With six releases to their name, Shane & Shane have hit their stride. Yet, while there’s much to talk about, having just released a new album to critical acclaim, the duo find themselves discussing the building blocks of their ever-strengthening faith.
The setting of a coffee shop seems to emerge quite often in the story of Shane & Shane. The duo started serving up their brand of acoustic pop in coffeehouses on college campuses across the nation. Shane Barnard often finds inspiration while sitting at a corner table writing in his journal. In fact, the first radio single (“We Love You Jesus”) from their new album, Pages, was born out of one of these caffeine-induced moments.
However, back in ’97 the Shanes found themselves in a coffee shop in Texas having a conversation that only came full circle in recent months. What started out as a dialogue between two college kids trying to make sense of Biblical truth became a landmark discussion. Barnard revealed that the thing that would change his faith more than anything would be seeing his dad become a believer.
That dream became a reality five years later. “My dad was the most alien person that I have ever known,” explains Barnard. “He was just this goofy, flamboyant, rough, tough, fearless man who spent the first 30 years of his life just on the edge of the world. He’s a big man with a bunch of freckles and red hair and scars and smoking cigarettes — just that guy. I grew up with that man.”
In the meantime, Shane was discovering a faith of his own. Growing up Catholic, he actually counted around 18 churches that he attended, describing his faith as a “somber, horrible, guilty mess.” It wasn’t until high school that Barnard became a believer himself, “looking up at west Texas stars and having thoughts of ‘There’s gotta be more than football.’ That’s really all there is in west Texas — football,” he says.
And, while Barnard says his dad was never confrontational and always respected his son’s beliefs, his father just didn’t feel a need for religion. “Most of my Christian life, he has been the focus of my ministry,” continues Barnard, “as far as my prayer life and what I thought about and what I asked God for.”
It took 4 1/2 years for these prayers to come to fruition. It was then that their relationship began to grow as well. “My dad and I went on several trips together, just kind of father/son trips, and we had never done that. We started to have these talks, and he started asking these questions…”
Then, in what Barnard describes as the “ultimate father/son moment,” his dad began to fully embrace Christianity while the two were fishing one Easter. Dan Barnard soon found himself surrendering to Christ in his mid-60s after years of watching his son live out his convictions. He passed away from multiple heart attacks this past March at the age of 68.
Barnard’s closest friend, Shane Everett, sheds some light on the progression: “[It was] a full five years of consistent praying and consistent life in front of his dad. It was cool because I got to be a part of that whole process. [When] his dad became a believer, it just made those Scriptures…a lot more real than just reading it. I’ll say for Shane B., that’s probably the greatest victory in the Lord he has had in his life. I don’t think anything would ever come close to compare to that.
“If [God] could save Dan Barnard, He can save anyone,” he continues. “It’s encouraging for me and my family, and it’s a faith-builder. Shane has shared that story from stage multiple times, and I think there are so many people in that place where the family is such a hard place to minister. It’s probably the hardest place for me to minister.”
Everett’s story of faith has its own redemptive junction. Everett found himself sitting alone on a stage, waiting to be paid for a gig. (He played in a cover band during college.) He surrendered his life to Christ in the middle of a dark, disheveled, dirty bar. The picture of the room that night mirrored the state of affairs in his heart. “[That was] April of ’97. Here we are 10 years later and playing Christian music…the irony. You never know. I hated Christian music before. It’s just weird — the humor of the Lord.”
Everett grew up in church and succumbed to a life of morality and being “good.” “It would have been a social faux pas to say that you weren’t [a Christian]. ‘I’m a Christian; everybody’s a Christian.’ That’s basically how it was,” he says. “It was a cultural thing growing up. It’s kind of a social code we live by; you get applause for not drinking, smoking and having sex with your girlfriend… There is still so much of that going on. It’s kind of disheartening at times. I feel like that’s the message in our heart: There’s a lot more than these rules — it’s grace and it’s faith and getting into reading the Bible.”
The fingerprints of grace, faith and Scripture can be unearthed throughout Pages, finished just six months before Barnard’s father’s unexpected death. The songs took on a whole new meaning in the time that followed. “There are a couple songs on the album that really helped me in my dad’s passing; they talk about death and what He’s done with death. Loving the Lord in the sight of death and trusting Him in it,” says Barnard.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that death pervades the essence of the new record. In fact, the vulnerable honesty literally stripped from the pages of Barnard’s journal radiates nothing if not life. “[My dad] would talk about Jesus a lot in a very gruff kind of way,” he says. “He had a lot to do with just the Lord building my faith in general, in me believing in a sovereign God.”
And while Pages is connecting with its creators in new ways, fellow artists continue to resonate with the songs and the hearts of the men behind the melodies. “I’ve had the good fortune of being able to get to know Shane & Shane this past year, and I am so thankful for that,” says Third Day’s Mac Powell. (Shane & Shane joined Powell on the “Glory Revealed Tour” this spring.) “Both these guys are amazing men who inspire me, not only by their unbelievable music and talent, but by their incredible hearts as well. Anyone who hasn’t taken the time to check out their newest album, Pages, should do themselves a huge favor, block out an hour or so, sit back, enjoy and be inspired. It is, by far, one of the best Christian albums of the year.”
Today the two find themselves at the pinnacle of their calling, having had the best street week of their career. With the release of the latest disc, they are captivating audiences with their live show, sharing the stage with Bebo Norman and Monk & Neagle.
In addition, the Shanes are entrepreneurs running two Dallas-based businesses: Spaceway Studios and video production company Media Juice. With the additional work brought on by two business entities, both men have reevaluated their roles with Shane & Shane and restructured the way they do business, with Barnard taking on creative writing duties and Everett embracing a more managerial role.
“Shane B. has more of the artist type of personality than I have,” explains Everett. “Me sitting at a coffee shop for four hours doodling in a journal is like getting a root canal. For him, that’s paradise. If I could sit in the office all day, every day, man, that would be a dream come true.”