The New Divide is a Rock ‘n’ Roll band who are passionate about their ministry as well as their music. Their ministry A Jesus Mission uses music and media to equip the found and find the lost. Read on to find out more about their beards, the band and their huge passion for reaching the lost.
The New Divide is made up of Andy Ziesemer, Aron Olsen, Douglas Ziesemer, Alen Garrison and Jonathan Shea and I caught up with them on mission at Creation Fest where they were really busy leading the youth worship as well as performing other gigs and even playing the main stage.
So I have to start where so many of these conversations do, by asking where the name The New Divide comes from.
The band explain “Revelations 3:16 says you are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, so The New Divide means that basically there has to be a point of division in your life, you can't walk the middle ground any longer you have to make some choices and the new divide just says don't be mediocre.”
I noticed that most of the band have beards, they complete the look for the band when you see them perform live. I wondered if there was any particular reason for the beards in the band. Aaron explained his reason, “I started growing a beard when I was 16 because I was in an Easter play for my church and I was supposed to be a disciple so I had to grow a beard, of course. The beard turned out OK even though I was only 16 and my parents said you can keep it as long as you keep it looking decent so since then I have just kept a beard.” The consensus was that the rest had beards because they were too lazy to shave!
So how do they describe themselves and their music? “I guess you could say that we are an indie rock, alternative rock and roll band but we also do a lot of worship leading so we lead worship using the same basic style that we play for our concerts, we don't really change any of our stuff, we just get up with the same things and play”, they explain.
“We're a rock band that does a lot of worship and we do that because we want to do one of two things, equip found people and help find lost people. So we do that through worship and we do that through rock and roll. Rock ’n’ Roll is our method to preach the Gospel.”
Thinking of the way things come across to other people I wondered if they ever suffered from people having a wrong perception given their look and style of music. “Perception, yes, I get people asking me all the time, they ask ‘how can Rock ‘n’ Roll and the church be together?’ ‘Being a Christian in Rock 'n' Roll, how does that work?’ It just doesn't compute. The funny thing is sometimes with our more aggressive Rock 'n' Roll style when we go into a church with older people, more wise, sometimes it stresses them out in the beginning and then they realise, ‘oh they're just worshipping!’”
The band currently have an EP called “Destroyer and King” which is a six track release. I wanted to know more about their writing process and so Aaron explained it to me.
“Basically because we are on the road for about 10 months of the year most of the writing ends up happening in random places in the world. One of the songs on "Destroyer and King", a song called "Selah", was written in the basement of an old building in Denmark. I just went down into this basement and it was really dark and cold and it's ironic because the song is called "Selah" which means to pause, stop, reflect, and it was just ironic because I was in the middle of this very quiet basement in the middle of the busiest tour that we do every year and I literally just took this time down there, pausing and reflecting and I wrote this song.”
“Basically I will write all the melodies and lyrics and basic guitar parts and stuff like that make some demos using Logic and then I just finish it out. These guys just hear it and learn it and we go and record it.”
It’s never quite that simple though, with 5 band members there must be some give and take before a recording. Aaron clarifies “For sure! I write all the lyrics and melodies, but he [Andy] sings them so usually when we come into the studio to do the actual parts things will get shifted around. We'll change things to fit his voice, because the one singing it. We'll shift some stuff to make sure it fits his voice.”
Andy confirms “It's not like we'll re-write the whole song but maybe a melody will shift a little, just little things to make it singable.”
It struck me that Aaron mentioned that they were away from home around 10 months out of the year. That seems like a huge commitment so it gets a bit personal, but I have to find out if they have wives or girlfriends and how they feel about this.
Andy explains how it works for him. “I've been married for 12 years but my wife doesn't travel with us, she will come out occasionally and I go home a lot.” I ask how they make this work and he tells me that it takes intentionality. “We do things on purpose. When we're home, if she is off of her job then I try not to work. I try and spend every moment that she's not working with her. When we have a week off we just try and make use of that week.”
“When we are home in America, this last summer, I would fly home every (almost) Monday and Tuesday just to feel like there's a weekend. After 10 years of doing this it feels like a job, and there's a lot of jobs where spouses are in different parts of the country working, people in the military, long haul truckers or something like that, and a lot of those kinds of things. It's not impossible it just takes work and doing it on purpose. So we put our money into plane tickets, or we put our money into going away for a couple of days so we can be alone when we are home. Also it wouldn't be possible without a wife who supports, and understands and has an eternal perspective on. She sees what we are doing and understands that there is a value in sharing the Gospel, she's a supporter of that. It can be incredibly difficult at times but the return is worth the investment.
As the band were at Creation Fest all week I wondered if they had seen any new bands that stuck out for them through the festival. Interestingly they highlighted 3 bands we have interviewed. Written In Kings, Wildwood Kin and The Josh Walker Band.
Just recently it has been announced by The Josh Walker Band that they are also partnering with The New Divide in A Jesus Mission and a united European tour is planned across France, England and Scotland in March and April.
Creation Fest is a week long festival held in Wadebridge, Cornwall in August each year. Playing host to bands, Christian teachers and speakers, Christian Charities and much more it is a festival open to all for free. Booking is now open for the camping and glamping opportuntiies with early bird offers available until 31st March 2017. Check it out and book your camping spot today!