Four short years ago, five Alabama boys exploded into the music industry with their debut, self-titled album, Rush Of Fools.Almost immediately, the band went from virtual obscurity to national recognition with their massive hit single, “Undo,” which hit number one on the Christian AC charts, staying there for an amazing seven weeks.Their follow-up single, “Peace Be Still” hit number one as well, and remained there for three weeks. Four Dove award nominations and an ASCAP Song of the Year award followed.The band was on fire, to say the least, riding a wave of quick momentum that most only dream of.Then, their sophomore album dropped, and with it came more success in the form of mainstream recognition.Their single “Never Far Away” broke the top ten on mainstream AC, and was featured on the national television show WGN Midday News and the syndicated morning show, Daily Buzz, along with coverage on CNN.com.
The band was riding a seemingly unstoppable wave of momentum.But just as things began to peak, the band was forced into hiatus by business matters surrounding their label which were outside of their control.Over the course of the last two years, the boys in Rush Of Fools experienced the greatest valley of their lives as they waited for resolution.With their futures hanging in the balance, they were forced to look deep inside to discover their true character, both as artists and as human beings.
Many have folded in similar circumstances, but Rush Of Fools emerged as men of mettle with their third, and undoubtedly, their most remarkable installment, We Once Were.Produced by Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Counting Crows, and Jars of Clay) along with Rusty Varenkamp (Tenth Avenue North, Aaron Shust) and engineered by Russ T. Cobb (Pink, Avril Lavigne), this is Rush Of Fools at their most creative, vulnerable, and cathartic, as they prepare to unleash this new collection of songs to the world on their brand new label, eOne Christian Music.
But the burning question in everyone’s mind is this: Is Rush Of Fools still the same band that had the #1 AC song of the year a few years back, the same band that Billboard magazine gave credit for the #20 song of the last decade in their genre?
“We can’t go back to what we were before because we were so changed by the events that occurred along the way,” states guitarist Kevin Huguley. “We can only go forward from here.We learned how to count it all joy by writing songs in the midst of the storm.And what we hope and intend for all listening ears to take from it, is that at the end of the night, it will be all right. There's a bigger story going on here. It's bigger than our shattered dreams. It's bigger than our mistakes and failures. It's bigger than us, because it's not about us. That’s what makes this record the greatest in our history. Had we not walked through so many trials in the past two years of our career, we would never have the songs that are on this record.”
If you ask the band themselves, they will liken We Once Were to a boutique, hand-made piece of fine art.Every crack of the snare, every glint of feedback, every exhale on the tail end of each vocal line was crafted strategically, with care.And it shows.While their previous two releases--the wildly successful self-titled debut and the brilliant follow-up Wonder of the World--had some great songs, this release demonstrates another level of artistry.
One thing you will notice upon first listen is the production quality of this recording.This is not an assembly-line recording.It’s dirty, raw, honest, and refreshingly real.The guitars have the sonic quality of a Weezer or Jimmy Eat World or Oasis in their best moments.The bass cuts with distortion and tone to be envied.The drums sound authentic and naturally massive--not sampled and compressed.In an industry that has beaten the dead horse of slick production beyond death, Rush Of Fools has taken the opposite approach to make a record that sounds unique in both sonic and emotional presentation.And though you can hear hints of influence--tastes of beautiful scents from classic, 90’s rock--the net effect is one of a contemporary classic with that immeasurable quality that will make you think to yourself, this sounds so familiar ...yet, no one has heard anything quite like it.
“We truly gave this recording all of ourselves,” comments frontman Wes Willis.“In the past, we made our records as quickly as we could to get back on the road.We spent over a quarter of a year away from our families and friends on this one.And our goal from the beginning was to work with Dennis, whom we feel wrung every bit of emotion and creativity out of us.The difference is night and day compared to the first two releases.”
Besides the sonic genius of this release, the songs themselves are what will prove to every doubter that We Once Were is a special record.And unlike most pop/rock artists who are fortunate to have a single or two per release in this musical economy, Rush Of Fools has given us an entire record of standouts.It’s as if this is a greatest hits album spanning a 100-song career.The true gauge of such statements, of course, is whether or not you can remember the songs when they are finished playing, if you can hear the words in your head, haunting you, long after the music ends. Rest assured, Rush Of Fools will be providing that standout soundtrack to your day.
Consider the song “A Civil War,” a track that exemplifies the songwriting and performance of the entire record.Willis’ vocal is beyond confident, as if he knows something the audience has not yet figured out--that these songs are going to impact the lives of all who listen.Perhaps it’s because he sings with the experience of someone who has lived through his own personal battles, and lived to tell the tale.As the band plays along to a marching beat with octaves and dissonant, yet cathartic chords, you can almost feel the band smiling through your speakers, knowing they have fought the good fight and will soon be crowned with glory. It’s time to bow out of this race/About time for me to be in last place/I got myself in a civil war/It’s time to fight for...fight for...what’s worth fighting for.
It’s sentiments such as these that make the lyrical content of We Once Were fearless and unapologetic.The band is not afraid to delve into the honest accounts of their darkest hours, and in the process they have unintentionally crafted a concept record; the story they tell about their journey from the pit to the plateau is tangible.“Grace Found Me,” the first single, is a document etched in blood from their valley. “End of Me” puts meat to the skeleton of tragedy, as the band recalls their lowest point--an RV accident while labeless, which forced them to hitchhike halfway across the country and consider giving up. But perhaps the most poignant piece of lyrics on the record is the chorus on the title track, which signifies how the band suffered and persevered to create this record: No way, no way/We can't stay the same as we once were/Living in the blur/Looking backwards we can see that we'll never be who we once were.
Huguley comments, “We hope our inspiration for writing blatantly about dark times will show the beauty of the redemption story, as we believe the dark times are not by mistake.”
These are songs that sit as well in bars and clubs as they will at festivals among thousands of worshippers.No doubt, AC radio will delight in songs like “Grace Found Me,” which is a bonafide mega-hit.But it would not be surprising to catch Rush Of Fools on the road alongside the Coldplays of the world, as this album is that solid, and the band that seasoned.Having already shared the stage with Casting Crowns, Newsboys, and Todd Agnew on tours past, could “crossover” be the most fitting description for what lies ahead? So, the burning question, again: Is this Rush Of Fools the same as the one that made such an initial splash four years ago?
And here is your answer: Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of writing and giving birth to this, their masterpiece, something other-worldly took place in this band.It was for more than just songs that they were put through the fire, it was to produce a change in these men that could be used to subsequently transform the lives of the many thousands that will hear We Once Were.
And if you ask the band, they will concur. “We hope this album will press people to think on where they are in life and our desire is to learn the ways in which other people aren’t the same as they once were. The love story of God changes everything. It’s changed us. We hope we get to see this idea change the world around us, so others can sing with us.”
therealFools: Had a great weekend playing @SoulStockEvent with @AudioAdrenaline and @group1crew
Thanks to everyone who came out!
@TheRealFools on 05.21.13 | View Tweet
therealFools: RT @vaughnforest @therealFools in the house practicing @vaughnforest today for their summer tour! http://t.co/ET2JLREE1I
Thank you so much!
@TheRealFools on 05.20.13 | View Tweet