Photo by Tim Oropallo
February 27, 2020
Back in Fort Wayne by popular demand, Rend Collective, the Irish folk worship band, are touring in support of their most recent album, Good News, which was released in early 2019.
The title aims to appeal to listeners who likely feel bombarded by much of the conflict and strife that has become part of our daily lives by infusing something positive into the atmosphere.
Proclaiming the gospel
The band’s leader, Gareth Gilkeson, explained the title upon the album’s release.
“There’s a lot of bad news out there, but no matter what we have good news, and that good news has a name: Jesus Christ,” he said. “Today there is nothing more powerful we can do in the darkness, in the bleakness, than proclaim the good news, than proclaim the gospel, and that’s why we wrote this song.”
In the press release which accompanied the album, Gilkeson underscored how the band hoped the album would help those who listened to focus on the positive around them rather than getting mired in the negative.
“Sometimes we spend so much of our time looking at what we don’t have rather than being thankful for what we do have,” Gilkeson said. “Our time on social media, comparing our lives to others, steals our joy and leaves us empty. God has given us so much and we must discipline our minds to think on our blessings rather than letting them fester on what we think we lack.”
Promoting a sixth studio album was not even on the horizon for the group when it first formed rather casually almost 20 years ago. Not that the band or musicians took a casual approach to the music or their faith, but the idea of a band which would last deep into a second decade wasn’t the intention, as guitarist Patrick Thompson said in an interview with Whatzup last year.
“We really weren’t a band at the start,” he said. “We were all college age in 2002 and calling ourselves Rend when we started it. We were in Northern Ireland, we had turned 18 and left school. Our group of friends were dealing with growing up with life hurting them. They were facing grief, bereavement, getting jobs. There were a lot of friends hurting and who had moved away from their church and their faith.
“We decided to build a community to explore those questions. The church deals well with a lot of things, but back home the churches were not handling these transitions well.”
Stepping into the spotlight
For the next several years, they took incremental steps toward where they are today, but it was an opportunity to tour with fellow worship performer Chris Tomlin that allowed Rend Collective to reach bigger and more receptive audiences.
For a group that had been recording primarily in Gilkeson’s bathroom, the leap into international prominence was an unexpected but welcome change, as Thompson told Whatzup.
“You can’t get that kind of thing to happen by trying,” Thompson said. “Only the Lord makes that happen. Before all of that started happening, we really weren’t that good. In 2008 people wanted us to start playing around Europe, and we started playing festivals and warming up for other bands. But we went from playing to 20 to 30 people to playing in front of 6,000 with Chris Tomlin in just a year and a half. It was nerve racking, but we decided to have confidence in the Lord. We knew He had his hand on it. The Lord has a plan for us, and we were grateful to be here. But it was terrifying.”
In the nine years since that transformative tour, Rend Collective has released those six studio albums as well as a few other collections (their Christmas and live offerings have proven popular), all of which helped keep them on the radar and in a position to headline their own tours.
Earning an audience
Reception to their music has been very warm, as is evident from the reviews they have received in Christian publications.
“If an album is to be named Good News, then certainly joy is to be a centerpiece,” wrote Chris Major of The Christian Beat. “There are a thousand ways to describe joy, but Rend Collective wastes no time simply telling listeners what it is. With each and every song, they show it. Through shouts of energetic praise and moments of bittersweet thought, culminating in an anthem of worship, the band presents their beloved, signature sounds in a familiar, welcoming, and inviting atmosphere. Good News is a moment to worship the Savior without reservation and Rend Collective refuses to hold back in celebration.”
Rend Collective, having recently performed to soldout audiences in Australia, return to the United States for two month beginning with a stop just two days before coming to Fort Wayne. With dozens of stops in just two months, the tour will eventually take them back to Europe starting in September.
With a four-month break, fans can hope that the next bit of good news will be a new album in 2021. But until then, Rend Collective will keep sharing the music which has earned them so much acclaim since they took those early, tentative steps 18 years ago.
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