‘Jesus Christ’ is our motivation: Whitecross

‘Jesus Christ’ is our motivation: Whitecross
April 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/14/2019 12:19:27 PM IST

 American Christian metal band from Illinois, Whitecross is set to perform on April 16 at DDSC stadium Dimapur, from 5 p.m. onwards. In an exclusive interview with Nagaland Post, members of the band said Jesus was the sole motivation that keeps the band and everything together.

The current line-up of the band comprises of Peter Stenlund on the vocals, Rex Carroll on the guitars, Benny Ramos on the bass and Michael Feighan on the drums.

Here is the interview in full:

NP: What is the secret behind the success of Whitecross in an atmosphere which was largely dominated by secular rock bands especially during the time of the inception of the band? 

WC: I (Rex) think that the success of Whitecross, or any band has to do with if you have a vision of what your band is going to be about and you have a very strong identity. If you guys that have different goals you’ll not last together for very long but Whitecross (members) has had the same vision and the same goal from the beginning.

NP: What were the challenges faced most by the band? 

WC: I (Michael) would say that the challenges we face the most, one would be, we all live so far apart and so getting together to rehearse as a band is very difficult and I know it’s frustrating for all of us but we just do what we can do. I think another difficulty is wanting to put out new materials but now that there’s no labels really and so you’ve gotta find a plan yourself, you gotta find the resources yourself and then all of getting together, those to me are the biggest challenges that we face. As far as like new music (is concerned) we’ve had a new kind of bubbling happening, we feel like there’s a real possibility that we could release some new music which before, I think we all had kind of got to the point of where we’d given up of that really happening.

NP: Are the other original Whitecross members still active in the music scene? 

WC: (Rex) Not so much, Scott Wenzel is retired, Mark Hedl was working in computers, Jon Sproule is youth pastor and various members have come and gone. There is a few, like Barry Graul, he plays with MercyMe, Tracy Ferrie is still around, he’s done really well, he played with Stryper for awhile and he played with Boston. Some of them are still out there and some of them have gone to do other things and we’re just a band and we just keep trucking along. The ones of us that are left here we keep plugging along.

NP: What is the greatest source of inspiration for the band? 

WC: (Benny) We have a main inspiration and that’s Jesus Christ, though music is prevalent thing with and keeps us bonded together and we have the same vision that way but having the same mentality is of Christ being our Lord is really our main focus and our main vision. And that’s what kinda keeps everything together and keeps us moving.

NP: Do you think Christian metal/rock bands will thrive again like it once did during the late 80’s and early 90’s? 

WC: (Rex) That’s really hard to say, there’s so many things that has changed. Like the whole music business and all that stuff. At the same time I see that well in the western world like Sweden and Scandinavian (countries) we’re very wealthy, we have everything that we need and more than that and in those times (80’s and 90’s) music tends to go way alil bit but I think we were hitting harder over there in those times. Usually what happens is that music becomes more important and then music with a message becomes more important so maybe or maybe not, I can’t really say. I think its hard to come up to the level of 80’s cause that was kind of weird but I think it can be better than it is right now at least.

NP: What is the song writing process of Whitecross? 

WC: Its evolving. Generally speaking, typically, I (Rex) will start a song with a musical idea, a guitar riff or something and in the previous incarnations of the band the vocalist would write lyrics and that’s the thing that was kind of, not to be negative, but that kept us in a box. But now in the new version of the band it a more give and take and more of an open thing, for example, Peter is an accomplished writer of his own so I do believe that going forward we will have a more open process where we can all participate although it’s true that I continue to kind of somewhat define the sound of the band through the guitar riffs but even there is a lot where everybody can give inputs. There’s no rules that only one person can be a writer. So I think there will be a lot of collaboration as we go forward within the band.

NP: Which Whitecross song is the most performed by the band be it small gigs or mega concerts? 

WC: We all agree that it’s the song ‘In The Kingdom’ is the most requested and that’s the one that we all make sure that we perform in every show.

NP: Which song do you consider as the most successful among Whitecross songs? 

