Independent pop/rock/dance band Abandon, are set to release their new album Love Prevails next week! Full of heartfelt and poignant ballads, explosive and upbeat pop and dance numbers, as well as worshipful melodies, this album is one of our favourites of 2014! I had the privilege of interviewing lead singer Justin Engler (centre) recently via email, about the new album. We discussed the album, what he hopes listeners will experience when hearing the new songs, as well as the band’s goals and dreams for the year ahead. We also touched upon the band’s thoughts about being an independent band in today’s culture of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and PledgeMusic. Check out the interview below.
1. It’s been 3 years and a bit since your last album Control; can you tell us about recording this album and how God guided you through the process?
The recording process on this album was different from anything we’ve done before. We had to do a lot of emailing and traveling back and forth, when normally we would try and set time aside to stay at a studio. But even with those challenges we absolutely loved working with Geoff Duncan, Phil Larue, and Allen Salmon on this album, couldn’t have asked for a better team.
We really saw God’s hand in everything we did, from making the Kickstarter goal to giving us 10 songs that we believe will help show God’s love to the world.
2. Which song on the new album means the most to you? Describe how recording these 10 new songs has been for you, and what God has been teaching you throughout this process?
It’s hard to say… We put a lot of hard work into the messages in each of the songs, so each one has a special place in our hearts.
This is the first album I sing lead on so it’s definitely been a crazy experience. I’ve always sang back-up vocals and have been fine with that, but God had different plans for me this time and for Abandon. It’s definitely been a stretching period for me, and God has really been taking me out of my comfort zone. But in these moments, you start to see God’s plan unfold.
3. A lot of bands and artists are doing who you are- releasing albums independently, through funds from the fans, either via kickstarter or other campaigns like Indiegogo and Pledge Music, with Flyleaf, Manic Drive, Fireflight, Grits, Paul Colman, Thousand Foot Krutch, House Of Heroes and The Ember Days all choosing this route to record albums. What is your opinion on this stance, and the future of music production? How did the idea of a Kickstarter come about, and what prompted you to release this album independently?
I think it’s a great way to fund a project, we were super blessed to have our album funded by our fans and friends! We couldn’t have done it without them.
4. Can you tell us the highlight of recording this new album? What is the one thing that you hope listeners can gain when they hear Love Prevails?
One of the highlights for me was when I was singing “It Was Love” and “Sound Of Love” and Phil Larue (who I look up to and truly respect) was standing next to me shaking his head yes and saying “dude that sounds amazing”!
One thing I would hope listeners gain is the knowledge and realisation that they are TRULY LOVED. And not the “Love” we see in today’s mainstream media and movies, but the unconditional Love of our heavenly Father. A Love that would send His Son to die for them, and a Love that is unfailing.
5. The album contains some of my favourite songs from you guys, inclusive of “Forever”, “It Was Love”, “Messenger”, “Warrior” and “Heaven”; what did each of the 10 songs mean to you as you were recording it?
This album is really special to us because of all of the hard work we’ve put into it. So each song is not only a reminder of God’s Love, but also a reward for everyone’s efforts.
6. If there is one song that describes the heart of the album, which is it? What is the take home message for listeners, that you want them to discover and explore from the album? Is there any song that is close to your heart that was placed by God?
I guess it would be “It Was Love” because it speaks simply about our Savior’s unconditional love.
To take this album as a challenge to live out the Love of Christ…
“Forever” was a special song for us. We co-wrote it with Phil Wickham and just had a time of worship thinking about how no matter what we face here on earth, one day God will return and His Love will reign forever.
7. Has there been a recent song that has been ministering to people on the road, and what are some of the encouraging stories you have heard from the impact of your songs (on any of your albums you’ve recorded, or on this upcoming album)?
We’ve had a lot of people come up to us and tell us they’ve been going through difficult situations like sickness, depression, and even death of a loved one. They’ve told us that our song “Hero” has really helped them through those tough times. Knowing that they can turn to a Savior who has felt the same pain and heartache gives them hope.
8. Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
The difficult part of every song was to make sure the message was clear and relevant for believers and unbelievers.
God spoke to us more in the tracks that were probably the hardest to write. Because we wanted to present the story of Christ in a new way.
9. For those who may not have listened to your style of music before, who would you say you sound similar to at the moment, in the CCM industry, so that potential listeners can know what to expect? Personally, I reckon you have a pop/danced/electronic sound, similar to Audio Adrenaline, Capital Kings, Manic Drive and TobyMac. Vocally you sound similar to Kevin Max and Downhere as well!
Alt/pop rock we think, similar to Capital Kings, Switchfoot, and Young and Free.
10. Are there any artists/writers/producers you would like to collaborate and compose music with in the future? Who were your favourite artists you admired and looked up to musically in your earlier years, and is there any artist or band that you admire within the music industry currently?
We would love to work with Lecrae, Switchfoot, TobyMac, and the Newsboys.
11. Who do you look up to in the music industry (CCM, or mainstream), either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from?
Switchfoot for their rock anthems, Martin Smith because of his passion for engaging people in worship.
12. Any artists you have toured with in the last few years that have impacted your life the most? Any new tours you are excited for in 2014 and beyond? Any artists you’d like to tour with but haven’t yet?
Newsboys have impacted our lives, for the devotional times we had on tour. We are excited for Acquire The Fire, and some tours in the works coming soon. We’ve love to tour with TobyMac, Switchfoot, Tenth Avenue North, and Hillsong.
13. If anyone reading this interview wants to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice- how would you succeed in the industry, especially worship, with your values intact?
Keep your focus on God; be accountable to the leaders in your life; and measure your success by the effect of your ministry and not by your checkbook.
14. Is there anything in your life that keeps you grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and why you chose music as a career and ministry?
I would have to say my wife and son are definitely the ones who keep me grounded and, along with God, who helps me keep everything in perspective.
Not one verse specifically, but almost every time I do a devotional or have a quiet time, I feel like God is re-affirming that this is the calling He’s placed on my life. Another thing that re- affirms the ministry side of things, is when we hear the stories of how our music is helping people through their tough times, helping them draw closer to God, and just being something they can listen to at a time they need encouragement.
15. Is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this interview yet? Any parting words, and encouragements that will impact the readers of this interview, either from your own life or from others around you? How can fans stay connected with you via social media?
Just know that your life has a purpose and God has a plan for you! No matter what you’re facing, no matter what you’re going through, know that God is there with you and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
The best way is to go to Abandonrock.com and get connected with us through our Facebook, twitter, and instagram.
Be sure to check out Abandon’s new album Love Prevails in stores on November 4th! Also, check out Abandon’s youtube page here, as well as lyric videos and audio slides below of some of their recent songs from this album!