Hi Gareth where are you at the moment?
I don’t know where we are mate, I’ve no idea.
Sounds like life on the road. You don’t know where you are but you’re heading somewhere!
Your new album As Family We Go was released last month. What’s the main message?
It was almost called Pilgrims and Pioneers, but it felt a little bit too cool.
The whole idea is we’re all on a journey trying to figure out life and most of us have lots of obstacles and mountains that get in our way. Everybody hears the call of God and has dreams they’re chasing after.
We were just a Northern Ireland based band and now we’re literally a worldwide based band. We never asked to be, we just heard a call and followed it.
Some of your fans in the UK have thought the US is now your base. Is that true?
No, the UK is home for us.
The assumption that we’re spending less time in the UK isn’t actually true. We probably spend more time in England than we ever have!
Every time we play in the UK, we’re one hundred times more excited about that than playing New York because [New York is] not home and it’s not where your heartbeat is. We do play in America a good lot because it’s a big country and there’s lots of places to play, and because people like us!
Although it’s a cliché it is true you’ve come such a long way. What are your thoughts as you look back on how this started for you?
Words like ‘gratitude’ and ‘confusion’ probably! We’re certainly not the best songwriters or the best musicians. We just stuck to our story. We weren’t ashamed of who we were, that we’re a worship band who want to lead people in worship. Our whole journey has been figuring out it’s as much about service as it is art.
You’re very active online, writing blogs etc. And you’ll often share something from the Bible at gigs. Does Rend have a teaching ministry as well as a worship ministry?
If we were just playing songs, you’re right we would get bored. It’s not the whole story.
It’s still to be confirmed but…We’re starting a network and connection with lots of different small communities all over the world trying to give support to them, trying to equip them. In the next couple of years you will see [us doing] church leader retreats, conferences and things like that. Not because it’s the thing to do. But because it’s an extension of who we are.
When you’re writing songs, do you have a particular audience in mind? Some people have questioned whether all of your songs are written for Sunday morning congregations.
It’s funny, we are a band that just put the rugby national anthem on our record. I can’t imagine you guys standing up in England and singing ‘Ireeeeeland, Ireeeeeland’. So I think you’ve hit on something that’s right.
Most of the things we do, we write for congregations, I would say 80%. And maybe the other 20% we think could be congregational. There’s always the 25 year old who says ‘I hate worship music the way it is but I like this wee quirky song from Rend Collective, I’m going to lead that in my small group’. The modern worship movement has taught us worship music is one specific thing. To be honest one of our biggest struggles is people’s assumption of a worship song as a genre is it’s serious. We’ve always tried to go against that and say we’re a celebration band and that’s just as much worship as anything else is.
I notice Rend Family Records has popped up, so have you become independent?
Yes we decided we wanted to release on our own label. The music industry is changing. It’s really tough for new bands coming through. I mean it’s terrifying what record labels have on offer now – it means you won’t be making money for 20 years. The artist is the commodity. I’m not saying that’s what all labels do but it’s certainly what the music industry in general is set up for.
So we set up Rend Family Records. Being able to share with them what we’ve learned and give them a start so they’re given their worth and not used and abused. And it’s exciting this is a label run by artists for artists.
We’ve just signed our first band. They’re from Southern California. They’re absolutely amazing they’re called Urban Rescue. The press release isn’t going out for a while, so you’ve got the scoop early! They’re kind of synth pop and sound nothing like us but their heart and ethos for community and worship is all the same. They’ve been doing their own thing in California for 10 years and nobody has noticed, and we want to try give them a platform.
Rend Collective's latest album As Family We Go is out now.