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David Crowder Band: How to Make 'Church Music'

By Jennifer E. Jones
Multi-Media Producer, The 700 Club – The last time I spoke with David Crowder, his namesake band's album Remedy was new and rising up the charts. Fans got an unusual glimpse into the making of the record via the band's webcam, which recorded almost every move from the studio to the kitchen. It was a move that, in spite of some hesitation, the guys gave another go.

"We don’t learn from our mistakes," David Crowder tells CBNmusic, with a laugh. "We had the cameras running. We also had live chats so that we could interact with people as they saw what was happening, which was quite fun."

What the fans got an eye-full of was the makings of Church Music, their latest record. A band known for breaking the mold, DCB wanted to both embrace the familiar and stretch the imagination all in one musical experience.

"The phrase 'church music' came from a guy from Spin Magazine. I was having such a difficult time explaining to him what we are. To use the term 'worship band' -- if you don’t have any context for what modern, progressive worship sounds like -- does no good whatsoever. It was confusing to him."

So David broke it down and explained that what the band really makes is "church music." Then it clicked.

He says, " As a country, we have a history of what congregational singing in the church is. [The music we made] gave him something to hold on to, but it also pushed on his limitations or expectations that he associated with the music of the church. The music he was excited about, he couldn’t believe it was coming from a Christian."

The band has never been about blending in, and when other bands are trying to fit inside the Brit-rock model ("Everyone wants to sound like U2," David says), DCB is finding ways to expand the definition of pop music.

"I love pop music. It’s what the majority of us are pulled to. Anytime you look at people who have written hymns, they always talk in terms of finding the language of the common people. The things that pop music does well seem to mirror a lot of what the hymns of the church or at least in the approach. So, we’ll take a straight forward pop song, then do some things that are not expected. So that there’s still some familiarity but there is still some criticism."

The band saw a touch of controversy with their first single, "How He Loves". It's a popular worship song, written by John Mark McMillan, that became an Internet sensation when Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture recorded the song live. In that version, the second verse goes:

So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss

However, DCB's version says:

So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss

I had to ask, why the change?

"When I heard it, I was on a flight from Dallas to Denver, weeping like a little child. By the time we land, I grabbed the guys and said, ‘You have to listen to this. The people who are attached to our music need to be affected like I was.’"

As the band researched the song, they found that churches had been put off by the term "sloppy wet kiss". David says that some found nothing appealing about it. Others thought that the word "sloppy" should never be associated with a God who is so precise and engaged in the lives of His people. As a band, they had a decision to make.

"I was disappointed in this," he confesses. "It’s a shame that many church settings are missing out on this because of those words. It means that the metaphor didn’t work for some people. Those who love the song already have it and have experienced it. So it was a no-brainer. I’m very careful with what we put in front of people that gives [them] an understanding of who God is what He does, how He interacts with earth, and this is one place that I would not assign sloppiness."

He adds, "We wanted to be responsible and allow more people to experience it. If we take some flak in the process, we're used to it (laughs). It's been fun, and it's caused a lot of great conversation."

Purchase: Church Music

Church Music

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David Crowder Has the Remedy

david crowder on pop music

"There tends to be a sparseness of production. There are only four or five elements that make up a track. That encourages it to be a disposable thing. Your ear can understand and get to the bottom of what’s happening really quickly, so the thing gets chewed up and spit out. Whereas, music that’s lasted, I think, has a lot of depth. As soon as recording came along, composers changed their approach and started writing for repeated listens, because that was what the medium was going to be. So they started thinking, ‘What’s going to be fun to discover on the 4th or 5th listen?’ That’s what we tried to do. We did a lot of layering, and hopefully things can be discovered on repeated listens."