WC: It’s definitely ‘In The Kingdom’, no question. I (Michael) see radio reports and reports from Spotify, In The Kingdom is up there, No Second Chances is another song which is very popular for YouTube video plays and those are the two songs that are the two most popular according to the fans and according to what people listen to.

NP: What is your favorite Whitecross song? 

WC: I (Michael) like ‘Down’, I really enjoy playing it as well. 

For many many years my (Benny) favourite Whitecross song has been ‘You Will Find It There’ because it speaks to me not only lyrically but also musically it always has been one that’s kind of like get into my inner system just like it’s one of those good ones.

All of the songs are like my (Rex) children, (laughs), you like all of your children in different ways. 

NP: Which song do you find the most challenging technically?

WC: I (Rex) have a really bad habit of intentionally writing things (songs) that are above my own ability to play. I always thought it would be great idea to challenge myself, force myself to improve on the guitar but it gets really hard to keep up with that over the years so maybe going forward we’ll just write some songs that’ll be easier to play, I don’t know but I hope so.

I (Benny) think the two for me is ‘Attention Please’ and ‘Because of Jesus’ because they have really cool guitar riffs and it took me awhile to kind of get those and get them correctly (while performing). And even now if I occasionally get away from it for awhile then I’m gonna have to relearn it and now we’re doing Attention Please for this particular tour and that’s so challenging one for me.

I (Rex) think that ‘Attention Please’ is a difficult one and ‘No Second Chances’ and some other as well (laughs), I have problems everywhere (laughs again). 

I (Michael) would say ‘Good Enough’ is one of the more challenging ones where I have to focus.

NP: What songs can the fans expect from the band during the Dimapur concert? 

WC: ‘Living On A Prayer’ maybe (laughs). Well they can expect some of the oldies like ‘Enough Is Enough’, I (Rex) guess there might be ‘In The Kingdom’ somewhere, maybe ‘Attention Please’ will show up and then we’ll see and maybe some of the classics.

One thing I’ve really noticed about these two concerts in India, (Shillong and Dimapur), is that the audience here, they really seem to gravitate towards the acoustic songs, the ballads and the power ballads so we have really listened to that. We hear you and we have gone out of our way to include some of those songs in the setlist which is specifically only just for you guys because we love our audience in India. We’re very excited to meet you and to play these songs for you. We’re happy that you like these songs so I hope that everybody will be happy with what they hear.

Infact we’re doing songs we’ve never done before (Michael adds).

NP: Will Whitecross come up with any new material or say an album anytime in the future? 

WC: We’re having a really free range conversation where we’re just kicking around alot of ideas and there’s actually a backlog of some songs. There’s a song that Peter wrote which I (Rex) am really excited about, I think we’re going to confiscate it and turn it into a Whitecross song. And so hopefully if the Lord opens the door and it becomes possible to make a new album, hopefully the answer is yes.

NP: Does the band have any plans of retiring soon either from live performance or also as a band?

WC: No, not as of now. We’ll see how our backs hold up in the next 15 years maybe. Even at our old age maybe our bodies aren’t moving around as quickly as it used to when we were 20 but our fingers still do and our spirits still do so we’re not planning on retiring. 

NP: Any advice to the scores of musicians in Nagaland?

WC: A couple of things I (Michael) would say is, take your craft really seriously, put the time in to work and become the best you can be at your craft. And if it’s Christian music then obviously, really seek God to show you your path and what way to go but doing your diligence as far as working hard at your craft and just being the best that you can be.

We got the chance to see some really good worship teams yesterday and obviously there’s some talent here. I would suggest that they would keep on pursuing it even sometimes when you realize maybe there’s not very many people listening or sometimes it feels like people just don’t care but keep working and people will see the talents God has given you. All you need to do is to keep pushing.

Whitecross members will be reaching Dimapur today. Prior to the concert on April 16, the band members will be holding a workshop at Father’s House Church, 7th Milestone, Chümoukedima, from 10 a.m.

Organizers have informed that tickets to the concert will be made available on the date of the concert at the venue from 1 p.m. onwards. 

(Aneila Seyie Keretsü)

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