Caedmon's Call Biography
Last updated: 01/20/2008 10:00:00 AM
When the seven members of Caedmon’s Call left home in 1993, they were a fledgling folk band, a group of friends traveling in rented vans to various Sunday school rooms and coffeehouses around the country. They had no grandiose notions of Christian music stardom or packed arenas. They had little more than a few guitars and a common vision: to make music for people like themselves, believers walking a treacherous road, clinging to faith through every mystery and storm.
Now, 10 years later, that vision remains, more vivid and fulfilled than even the band could have imagined.
Back Home, the fifth and latest studio project from one of Christian music’s most celebrated artists, finds the Houston-based band trusting its creative instincts to make a record reminiscent of its beginnings yet reflecting the group’s progress over the last decade. This album reemphasizes Caedmon’s Call as an eclectic, folk-influenced live band. It demonstrates a musical and spiritual maturity culled from a decade’s worth of artistic influences and experiences.
No doubt the band has earned this round of independence. To date, Caedmon’s Call has accumulated more than one million career record sales, garnered six No.1 radio singles, 10 Dove Award nominations and piles of media coverage from around the world. The band has built an extensive grassroots following, including a group of more than 3,000 fiercely loyal fans identified simply as “The Guild.” Caedmon’s has earned a reputation as pioneers in the college market, with a strong student constituency from Boston’s Harvard University to Malibu’s Pepperdine University on California’s coast.
Musically Caedmon’s Call has covered a lot of ground too, from the acoustic-pop energy of 40 Acres (produced by Glenn Rosenstein) to the quirky, experimental sounds on Long Line of Leavers (Monroe Jones/Ed Cash). In 2001, the group came full circle with the release of the special-event worship album, In The Company of Angels - A Call To Worship, Caedmon’s first self-produced project since its independent debut.
Despite all its progress, this band has never forgotten where it came from nor its mission to create relevant music. For the members of Caedmon’s Call, recording In The Company of Angels conjured recollections of a time when they adhered to a pure, instinctive artistic approach—a style that propelled them to indie success and that produced 1997’s Caedmon’s Call, the national debut that created a new musical template for Christian music.
So for Back Home, Caedmon’s Call decided again to produce an album on its own. The project offers some of the band’s finest musical moments to date and is a collection of songs of which they are truly proud. “The overall vision was to make a record that had nothing influencing it except us,” explains keyboardist and co-producer Josh Moore. “The only way for us to express the songs in the way that they naturally make us feel when we play them is to create this record ourselves. I think Back Home sounds similar to the band’s initial style—you hear a bunch of old friends making music together. There’s nothing too lofty or over-produced about it.”
“The band has definitely evolved since the beginning in that we’ve tried a lot of different things musically,” says lead vocalist/guitarist Cliff Young. “This album is a culmination of everything we’ve ever done. It’s inspired by every single project and every stylistic road we’ve traveled.”
Back Home is pulled together not by lyrical theme, as In The Company of Angels was, but instead draws continuity from its collaborative nature. The album spotlights seven eclectic artists whose decade of musical exploration is evidenced personally and collectively. “Get seven people together in a studio that all have different influences and ideas about where a song should go, and you have a really dynamic recording process,” says bassist Jeff Miller.
Such unity grounds imaginative diversity across Back Home’s 13 songs. The Middle-Eastern flavor of “The Kingdom” ignites a visual backdrop for the song’s emotive lyrics. The memorable, Psalm-inspired, “You Created” and the vibey, percussion-driven, “Never Gonna Let Go” hook the listener with radio-friendly pop melodies. “The High Countries” and “Walk With Me” showcase Danielle Young’s rich vocals. The allegorical “Hands of the Potter” accentuates the folk-infused three-part harmonies, acoustic guitars and world percussion that have long been Caedmon’s Call trademarks.
Lyrically, this collection is just as intimate as Caedmon’s typical contemplative, self-revealing songs and also speaks with images that are as worship-oriented as they are introspective. “We want to be relevant in terms of sharing what God is doing in our lives and around us,” Young says. “We went through a time of being somewhat critical of the church and Christian culture, but now we’re trying to write for the church rather than at the church. Our worship album brought out something different in us and as a result, we approached this new project as ‘worship’ in the sense that it has more positive, broad-sweeping ideas than previous records.”
This record relies on input from an extended family of songwriters, a fitting notion for Caedmon’s Call, which has always stressed the importance of community. For years the band utilized two primary songwriters, vocalist/guitarist Derek Webb and Aaron Tate. More recently, the band’s writers pool has expanded to include bandmate Moore, Aaron Senseman (who penned Caedmon’s No. 1 hit single “Before There Was Time”) and Webb’s wife, independent artist Sandra McCracken. On Back Home, they also added the poetic lyricism of labelmate Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame, both singer/songwriters who have joined Caedmon’s Call on tour.
Back Home finds Caedmon’s Call reemphasizing not only its musical roots, but its mission to impact modern culture, urging listeners to do so by rooting themselves in a local church. It’s a message Caedmon’s Call also faithfully practices, with several members leading music at their home churches.
“Our home churches mean so much to us,” Danielle Young explains. “We make a point to encourage our audiences to join a local church and to become a functioning member of the body of Christ by using their gifts. We have each experienced the blessing of being involved in a community of believers, and as much as we love performing, reconnecting with home is something we’ve found to be rejuvenating.”
When Caedmon’s Call is not at home, however, the band remains dedicated to connecting personally with its audience, another custom of the band’s early days. The majority of the band’s following has always been drawn to the group’s investment in its fans. Whether they are recording an album or gathering together on stage, the band strives to preserve its reputation as an accessible group of artists creating music that matters. “It seems right to give as much energy to the way we present the songs live as we do in the studio since it is such an important aspect of the way this band communicates to its audience and the world,” percussionist Garett Buell explains.
To that end, in spring 2003, Caedmon’s Call will tour with labelmate and friend, Jars of Clay, on a 40-city tour primarily targeting the college market. The tour will hit Caedmon’s hometown of Houston, as well as Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago and Lancaster, Penn., among other cities.
“After ten years of history as a band and all we’ve been through, the beautiful and consistent thing has been the Lord using us in ways we never imagined. Through highs and lows, good decisions and bad, God’s hand is evident,” explains drummer Todd Bragg. “Although it’s a reflective album, Back Home also signifies a new era for Caedmon’s Call… one that’s full of hope and adventure.”