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I spend my days doing stuff for Soul Survivor NZ and my church "Blueprint" in Wellington NZ. I am perplexed, amazed, in awe of, and spend a lot of time thinking about this revolutionary called Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

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Sweet Tunes

Friday, December 22, 2006 by Sam

Ok, please check out the twig records myspace site, and have a listen to the two tracks there. I especially want to get all over-stimulated about the track "grey matters". This complete genius called Tim Armstrong has written and played just about every track on that song and his upcoming album. He is a freaken machine, I would gladly throw my undies at him in concert any day of the week, the frustration is that he very rarely performs. I'm not one to get all crazy about artists, especially musicians but this guy deserves some respect, and is one of those wonderfully strange musical freaks that come along, absolutely unknown, and yet writing music as good as any I have heard.

I have got a lot out of the last couple of conversations on music, and have had a lot of food for thought. Some of my views have shifted quite considerably thanks to some of the comments... so cheers for that. And im pretty amped that Marcos Curiel is rejoining POD, with Jason Truby on guitars as well, this is going to be one interesting line up, and will make the next POD album worth the investment just to hear where they go.

Shesh, there is a lot of music talk on this blog...


Merry Christmas you crazy animals

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 by Sam

Well its time we took off the "critical, grumpy angry at the world" pants and put on the "happy Christmas, full off joy and the world just rocks" pants.

If there is one thing that we can agree on (hopefully!) its that God is pretty darn creative. My gosh he has to be when you look at the weird and wonderful people charging around on this planet (yes I'm talking about you... and me).
And as people that reflect something of that creativity, there is some amazing art around the place. On the music front, here are a couple of bands that rock my world for being creative nutters.

Clip one, band called Mutemath out of New Orleans. These guys are wild wild performers. It is well worth subscribing to their (free) video podcast through itunes. This clip is from the late late show in the states. At this point earlier this year they were virtually unknown, and yet go on the show and completely blow up the place... very very cool.

And it wouldnt be Christmas without pausing to remember one of the greatest bands that has influenced my thinking and music taste more than any other. Rage against the Machine. Tom Morello pioneered some insane sounds and melodies on his guitar, and Zac de la Rocha screamed out his vocals paving the way for all the "new metal" stuff that followed. The band were absolutely nuts about justice issues a whole decade before it was the "cool" thing for bands to be doing. This clip captures something of their passion.

Thanks for all the great chats throughout the year, I might try and write some reflections about 2006 sometime because it has being a truly amazing year.

Have an awesome Christmas, and a sweet new years. Bring on 2007, its going to be a goodie!

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Rant on Christian Music No.2

Thursday, December 14, 2006 by Sam

I really appreciate the honesty of the comments in the last post, great stuff.

The Second big issue I have with the Christian Music scene, particularly here in NZ, is that there is a huge desire to make it in the States. A large number of bands have either moved to the states, or go their to tour to maybe one day crack in the scene. In fact I was part of a band that had being signed to a major US label... though fortunately (it didn't feel like it at the time!) I was dumped from the band, and then later the contract fell through...

The big question I have is why? Why on earth is there such an interest in going to the states? Is it because the states need more christian music? Come on, what a load of bollocks, the place has got more music than it knows what to do with, christian and non-christian...
Is it for mission? That cant be the case, the place is full of churches and bands propagating the Jesus message. The conclusion I therefore come to is that a lot of bands go to the states because there is a HUGE amount of money to be made, as well as the fact that if you make it in the states, you make it in the entire world.
Money, Success, Significance, Power.

The truth is that a lot of christian people support christian labels here in NZ, but a lot of this money is used to fund these very expensive expeditions to the states. When I look at the needs worldwide and here in NZ I feel sick that this money is being invested into sending bands to a country that doesn't need the music, with questionable motives, and I would suggest that there is very little return in terms of the world being a better place because of this investment. I struggle to see how this lines up with values of Jesus as I see them in scripture.

Now I have no problem going overseas to tour your music. But if you want to go overseas to spread the love of music, your love for Jesus, then why not go to Africa or South America and encourage the Christians there, or influence and be influenced by the local music scene? Or why not go to Europe, a highly secular area in desperate need of artists who love Jesus and live by his teachings.

My last question; why is there so little talk about this whole christian music scene. We seemed to have become so used to having a whole industry that has a "christian" attached to it, yet seems to have the same motives and methods as any other label or industry, just dressed up with different language. Aren't we called to live a radically different lifestyle, with radically different business practices, with a very different set of values, and a completely upside down view of success? I love the story of Keith Green giving away his records when he was alive and touring... it infuriated his record company, but is this not the kind of wild behaviour that I think Jesus was trying to encourage?
How come we are so comfortable with this whole scene, shouldn't it make us uncomfortable? Or am I reading it completely wrong?

