Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
By Aaron Anderson
Marc Byrd has had quite a career. He co-produced the commercially successful worship series ďCity On a HillĒ containing the worship classic ďGod of WondersĒ that he co-wrote. Previous to that, he headed up a cutting edge band called Common Children and was involved in a side project called Glassbyrd with his wife, Christina Glass. This year, he became an official member of The Choir and currently, he is churning out music with his new act, Hammock . The Phantom Tollbooth down with Marc to talk about his new band, art, worship and more.
Anderson: How did Hammock come about?
Byrd: It started out with no agenda. A friend of mine, Andrew Thompson and I got together and decided to just make ambient music, with no intention of selling millions of copies. This was to be our labor of love, music for musicís sake. And it has been the most critically acclaimed record that Iíve ever put out so far. This is the most natural music Iíve composed, Iím really loving it so far.
Anderson: How have your fans received Hammock?
Byrd: To tell the truth, not many of the people who listen to Hammock know that I have had any involvement in Christian music. Therefore, they have no preconceived notions of what to expect from Hammock unless they Google my name and they discover a little song called ďGod of Wonders.Ē (Laughs)
Anderson: Do you foresee any more Glassbyrd releases?
Byrd: No I donít.
Anderson: How about another Common Children release?
Byrd: Probably not likely either.
Anderson: How would you describe Hammockís sound?
Byrd: In Japan, they called our sound cosmic post rock. Iíve also heard us described as ambient post rock. I feel these are both pretty accurate.
Anderson: Who are some of the artists that inspire you to make this type of music?
Byrd: Stars of the Lid, Cocteau Twins, Album Leaf, Boards of Canada, Sígur Ros, Slowdive, The Dead Texan, Thom Brennan, Steve Roach and my favorite artist, producer, engineer of all time Brian Eno.
Anderson: Any guitar heroes?
Byrd: Robert Smith, Marty Wilson Piper, The Edge and Derri Daughtery for sure.
Anderson: Why ambient music?
Byrd: I like the sense of space that it creates. Iíve always liked music that could still your mind. You know itís a way to shut down the brain or deeply reflect upon life.
Anderson: I think the album Kenotic is probably one of the most worshipful records Iíve heard in awhile, do you feel Hammock is worship music?
Byrd: I get emails all the time about people who do. Thereís a pastor who puts Kenotic on and for the whole service people just sit and practice silent prayer. We never thought of Kenotic as a worship record, but I think any art can be used as worship to Him because it comes from Him right?
Anderson: What is worship music to you?
Byrd: Any music that opens up a sense of mystery and makes you realize that there is more than what we see.
Anderson: Do you think that God holds artists to a standard?
Byrd: Yes, I think He calls artists to be good, to always want to do better. If you are doing something in the name of God it should be the very best you can do. For example if I go to a bank and say to the bank manager, ďI want to be a banker for God.Ē And it turns out that I am horrible at banking, I should maybe try to do something else.
Anderson: On The In Between Time by Common Children there were moments where you could tell you were moving in a new direction.
Byrd: Yeah, that album had layer upon layer of guitars intentionally. We recorded that record on analog tape and had time limitations, so it is what it is. There are a lot of atmospheric sounds and delayed guitars. I felt more at home making that record. It reminded me of my college days when the soundman used to call me ďMarc, Marc, MarcÖ..Ē because I use so much delay (more laughs). Of the three Common Children releases, I think that one sound-wise was the best.
Anderson: Who are some of your lyrical influences?
Byrd: By far, Rainer Maria Rilke is my favorite poet. Edgar Allan Poe. Some people focus only on the sadness of his poetry but if you look at the words he wrote they always pointed up to the stars, sky and celestial things which make their way into my lyrics. Also, Mark Kozelek is a big influence. Steve Hindalong is another huge influence, he seems to be obsessed with that flying imagery and thatís rubbed off on me. Plus, since Steve and I work together so much, itís inevitable that we would rub off on each other.
Anderson: Speaking of Steve Hindalong how did you get hooked up with those Choir boys?
Byrd: I moved to Nashville and was at a 77s show, or maybe it was a Prayer Chain show, anyway Steve Hindalong was there so I walked up to him and gave him a demo tape of my band and watched him go to his car and toss it over his shoulder. I honestly didnít think heíd listen to it. In 1995, Common Children went to Cornerstone, where Dan Micheals and Gene Eugene saw us perform. When Dan got back to Nashville, he told Steve and Derri to come out and see us play. Itís weird that now Iím a full blown member of The Choir and I produced their last record.
Anderson: Could you tell us what the word kenotic means?
Byrd: It refers to the word kenosis, which means self-emptying. It comes from Philippians 2:5-8 where God emptied himself in Christ. God not only suffers for us, but he also has and does suffer with us.
Anderson: Thanks for your time Marc, it was amazing talking to you.
Byrd: Not a problem
Anderson: Take care
Byrd: You too man, goodbye
In addition to writing for
Phantom Tollbooth, Aaron also independently writes poems, devotionals and
more about the human condition. To read more of his writings or order some
of his books go to: www.aaroncanderson.us.