Pocket Full Of Rocks Biography
Last updated: 03/18/2010 12:00:00 PM
His college aptitude test was probably more on target than originally thought. Pocket Full of Rocks lead vocalist Michael Farren's results said that he was best suited to work as a circus manager. Subtract the clowns, three rings and elephants, there are days that leading Pocket Full of Rocks might actually feel like one. Ultimately, it's a circus united and drawn together and completely centered on bringing songs of worship to communities of believers that seek more from God.
In 1995, Farren and drummer David Rollins started Pocket Full of Rocks to lead worship in their local Texas church. As time passed, the band branched out to colleges and churches throughout Texas and Arkansas. Later on teaming up with organizations like Street Rock Ministries, Pocket Full of Rocks began to crisscross the country from Washington, D.C., to California, leading worship at multi-day youth conferences and retreats.
Comprised of Farren, his wife Alisa (vocals), Rollins, Jody Crump (bass), Ryan Riggins (electric guitar) and Kyle Lee (rhythm and acoustic guitars), Pocket Full of Rocks owes its name to a song from its early days. "We wrote a song called 'Pocket Full of Rocks,' played it in a youth meeting and became known as the 'Pocket Full of Rocks' band," remembers Michael. Deeper meaning is held in the story of David—before he was ever a great king, he was simply a boy with a "pocket full of rocks," believing God would do something great using any of the small things he himself could offer.
Pocket Full of Rocks believed God would do great things with their small offerings. Such great things included having songs appear on widely selling worship albums long before the band signed a record deal. Michael W. Smith included "Let It Rain" on his album Worship. In 2000, Pocket Full of Rocks played after Michael W. Smith at a gathering called The Call in Washington, D.C. "Six months later, I get a call from Michael W. Smith," remembers Michael. "I thought it was someone playing a joke. We had no idea that he had even done the song before he found us." Phillips, Craig & Dean received a copy of "Let the Worshippers Arise" from an aunt of Michael's. Though the group was almost finished recording their album, they felt so strongly about the song and its message that they returned to the studio, recorded it and made it the title track.
Spending 10 years as a successful independent band, Pocket Full of Rocks now marks the re-launch of Myrrh Records with its debut album, Song to the King. Believing the band embodies what it means to live, breathe and sing a life of worship, Myrrh comes alongside Pocket Full of Rocks to support its ministry and music, providing a broader platform and community for the band to share its message. "Our desire is to create new expressions of worship that lead people to the heart of the Father," Michael says. "We want to be leaders in offering to the Lord whatever we have, to genuinely give our whole life as an act of worship. Watching what He'll do with it is the most amazing part of it all," says Michael.
And "watching what He'll do" becomes a key phrase to understanding Pocket Full of Rocks. Uniquely, this band exists in and for the spontaneity of its worship times. Leading worship without a set list, where songs might be written on the spot, is the norm for Pocket Full of Rocks. "People ask us how we do the spontaneous thing. We have no idea really, but I think more than anything it's just being available," says Michael.
Another important component is vulnerability. Pocket Full of Rocks sees the spontaneous songs as a continuation of prayer time—singing that vulnerable, unrehearsed time before God. "Imagine, being in front of 2,000 people, abandoning all forms of rehearsal and making yourself vulnerable to God," says Lee. "In that time He hears you and reveals part of Himself to you. He sees your faithfulness, your willingness to abandon yourself and become vulnerable to Him, to share the deepest part of your heart. Then He immediately shows you a new part of who He is." Adds Alisa, "It's like God hears the heart of the specific group of corporate worshippers and gives them exactly what they need in that time of worship."
Pocket Full of Rocks has collected songs birthed from such times for Song to the King. "Many of these songs we've done over the years," says Michael. "Even though we have new material we would love to put on an album, we know God has used a number of these songs over the years, making this a transitional record of sorts. God has done a great thing in us and caused these songs to be fresh again."
Capturing a true sense of how Pocket Full of Rocks leads worship, Song to the King kicks off with "The Welcome Song," the song that invariably starts each and every one of the band's worship sets. "There hasn't been an event, in five years, that I haven't played that song," says Lee. Adds Michael, "It's this anthem that says, 'God, You're welcome here, and if You don't show up, we're up a creek.' We haven't figured out any better way to start than that."
A band favorite and the first radio single, the title cut "Song to the King" is one not often played live. "It's not so much a corporate worship song, as it is an independent one, 'This is my song to the King,'" says Michael. "It's always struck me—all creation stops and all the angels stop singing when we worship; the King says 'hush' to everything else. The song that almost didn't make the album became the title and the anthem for us."
Faster songs like "Now I Sing" and "Bigger" speak to God's simultaneous enormity and intimacy, while the quieter simplicity of "Closer to You," "Worth Everything" and "More of You Jesus" call for a deeper, more compelling relationship with Christ. The commanding "This Is the Life" captures a band driven to its purpose—that despite hardships in life, it is a life given by God and there is no other life it would rather have. The album also includes the band's own version of "Let the Worshippers Arise."
Ten years as independent worship band with its highs and lows gives Michael Farren and Pocket Full of Rocks a strong outlook toward the inevitable circus of life: "We're still learning this faith thing—because God is going to do His thing regardless of us. No matter how much we've planned; we think we're driving the ship—and we're just not. God is driving the ship, and who knows where we're going. We're just learning to enjoy the journey."