In his latest column, Rend Collective's Chris Llewellyn explains...
Q&A: Rend Collective
Following the release of Rend Collective’s latest album, The Art of Celebration, Lucinda Borkett-Jones spoke to band leader and drummer Gareth Gilkeson about creative chaos and writing happy songs.
What was your inspiration for the album?
Over the past few years we have noticed that what’s been sustaining us through difficult times has been joy and trusting in God. We looked at a lot of worship music that’s out there and realised that we’re pretty good at reverence and coming before God knowing that he’s holy, but not necessarily so good at celebrating. So, unusually for us, we decided before we wrote it that the concept was the art of celebration, and wrote all the songs with that in mind.
As a band you’re known for creativity – where do you look for ideas?
You never knowingly look for ideas, they just keep bombarding you. We hang out with a lot of different types of people; we listen to every style of music you can imagine; we read a lot. We don’t have a TV, so we just chat and try and hear what God’s saying.
This album feels much simpler – what prompted the shift?
I would hope that it’s slightly more mature. We realised that we had written a lot of songs which congregations couldn’t sing. We want to be creative but also to serve and give the Church resources that they can use.
What does the writing process look like?
This album has been more collaborative than any other. There are a few song-writers [in the band] who come to the fore, but every song has the fingerprints of the whole team – especially musically and in performance.
Writing is just like a good curry – if you rush it, it’s never going to taste the same as if you let it simmer. We write a song and then leave it for a while, and then come back and see if it is finished, or if it needs a bit more work.
Worship music generally has shifted towards a folksier style which is partly owed to your influence – how does that make you feel?
It’s nice to have an influence and it’s great to be able to push the Church on. If we as a Church get stuck in a rut, then we don’t have an influence on society at large. If there was ever a point of writing church music, it’s so that anyone who walks into a church from any background feels at home.
A few albums in, are you still just ‘a bunch of people figuring things out’ or have you had to become more professional?
This album was recorded worse than any other. We were on the road, recording in churches, in Sunday school classrooms. I think if we get stuck in a studio we take ourselves too seriously.
We were on a tour with an evangelical movement that was pushing for revival. We thought: ‘What a cool environment to be writing a worship album in – a heart for revival and for seeing change in society.’
The Art of Celebration is out now. Rendcollective.com