Q&A with The Glorious Unseen
“I have to push myself towards activity and get away from depression. Activity breeds inspiration. So even if I have to do something seemingly insignificant, it breeds optimism I think.” -Ben Crist (The Glorious Unseen)
A group of guys received in the music-world as a Christian band, frontman Ben Crist doesn’t necessarily target his songs towards the Christian audience. However, he feels his songs primarily deal with his conversation to God, and because of this, the majority of their fan-base are Christian folk. From the always hip, Nashville, TN, The Glorious Unseen signed to Tooth & Nail Records back in 2007, which is when they released their debut record, “Tonight the Stars Speak.” On August 25, 2009, the band released their fourth record, entitled, “The Hope that Lies in You.” The album’s title track speaks from the perspective of one who believes in something larger than him. During such a hopeless time, as our nation is in a major recession, Crist believes the song “The Hope that Lies in You” is a call for action, which he believes will cause any sort of individual depression or negative thought to subside. The album is an optimistic approach to such a dark, cold world, and in this approach, I am sure you all will receive great comfort. Before they jumped on the tour bus to tour for the month of November, I had a chance to sit down and talk with The Glorious Unseen’s frontman, Ben Crist. We talked about a little of everything– from bars to Beyonce, from August Burns Red to the Christian people today.
Blue Indian (Luke Goddard): We have Ben here, lead singer of The Glorious Unseen. Thanks for joining us, Ben.
The Glorious Unseen (Ben): Thanks for having me!
Ben: I love everyone at T&N.; I’m somewhat acquainted with the MWY guys– we’ve done a few things together in the past, but I haven’t seen those guys for a good while… Haven’t played any fests or shows with them for a while. I’m friends with a lot of the more hardcore and metal bands on T&N; / SolidState.
BI: I’ve listened to your songs on your MySpace page. Christian or not, one has to appreciate the honesty in your lyrics. Can you be too honest in your songwriting?
Ben: Hmmm… I’m not sure really. I think it’s all about relating to the listener. If I’m being brutally honest – but someone else also deals with the same struggle – then it relates to them, and they want to listen. I guess you COULD be too honest maybe – it depends upon the way it comes across. If people identify with what you’re saying, then they’ll appreciate it. I think we’ve found a niche with Christians who struggle to be honest in their Christianity.
BI: The title track of the new record, “The Hope That Lies in You” is refreshing, to say the least. The economy is to pots. Doesn’t appear to be getting better. Are you a natural optimist?
Ben: Ummm… I don’t know about natural– I have to push myself towards activity and get away from depression. Activity breeds inspiration. So even if I have to do something seemingly insignificant, it breeds optimism I think. Friends and relationships breed inspiration and optimism for me. Playing music – singing honest lyrics is inspiring. I just have to do what God gives me to do and let him inspire me in different ways.
BI: Do you write your music only for the Christian listeners?
Ben: No, but that’s the natural audience because most of the songs are directed to God. If someone is not a Christian – or doesn’t have a familiarity with Christianity, they might not understand the lyrics to some extent. But, there is a natural desperation and yearning in the lyrics that I think can translate beyond Christian audiences.
BI: Who are some of your guilty pleasures regarding the music you listen to?
Ben: Metro Station, Usher, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus. At least this is the music I’m told I should feel guilty liking. [laughs]
BI: If you could collaborate with any one artist, who would it be?
Ben: Hmmm… Probably wanna have one of the hardcore bands collaborate to do some parts on one of our records. Maybe have Jake from August Burns Red – or Mattie from ForToday do a part on one of our songs. We’ve talked about this – but haven’t made it happen yet.
BI: Who is one person you’d love to have a sit-down-conversation with? (Dead or Alive)
Ben: Wow, I haven’t been asked that question before really. Maybe the apostle Paul. He dealt with some pretty intense stuff….I think it would be interested to talk to Bono, Chris Martin from Coldplay, the dude from Snow Patrol – some of those mega artists have church background. I’m curious to hear their thoughts on the church of today.
BI: Have you ever thought about quitting (The Glorious Unseen)?
Ben: Not really…. It’s really inspiring doing it. It’s really my only “job”– no reason to even think about quitting. I could go back to bartending if I did – and that would be fun, but not as fun as playing music.
BI: What’s your thoughts on the Christian church today?
Ben: Haha – wow, so now for the big question. Ummm I’ve played in hundreds of churches in the past couple years. Some translate the message in a really honest and authentic way. However, most of them still feel cheesy and irrelevant. Many of them become irrelevant in their quest to become relevant. Here’s the deal – we don’t have to go to “church” to be Christians. The point of church is community – community with other Christians. We can find this community in a bar, in a restaurant, on the phone, etc. There are many ways to have community with other Christians. Unfortunately, I think many people put church on a pedestal as if going to church is the answer. Going to church is not the answer. We can find great community at church as well though! It’s all about seeking God authentically with a community you want to seek God with. Because in seeking God together, we each can help one another. So, it’s important to find others that you get along with and identify with. I love being home on a weekend in Nashville and getting to go to my church because it’s full of a bunch of kids who deal with similar struggles that I do. Then, we all go to the bar after church– and that’s a continuation of the community. So, we can have these God-moments anywhere.
BI: What’s a day in the life of Ben Crist like? What gets accomplished before noon, between noon and dinner-time, and from dinner-time until you close your eyes?
Ben: I try to get up early enough to get some good stuff accomplished. Most of my day is spent on the computer working on band related stuff– marketing. booking, management, mailing out merch, etc. I do everything for the band myself – besides the main online promotion and record sales stuff that the label does. I mix this work in with hanging out with friends for coffee and lunch / dinner… I have some favorite spots in Nashville to hang out during the day. I TRY to work out every evening, but haven’t been in a good rhythm of doing that lately… Nights I’m either at a show / party / event… Whatever is going on in my town I wanna be there… I try to stop by every event that is going on–I don’t wanna miss anything….
BI: What do you recommend in the following categories (Be specific): Band // Website // Singer/Songwriter // Book // Restaurant?
Ben: The Ember Days / Facebook? / Colbie Caillat / The Shack / Virago NASHVILLE!
BI: Where can fans purchase the new album, “The Hope that Lies in You”?
Ben: Best Buy / ITUNES / any christian store…
BI: Thanks for hanging with The Blue Indian.
Ben: You guys ask awesome questions! Thanks!!!
Visit The Glorious Unseen’s Official Merch Store.