By Lauren Deville
There’s a quote hanging in my hallway taken from U2’s book, Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2.
It says: “…when you are given a gift, you have to use it. You have to deal with the responsibilities and dilemmas of it. You cannot run from it. You cannot hide your light under some bushel of safety and hope that it just goes away. You’ve got to face the consequences of who you are and what your vocation is” (30). Those words echoed in my head this past weekend when I had the privilege of working with the up-and-coming band Ever Stays Red on the music video for their new hit song, “Can’t Explain.”
I’d peripherally followed the band’s career for several years, and realized upon talking to the band members that the reason I’d lost track of them for awhile was because they’d broken up for a period of about a year and a half. Initially, this was because their guitarist and lead singer, Dustin Carlson, had taken a job at his church in Mesa as youth pastor.
On their early tours, the members had been stirred by their impact on the kids who attended their concerts, but were frustrated by the fact that time and distance prevented them from keeping in contact enough to have a lasting influence on the lives of these kids. It was this that precipitated Dustin’s decision to try his hand at youth ministry, and subsequently, the other members also began to attempt to find their vocations elsewhere. Yet throughout this process, none of the members of the band found themselves met with overwhelming confirmation that they were headed in the right direction.
At the end of that time, the band had pre-booked a tour through Brazil, and opted not to break the engagement, though their recent paths had led them apart. As all of their songs are written in English, the audience couldn’t even understand the lyrics except through the aid of translation, and yet the band was amazed to see their audience receive and accept their message of redemption in droves. (I’m reminded of a passage in The Journey of Desire in which John Eldredge writes that whenever someone thanked his co-author Brent Curtis for their life-changing message, Brent was tempted to respond in surprise, “Really? You mean, it’s true?” …Or, as it’s perhaps better put in Proverbs, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,” Proverbs 13:12).
Just so, after experiencing anew the confirmation of their calling, Dustin, Josh, Zach, and Erik couldn’t go back to life as usual; they believed that they had a message to share and a gift for the medium of music that would enable them to share it with those who needed to hear. Whatever the cost, they had to “face the consequences of who [they] are and what [their] vocation is”, and they decided to give Ever Stays Red one more go.
As usually happens when one rallies a previously fading hope, their second attempt was fraught with initial difficulty, including a physically and mentally demanding tour which brought them little publicity and a great deal of frustration. But just when they were about to throw in the towel for good, hope, in the form of a record label called VSR Music Group, appeared on the horizon. (I just love last-minute rescues.) VSR offered them a contract, provided they write an entirely new album in approximately three months. The task seemed insurmountable, and guitarist and backup vocalist Zach Andresen said that more than once, he wondered if they could meet such a deadline without compromising their art.
But meet it they did, and another three months saw a glistening new album, On the Brink of It All, recorded, mastered, and released. “God was definitely in it,” said Zach. Not only did they finish the album on time, but many of the band’s closest supporters believe that On the Brink of It All is their strongest album yet. And well they might: while the sound is reminiscent of secular counterparts such as Something Corporate (minus the piano), Anberlin (with perhaps a slightly softer edge), or All American Rejects, the lyrics are powerfully infused with the members’ personal journeys of faith in a way that is fresh and defies clich.
In the light of their story, one can catch glimpses of their struggle and determination not to lose heart in pursuit of the vocation to which God has called them: “How our eyes burned bright /Back in the day when / Our dreams were all that kept us alive. / No, we can’t stop now, / We’re gonna make it: / We’re standing on the brink of it all.” (“On the Brink of It All”)
It would certainly seem that they are, indeed, on the brink of something big.
To hear more, visit them on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/everstaysred
If you liked this article, check out these band interviews:
- Voices in Culture: downhere Interview
- Voices in Culture: After Edmund Interview
- Unlikely Beauty, Part 3: Matt Annecharico
Lauren holds a biochemistry degree from the University of Arizona, and she is currently studying naturopathic medicine in Tempe, Arizona. She also has a background in the arts, particularly theater and creative writing, and she hopes that (sometime prior to graduation) she will eventually stumble upon the perfect integration of her seemingly disparate interests.