Rend Collective Experiment have attracted a lot of attention since their debut album The Organic Family Hymnal was released in 2010.
Hailing from Northern Ireland, the members of Rend describe themselves as a "family" more than a band. The team of people that make up the Collective say they are seeking an honest and natural connection with God. The success of their acoustic/rock styled worship songs have resulted in a top 40 chart position and a US tour with Chris Tomlin.
Rend Collective Experiment
From left to right: Chris Llewellyn, Ally Gikeson, Gareth Gikeson, Patrick Thompson, Will Heron
1. Hi Will it's great to be speaking with you. How did the band start?
We’re all from a small town called Bangor near Belfast, Northern Ireland. We grew up playing in worship bands together, then we were part of a student church called Rend. As that finished up, we started writing songs together so Rend Collective was formed. There’s five core members who are full time but the Collective itself has tonnes of people in it.
2. What was the recording process like compared to your debut release Organic Family Hymnal?
The big difference was the majority of this album [Homemade Worship by Handmade People] was recorded in homes. The songs were mixed in a home studio as well. There’s a real emphasis on all seasons of life occurring at home. It just made sense that if we were looking to do something authentic, the home environment was a great place to be.
3. What do you mean by “organic" and "handmade" worship?
Organic is something that’s fresh and from the heart. God is looking for something that is a living response, not something that is dead religion. God’s mercies are new every day and he’s looking for a fresh response. In terms of homemade, we’re just trying to emphasise that each of us is unique and handmade by God. Each person is a work of art, it’s not about some people being up on stage it’s about everyone within the body of Christ.
4. What is your songwriting process?
It depends. It’s a collective process. The way I like to see it is if you imagine ideas as flour, they go through various sieves before they hit the bowl. All of us are there sieving out ideas. It means by the time the flour hits the bowl, it’s very refined. Sometimes it takes longer because you’re talking through ideas and really pushing for creativity and accessibility at the same time.
5. One of your new songs “The Cost” is about counting the cost and deciding to follow Jesus. Tell us about it.
Worship has got to cost something. You think of the gifts of worship that Jesus was most pleased with, most of the time it cost the person everything. As a band, I feel like we’re are having to count the cost of following Christ. We’re having to lay our lives down, trust God for our relationships, our families, our finances and everything. That’s just a declaration of our heart. We’ve counted up the cost and God you are worth it and we will follow after you.
There’s a lot of people who would find it very difficult to sing some of the songs we sing about God in church. It’s a costly act of worship to say you still trust in God when, as Matt Redman writes – you’re found in the desert place.
6. One of your new songs says: “Build your kingdom here”. What are you thinking while you’re singing it?
When we say “build your kingdom here” we’re praying for the rain of God to come and his will to be done. I feel it’s one of the most precious things. It’s the reason why we do what we do. It’s such a fun song to play live, but there’s such a huge message in there as well.
7. Talk to us about making the How Great Is Our God video. What gave you the idea and what opportunities did the success of the video open up?
The video wasn’t anything serious. Some people have asked us if we were trying to take worship in a new direction or something. We were like “no” [laughs]. We literally just thought 'this might be cool' cause we had iPhones and we were familiar with the musical apps. We recorded it in one afternoon and then it went mental. Out of that we ended up getting two tweets. One from Louis Giglio and one from Chris Tomlin. That was our first contact with Chris, but wasn’t the reason we got on the tour with him [laughs].
This may sound weird but I’ve felt God leading me toward the book of Hosea. It’s about God’s people being unfaithful to him. There’s such a challenge for us to stay faithful to God in every season and not to let other things grow up and become idols in our lives.
9. What’s the best Christian book you’ve read?
If you talked to each of us you’d get a different answer. There’s one called The Discipline of Grace, which really opened me up the gospel to me for the first time. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis is absolutely fantastic. The whole premise of him being on BBC radio and being asked to share the gospel to people who had no belief whatsoever is amazing.
10. Why should people buy Homemade Worship By Handmade People?
When I buy albums I’m always looking for artists that I think have been open to God with their lives. The group of people that I have the privilege of journeying with in this Collective are amazing, authentic people. There’s nothing on this album that has been written for the purposes of making us a quick buck. We really feel like these are lyrics, which have been an overflow of walking with God on a daily basis. The album is just a snapshot of what God has laid on our hearts for this season.
April 5th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes