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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Relient K carries on with faith

They're veterans of the Warped tour and have three gold records to their names, but the guys in Relient K never will forget where they got their start a decade ago, playing at churches around their hometown of Canton, Ohio.

"We couldn't have played in clubs," says the band's lead singer and songwriter, Matt Thiessen, 26. "Nobody would have booked us. And we respect the fact that the church was supportive of us and didn't say, 'Oh, you guys are playing those electric guitars. Get out of here, you heathens!'"

Relient K is touring in support of its new compilation album, "The Bird and the Bee Sides," a trek that brings the band to the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach for a gig on Saturday.

The band burst straight out of Canton as a pop-punk quartet with a goofy sense of humor. "We were kind of one of those Blink-182 wannabe bands," Thiessen recalls, "when not everybody and their brother was in a band like that."

Since then they've expanded their musical palette - the addition of a fifth member has freed Thiessen to switch from guitar to piano onstage - and slowed down the tempos, to the point where Thiessen thinks the "pop-punk" label no longer applies.

"Over the years, influences such as the Beach Boys, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright and other stuff like Death Cab for Cutie have all been factored in," says Thiessen, who has posted a spot-on cover of the Beach Boys' "Warmth of the Sun" at "Now we're mostly just a rock band that does a lot of pop songs."

The band's lyrics have evolved as well. Relient K's early work mixed spiritual concerns with breezy pop-culture references to "Back to the Future" and "Charles in Charge."

But as the band's career progressed, Thiessen says, he made a conscious effort to avoid being pigeonholed. "We like to keep the fun in the music, we like to try to keep it witty, and I can't get away from writing in puns," he says. "But at the same time, we definitely didn't want to become a schticky band."

Humor, however, remains an important part of the appeal.

"My whole thing has always been that I don't like to write songs about girl-guy relationships, but my other thing is that I always write songs from my present perspective on things," says Thiessen, whose girlfriend is a morning DJ in Indianapolis. "I've got a great thing going on with my girl, so I couldn't get around writing those songs."

But for those who worry that Relient K has left matters of faith behind, "Deathbed," the closing song from the band's 2007 disc "Five Score and Seven Years Ago" should allay any doubts. The 11-minute epic, graced with strings and horns, follows a dying cancer patient's reflections on his life. The song ends with a guest appearance by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, singing as Jesus. "I am the way," he sings. "Through me you'll live again/For I am love."

Thiessen says the band's message remains the same whether it's performing at a rock club or a Christian festival, and he says music fans are becoming more open to diverse opinions."People are like, 'You know what? Green Day's going to sing anti-Bush stuff, and even if I'm a Republican, I can still listen to it.' And they're like, 'If Relient K wants to sing about their faith, even though I'm agnostic, I can still listen to it.'"

Christian Music News Source

1 comment:

lexidoodleellis said...

she is actually a morning show host in atlanta..