Dove Award-nominated Irish worshippers and modern day psalmists Rend Collective made a recent theological breakthrough as a band that is changing everything about their approach to music and life: seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit, but joy is. The appropriate response to the heightened understanding led to a sonically innovative message on its fourth and highly anticipated album, The Art of Celebration, releasing globally from Integrity Music March 17 (St. Patrick's Day).
"This record is an attempt to reflect something of the irrepressible laughter in the heart of God," says Rend Collective band leader Gareth Gilkeson. "It's a call to the cynical to once again choose celebration over condemnation and a reminder to the broken that 'the joy of the Lord is our strength.'
"It's no accident that the opening line of the whole record (from the appropriately titled song, 'Joy') is 'We're choosing celebration,'" continues Gareth. "Celebration, the practice of joy, is a choice. That doesn't mean it's always an easy choice to make. We know that we inevitably must navigate storms of sorrow and shadows, disappointment and doubt in this life."
The lead single and video from The Art of Celebration, "My Lighthouse," carries forward the choice to celebrate God's brightness in the midst of "troubled seas." The single is spreading joy, gathering airplay at Christian radio internationally while its companion video is set to premiere within the next week. The single is also being offered as an "instant grat track" download from iTunes beginning Feb. 18 with each pre-order of The Art of Celebration.
"We would far rather be defined by joy, fun, freedom and laughter than any genre title or pop-culture label," says Gareth. "The biggest clue as to what The Art of Celebration sounds like is in the title. We tried to make it sound like fun. It's what the Psalmist calls, 'a joyful noise.'"
"Our process was to just pick out the instruments that seemed like fun to us and let the genre definition work itself out," says Rend Collective member Chris Llewellyn. "We use an arsenal of the weird, wonderful, whimsical music toys, our native Irish folk instruments, some good old-fashioned rock' n' roll guitars, and even some synth-pop inspired elements. And it goes without saying that Gareth once again wields that awesome, homemade weapon of mass celebration we know only as 'the Jingling Johnny.'"
Anyone who has experienced the controlled chaos and infectious wildness of a Rend Collective concert will know that celebration and joy have always been at the core for these worship artists. Known for pushing artistic boundaries, daring the faithful to re-imagine worship and community, the band will continue its fresh, aesthetic call to worship with several "Campfire" concerts in February. This tour that sold out venues in cities across the world, was named after Rend Collective's highly acclaimed, No. 1 selling iTunes (U.S. Christian/Gospel) recording, Campfire, which features vocals recorded live outdoors around a campfire on Ballyholme Beach in Northern Ireland along with members of the collective's Facebook and Twitter community.
The "Campfire" tour will be followed by a major, 24-city tour in the U.S. with Kari Jobe. During this tour that begins Feb. 27 and runs through April 13, Rend will play new music from The Art of Celebration and raucous favorites from its 5-Star acclaimed albums, Organic Family Hymnal and Homemade Worship by Handmade People, including its hit radio single, "Build Your Kingdom Here" that has been viewed more than 1,749,000 times at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbdJXKqVgtg.
Following the tour with Jobe, Rend will bring its "The Art of Celebration" tour home to Ireland in May along with a tour of the United Kingdom while hitting cities like Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester before returning to the U.S. in June. The band is also making plans now to headline a nationwide, 40-city U.S. tour this fall, slated to run Sept. 10 through Nov. 2. Special guests, cities and more will be announced later this year. (See below for current tour cities, and for all the latest tour updates, go to http://rendcollective.com/tour/.)
The raw, rootsy, foot-stomping energy of the Irish worshippers, which has been infectious among audiences across the globe, has always been about people and building God's Kingdom here. Beginning as a group of friends collectively wondering how to make sense of the conundrum of life, God and community, Rend Collective is a nod to the places in Scripture where it says to "rend your hearts" and not your garments, a bold call to be genuine.