The Letter Black's return to creating music has not come quietly. They have become very interactive and open on social media about their ongoing projects and accolades (the band was recently signed to Rockfest Records, a Christian rock label out of Nashville).
The Christian rock band has released three studio albums, plus one under their previous band name, Breaking The Silence. They are known for popular tunes "Hanging On By A Thread, "Pain Killer," and "Fear." Sarah Anthony, the lead singer, is often backed vocally by her husband Mark Anthony. They have a passion and great love for their family. And, they've done their best to juggle music with family.
After successfully crowdfunding their third album, Pain, on Kickstarter, they took a break to focus on family. Now, The Letter Black has returned to the studio to record a new album (it'll soon be finished). I talked with Sarah about their music and what we can expect.
Can you introduce your band to our readers? What has your musical journey looked like since you started back with the band Breaking The Silence?
I started playing music with my husband Mark and our friend Matt at church in 2005. As we wrote worship songs for the church, the songwriting progressed into heavier material over time—especially thanks to Mark's love for metal. In 2006, we recorded Breaking The Silence's debut album with music producer Travis Wyrick.
We eventually did some showcases. Then, Tooth and Nail Records added us to its roster. They changed the band name and released our album Hanging On By A Thread in 2010. Around 2013, we were prepping to release our album, Rebuild, when EMI (Group Limited) bought out Tooth and Nail. Unfortunately, we—along with some other bands—were put aside. And, that album received little publicity. Different band members were having babies and family stuff around that time, so we took a break. In 2017, we independently released our crowdfunded album, Pain. Now, we're creating our fourth album with Travis Wyrick.
Previously, you cited your last album, Pain, as your heaviest album to date. A lot of fans agreed. So, what can fans expect with the new album musically?
Our upcoming fourth album has similarities to our previous offerings. For example, Hanging On By A Thread was more diverse, while Rebuild was more straight forward rock and roll. Pain was industrial rock. Our new album has elements of all of them. We have songs that are 10 years old in writing that fit well on the new album.
Overall, the new album has more of a modern rock sound—maybe similar to bands like I Prevail or Bring Me The Horizon. Of all of our albums, this one is my favorite, because we've been able to take our time creating it. Currently, we're doing drums in the studio; vocals and mixing are partially done at Travis Wyrick's studio in Tennesee. Everything else related to the album has been done at our place. The entire process is being done at our own pace; it has been awesome to be able to take our time on it.
You have one of the most recognizable voices in our Christian rock community. Who are some of your vocal inspirations?
Growing up in a Christian church, I listened to many female artists like Rebecca St. James and Nicole C. Mullins. As for mainstream, Alanis Morissette was a huge influence for me. Also, Avril Lavigne and others in the pop-punk style were influential to me. It was always those who sounded quirky and had different tones in their voice. I gravitated more towards voices that didn't sound perfect or tried to sound perfect.
The Letter Black has often been a voice for hope. What can fans expect from the new album lyrically? What themes and stories have you been writing about?
The Letter Black is and has always been a voice for hope. Sure, we don't write songs in a contemporary worship style. But, we still try to meet you where you're at. And, make sure to give you the hope of Jesus in a non-confrontational way. We talk about real-life issues: relationships, struggles, addictions. We talk about being in dark places and overcoming them. So, it's along the same lines as we've always done but in new and fresh ways. It breaks my heart when a Christian band abandons their faith. That's not us. And, I hope it never will be.
Do you have any early favorite songs or moments that you want to share?
As of right now, we have three more songs to finish with Travis, and then it is on to promo pictures, and music video, website updates, and so on. We've been sharing samples of the studio work on social media and talking with fans every Friday night. That's all been really good. I'm excited about some of the surprises we have for our fans. We have two guest vocalists: one rapper and one rocker. I'm not disclosing who yet.
When can fans be expecting for 2020?
Not much, sadly. We, along with many other bands, have been hit hard. Touring and everything just does not look optimistic for the rest of the year. We'll try and keep everybody as involved as possible. But, we're people like you, stuck at home half the time waiting for something to change. I genuinely do love our fans, the support that we have, even after taking little breaks and things like that like. It's so nice and the fans are so loyal, they just really support us. So, as soon as any updates are available, we are going to let everyone know.
How can we be praying for you?
I guess the whole COVID-19 pandemic has put a wrench in everybody's plans. So, for God's timing, because we were shocked, He was not shocked. He knows what he's doing. We'd like prayers for wisdom, for an understanding of His plan and a sense of direction, on where He wants us to go with timing our album release and everything that goes with it. At the end of the day, running a band involves business strategy and it's really difficult to decide what is best for us and the fans. Wisdom is needed. Thank you so much.
Ryan Adams lives in Ohio, although he grew up in Boise, Idaho. Currently working locally and sharing his rock passions with NRT for his 2nd year.
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