Those who seek to worship God are looking for a passion and depth that will allow them to connect one-on-one with something beyond themselves. At times, these seekers are called to not only to worship God, but to provide and instruct other Christians with ways to do so. Among Thorns is a band who has been doing just that with depth and honesty for the last six years.
RELEVANTmagazine speaks with three of Among Thorns’ members—Chad Jarnagin (vocals), Darin Sasser (guitars) and Matt Gilder (keyboards)—about their place in the music industry, hearing from God on how to lead an audience in worship and what the fans mean to them.
RELEVANTmagazine:] Six years you guys have been together. How do you all cope with each other?
[MATT GILDER:] [Laughs] We all love each other, but there’s always going to be some strife involved. You’re on the road with each other a lot, and things will emerge – I mean, one person may get on someone’s nerves and we may need to talk things out. God’s really brought us into (and through) some really cool things.
[RM:] I bet it’s a lot of growth.
[MG:] Oh, most definitely!
[RM:] What advantages do you guys see in having God in the center of all of your relationships?
[MG:] One thing we’ve learned is that it’s all about relationships. I mean, you may have conflicts arise, and you may have things you have to settle internally, but the most important thing you’ve go to ask yourself is: “Is Jesus shining?”
We really have had to learn to be disciples and to foster our relationships over the past years. I mean, when we get off the stage and talk – among ourselves or fans – are we saying something important? Is Jesus shining in our lives? That’s really the most important thing.
[RM:] What would you say people are looking for when they come to worship? Are they looking specifically for God? Or are they looking for the band to help lead them to God? How do you guys know how to lead them?
[CHAD JARNAGIN:] I really think there can never be one single way to know what the audience will need that night. You just have to rely on God to give you discernment to know the people are going to need at that moment.
[DARIN SASSER:] It’s tough too, because this worship thing is really on the rise. We’ve been around for a while now, and we were there before it really became this way – we were really on the beginning of the worship wave. You have to let people understand that you’re not just doing this for a buck – you sincerely want to lead them in an intimate worship experience with God – no matter the progression of their walk.
Some have to be taught how to worship. You have to seek God to know the difference, and to be able to provide the right kind of leadership.
[RM:] I was listening to how “Holy Anointed One” is so different musically than “Embrace this Place,” the first being rock and the second having a completely different, intimate state. How do you guys stay so versatile? Who, would you say, are your influences over the years?
[MG:] Who are our influences?
[CJ:] You mean, besides Michael Jackson?[Laughs.]
[MG:] Well, right now we really like Collective Soul a lot. I think they had some influence on this latest album (Draw Near).
We didn’t originally intend for “Holy Anointed One” to be so heavy. [Laughs] Do you remember a band called Days Of The New? They did this heavy, acoustic rock stuff.
[MG:] Well, that’s how we wanted that song to be.
[DS:] If you listen to the intro [of “Holy Anointed One”] that was really how we intended it to be.
[MG:] Yeah, but it never ended up being that way, for various reasons.
We really like Sheryl Crow, too. A lot of times, whatever’s in our CD players in our cars will end up influencing our songs. There are times, too, when we just get into a spirit of worship alone. I’ll just get in my room, and have no influences at all at that moment. That’s how “Embrace this Place” came to be: I really needed to worship God that night – for God to really embrace me – so that’s how I came up with that song.
[RM:] Was there a big adjustment in moving to Nashville? [The band hails from Beaumont, Texas]. What about the musical climate in Nashville? Did you find yourselves intimidated?
[DS:] Well, yeah, we were scared. I mean, you could walk down the street and there’d be this guy, just playing on the sidewalk, totally blowing me away. I could sit around listening to these guys, and just feel like quitting my instrument, but you have to remember that you are called by God. There is no one else like you that God has called to do what you do. That’s really how I cope with some of my insecurities of being in Nashville.
Wherever God places you is where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re doing how you’re doing it. That’s the most important thing.
[MG:] There is something else I’d like to add. I was looking at the “Talk” section of our website, and it’s been a really great honor just having people share what they want from our ministry. One writer told us that he really respected that we are writing our own songs – that we don’t just go and grab a “copy” tune and record it to make a buck. Now, I’m not intending to be disrespectful to anyone – understand that. It’s just an honor to know that people notice what you’re doing. People really do take notice when they see that you’re sincere about your commitment to the music and to the worship of God. People respect who you are in your artistry.
We’ve really been concentrating on a more “vertical” type of worship. We still do the “here’s what we need, God” type of songs, asking God to come into our lives. But, as we’ve seen, people really are tuning in more to the power of God – and that’s what we want to show in our music. We really strive to give people the depth of God’s power. That’s what people are looking for more and more – depth. We really want to give it to them through the gift of music that God has given us.
We really want to pursue God in all His power.
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