Fans of Starfield will be
happy to know that there is a new CD on the horizon and the tentative release
date is March 7th, 2006. The band will be back in the studio recording
during the month of November, working with producers Ed Cash (Bethany Dillon,
Chris Tomlin) and Matt Bronleewe (Rebecca St James, Natalie Imbruglia,
Michael W Smith). This will be the second consecutive album they have worked
on with Bronleewe.
Continuing with their focus
on writing music for the church, as Tim Neufeld says, they will have a
heavy emphasis on worship, something that has in the past drawn rave reviews
from people such as Casting Crowns' Mark Hall and Chris Tomlin.
During my recent conversation
with Tim, he reflected on the type of album this project is shaping up
to be. "Our prayer is they (the songs) would be able to translate into
that kind of environment (worship). It's something that we have been focusing
on. We are trying to write about where we are at, which is the best way
to write. We are trying to write about our experiences. We want to be authentic
and just as real as we can be before God."
Another theme he says that
he and brother Jon have been writing a lot about is being part of the body
of Christ. "I have been really hungry for community. I have been on the
road and away from a church setting." You can hear in his voice the appreciation
for that fellowship when he says, "Now we have a church here in Nashville
that we are getting plugged into."
As the dynamic of Starfield
shifts, so does the sense of community as it was only two years ago that
the entire band was single. Tim married his wife Carla about one and a
half years ago and this past summer, two more members of the band, bassist
Shaun Huberts and drummer Gord Cochran, tied the knot. All three couples
live in the same general area of Nashville. With that change in marital
status has also came a shift in priorities as the band is more careful
about scheduling gigs that take them away from their families for extended
periods of time.
Isn't that a little difficult
at this stage of your careers? "We have had our music out there for
the past year and one half. The CD is doing pretty well in the U.S." He
says now the CD and ticket sales to their concerts are brisk. Combined
with radio play, it has made it a little easier to be able to choose gigs
that are easier to plan from a travel perspective.
Thoughtfully, Tim says,
"The biggest challenge for us is not being able to stay connected with
friends and family while we are on the road. It's just hard when we are
on the road to have that kind of community. Community needs to be found
within ourselves (within the band) and that is what by the grace of God
we find. We just want to make sure that we are there for each other and
accountable to each other.
For Tim and Carla personally,
that sense of community has also been met by the new friends they have
made in Nashville; people such as Jason Roy of Building 429 and his wife
Cortni, Reuben Morgan, and some of the Hillsongs United ensemble.
"Jason Roy and his wife
Cortni are one of our regular double dates." He says they met while Building429
and Starfield were touring together. "We just love the Building429 guys
and Jason (Roy) and I have a lot in common. We are both primary writers
and being the ones who were instrumental in starting our bands. It was
great for us just to be able to learn from each other and to be a shoulder
to cry on."
The lead singer for Starfield
says, "I have taken joy in being able to write about the essentials and
talk about the pillars, the blood of Christ and the body of Christ, the
freedom that we have through grace and all of the things that make this
relationship what it is."
When one sits and talks
with Tim Neufeld, one gets the sense that this is a man who knows he is
clearly in the center of God's will for his life at this moment in time.
THere is also a sense of calmness that comes from knowing God is in control.
Perhaps this is why Tim's response to my question about what advice he
would give to an aspiring artist came as no surprise.
"I would ask them to check
their motives why they want to be a full time musician. I just feel the
musicians who stick around, especially in Christian music, are those who
really never set out to do that but started off to be followers of Christ,
took the advice of Jesus and took the little things seriously. They allow
Him to open doors so they can do their thing. A lot of people come up to
us and say, 'How do I get involved?' I get emails that ask, 'How do I get
a break in the Christian music industry?' To me, it is not asking
the right question, which is, how can I serve God in my community? How
can I be part of something God is doing here? God will choose whether it
is something that you will be given full time. It's not like it is this
great illustrious career."
Tim digresses for a few
moments, "I was actually talking to Jason (Roy) about this a few days ago,
the myth perception that this (music career) is a great thing that completes
your life. Jason has a child and another one coming. He is away for weeks
at a time and doesn't get to see his little guy and his wife. It is a sacrifice.
It's not the glamorous life a lot of people think that it is. I mean, there
are a lot of benefits but it is a matter of determining what it is that
God has put inside You."
Back to the subject of people
who approach him for advice. "I will ask them questions like are you involved
in worship right now and they will say, 'yes I am leading worship in my
church every week, I'm writing some songs and people are singing them.'
My next question to them is how are you not doing what I am doing? It's
exactly what I do. It is just on a different level. It is no less important
than what I do. God doesn't give a rip about what I am doing above what
you are doing. It is exactly the same thing in His eyes. In fact nothing
that is ever attempted for his kingdom work or the body of Christ is any
more important than what I do and what I do is no more important than what
someone else does. You can be a janitor cleaning toilets after hours for
God and it is not going to, in the grand scheme of things, be any more
important or hold any less weight in God's economy than what Martin Smith
does with Delirious."
With a career that has spanned
several years in their homeland of Canada and now firmly entrenched in
the United States, I asked what type of age demographic he sees the group
having. He says the fans the band has in Canada tend to be older than their
American fans because, "The youth who were 14 and 15 when we were playing
a lot of youth conventions in Canada are in their twenties and in college
or have graduated. That has been really cool to have them grow up with
us." In the United States, the fans tend to be younger because, "Youth
groups love to check out my music. They are a lot more open to that. Unless
you are marketed in a specific genre to the college crowd, that's where
you start (with youth) no matter what kind of band you are. In Canada we
have been able to have almost a couple of different generations of fans."
"If you were to ask me what
my fantasy was as far as who we would play for, what kind of room it would
be and what kind of environment it would be, I would probably say a mix
of all ages with a lot of people at our own stage in life. Those are the
people I relate to best, in college, just out of college, still in their
teens, those who are asking serious questions about whom they are and who
In my conversations with
Tim over the past year, I have never been left with the impression that
he would have a lot of patience with someone who doesn't consider matters
of faith seriously. He told me his ideal person to play for is, "The person
who doesn't come to a concert or put in a CD just to be entertained or
rock out but the person who comes and asks serious questions about their
relationship with God."
Although sonically and culturally
different, some day you will be mentioning Starfield and the brothers Neufeld
in the same breath as other great modern worship maestros such as Chris
Tomlin and Matt Redman.
This fall and next spring,
Starfield is headlining the Dare2Share tour that encourages students to
share their faith (www.dare2share.org). They will be making stops in ten
major American cities. Keep your eye on their website for news of next
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.