were with the music label Centricity for about seven years. The band had a split (Our old lead singer and guitar player both left last November). We've had new guys since last December, and we've been playing shows with them.
This year, we've been trying to play and write a lot. We've also spent time in the studio. Our new record is done, and our new single is out. It's been a big learning curve to have to manage our own processes. There's a lot of things that we haven't had to think about for a long time. We loved our time with the label, but we're excited about what's next.
Have there been any challenges you guys have faced becoming independent?
Stephen: With any kind of change, I think there are pros and cons. I'm one of the new guys with this group, so I didn't get to experience working with Centricity to the extent that the other guys did. But, knowing that no one else is speaking into the decisions we're making can be a really cool thing. And, it can also be a challenge. There's no one to validate the decisions we're making and the direction we're going. That aspect has popped into my head a couple of times while creating new music. It's a little scary, but also that kind of freedom can be cool. It allows us to be able to do things that otherwise we may not have been able to do with someone else.
What advice would you give to musicians wanting to become an independent band or artist?
Stephen: Stick with it. I think that's the biggest thing. Challenges are just part of the game when you're independent and everything rises or falls by you. We just released our new song, "Jesus Is," so we're working to make sure everything goes over as smoothly as it possibly can. There's stuff we're still learning with downloads and streaming sites. This song is supposed to be on iTunes, but it's not yet. That's not good, but you just have to brush that stuff off. This is what progress looks like. It looks like making mistakes and learning from them.
Also, continue forward. For an artist that's independent and looking into this kind of thing, do it because you love it. Do it because you find a purpose in it. Don't stop, even on the bad days.
Jordan: All of that, plus be focused on where you're at instead of trying to plan for where you want to be. What I mean by that is be faithful to what you're doing. If you're leading worship at your church, be really faithful with that. Work super hard at it to the point where you're memorizing songs. What will open doors is always working hard at what you're doing at the moment instead of just dreaming about what's next. Be faithful with what you're doing, then people will start asking you to do other things if you're working hard.
What's the story behind your new single, "Jesus Is"?
Jordan: It's a pretty simple song. It goes over the gospel message. We, in the band, are all writers. And, together, we all wrote this song. "Jesus Is" started with the idea of viewing everything in life and faith through the lens of what Jesus did on the cross.
I'm 32, and I wrestle through things with my faith. I've been learning that it's okay to wrestle with my faith. And, it's okay to question things. But, question it without losing sight of who Jesus is. Keep your faith placed in him, and let everything else be an open conversation. That's how the song started out. It's a reminder that Jesus is who He said He is.
Stephen: Jordan had the initial idea and thought for the song. He brought that idea to me to help develop it. Two things stood out pretty quickly. One, as a writer and an artist, it's so easy for me to settle into a mindset of having to be super poetic--almost to the point of speaking in code. But, with this song, it was just so clearly laid out and clearly defined. That stood out to me.
The other thing that stood out is the opening line of the song, "I know that Jesus is more than something to believe in." The next line is, "I know that Jesus is more than right, wrong, or a feeling." It's basically speaking to that surface-level mindset of who Christ is. We get carried away with things going on, and that's why we stress.
Ultimately, we forget about the hope we have and where it's found. This song is a glaring reminder of this simple foundational truth that our faith is more than just a cultural practice. Our faith is more than just a personal preference or opinion. It's this deep, rich well of joy, peace, love, and grace. I think when we view life through the lens of the hope that we have in Christ, it makes life better. "Jesus Is" lays that out so clearly and so well.
Your song, "Made For This," was in a commercial for the 2018 Winter Olympics. And, I think every fan has been wondering this since: how did that happen?
Jordan: We have an awesome publisher. It wasn't on our radar at all. We just wrote the song, and we had a publisher who believed in it. He was able to get it to the right people. It's hard to say how that stuff happens. Whether it was just luck, or God made it happen. It surprised us for sure. And, we were super grateful for it.
Finally, how can we be praying for you guys?
Stephen: Pray for this music that we're putting out. We're in the middle of trying to push it out to every outlet we can just to get it out there to people. That's the nature of what we do. And, I don't think that's right or wrong. But, it can be so easy to get caught up in that mindset. Ultimately, it's more than a paycheck. Our music is meant to reach people. Our music is meant to change lives. It's meant to remind people that Jesus is hope everlasting and that He's love. Pray for these song releases. And, that they make a real difference--beyond just giving somebody a good time at our shows.
Jordan: Yeah, I would echo that. We talk to people a lot, and we always try to minister to them in some way. We talk to people at shows, and sometimes it's easy to have the same conversation 1,000 times. I pray that we will be present with people. We try to be, and it's a goal that we have. We want people to know that we're available to talk. Pray that God will help us keep that mindset, and keep the focus on where it's supposed to be. Pray that people can hear these songs and have an open heart when they hear it.
Also, we play concerts for a living, and everything shuts down. We're confident that God will provide, but it's an uncertain time for us for sure.
Grace Chaves is a fan of all things Christian music, and is one of NRT's youngest writers. She's homeschooled, and loves concerts, Jesus, and songwriting.
NEW!BEHIND THE SONG
#1069 - Matthew West Matthew talks about the inspiration behind West's recent heartfelt single
Blake Shelton We explore the greater conversation and hope in new vulnerable ballad
NEW! THE CHH DROP
#50 - Indie Tribe and More NRT's Joshua Galla rounds up the latest releases in Christian Hip-Hop
NEW!THE WAYBACK EDITORIAL
Downhere We remember the band's terrific debut album that is celebrating 20th
NEW! THE ESSENTIALS
NEEDTOBREATHE We review some of the most poignant messages in the band's music