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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Twenty-three questions to Spoken.
By: Len Nash
Spoken has achieved a lot of notoriety and even more success in their seven years as a band. Their positive, Christ based lyrics, and their ability to create a different theme from one CD to the next have gained much respect. They deal out punchy, raw energy with whatever music they work on and deliver a live concert that is full of a raw, fun, passion and edge. Twenty-three questions fired at guitarist and founding member Jef Cunningham and his rapid-return answers follow.
1: What is the current line-up for Spoken?
Matt Baird Vocals
Ryan Jordan Drums
Aaron Weis Guitar
J. Brandon Thigpen Bass
Jef Cunningham Guitar
2: After all these years, some still haven't heard about Spoken. Can you please tell us the history of Spoken?
Cunningham: A complete history of it would take up way too much time. As far as the important stuff, Spoken started in my bedroom in early 1996, got our first record contract in mid 1997, and we've basically been on tour since.
3: What does the name Spoken stand for or represent?
Jef: Honestly, it's just a name. It has taken on a meaning throughout the past few years. When we named the band it didn't have any deep meaning, it was just a name.
4: Spoken has a new CD.
Cunningham: A Moment of Imperfect Clarity came out on September 2nd, 2003.
5: What inspired Spoken to give it that name?
Cunningham: The original title of the CD was Kill the Twilight, [but] because of legal restrictions we had to change it to what it is now. The word twilight has a couple of meanings, and one of them is "a moment of imperfect clarity." When we found out that we couldn't name it that, we just chose one of the definitions of twilight.
6: Spoken has changed their sound. Some are wondering why it has been changed. What is the real reason?
Cunningham: We just write what we like and if someone looked back through our past albums, they'd see that we've changed our sound progressively throughout our career. There really wasn't any conscious effort to "change our sound," it's just natural to us to change and evolve. It's more evident on this record because there [were] over 3 years between Echoes of the Spirits Still Dwell and A Moment of Imperfect Clarity_.
7: AMOIC was produced by GGGarth Richardson(Rage Against The Machine, Chevelle, Project 86, Beloved). How did it help Spoken to have GGGarth at the helm?
Cunningham: He helped us see what's important in a song, as well as pointing out certain weaknesses in the songs. He's amazing at what he does, and he helped us a lot with this new record.
8: What is the story behind the AMOIC artwork?
Cunningham: Kris McCaddon did it and it looks fabulous!
9: Lyrically A Moment of Imperfect Clarity is very intriguing and is as inspiring as past releases. What is the main theme of AMOIC? What makes up the rest of the musing on this CD?
Cunningham: The main theme is missing loved ones. Matt and Ryan are married now, and I'm going to be soon, so that's what a lot of the album deals with; just being away from someone that you love and not being able to do anything about it because of physical distance. There are also songs about relationships with God, and dealing with someone that has lied to you and burned you in the past. So there are a lot of different themes on this record.
10: Is Spoken a ministry oriented band, sharing hardships in life, and the hope that Jesus, our Savior, provides?
Cunningham: As Christians, that's what we're called to do regardless of what we do. A lot of our songs deal with that very thing. As far as preaching from stage or laying our personal doctrine out at shows, that's not something we do. We let people know what we are and why we do what we do. We find that hanging out with people after the show is way more effective than what we say from stage. I don't want that answer to sound like a cop-out that people have heard time and time again, that's honestly what we've found to work best. We've been touring for almost 6 years now, and we've gone through a lot of different approaches to this matter, and this is what works best for us in the venues that we play in.
11: Spoken is now a Tooth and Nail band. How has this expanded Spoken's ability to showcase their "new" sound?
Cunningham: Tooth and Nail is possibly one of, if not the most respected indie labels out there today. Just being in the T&N family, opens the door to a completely loyal fan base, so that's already helped. Our records are now everywhere, including Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Circuit City, etc. so our coverage is ten times what it was with our previous label. Not to mention Tooth and Nail just rules!
12: If you had the opportunity to own a record label, which three Christian bands would you sign?
Cunningham: Anberlin, Pax 217, and The Evan Anthem.
13: Speaking of labels, what ever happened with Spoken's relationship with Metro One(Records)?
Cunningham: We're still friends with the people. They were a small label and we kind of out grew them. Everything is cool between us.
14: Being in the Christian market must have hardships and benefits. What are these?
Cunningham: Some of the benefits include having a built-in support system with other believers. Some of the hardships include people not taking your art seriously.
15: On the CD, two of the songs, "Seasons Change"(written by Roy Elam, Travis Pierce, and Spoken) and "Remembered"(written by Travis Pierce and Spoken) are co-written by past members of Spoken. How was this experience?
Cunningham: We started working on those songs when those people were in the band, so it was like working with any other band member. It wasn't any big deal.
16: Does Spoken have a song that is out on the radio right now?
Cunningham: There will be a video for "Promise" very soon.
17: At Cornerstone 2003 this past summer, did Spoken have fun and which stage was more to Spoken's liking, Encore Two or Indoor?
Cunningham: Both are cool. The Indoor stage is bigger, but we got to play at night on Encore 2 so, I liked that one a little better this year.
18: Spoken is going on tour with Pillar and Disciple, two of the biggest Christian hard music bands out there. Is Spoken pumped up about this?
Cunningham: Totally! We've been friends with the guys in Disciple forever; they were one of the very first bands that we as a band ever hooked up with to do some shows and we've been trying to find time to tour with them ever since, so that's totally cool. The same with the guys in Pillar; we've known them for a while, not as long as Disciple, but a while, and it's great that they're taking us out on tour. It should be an amazing tour.
19: Personally being an old fan of Spoken(since What Remains...) there was some doubt that the new sound would satisfy, although it really impressed me. How are other fans of old reacting to this change in style?
Cunningham: Any time you
change something that people liked, you're going to get people that love
the new direction, people that really don't like it, and also you'll get
people that absolutely hate it. We've had all three reactions so far, but
for the most part people really seem to enjoy where we're taking our music.
Cunningham: I'm always horrible
at closing remarks