Raucous, folk-rock worshippers Rend Collective Experiment are known for pushing artistic boundaries, daring the faithful to re-imagine worship and community. Inviting their Facebook and Twitter community to join them to record vocals live outdoors (around a campfire) on Ballyholme Beach in Northern Ireland, the band released the resulting 12-track album, Campfire, amidst wide acclaim Jan. 29. Remarkably, over three months since its release, the album has for the first time on May 6 hit the No. 1 position on the iTunes® U.S. Christian/Gospel chart.
As the momentum builds for the album, Rend Collective Experiment’s radio single, “Build Your Kingdom Here,” gathers “Most Added” status at AC radio for it’s biggest week ever at radio. With KSBJ (Houston), New Life Media (Chicago, St. Louis and other IL markets), KBMQ (Monroe, LA), KLFF (San Luis Obispo, CA) KLRC (Fayetteville, AR), KBNJ (Corpus Christi, TX), WAYR (Brunswick, GA) and more playing the song, the companion video that was debuted by RELEVANT magazine has now been seen by over 375,000 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbdJXKqVgtg. Rend Collective members Gareth Gilkeson and Chris Llewellyn also share their hearts about the song in a new video at http://youtu.be/L-TeXSPJiGU.
“We immediately heard the buzz after Rend Collective’s performance on the Rock & Worship Road Show,” says Brian McIntyre, Shine.FM (Chicago/Indianapolis). “That buzz translated to our airwaves, with the song [“Build Your Kingdom Here”] garnering more buzz than any other current. Then research came back showing this as the highest testing song… The song is definitely resonating with our audience!”
Released as a digital only album, Campfire features “Build Your Kingdom Here” along with inventive and often surprising new arrangements of other songs from their 5-Star acclaimed albums, Organic Family Hymnal and Homemade Worship by Handmade People. Campfire is entirely driven by classic, retro folk instruments that could be played by the fire and ocean. The result is an album that captures the raw, rootsy, foot-stomping energy of the Irish worshippers, which has been infectious among audiences across the globe.
In addition to the music, Rend Collective Experiment also offers a “FREE Resource Pack” on their website to churches, ministry groups and others, encouraging them to start “Campfire” outreaches. The resource pack comes complete with 10 chord charts/lyrics for favorite Rend Collective Experiment songs.
“The Gospel burning in you has more in common with the untamable wildfires we see on news reports than the domestic one warming my mum’s living room,” shares Rend Collective Experiment in the Resource Pack. “In short, fire is for spreading, and disciple-makers such as yourself instinctively know this. We are excited for how God will use you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to ignite your community.”
As churches/ministry groups are building their own fires, here is how the critics have been responding to Rend Collective Experiment’s Campfire:
NewReleaseTuesday.com (4.5 star review)
Excerpt: Campfire is the kind of unique worship album I’ve only dreamed was possible and is an incredible follow-up to Rend Collective Experiment’s stellar studio albums. Themes of redemption, devotion and celebration make this a complete worship experience with musical soundscapes that span from The City Harmonic and Gungor to Mumford & Sons and Snow Patrol…This album perfectly balances the energy of seeing this band live with a worshipful musical ambience. This is surely one of the top worship albums ever made.
IndieVisionMusic.com (4.6 out of 5 star review)
Excerpt: With just an acoustic guitar, light percussion, and a great chorus of worshippers throughout each track, what results from just very few instruments is one of the best acoustic albums ever produced. Full of soul, passion and emotive spirit… some of the most poignant and relatable worship music in 2013… a sense of realness and authenticity is created that will intrigue listeners to hear the songs from this amazing band.
LouderThanTheMusic.com (5 star review)
Excerpt regarding “Build Your Kingdom Here” track: The foot thumping 'Build Your Kingdom' doesn't lose any of its excitement. This raw cry to God sounds if anything much more heartfelt, as the words have to be sung that much more passionately that each word is sung like nothing else matters. In this format the song takes a new intense lease on life.
Excerpt regarding album as a whole: With great musicianship, amazing vocals and a heart to worship God in any setting, Campfire is a truly great album to start off the new year.
ChristianMusicZine.com (4.5 star review)
Excerpt: Irish folk band Rend Collective Experiment have helped release a spark in the modern and alternative worship scene, and reinvented how we all do worship… The band’s desire is to give us a sense of their community and journeying experiences through their worship, and I think they had executed this live album brilliantly! … Rend Collective Experiment is one the bands you should look out for in 2013!
Excerpt: Rend Collective Experiment does it again, authentic and natural worship at its finest… Always pushing the boundaries in Christian music, their folksy style and intimate lyrics may be best presented live at a campfire, a place consistently known for being both folksy and intimate…This live album makes it clear their intention is not to be another industry product, but to dare believers to approach worship and church differently than they always have. So go start your fires and enjoy Rend Collective Experiment's newest album Campfire!
Taking their “fire” to the masses, Rend Collective Experiment follow up their recent US tour with Tenth Avenue North with a headline “Campfire” tour of the UK through June 1 and featuring Ben Cantelon. A list of all upcoming tour dates can be found at http://rendcollective.com/tour/.
For Rend Collective, the music has never been about adding to their coffers or building fame, it has always been about people and building God’s Kingdom here. Beginning as a group of friends collectively wondering how to make sense of the conundrum of life, God and community, Rend Collective Experiment is a nod to the places in Scripture where it says to “rend your hearts” and not your garments, a bold call to be genuine.