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Too many bands fall prey to the age-old conundrum where, if they sound great live, their albums fall short—and if they can craft a great studio recording, they lack the goods to pull it off live. That's what makes the new Disciple release, O God Save Us All, such an achievement: It's a tight, terrific collection of hard-hitting rock songs with a redemptive heart. But from the very start, lead vocalist Kevin Young and his comrades (Israel Beachy on bass, Micah Sannan on guitar and Trent Reiff on drums) sought to craft a disc that would leap off the live concert stage with all the impact of a perfectly timed stage dive.
"My entire approach to writing songs is how is this going to go over live," Young declares. "That's what's most important to me: How is an audience going to respond to it? We want our songs to have a lot of energy, to get people moving, and to get them to respond.”
Judging by the results on this 11-song album, long-time Disciple fans and newcomers alike have every reason to expect a live show that surpasses all expectations. To be sure, new tunes such as "Draw The Line" arrest the listener with slamming rhythm and melodic heart to match. But dig deeper and you'll notice that "O God Save Us All" creates a clever, cinematic web that encompasses what it means to live and grow as a Christian.
"It's a narrative: If there were a soundtrack to a movie made about a life of a Christian, this would be it," Young says. "Before you're a Christian, life feels a certain way. Then you're introduced to the gospel, receiving him and walking with him. And then, life is over and you get to be with him. The album covers all of those bases. It's about the life of a Christian."
It's also about the turbo-charged sound created when new songwriting blood is brought into the mix. Contributors like Ben Glover (Brandon Heath, Lee Brice) and Seth Mosley (Newsboys) co-wrote tunes with Young like “Outlaws”, “Draw The Line”, and “Once And For All”. Then there's Reiff, who stepped out from behind the skins to co-write some songs on electric guitar for "O God Save Us All," including the title track. " He just did a tremendous job, and contributed in a big way," Young says. "I've been in the band 20 years and seeing that spark, it made me remember what it was like to be a new songwriter. I'm really proud of him! When he played his demos for me, my reactions was, 'Wow! You play guitar?'"
Young’s songwriting drive is literally a matter of getting behind the wheel. "If you ever pass me on the interstate and you see me singing on the top of my lungs, that's me writing a song," Young says. "I write most of my lyrics in the car. Living in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, it's a 3 1/2 hour drive to Nashville. It's one of those times when you're alone, and there's no one there to distract you. So I'll listen to the music the band has written, and that's when I'll write." Most of the lyrics on new album, in fact, were crafted during Young's Nashville-Lawrenceburg commute.
Even as his passion burns to carry Disciple into its next chapter, Young can close his eyes and remember in a split second how it all began for him as an adolescent. He listened to a cassette tape of the first album by Whitecross, and that lit the flame. "It was amazing," Young recalls. "It was hard, really heavy metal. But it really spoke to me right where I was and had a life-changing impact on me. I knew I wanted to start a band to reach people in the same way. For those guys, it wasn't just about the musicians playing the music, but sharing their faith. And I knew that was what I was going to do one day. They discipled me."
And to that end, Disciple's leader has a heart for the kids he meets on every tour—kids who struggle with mental illness, low self-esteem and abuses of all kinds. Young says that even after so many of the years on the road, the stories and confessions he hears still give him pause. “You think with hard music we'd be just reaching hard people--and we do want to reach them for sure—but in 2012, the person who could have a hard life could be anybody. It could be a 9-year-old girl. You have this stereotype of the person who has a hard life, what they look like. But the kids who come through the line, it's amazing what you see. When you see a beautiful young little girl who says she's battling suicide or has been raped, you don't even know what to say."
"We want people to walk away from our songs directed or pointed in His direction," Young says. "I don't mean to be so super-spiritual about it, but I think God saves us so we can shine his light on someone else. At the end of the day, winning an award is awesome and it feels good. Having a number one song is awesome and it feels good. But two years down the line, people forget. You couldn't tell me who won Super Bowl XIII. That was a long time ago. I want to do things that have an eternal impact, and I believe that not only means pointing people to Christ, but bringing glory to him."
And if that means Disciple's going to get a little loud in the process, so much the better.
"When you hear a song on this album it's definitely loud, even when you listen to it quietly," Young says. "But live, everything is turned up a notch, and not just the volume: the energy, the intensity, everything. It's a feeling of being wrapped up in the music, of being lost in the music. We're going to be loud enough that you won’t be able to mistake it."
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Disciple - "Someday" Story Behind The Song
Kevin shares the story behind Disciple's latest single "Someday"
From their album "O God Save Us All" - Available Everywhere Now
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