AntiochLIVE is on the road to recording their third live worship album, It Is Finished.
We sat down with worship pastor James Mark Gulley and associate worship pastor Owen Wible to talk about the process of creating this album and hear what it’s been like working with big-time producer Jeremy Edwardson, who has worked with other major artists such as Bethel in the past! We’re so excited to encounter God and worship Jesus together on Friday, May 9th as they record!
How has producing this album been different than last time? What’s it been like working with big-time producer, Jeremy Edwardson?
JAMES MARK: I think the biggest difference between this album and the others has definitely been having Jeremy Edwardson as our producer. I’ve been the producer for all of our recordings since 2001, but for this project we really wanted to get someone else with a greater level of influence into the album. We wanted to get someone who can call us higher and innovate with us. After getting in touch with Jeremy and talking with him, it was very clear that working with him was going to be awesome. So it remains to be seen, or I guess it remains to be heard, but we are confident this album is going to be encouraging for everyone.
OWEN: Two things really stand out to me about working with Jeremy. The first thing is that the quality level is so much higher than anything we’ve ever done before. We are honestly thrilled to be working with Jeremy because he has so much experience in recording live worship. We’re excited to learn from him and see our process become more professional. The second thing that’s been so awesome about working with Jeremy is that he shares our heart and passion for seeing the recording be a live worship experience. I think a lot of times when you’re working with a professional you think, “Ok this has to be perfect.” But he really shares our desire to have a time of raw, live worship where we’re encountering God and capture that for the body of Christ to hear and experience again and again.
Do y’all have a favorite song on the album?
They both laugh.
JAMES MARK: That’s probably a question that will never get a straight answer from any songwriter, ever. We all pour our hearts into each song, so we see the good and strong aspects of each one and what they each accomplish.
OWEN: I think different songs play different roles and accomplish different things. When you hear a song like, “Shout, Shout” or “Free Forever” you just want to get up and dance! But then there are these sweeping anthems that just make your heart want to rise up and exalt Jesus. So it’s hard to just say, “This one’s the best!” because they all do such different things. Can we say all of them are our favorite?
What is your favorite song to lead in worship?
JAMES MARK: I don’t know that I have a favorite, but I have had some memorable experiences in leading certain songs. The writing process for Thomas’ song, “It Is Finished” was somewhat unique, but once we finished the song and were arranging it, it all kind of came together really quickly.
OWEN: It just fell into itself.
JAMES MARK: Yeah, it was almost like God wanted this song to be played; He wanted it to happen so He was just like, BOOM. And pretty much within an hour on the Awaken trip in Edinburg, TX, (our College Ministry spring break mission trip) we thought, “Why don’t we try this?” When a song just works, and everybody goes flying into worship immediately, you’re like, “Thank you Lord!” So that was memorable for me because I was thinking, “Am I crazy or do I love this already?” For the arrangement to just work out almost immediately was pretty unforgettable.
OWEN: Originally the song, “To You Be the Glory” was just this little chorus I had written in my journal during my time with God. I never intended to do anything with it or show anyone. But I played it for James Mark one day in a group of songwriters that was sharing the songs they had written, and then at the first worship night this semester he came up to me and said, “Hey, I want you to start leading that chorus you wrote.” I could barely even remember how it went, but we just started singing the same four lines over and over. We had never practiced it, nobody had ever even heard the song before except for James Mark, but watching people immediately connect to it as if we’d been singing it in our church for years was amazing. So it’s just been cool to watch the song evolve, and seeing the church rise to it in that first moment.
What have you guys been listening to recently?
OWEN: I would say Bethel’s new album You Make Me Brave. The song, “Shepherd” has been my go-to these days. It’s just powerful! That and, “It Is Well” are the two songs on that album that have been on repeat for me. Oh! And Kari Jobe’s “Forever.”
How do you get in the songwriting zone?
JAMES MARK: You want to answer that one Owen?
OWEN: No. I wouldn’t consider myself an experienced songwriter… I’ve written a song that happened to get chosen to be on the album. Oh and I wrote a song for my wife for her birthday last year, that’s about all of my songwriting experience right there.
JAMES MARK: So I think for me, I respond to life by singing. Driving around I’m always humming melodies or I have lyrics pop into my head. Ideas just kind of come out. But that flow can stop if I don’t make time to write intentionally. I once heard Jason Ingram say, “You don’t have to tell me that you’re a songwriter; I can look at your schedule and tell whether you are or not.” What he meant was, there isn’t anybody that it just comes naturally to who doesn’t also have to be productive sometimes. It’s really romantic and kind of cool to think, “Oh, I just live my life and songs effervesce.” At times that does happen, but real songwriters make time for it. When I make time for it, I’m letting God speak through me. It’s my conversation with Him. As far as what it looks like once it’s time to actually get in there and write, I can do that in different ways, but I tend to drink chai…
OWEN: And go to Panera.
JAMES MARK: Yeah, my brother Stephen and I have been known to write a song or two in a coffee house or bakery.
OWEN: I would say there’s a balance between inspiration and hard work. You’ll only ever have half-baked ideas unless you put in the time. No one ever writes a perfect song purely out of inspiration. Well, maybe someone does, and they can pray for us!
Have there been any funny moments in this process?
JAMES MARK: When the band gets together to practice is when shenanigans usually ensue. We’re about to get into the time when we’re putting in more hours during recording. A lot of times we get to that point in the evening when everyone can get pretty delirious, so we’re looking forward to making those memories.
OWEN: At times when we get stuck writing a song, we write joke versions of the song instead. You just make up verses that are as absurd as it gets. Sometimes it’s pulling in really obscure miracles that Jesus did like spitting in the dirt to make mud and rubbing it in a guy’s eyes or random Old Testament stories that obviously aren’t going to end up in the song. Specifically with the crew that is writing on this album, this happens a lot.
So how do you think these songs are speaking to the Antioch Movement right now?
JAMES MARK: All of our songwriters and worship leaders are family; we all carry the Antioch family in our hearts. So we’re constantly asking God what He wants to say to us as a people, all over the U.S. and all over the world. One word we got for this album is that we want people to encounter God.
OWEN: I think the main theme running throughout the album is the power of the Gospel and the simplicity of what Jesus did for us on the cross and how we have freedom because of His sacrifice. There are many songs that are focused on the message of the Gospel and what that means for us, and our response to that is to give God glory in praise and worship. We’re going back to the simple truth of the Gospel and then out of that our hearts respond in worship. I think that’s the message we want this album to portray.
JAMES MARK: Certain ones of these songs tell the story of the Gospel, but the album as a collective tells that story as well. When we stepped back and looked at it we thought, “Man, that’s amazing!” We feel so encouraged and excited for how God has brought this all together. We originally thought we would do the recording in the fall, but we felt like God wanted us to do it in the spring. We were like, “Ok God, You’re really going to have to come through for us if this is going to be good,” because the timeline had been bumped up quite a bit. Now I see all the songs that we have, and the dream of working with Jeremy Edwardson, and like He always does, God made it all happen!
Join us Friday, May 9th as AntiochLIVE records their next worship album. It will be an incredible night of worshiping Jesus together. The event is at First Baptist Church Waco and the cost is $5 per person at the door. Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. and the recording begins at 7:30 p.m. We anticipate a full house, so seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Please note, while we welcome families to the event, we ask parents to use discernment in bringing their children. Since it is a live recording we must keep excess noise to a minimum and will limit entrance and exit from the auditorium once recording begins. Head here for more info and we can’t wait to see you there.