The alt-rock band I Am Empire is back. Well, sort of. The band's former lead vocalist Austin Lyons is releasing new music, under the name Future Divine.
For years, Austin toured with the band, writing and releasing rock music. But now, Austin serves as a worship pastor, writing music to help people find their way back to God.
The indie artist recently dropped his debut EP, Fully Alive. I recently spoke with Austin about his musical and spiritual aspirations, as well as what’s in the future for him.
Tell us about your new EP, Fully Alive.
Fully Alive is, produced by Gabriel Wilson, is about discovering what it means to be fully alive. Jesus says in the Book of John, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
I experienced a dark season of anxiety and panic attacks a few years ago. This set me on a path towards healing and remembering God's faithfulness in my life. This record captures that season and some moments of 2020 as well. In short, I learned to be fully alive. Fully alive means to be fully surrendered to Jesus.
You’ve been working on these songs for a while now. Do you like the pace that digital affords you to space out music and single releases well before the album comes out?
If it were up to me, I'd release a song every month. But, I'm also a perfectionist so it takes me a bit longer than I'd like. The flexibility of being able to release music whenever I’d like is great though.
Your new music is quite a departure from your old band, I Am Empire. Beyond the obvious sonic differences, how else is this new chapter different from your time with the band?
The entire process is different. I used to bring my songs into a warehouse with a PA system and work on the details with a group of friends. Now, I work on my songs in my house and email my producer.
The magic of Future Divine happens in the studio as we record. The current process has a lot of room for spontaneity. So, it's different, but I'm also at a different place in life.
I don't want to live in the past and keep doing the same thing. I want to try new things with my music. That's why Future Divine isn't a hard rock/metal band. Although you will always have some rock and roll with me. I mean there's still a guitar solo on the record.
The past year was long for all of us. What are you taking from this past year into 2021?
The Lord taught me how to be a better worship leader in 2020. I live in the most restrictive county (San Jose, California) in the country and had to find creative ways of leading people to the Lord.
I spent the entire year doing church outside with a group of people dedicated to worship. It's been the best church experience I've been a part of so far. The lights and stage don't matter. This past year for me was all about getting back to the heart of worship.
What is currently pushing you to continue to write and record worship music and lyrics?
My relationship with the Lord is always pushing me to write worship music. It's my offering to Him. Life is full of grand experiences. Some are great and some are difficult. There is no shortage of inspiration for me.
What’s next for you? How can we be praying for you?
I'm working on my next album already. I also have singles ready for release later this year. Pray for creativity that best serves the Lord and people as I work on the follow-up record. Also, pray that Fully Alive encourages the people who listen to it on repeat. Thank you.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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