Today marks the release of AntiochLIVE’s new album, It Is Finished. We sat down with brothers James Mark and Stephen Gulley to get their thoughts on the project.
What was it like working with Producer Jeremy Edwardson? What unique element does he bring to the album?
Stephen: It was very fun to work with Jeremy because he’s got this great blend of super relaxed but also very confident and focused with where he wants to take us, and so it’s just very easy to work with him. There’s a special freshness he brought to the table with a new perspective; he was really envisioned and energized about our vision. And then he brings just this really cool, anthemic rock vibe to the album in general and he’s just got a sound that people are starting to love listening to. And any time we got stuck he always had this perspective that there are a lot of possibilities of what we can do with this. He kept the process moving forward in a very relaxed but very focused way.
JMG: He just has a knack for capturing the live worship experience and just to put it short, he’s better at it than we are and we love what he does. I think what he picked up on was our burning desire to bring people into a worship experience that changes their life and him helping us take what’s good and make it great. And our thing was like, “We want to learn from you, you’ve done this in a great way with Jesus Culture and Kari Jobe.” He takes the best of who we are and makes it better; makes it something we couldn’t do by ourselves. He helped us serve people with the best version of what we have to offer.
Stephen: To bring someone in at as high caliber as him felt like a dream… come true… (laughter)
This album is a great mix of songs we’ve heard before and powerful new worship anthems. What was it like making an album that mixed old with the new?
JMG: Instead of thinking of it as old and new, think of it as an opportunity to reach people who have never heard these songs, so what are the best songs to get to them. And we thought Jeremy would be a good barometer for that, so we asked him which songs are best, excluding the last two albums. And we never really do anything without saying, “Lord what do you want us to do?” And it’s encouraging for Stephen and me who have been writing together for years to hear that some of these songs are not only relevant but a needed voice right now.
SG: I think that because it was really a prayerful process that was infused with vision it felt right to just do it this way. I would say on the night of the recording, having old and new, it just felt like a full-bodied experience. It made it an even more rich experience, kind of like if you come to a greater-size family gathering you have the grandparents all the way to the grandkids playing all of these songs – it just felt like this is all us, but us over time. It was just fun to see the people going nuts over all the songs and worshipping Jesus really passionately.
What do you feel like God is speaking to the movement through this album?
JMG: When I think of what the phrase “it is finished” stands for, what it evokes in me is a sense of victory and how that helps us see Jesus for who He is; that He is on top of the enemy, He’s on top of the things in our lives that seem to overwhelm us at times. And for us to have a battle cry, like a wake-up call to just say the phrase, “it is finished,” it’ll bring up the picture of Jesus on the cross. But for those of us that want to know and live the story, we know the story didn’t end there, that was the end of the bad part of the story, and that the enemy is against us, the world is trying to press us down, but Jesus wins.
I also think it speaks to us about identity, that we stand with the Victorious One; the phrase, “there is therefore now no condemnation,” there is no distance. It is a statement of belief of the character of God. And that’s my hope for the album from the title track and all of the songs on the album. There is just so much of the Gospel on the album. In this season it seems that God is reminding us that we are doing the work of God and while we’re busy doing the work of God we will encounter opposition. And when we encounter opposition we might be tempted to shrink back, but we are not of those who shrink back. He’s done it and we stand with Him. So that’s what I think all these songs are saying as a collection and that’s what I think people need, but I think it is a word to our movement, that God is happy with us, He is proud of us for doing the work of God with Him. And it’s a battle, it’s an over-arching war, but Jesus has already won the war.
SG: I totally agree. I feel that worship can really communicate to the heart of people in a way that’s special. If I were to come and just listen to this album and talk about what I feel like God was saying, it’s the message of, “Hey, it is finished, so confidently rise up and run with Jesus;” just a higher sense of confidence, just run after the things God has put in front of us despite the despair of the attack. And I think that to rise up with confident faith and run with Him applies to corporate and personal journeys for the people who will listen to this; knowing He is with us but He’s also done what needs to be done for us to rise up with an even more confident faith; to run ahead. In Philippians 3:12-14, He says, “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus;” just that sense of, “ press on.”