Chris Llewellyn wouldn’t care to repeat the last 18 months, but it proved a necessary crucible for Rend Collective’s future. An intense period marked by confusion, depression and frustration, the last year-and-a-half has completely re-centered the worship band’s mission, passion and vision. Now on the other side, it makes sense that this refocused version of the band is out of the gate in 2018 with an “old-fashioned gospel” message in the form of Good News (buy).
CCM Magazine: Since we’re at the end of one year and your musical year is ready to start, how will you look back on 2017?
Chris Llewellyn: On a personal level it was a great year because my first child was born just four months ago, so that will be the lens I look through to see 2017. But as a band, it was an incredibly tough year. I don’t think we’ve been stretched as hard before. We’ve been trying to dig really deep for this album, and it was an 18-month process that came to a head last summer.
I think we just felt the weight of responsibility to get it right. We wanted to do an album around this idea of “good news” that proclaimed the simple gospel at a time when there’s so much bad news everywhere. We were desperate not to screw it up, so we dug deep to get to places we’d never gone to before in order to make this album. So I would say 2017 was hard, but we made it.
CCM: Can you qualify that description, when you say, “We get to places we’d never gone before?”
CL: Artistically would be one way… We weren’t very happy with the way our last studio record turned out. It didn’t represent us as well as it should have, and we got some backlash regarding that. Some people told us we’d sold out. If we did sell out, we’d never sold out for less money. There must be some kind of record for that. [Laughs]
There was an element of truth that we had, in some ways, lost our direction and our specific, unique voice. On this album, we wanted to find, then, what we are specifically called to, or what we’re positioned to say to the church and the world. We didn’t want to just go back in time and find what we were meant to do in the past, but we also wanted to learn how to make that evolve and take this into the future. How do we take this folk-rock experimental thing on a bit? There were challenges in working out what that meant genre-wise. How far do you step forward and how much do you stand your ground and say, “This is who we are?” That was a struggle artistically for us.
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