The name John Elefante may have first caught the public’s attention in the 1980s as front man for multi-platinum classic rock band Kansas, but that momentum has certainly transferred to his solo career, even if it’s been a few years since he released new material. On My Way To The Sun (Kingheir Music/Elevate Entertainment/Syntax Distribution) is the first release of any kind for the singer/songwriter/producer since 2010’s Revolution Of Mind (as leader of melodic Christian rockers Mastedon), and when it comes to individual offerings, its his first since 1999’s Defying Gravity. Even with those lengthy gaps, the four time Grammy Award winner and five time Dove Award winner still managed to turn in an ageless album that takes plenty of progressive rock risks, alongside some of his most spiritually enlightening lyrics to date.
CCM: What is the central theme of the new record?
John Elefante: Time is a [major theme], and although it’s one of the biggest clichés in the world, time is short and life is short. I look back on yesterday and remember when I was in high school. Now I’ve been married 27 years and my daughter is going to be 20 and I still remember rocking her as an infant! That leads you to thinking that time is short and we need to make every moment count. This isn’t a dress rehearsal- it’s the real deal—and the older you get, you realize you only have so much of a window to make your point.
CCM: What was your inspiration behind the social commentary song “Where Have The Old Days Gone?”
Elefante: I remember walking home from junior high and the doors were unlocked when I got home and you could walk home by yourself without a freak or a stranger trying to kidnap you. I think this country had God more in the forefront [back then], and while it’s never been perfect, it’s drastically changed. The innocent days are not so innocent anymore. The Internet, TV, Twitter are really cool if used correctly, but nothing makes us blush anymore…I never like to leave the listener with just thoughts about innocent days being gone, but to come back to the cross and say it’s because we have abandoned God that we’re not as innocent as we once were.
CCM: How would you describe Kansas’ spiritual songwriting dynamic around the time you joined?
Elefante: [Multi-instrumentalist/songwriter] Kerry [Livgren] and [bassist] Dave [Hope] become born again a couple of years prior to me joining Kansas, but from the band’s perspective, it was a seamless transition from the old to new. The lyrics always had spiritual overtones- people always thought “Portrait” was about Christ, but it was about Einstein. This wasn’t a band singing love songs and saying “let’s party” changing to highly spiritually-injected lyrics. I think it was pretty seamless because Kansas was always writing thought-provoking, Christian-sounding lyrics and [having some members come to faith] was the only difference.