Chris August: "Iím all about theology. I love reading the word and learning what I can. Thatís God speaking to us. But at the same time there's no sense in arguing and getting too crazy over details that donít matter that much."
Chris August has definitely earned the right to sing about the upside of being down this year.
This April the singer/songwriter was in a serious skateboarding accident near his home, resulting in a head injury, a hospital stay, and a long recovery. The incident seemed to fulfill the themes of the songs he had just completed, catalyzing the message of the album.
Chris August talked with NRT's Bill Lurwick about the new album, guest vocals on a song that hit #1, and how we relate to God when life is upside down.
Chris, you've got a new project called The Upside of Down, which is an incredible title. Did you have the album title before the skateboard accident?
Unfortunately I did. I wrote the song and came up with the title before the accident. You’d think I would prophesy something better than hurting myself.
So after the accident you went back and listened to the songs on The Upside of Down and they probably impacted you in a different way, didn’t they?
Yes, they did. It is interesting when your own songs speak to you, because usually when you write songs you write about an experience or something you’re going through, something you did go through, or maybe a story you heard. With this album, the songs that God had just put on my heart— I ended up going through it after the fact.
It was interesting to have those songs ready. I’m glad I did, because it was stuff I needed to hear for sure.
Was there one song that really spoke to you the most after when you went back and listened?
There’s a couple. One of them is “Center of It,” and then also “The Upside of Down.” Especially “Center of It.” It was my new single, and as I was putting the final touches on it I started listening. I was listening for the more technical stuff— guitar comes in here, sounds good. There's the keyboard. Got a little string thing here.
Then all of a sudden the lyrics started hitting me. I had just been told basically it’s going to take me a year to fully recover from this accident that I’ve been in, and that was hard. It’s been 3 months now, but this was just two weeks after the accident. I was sitting in my studio working on this stuff still in quite a bit of pain and still out of it.
I was hearing these words that God's there in all of it, the good and the bad— even in my mistake of falling and hurting myself on the skateboard. I hit my head really hard, but God didn’t leave my side. He wasn’t like, “That was kind of dumb, Chris. You come back and find me when you’re better.” He’s there in the middle of it, the center of it all.
There's a song about marriage on Upside of Down called “Restore.” You’re a single guy. So how did that song come about?
Well, I wrote a song called “7 x 70” about me coming from a broken home, and after that I had hundreds of stories I would hear at my shows. People came to me to talk about how that song inspired them, inspired a husband and a wife to work out their marriage.
Now it’s been a few months or a year later, and God has completely restored their marriage. I would hear these stories all the time, and it really inspired me that God definitely wants to restore marriages and He can help you heal.
I just kept hearing the stories. It was crazy. It was just so inspiring to me that I decided to write a song around that.
One of my favorite songs is “This Side of Heaven.” What's the story with that song?
That is one of my favorite songs on the record. I’m excited for people to hear that. I go around a lot of churches and meet people with different theological perspectives. Sometimes you hear people arguing about theology and I’m always like, “Man, that’s so crazy because I didn’t realize we had figured out God’s plan.”
Really, at the end of the day there’s just some things we’re not going to know, so there’s no sense in arguing. I’m all about theology. I love reading the word and learning what I can. That’s God speaking to us. But at the same time there's no sense in arguing and getting too crazy over details that don’t matter that much.
It’s like, “Love God and live your life with Christ and read the word and get into it and experience Christ.” I think that’s what it’s about, accepting that and believing in that. At the end of the day, this side of heaven there are some things we’ll know and some things we don’t.
There are a couple of unique song titles on the project. One that really stands out is “1989.” What’s that about?
It’s funny. I would always joke about the year 1988 because the Dodgers won the World Series. I go, “It was a great year. The Dodgers won the World Series.” I told my drummer I was going to joke around and make a song called 1988 and it was just going to be funny, riding bicycles and stuff.
I started writing the song and then I was like, “This actually turned into an interesting song,” because I was thinking about how when you’re a kid you just believe anything. Someone will tell you, “Oh, this will happen.” Your parents teach you something, it’s like, “OK.” They could tell you purple means one thing— you start calling one thing purple and you just believe it.
That’s the kind of faith that God has taught us to have. You’ve got to believe. That’s what faith is all about. It started turning into a real song, and unfortunately 1988 didn’t work with my rhyme scheme, but 1989 did and I said, “That’s a good year too, so why not.” So it’s called 1989.
I’ve got to ask you. You and Group 1 Crew are both Word artists. How did this come about that you got put on the number 1 hit for Group 1 Crew?
They are awesome. I think they’re an amazing talent, amazing artist. Even live, if you get a chance to see them live, you should definitely go. They put on an amazing show.
I’ve been friends with them for a little while now and I’ve always loved what they do. They asked me to sing on it. It was “yes” without a doubt— just tell me when and where and I’m there.
I showed up and sang on it. This summer we’ve been at a few festivals together, so I’ve snuck back on the stage and sang it with them and it’s just been a blast to perform it with them.
Chris, we are really excited about the Upside of Down, and we’re praying for just as much success with this as you had with the last project. Thanks for spending time with us at New Release Tuesday.
I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Posted October 04, 2012 | Bill Lurwick, the voice of NewReleaseTuesday.com's weekly New Christian Music Podcast, has been in radio since 1989 and is currently heard on KJIL in Dodge City, KS.
WOW| Posted October 09, 2012
That was truly amazing to see that God had used Chris August music to impact him after the accident that he went through. God is truly amazing in how He speaks to His children. May God bless Christ daily and continue to guide him.