"We were brought up in a musical household with parents who obviously believed in musical education," Matt says. "I started playing violin at the age of five, and Nathan took up piano a year later. We also have a younger sister who plays classical guitar. She's amazing."
In addition, Nathan and Matt's dad toured as a solo Christian recording artist and served as a worship leader. "He traveled a lot around Canada, so we were exposed to Christian music from a young age."
Now as Article One, Nathan (vocals, guitars, piano, bass) and Matt (violin, mandolin, vocals) along with Dave De Smit (drums, vocals) are using the skills they honed early on to follow in their dad's musical footsteps, albeit with a more current musical approach.
Inspired by U2, The Beatles, their classical upbringing, as well as Top-40 radio faves like Keith Urban and John Mayer, their diverse influences, not to mention relatable insight on the joys and trials of Christian life, is what makes Article One's music stand out.
"While I don't think U2's sound comes across in our music, I've always been drawn to Bono's lyrics," Nathan shares. "He's not afraid to talk about what is on his mind. And I've always loved The Beatles, ever since I was little. Their music was accessible yet clever, and I love their harmonies. All of those were things we wanted to incorporate in our music, too."
Aside from the music, however, it was important that the band have a sure sense of purpose, something it even wanted to reflect in its name, which was inspired by a speech Bono gave during U2's recent "Vertigo" tour.
"Bono was talking about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and what it meant... and we were like 'Hey, is there any way we can use this?' We looked [the Declaration] up and article one [of the Declaration] talks about how everyone is born equal and how we should all be treated equally," Nathan explains. "We loved the message it had, so we decided to use it for our name. Not only does it sound good, but it brings more meaning to what we do. It's another way we remind ourselves that Jesus calls us to love others (Mark 12:31). Whether we're hanging out with friends after a show or explaining how our audiences can help the world's poor, it's important for us to remember that God's called us to more than our guitars."
And while there was no doubt in his mind that music would somehow figure into his life, Nathan wasn't always sure it was something he'd pursue professionally. But that all changed the summer after he graduated from high school.
"I was at this camp, and it was a cool experience for a number of reasons," Nathan remembers. "There was a speaker who challenged us to give 100% of our life to God, not just settling for the half-hearted Christian faith. I remember going up to my counselor about halfway through the message and saying, 'This has been on my heart for a long time. Now is the time to make things right.'
"I'd always been a good kid growing up, but I had reservations about jumping in wholeheartedly. And that was actually the summer Matt and I formed Article One. From there, it's been a gradual progression of doors opening and us just really being called to pursue music, which has led us to where we are today."
Now signed to Nashville-based Inpop Records, these Canada natives are ready to introduce their eclectic brand of pop/rock to the masses with a national U.S. self-titled debut, due out spring 2007. Produced by Siegfried Meier (The Salads, Turn off the Stars), Article One's extensive musical training shines with touches of mandolin as well as violin woven in for arresting effect on songs like the catchy opening track "Slow Down" and the emotionally charged "So Many Ways to Say Goodbye," inspired by a classmate's unexpected death.
"We casually say 'bye' to people every day, but when it comes to saying goodbye for the very last time, it's just not as easy to do," Matt shares. "This song is about a guy we grew up with in school. One day he went home sick, and 24 hours later, he had passed away before even making it to surgery. It was one of those times when the whole community was in a state of shock. When Nathan combined memories from his childhood with the emotions we were feeling, you have what I believe is one of the most powerful moments on the record."
Another track, "In No Time At All," was a musical response to a Bible verse Nathan had been reading. "When I worked as a server at a country club one summer, I started to think about what it meant to not let the sun go down on your anger," Nathan relays. "One day as we gathered around the office, the phone rang, and it turned out to be a frantic grandmother who was trying to inform her husband that their granddaughter had been in a horrible accident. We didn't hear all the details, but all I remember was panic. Here she had been driving on the same streets I drive every day. They didn't know if she was going to make it. I just remember thinking 'That could've been me. Why is she the one to get in this accident?
"Then I started thinking about that verse and how we don't ever know what's going to happen. It would be awful if I had stuff that hadn't been settled with some of my friends or other people who mean a lot to me."
And it's insights like these coupled with the relatable, affirming sentiments of "Still At a Green" and "Heaven Let Me Know" that showcase Nathan's diverse approach to songwriting.
While he wouldn't necessarily describe himself as a "compulsive songwriter," Nathan says it's the everyday happenings that often inspire him most. "When someone shares something with me that they're going through or when life takes an unexpected turn, I can't help but write it down."