Since their humble Ohio beginnings nearly two decades ago, the fine fellas of Relient K—that is, Matt Thiessen and Matt Hoopes—have fascinated the heads and hearts of millions of alternative rock diehards with artful tongue-in-cheek, musical adventurousness and spiritual thoughtfulness. With a grin and a wink, the creative duo, who are not just professional partners but life-long friends, have enlisted the vehicle of music to perpetuate hope even among life’s most gloomy confusions in the lives of legions of listeners.
Frame-working their discography with a tactful teeter-totter between self-deprecation and self-reflection, the prolific pairing continues to earn the trust of Relient’s loyal masses by utilizing the vulnerability of verse and rhyme to wrestle with their own flaws first, before encouraging fans to consider the same.
Now as thirty-something musicians with families and a mortgage, the still-young veterans unleash their, arguably, most experiential track listing to date, Air For Free (Gotee/Mono vs Stereo), examining the troubles common to humanity with creative brains and sensitive hearts. Commemorating the recording’s critical release—and the band’s fifth Billboard chart-topper—Relient K sits down for an astute conversation on the influence of music in culture, in the church, on their listeners and in their own lives.
CCM Magazine: The word that keeps coming up in reference to the new record, Air For Free, is “adventure.” How did this record embody adventure?
Matt Thiessen: We were just joking earlier about how I don’t really get that involved in the social media. I’m not attacking it all the time. Part of our adventure in life is finding things to do that get us out of the house and off the grid a little bit, or maybe disconnected from the devices.
I like to go for a run everyday, somewhere between seven to thirteen miles, no phone, and it’s an adventure every day. Some days I’ll see a guy trying to get across the street in a wheelchair and he needs a little help, so I’ll go help him out. Or I’ll go into a coffee shop and just get a glass of water and be sweaty and gross and say, “I’m sorry. I ’m not buying anything, but thanks for the free water.” It’s an adventure.
All the songs on this album, we’re trying to approach happiness in life from a very organic place. There are a lot of animals. And how I’m a 35-year-old man, and the growing and maturing as a person that I’ve been trying to be, those are all the adventures of life.
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