Wednesday, 27 August 2008

"This whole thing started just with me leading worship for a few people in a living room."

These days, Christian music usually sells just because it’s Christian music. The majority of people who buy worship CDs aren’t buying them for the amazing musicianship or beautiful lyricism. However, when music is pretty much almost everything you do and you’re looking for some decent Christian music, it can be tough to be content with someone who can play four chords on guitar or a few notes on piano and only ever cover other people’s songs. But never fear, because this is where The Glorious Unseen comes in and saves the day. I had a chat with lead singer, guitarist and pianist, Ben Crist, on what these guys are all about.

“I have led worship at our church in Nashville, TN for about six years now. This whole thing started just with me leading worship for a few people in a living room,” Ben tells me, “As the group grew, we began to meet in larger areas – a local coffee shop allowed us to use their space on Sunday nights for worship. So at that point, I began to incorporate band members. Soon, I began to write my own worship songs. I had no intention of starting a band or getting signed, but eventually my self-produced album found its way into the hands of Chad Johnson, A&R at Tooth and Nail records.” While Ben is inspired by Christian bands such as Delirious, Switchfoot and Underoath, he also cites bands such as Keane, Modest Mouse and Coldplay as influences, and once you put these bands together, old and new material all accounted for, you can definitely hear their influence in The Glorious Unseen’s music: the beautiful piano melodies of Coldplay and Keane, the references to faith and a love for Jesus Christ of Delirious, and the emotional lyricism and enthusiasm of Switchfoot are all here, and they’re a perfect match.

‘The Glorious Unseen’ seems to be quite a mysterious name – so what exactly does it mean? “God is the glorious unseen. I wanted to name the band something that communicated the mystery of God – He is so much bigger than our minds can understand. He is glorious – I felt that the word ‘glorious’ communicated that majesty.” While these guys are clearly a Christian band, they’re definitely not just making music for Christians: “[We’re making music for] anyone [who’s] desperate to see the Lord work in their own life and in the world. This music has connected to people who have found themselves in desperate places – where they only have God to turn to.”

If you watch the video for The Glorious Unseen’s song ‘Close To Your Heart’, this whole song in no way sounds overly Christian. This is a love song – something pure and beautiful that fits with so many situations that many people will experience, while the video definitely isn’t something that you would expect from a Christian band. But was this done on purpose? “[‘Close to Your Heart’] is very much a worship song, it wasn’t written with any intention to try to be less Christian. It just so happened that lyrically, it doesn’t mention God as much.”

“The option to cover someone else’s worship songs didn’t even come up till’ the very end of the recording process,” Ben tells me when I ask why the band only has one cover on their album, “We felt that we should record a couple of cover songs just to see how they came out, and that one came out really well, so we put it on the record. We also felt that it could help us to connect to a wider audience if we included that one.” While it’s always good to hear the songs you know, it shows an amazing gift when a band can write worship songs like The Glorious Unseen can, and still manage to have such an effect on their listeners.

Even if you’re not a Christian these guys are definitely worth checking out. The music they make is different, beautiful and moving and will definitely speak to you in some way. Right now, the band is busy touring in America, but do they want to reach the rest of the world? “I would love to do so. At this point, we haven’t planned anything outside the states. Hopefully that will happen soon.” We hope so too.

You can find out more about The Glorious Unseen and listen to their music at
Their second album, 'Tonight the Stars Speak', is currently out on BEC Recordings.

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