We haven’t seen you leading worship at CCK for a little while. What’s the reason for that and what have you been up to recently?
I've been busy writing and recording and working on a whole new project with a new and very different feel and objective. The result is a new album with a new band called ‘Alamein’s Torch’!
I've felt stirred for years that our worship music is a bit like a foreign language to those outside the church. My heart from the word go has always been conscious of those on the outside and I've felt challenged for some time to write something that people outside of our faith can identify with and at the same time stir questions and hopefully a hunger for truth and for spiritual reality, as well as offering the hope of mercy and restoration to those who don’t yet believe in God.
So it sounds like you have stepped away from more traditional worship songs? Is this a worship album? And tell us about the album’s musical style, content etc?
It’s not a ‘congregational worship album’ but it contains moments of worship and I would like to think that reaching out to others on the outside is part of our worship to God, so in that sense it is! However, the language and the musical style is nothing like what we do on Sundays and lyrically its in the language of the culture in which we live. It’s always hard to put your own music into a ‘box’ or a style or genre! I guess loosely it would be classed as ‘indie’ but it’s probably a bit broader than that. People have already made various comparisons with other bands, which sometimes is helpful and sometimes not but it’s been likened to a cross between Arcade Fire and Elbow with a sprinkling of Beatles and Bowie. It’s not like anything I’ve done before but I think people will love it. It’s had nothing but incredibly positive feedback.
How long has it taken to create and why so long?
It took over a year to do. It’s so different writing for such a different audience and for a different purpose but it has been creatively hugely rewarding and liberating and stretching at the same time. Whereas before it felt like there were strict parameters for writing worship songs, on what I could write and on the form and melody and structure and so on. But with this album, when I first started trying to write for this project, it was literally like a blank canvas. No rules. No limits. No constraints. But it was almost like I had to learn a new language, both musically and in the way I approached the lyrics. But I feel like I’ve grown a lot through the whole process as a writer and learned so much. I've absolutely enjoyed it and feel much more creatively fulfilled by the challenge.
I’m sure people are asking you ‘Why the name Alamein’s Torch?’ Where did that come from?
It came from a quote from Winston Churchill about a particularly pivotal battle in WW2… he said “before Alamein we never had a victory ... after Alamein we never had a defeat”! That resonates with me as a Christian for very obvious reasons. Again it’s all about taking things from culture that have a symbolic or metaphorical meaning or application and wherever possible, using them creatively, in an allegorical way.
What are you hoping to achieve with it? Do you have any events lined up? And what can we expect in the future?
I’d like to get out into Brighton and some of the more culturally influential cities in the UK and tour. I’d also love to see if we can get some tracks on the radio and TV and film too. I’ve had one meeting with a TV producer who says he’s going to use a track on a show he’s producing. We’re also talking to some connections in Canada and may well be heading back out there again and doing some gigs in regular music venues and clubs. We start rehearsing in two weeks and we are planning to shoot a video too. But I’m also hoping that people will feel they can give it to friends and neighbours who wouldn’t normally be at all interested in coming to Church but who will listen to good music. You can relax knowing that it doesn’t ‘preach’ at anyone but hopefully it will stir people to question things and be a useful ‘bridge’ or a means of connecting with people and identifying with where they’re at.
So how can we get hold of the album? I’ve heard you’re giving away a track for free too?
Paul; The album is out now and you can get it from the Alamein’s Torch web site (www.alameinstorch.com ) It’s also in the CCK bookshop, and a few online stores. The easiest place to get it will be on the web. Yes we are giving away a free track as a 'taster' just so that people get a chance to hear something of the kind of music it is. The song is called ‘Cardiac’ but its spelled ‘Ka-ardi-ak’. Somebody asked me if it was an African word but I just decided to use the dictionary ‘pronunciation’ as a spelling because I liked it and may be it was a little less traumatic!? It just means ‘matters concerning the heart’! Anyway.. you can get that on the website too.. or via the Alamein’s Torch Facebook page … just visit the ‘FREE DOWNLOAD’ button and it will download onto your computer. I think you’ll love it!