The C3 band’s worship leader Joe Pringle and keyboardist Christina Burow talk to City News about their new album Saints and how they continually raise the bar in what they do.
Interview by Mervyn Lim, written by Yong Yung Shin
Most people, Christians and non-Christians alike, have an idea of what Christian music should sound like. That may just change when you listen to Saints, the C3 band’s latest album—electronic and techno are some words that come to mind.
Recorded in early 2014, the studio album comprises 10 songs, written and performed by various members in the band. The message of the highly infectious, energetic title track: that “there is no division between denomination of churches, and that we’re all here actively to reach one goal—to see more people in heaven,” says worship leader and songwriter Joe Pringle.
With such a “modern” sound, does the team worry about leaving out congregation members who prefer more familiar, conventional tunes?
“I think there’s always a way to do both, we will cater the songs to the context of the services—for example, we have services that are chapel services, or acoustic-style, so we will do the songs in that style … in writing the songs, we’ll be like, ‘can we do this with less instruments, as an acoustic song, would it still work?’ So we look at different context, because not everyone has the set-up that we have,” explains keyboardist Christina Burow.
“Stylistically, you can segregate different ages in the audience, but the Holy Spirit is ageless, He’s very cross-platform, and so if that’s correct—and if it’s not too extreme, either which way—then it doesn’t matter what age you are, it doesn’t matter which age you’re trying to reach, you will reach them. I think that the main feedback we get is that it’s the spirit of worship they want, they don’t necessarily mind the sound—unless it’s too loud,” adds Pringle with a laugh.
On the collaborative aspect of producing an album, Burow shares, “We love collaboration; that’s one thing our team do really well. We definitely differ on musical opinions, but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing—we want the songs to be great, we want to reach people, so we kind of set aside our personal differences on musical opinion, what we each think works best, and work together in one direction.”
Burow herself joined the C3 praise and worship team when she entered the C3 college about 13 years ago to study music. “I think my first gig was a funeral,” she recalls. “And then after that I must have passed because I ended up playing on the music team after that.” The C3 band numbers around 150 to 200 people, spread across six locations in Sydney. It is headed by music director Ryan Smith.
As a music team, how does it consistently raise in the bar in what it does?
“By daring to suck and having the ability to try again. I think as long as you have resilience individually, you have resilience as a team. A lot of the time, I feel growth is completely stunted with too many no’s or ‘I’m not gonna try that.’ Hearing ‘no’ too many times can be a hard thing—I live in Los Angeles, you hear ‘no’ a ton more than you hear ‘yes’—but as soon as you learn that it’s actually a way for you to build your character, to keep going it until you get a ‘yes,’ then I think you’re gonna find something … it takes a lot of searching. Sometimes, it’s just the luck of the draw, you throw something up, and something comes down, but other times, it’s work, work and work. Being relentless in that approach is really important,” says Pringle.
Saints can be purchased from iTunes or the C3 store.