Matthew Jacoby – Founder/Leader
In some ways I feel like the proper beginning of the band was 1997, because up to this point, everything was so casual and undefined. It seems that we spent the first few years waiting to start but not knowing how. By this time Jason had decided to go his own way and Rod and I were joined by drummer Richard Beechey and singer-guitarist Marcus Hayden. We were starting to focus almost exclusively on Psalms but even when we re-recorded ‘Hand to the Plough’ only half the album was made up of Psalms.
Working with a wordy, non-metrical text like the Psalms is not easy and it took us a while to adapt our musical style to the project. As we did we became more and more interested in this endeavour and the artistic challenge it presented. Rod Gear was really the one who was instrumental in stretching our musical style enough to make such a project possible.
I had listened to a lot of world music and had written a Latin version of Psalm 45 but apart from this I was still putting the Psalms to ballad and pop-song style tunes. Catchy as my songs were, we really needed to stretch ourselves musically if we were going to tackle some of the more complex Psalms. Rod was the first to venture out. His songs were technical, multi-sectioned, used alternate tunings and were, like Rod, intense and moody. The style really suited the Psalms. They were interesting pieces to play live and as we started playing this material there was clearly a new and original band emerging.
At the beginning of 1997 Rod and I decided to head over to South-East Asia where some of our former Deakin University fans had returned. We played in Singapore and Malaysia and sold the remainder of our cassettes. It was an interesting trip that created many stories that Rod and I still laugh about to this day. I remember us being invited to play at a home group high up in a typical Singapore high-rise. We chose to play a new song that Rod had written. It was an intense battle-lament psalm, full of judgement and woe, played in Rod’s inimitably moody style with about six different sections and seemed to go on forever. When we strummed the last chord the room of normally chirpy Asian pop-worship fans sat stunned. Amongst those present was a Christian music promoter who tactfully told as that we should not count on a bright future in Christian music.