By Sammi Deem
When a band contains Christ-followers, there is always that touchy subject of whether the band is a Christian band or not. Generally the answer to this question puts them either in the Christian fan base and market or in the secular (a.k.a. mainstream) market. Cool Hand Luke make no implications that they see themselves as a Christian band, but they have the attitudes that one would hope would be true of every Christian band.
All over their MySpace, website, and throughout their biography is the phrase Soli Deo Gloria. Mark Nicks–the bands drummer, singer, and piano player–informed me that the phrase is of Latin roots and came from the Protestant Reformation. It translates to, Glory to God Alone and expresses the mindset behind Cool Hand Lukes mission statement.
The idea is that praise and glory should go to God and God alone in all thingseven the achievements of men and women. Its something I can really get behind and we started putting it on all of our [merchandise] and other things that bear our name, Nicks says.
Nicks is expressing this desire to give God glory in whatever he does. This is inspiring for many reasons, but perhaps surprising considering their success. Upon my first encounter with Cool Hand Luke, I found there was an overwhelming number of comments on their MySpace giving them praise for inspiring performances. The band has released four albums, including their newest, The Sleeping House. Nicks informed us that he is the only original member of Cool Hand Luke remaining in the band. They have recently lost a member for unsaid reasons, but still have been able to finish a tour and do well enough to stay positive. They are still sticking to Soli Deo Gloria.
The other current member of Cool Hand Luke, Joey Holman, is the bands guitar player and is as equally modest as Nicks. Holman commented that it was prayer that got him through each day of the tour. Another source had stated that hype doesnt affect the band, and they have much more important goals on their mind. The following was Holmans reply:
As I respond to all these questions, Im traveling through the northern, snowy States without the heat from our van working wondering how were going to do our next tour, and praying that a booking agent will pick us up. Its hard to feel famous when all these things, plus several other things, are my reality Id love to be in a tour bus, playing to thousands of people every night, and making a decent living. Im not saying that will never happen, but thats not our goal. We just make music that we love, for a God we love a lot more, and hope that people respond well to that.
Between the dots he acknowledges how thankful he is to have the opportunities he has, but he acknowledges something much greater in the words just above. The goal of Cool Hand Luke is to write music and perform art that is for a God that comes before any kind of superficial fame or praise. According to Holman, they would rather their fans know and praise God than praise them. Their goal is not to please the audience with a stockpile of feel-good music or streamline music that is the same as everything else.
I think if we wrote stock relatable Christian songs to appease a Christian audience who wants to feel good about their life and get chills down their spine, wed be left feeling really dishonest with how we approach writing music. We write music that is interesting, and lyrics that are challenging. Not for the sake of music, but for the sake of wanting (to) bring (people) into a more real, genuine relationship with their Father, Holman said.
Nicks adds that there is an artistic side to their music that focuses on what art should be, and this is the desire he holds for his music career:
Art is supposed to be some small, perceivable piece of beauty that reflects the unreachable Glory of God. We as Christians who are also artists have lost that sense for the most part. But I have this passion in my heart to play music that honors God in a way that He should be honored. There is a song in my heart that has never been played. I can hear it and I can feel it and that song is what Im striving for, but Ive never been able to communicate it. Maybe I never will in this life, but that is what I desire.
While at face value it may appear to be either a dream of a songwriter or maybe even just a well-written paragraph, Nicks words describe the core of Cool Hand Luke s passion for God. Additionally, Joey Holmans pragmatic side allows the band to remain humble and keep giving the glory to God. Soli Deo Gloria is more than just a catchphrase or a merchandise logo for Cool Hand Luke. It is a way of life they hope to communicate to the world.
Check out Cool Hand Lukes music on MySpace and on their website.
Sammi is 18. She goes to Taylor University and is majoring in Christian Educational Ministries and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She hopes to one day open her own Community Center that focuses on helping people find community to meet their needs.