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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Real - Living, Holy Energy
By Zik Jackson
What do you think of when you think of teen rock stars? Stuck-up, self-serving brats? Airheaded, vapid pretty boys with no thoughts bigger than a Snickers bar crossing their minds? Well, a breath of fresh air has been blown onto the scene. Meet Sanctus Real, a quartet of sincere twenty-somthings that started as a high school teen rock band and is now the hottest thing on Sparrow Records since The Newsboys and Luna Halo. As co-founder and lead vocalist Matt Hammitt describes it, "We just want to be real."
Listening to the intensity, sincerity, and passion in the lyrics Hammitt pens for the band, it is apparent that he has a vision for the youth of today. Asking questions such as:
Can I put my pride aside And learn to sing in time With someone else's phrases?Hammitt displays an eager heart for the Savior.
Oh, and did we mention the band rocks? On a foundation of rhythm provided by Mark Graalman on drums and Steve Goodrum on bass, Chris Rohman layers his lead guitar over Hammitt's rhythm guitar and vocals. It is a clean, young sound characteristic of modern alt-rock with a Midwestern flair. The flavor is unassuming, much like the band members themselves.
If you haven't heard the band's Cinderella story by now, here's a short summary: A mainstream rock station in the band's Toledo, Ohio hometown had a contest. Out of 75 rock bands that entered, Sanctus Real won first place. Notoriety as a Christian band that appeals to all types of listeners launched the group into full-time touring and successful sales of their indie CDs. Then Hammitt and Rohman traveled to Nashville to make contacts with the Christian music industry, passing out demo CDs to anyone who "looked important." Their persistence paid off, and they signed with Sparrow, releasing their album _Say It Loud_ in December of 2002 and subsequently setting new records as the fastest-selling rock band in Sparrow's history. The band also went on tour with the Festival Con Dios multi-artist extravaganza, and the rest is, shall we say, "history in the making."
"Every high school kid wants to be in a rock band," says Goodrum. It just so happens that this kid's dream came true. As a graduate of Southwestern Assembly of God College in Waxahachie, Texas and a former youth pastor, Goodrum is seeing ministry in real life with the thousands of teenagers that attend Sanctus Real's concerts.
Like most ministry trips, not only do the audiences receive ministry, the band gets ministered to as well. On the Festival Con Dios tour, for example, Sanctus Real was plagued with vehicle problems. The other bands unselfishly stepped in to help with donations of money, time, and prayer. "I can't tell you how much the other bands ministered to us," says Hammitt. The whole tour was an adventure, according to Hammitt. On another occasion, a power outage occurred during TobyMac's set, but instead of complaining and making a bad situation worse, a worship service spontaneously broke out among the crowd. "The whole tour was like that," says Hammitt.
Sanctus Real brings together a group of young musicians from various backgrounds into a well-congealed sound that is contemporary and popular, yet unique. When asked about musical influences, answers ranged from Amy Grant, Twila Paris and PFR to Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. The key difference is the message Sanctus Real delivers. Hammitt says, "We just want people to know that there's someone that you can relate to. Christ sympathizes, and we care because we have needs too." Graalman adds, "For us it's about being obedient - that people see in us that we are for God. You die to yourself."
And Sanctus Real intends
to take that message and say it loud wherever they can.