Ian Yates: "God actually loves you. God still wants a relationship with you, and there’s hope. There actually is hope, and comfort and joy and peace."
Irish worship artist Ian Yates has a passion for spreading the good news through his country and beyond with alternative rock vibe that will connect with audiences on more than one continent.
As the son of a Pentecostal minister, Ian Yates' songs have grown out of his vantage point at the heart of the church as it interacts with the surrounding community. This gives his work a kind of mission trip tone that is both inspiring and challenging. In the two years since the release of his debut The Hope and the Glory, Yates has had time to refine and grow both as a musician— and as a missionary.
NRT's Bill Lurwick had the opportunity to talk to the artist about musical and spiritual direction on the sophomore release, Good News.
You had a project out in 2010, right?
That was The Hope and the Glory. What’s transpired since then? It’s been just a couple of years. You’re with Kingsway now and just released Good News, which is your sophomore follow-up. Is it kind of the same theme as The Hope and the Glory?
It’s a slightly different theme. This is kind of more a mission, I guess. The idea is more for non-Christians or people who haven’t really encountered God yet. The whole idea behind it is that when you buy the CD, you get another one free. You can give it to your non-Christian coworker, family member, or friend. That’s the idea behind this one.
The first one was directed more towards the church.
In like of that, what kind of musical stylings are the selections on Good News? Are they something that a non-Christian would be familiar with musically?
I hope so.
Is it similar to Coldplay or Tim Hughes? What’s the sound of it?
It varies. There are some low key songs, but a bit more emotional sound and then there’s some upbeat rocky stuff. It really has kind of a rock vibe.
So do you ask the question on the project, in the songs, “what is the good news?” Is that the theme?
Yeah. I guess it’s sort of the same in the States, but over here a lot of people have really lost hope. There’s a lot of hopelessness. The picture of God for a lot of people is kind of negative, and they have this negative connotation that God’s kind of not being very nice.
The theme of a lot of the songs is saying God actually loves you. God still wants a relationship with you, and there’s hope. There actually is hope, and comfort and joy and peace.
Let’s talk about the song “Burning for You.” That's a message about being light in a dark world, right?
Yes. Really just that idea of passion for God because nothing else in this world can compare to Him. That song kind of lyrically is where we tried to make the crossover, so that people, when they listen to it, wouldn’t be put off by the language. That’s kind of the idea.
“The Cross Changed Everything” is really kind of a lengthy song. Did it become that, or was that how it was planned from the beginning?
It was actually even longer originally. We cut out some of the original melody and ideas. It's kind of stories of what your path with Christ looks like.
In the bridge section, it talks about our identity, who we are in Christ— being righteous, being holy, being perfect in Christ.
When I was writing that, it was really powerful. I remember crying in the studio because I saw the picture of people getting set free from baggage and getting set free from lies they believed of themselves for years. It’s really powerful. We’ve had loads of testimonies coming in already of people saying, “God’s really been speaking to me through that part in the song.”
It’s really emotional for them, and that’s just fantastic as a songwriter, for people to experience that. That’s really the heart behind it.
The song “New” has kind of an upbeat arrangement. It has a David Crowder or delirious? feel to it. I think it’s going to sound great on a Sunday morning. What's the story behind that song?
I was reading a book by a guy called John Crowder. He referenced another book by a guy called Benjamin Dun, and in the book he was talking about when we become a new creation. So I was looking at what that “new” actually means.
A lot of times it’s about a second chance, or God giving you a new version of yourself, but the actual word “new” is so much more. It’s a completely new version of your old self. When we can increase our relationship with God and get a whole new self, it’s totally superior to the old self.
That’s the real passion behind it. Musically as well we tried to be a little bit different from some of the other songs, make it a little bit edgy.
Ian, you started out Good News with a piece simply called “An Introduction.” That's really kind of a challenging piece. and it ends with a specific idea. Can you talk about how you guys decided to start the project with this piece and what you were hoping to accomplish doing it this way?
As I was just putting some song ideas together for it, I wanted to try something different. So I put an introduction and a head and this quote by Robert Capone about the end of religion. I just felt it was quite powerful and just a really interesting way to start the album.
The good news is the announcement of the end of religion. I think it was just a great way to start the album and paint the picture for what was the theme of the rest of the album.
It’s been good talking about Good News, your sophomore project. Appreciate you spending time with us at New Release Tuesday.
Thanks very much. Thanks for the time.
Posted October 30, 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.