Christian rock band Pillar will be releasing their first album since 2009, One Love Revolution, and BREATHEcast had the opportunity to speak to frontman Rob Beckley about what they've been up to, the new record, and the evolution of their style.
Confessions was Pillar's last album, and since then it has been mostly quiet with shows here and there. However, early last year the band announced they would begin work on their latest album and include the most famous of Pillar lineups.
"We didn't really go anywhere, we just kind of stopped," Beckley admitted. "We had a couple of band members that went to do other things. Lester started playing more full time. He just really wanted to be a full time studio session drummer."
He continued, "The last record we put out was in 2009 but that was a different lineup. It was just Noah and myself, and Rich and Taylor stepped in to fill those roles for us so we could keep making records."
Rob explained that they still had a record deal with the label so music had to come out, but said "It felt forced."
"We all kinda accepted different roles in life and what happened after that is we became friends again instead of just making it about business."
Members Rob, Noah, Kalel, and Lester all got together and agreed they wanted to make a new Pillar record with the only stipulation being "we're going to keep our priorities straight." Meaning, they wouldn't let the album compromise their families during the process of making the record.
This agreement provided to be challenging for Pillar as they faced a number of setbacks and delays because of the commitment to family. In order to put their best efforts into both, they were going to need more time. This ultimately created better music and better results.
"To be honest, making sure it was the best for Pillar," was priority as far as putting out the record. "There were certain things that we wanted to do and when we got ready to do things, we are now doing it independently."
In the past Pillar took certain things for granted because the label did it for them. They learned the labels do a lot of work that they would now have to make up for. Another thing cutting into their time was having to go back and record a track for an iTunes exclusive and an exclusive song for Lifeway who is doing the physical distribution of the record. There were things that they felt "new" to.
Beckley explained that in just a short time the music industry has changed a lot. Everything is now a big push to digital because physical distribution is not what it once was. Pillar is really trying to find how to best focus on taking advantage of that digital exposure.
"The truth of the matter is we wouldn't be doing this if we didn't have this really dedicated fan base. Even though we have taken sometime away and they've never stopped," he said.
Those very fans have responded, and let Pillar know just how much they wanted a new album by crowdfunding their entire album. With the money side of making an album taken care of, they were able to channel all energy and ideas into making music completely independent.
"The biggest thing is there is a lot of freedom. We can do whatever we want. There were no opinions or restraints," said Beckley. "It's the record that we wanted to make."
One Love Revolution is a bit of a throwback to the early Pillar sound. A lot of the music can be traced back to their style on Where Do We Go From Here and even features some of the "rap-like" vocals of Fireproof. Rob said the record touches on a bit of everything in the band's catalog including the ballads.
"There's no filler track on this record. Every one was done like this intentionally. These songs are the best we can make them. There's no corners that were cut, because we didn't have a time deadline."
Speaking of Fireproof, after that album the band completely transitioned away from all their rap/rock flare.
"That transition to Where Do We Go From Here was very much born out of, I never really liked the rap stuff personally," Beckley revealed. "So when it was time to do a new record we knew style-wise we could only get so far with the whole rap thing. Fireproof had songs that weren't all rap so we really pushed that direction because we knew that's where music was going."
This move was done completely intentionally because they wanted to be a "career band" not a one hit wonder. Fortunately for them, Where Do We Go From Here wound up being their biggest selling record.
Beckley has hung up his "emcee" microphone and has no desire to do it again. He does however, appreciate the fans who like that side of Pillar.
"I'm just not that good. It's not that I don't like it, I appreciate the art of it. I know so many guys who do it so much better than me. But I feel like I'm kind of an insult to the art," he said laughing. "Overall I know that the fans really love it and so it was more about me putting something together that worked for the fan base more than it was me wanting to or not wanting to do it."
One Love Revolution is dropping in Lifeway stores on August 18, and digitally on August 21. The band has not worked out any tour dates or music videos yet, and are doing "one thing at a time."
"We are living and learning right now being out on our own. We're not going to bite of more than we can chew," the vocalist said.
Check back with BREATHEcast tomorrow to read part two with Rob Beckley where he speaks on music as evangelism, Pillar being anthemic, and the message of the album.