downhere...Keeping It Real

by

Charles White

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The newest musical sensation to hit the American airwaves is a band simply named downhere. Named for their efforts to be much more down to earth than traditional rock stars, downhere’s sophomore release, So Much For Substitutes, delivers a powerful rock sound that is on par with groups such as Three Doors Down, U2 and Pearl Jam.  Like their name implies, there is much more to these talented performers than being rock stars.

 

The Canadian foursome began their journey at Briercrest Bible College in Caronport, Saskatchewan. While in college, roommates Mark Martel and Jason Germain decided to form a band. They later added fellow Canadians Jeremy Thiessen and Glenn Lavender to round out the group.  Since forming downhere, the band has garnered critical acclaim and multiple accolades such as a Dove award nomination for New Artist of the Year, a Vibe award nomination for Group of the Year and a coveted Juno award for Best Gospel Album.

 

However, success is not what drives this talented group of musicians. Instead, they are driven by their desire to make music and touch the lives of their fans. This is represented in the name of their group.

 

As Jason Germain puts it, “We wanted a name that would represent our sound. We’ve been to a lot of shows where their seems to be a divorce between the audience and the stage. We wanted to be real with the people and be vulnerable. We’re just down here. Christ came down here and was with people. That’s was we want to be about. We take ourselves loosely, but our message seriously.”

 

Their music reflects the group’s commitment to the message and the medium.  Their sophomore album, So Much For Substitutes, reflects a wisdom and talent far beyond their years. In their newest album, they tackle some of the toughest issues facing people today: loneliness, despair, pain and faith. Yet, they do this without sacrificing lyrical and musical quality.

 

When asked to describe their distinctive sound, Jason stated, “It has an element everyone can understand.  Just as Jesus spoke in parables, we want to have two layers to what we do: both the real, tangible, accessible element and the deeper, spiritual sense. We’ve got to be honest with ourselves and if our hearts are with Christ and the Church, the Truth is going to shine and rise to the top. Truth is beautiful and that is what we sing about.”

 

When asked to define the meaning of success, Jason quickly said that success cannot be defined by the band’s accolades. “Everyone’s career goes down the tubes. Everyone lands butter side down on this earth. We’re working really hard to do the best that we can with the time, space and gifts that we’ve been given.  However, ultimately those aren’t the things that matter.”

 

Instead, success is about living in Christ and being real. “God takes these little bits of your journey and puts them together into something that is really interesting and really cool. Loose your identity for Christ. Being real is a result of having an identity in Christ.”

What downhere has produced in their sophomore album is a lyrical and musical masterpiece that will not be contained within the bounds of the Christian music genre, but will instead break forth and inspire listeners within mainstream rock as well. However, what separates downhere from every other pop/rock group is there commitment to keeping it real and remaining down to earth, all of which they are only able to do through their strong faith in Jesus Christ.

 For a review of downhere's  new album, click here .