I am truly sorry if this comes across as a real judgemental angry position. That's not how I'm trying to come across, just genuinely confused after playing in christian bands for the last four years, and seeing the incredible power and influence this scene has on many young people (as well as the very corruptable power that it brings... story there for a later time) - and trying to reconcile it with how Jesus lived and what he taught. I would really appreciate your comments and feedback because this whole thing has being brewing for a while now...

Another (way more positive rant) to round of this discussion is on its way in a day or two... and then we can go and have Christmas, I can chill out a bit and stop being so angsty, and we can begin the new year being a wee bit more happy!!!!

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Take your gig and shove it...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 by Sam

One if my really good mates, a guy called Matt Holleman, has refused to play at Soul Survivor as an artist for the acoustic concerts happening in the cafe at night. Not just him though, all the guys signed to his record label.
And so I rang and thanked him.

Its a bit of a hobby horse of mine at the moment, but I am very confused as to why there is a Christian Music industry. It doesn't make sense to me. Why on earth would you use these great gifts and skills to form a little holy huddle and entertain ourselves? How are we being "salt and light" with our separate sub culture? How are we "in the world but not of it" as Jesus called us to be, when we are not even "in" the world? Why do we have to have "christian bands"? Why cant we just have "bands"?

Sure it is dressed up with all sorts of language that try and make it some spiritual venture. And I have being a part of the whole scene for years, playing in a number of high profile Christian bands at parachute, I have seen the dark underbelly of the beast.
The more I think about it, the more I am totally confused. I would argue that Christians who enjoy creating and performing music are meant to be in the pubs, not the church. Which is why I am stoked that Matt said no to my christian event.
My church has gone the opposite route. Most of the performers at the venue are not christian, and most of the artists at the church are regulars in the Wellington music scene. Awesome stuff.

In saying all of this, I absolutely love worship music. I crank it loud in the car, enjoy getting together with mates and singing my heart out... and so I kind of disagree with myself in some of my practice by differentiating between church worship songs, and other music. This is a whole other yarn...

But I would strongly argue that we have defined "singing in church" as spiritual, and slamming out some bogan tunes at the pub with the band as non-spiritual. When I look back on some of our gigs in one of my old bands, I am most proud of the mates that we made while playing the local Wellington pubs, not coz I felt good about it, but because they are legend people that totally enriched my life.

I have spent years chewing over some of this stuff, done some very crazy tours, and so will probably blog on music and being a christian, as well as looking at the place of music in church and in culture from time to time.

On music news, check out Matty P's yarns on opening for Elton John.

In other news, its only a couple of weeks till the first NZ Soul Survivor festival. Its going to be a stunner. You can register online here.

Apologies for lack of posts, busy boy at the moment...

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Tough Questions

Sunday, December 03, 2006 by Sam

Steve Taylor, the resident NZ emerging church ninja has opened a container load of worms (but worms that need freedom, that need a life of fresh air and nice soil, worms who have being locked up for too long) by asking people to post the toughest God questions they have being asked, or have rattling around upstairs. Its going to be a great blog to track for the next little while as Steve asks people to join in him in attempting to answer some of the curly ones.

I like this discussion, because in reality there is a lot of mystery in life and in faith. There is a lot that we dont, and probably wont understand about God and His ways, about life, about death.And we have to learn to live with that. The Eastern Church and the two thirds world are happy to live with mystery, it is part of their world. Not so in the West, and that is something we need to learn to sit with.
So its nice to see a place like Steve's blog where people can voice the doubt, cynicism, questions, queries that they carry. Its not going to change much, but it is going to bring a bit of freedom to have those questions out there. And it will hopefully model that it's ok to have that stuff, in fact the Bible asks us to "work out our faith with fear and trembling". We need to wrestle with the big questions, but that doesnt mean we are going to find the answers to everything. And I would far rather have some doubt and questions and voice them wisely, than play happy christian games wearing a plastic smile and pretending that everything is peachy and im just fine. Why are some christians so afraid of honesty?

Returned from Gissy this morning, the place rocks, the people rock and the training day went really well. Speaking at The Rock church tonight, writing this blog instead of working on talk. Me and procrastination are best buddies.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006 by Sam

The world is a far brighter, far more welcoming place. I have being enjoying interactions with fellow humans in a "non-leper" kind of way.
But I was thinking; anyone up for januhairy (no shaving for the month) before dropping into MO7?

Up in gissy, about to launch into a youth alpha training day. Youth workers are a fun bunch to hang out with so it should be a good day. I packed my wettie in case there was a wave, but even though we sourced some boards, gissy has no waves. And dare I say it, this is my first time in gissy. Which is the equivellent of blasphemy for a surfer.

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