Being in a band is pretty weird. When you start, it’s like being an infant. Infants grow into kids that mature into adults. If you’re fortunate, you make many of your mistakes when you are younger. By in large, those mistakes are somewhat harmless, and you don’t make them in front of a large group of people.
Being in a band is just like that, except we were fortunate enough to have early success. The challenge with that is we end up growing up in front of a whole bunch of people. The successes and failures we faced as a band for the past six years have been out there for everybody to see. We’ve been up, down, exhausted, stoked – you name it. We’ve been through line-up changes, played decent, played terrible, written and recorded some good songs and some songs that we wished would go away and most of you have watched it all.
A funny thing happened though – we started to grow up – as a band, as people, as friends. We are not there yet by any means –we’ll never be; however, we are getting better. That’s the context for our new record, To Know That You’re Alive. The makeup of our band is so strong right now; Jeff Gilbert on drums and Dave Leutkenheolter on bass are a great rhythm section. James Mead and Nick DePartee can really play their guitars and Jon Micah Sumrall doesn’t hold back on vocals.
Are you learning to serve the melody of a song? Can you pick your moments live? Do you like each other? Can you defer to each other out of respect? Can you write together? Those are the important questions. When we started to think about this record, we wanted to be able to answer all these questions correctly, but we were afraid. We were worried about whether we could really write together because we’d never done it as well as we wanted, worried about picking a new producer, and recording in a new place. Yet, we also felt like things were starting to gel between us guys in the band. Our new guitar player Nick brought a whole new element to the band and Jeff and Dave were ready to contribute in a much bigger way. The more we thought about it, the more it felt like it was the right time for risk. We needed to push ourselves.
For the new record, we chose Pete Kipley (Mercy Me, Phil Wickham) to produce the record. That’s not exactly a standard choice for a rock band, but Pete understood us and we felt like he could help us to mesh in the studio. We started in June of 2007 and all told, we wrote 70 songs. We’d never written more than 15 before for a record. We recorded in November, December, January, February and March of 2007 and 2008. We recorded in killer studios by the ocean in San Diego and in hotel rooms in Pennsylvania with a mike duct taped to a lamp stand, and pretty much everywhere in between. Jeff recorded drums until all he could do was lay on the floor in a pool of sweat. We didn’t sleep, we drank too much coffee, and we depended on each other. We pushed harder than we ever have, and somewhere in that process, we started to become a band.
To Know That You’re Alive is the result. It represents the hardest music we’ve ever recorded (songs “The Feeling,” “The Disease” and “The Cure”), the most experimental (“Dying To Become,” “Sleeping City”) and the most melodic (“Guiding Me Home,” “Broken Pieces”). This album is about feeling fully alive. It’s about that feeling that you get when you know that you are doing your very best with what God has given you, and that you’re doing it with your friends – everybody, together. It’s a good feeling. We hope that you enjoy. It’s definitely not a standard Kutless record.
Thanks for being willing to watch us grow as a band. Our hope is that you feel like we’ve grown well in the process of recording To Know That You’re Alive.
Jon Micah, James, Jeff, Dave, and Nick