By Amy Sondova Rarely, if ever, do musicians start a band with a bass player who’s never played bass and a drummer who’s never actually drummed. Yet that’s exactly how Grey Holiday got its start—with four friends, Matt Minor (vocals, keys, guitar), Steven Bedingfield (guitar, electronics, programming), R.T. Bodet (bass), and Josh Fenoglio (drums), who were committed to making music together.
“Matt and Steven were playing acoustic stuff in college,” explains R.T., who is on a conference call along with his band mate, Matt. “They decided they were done doing the whole coffee house thing and they wanted to go ahead and form a full band.
Instead of going through the hassle of trying to find musicians that–”
”–were good–,” interrupts Matt.
“–that were good, they found musicians that were awful,” finishes R.T. with a laugh. Then he continues, “They pretty much forced us to play our instruments. Josh never played drums and I never played bass and they gave us these instruments and told us to play.” Since R.T. and Josh were roommates at the time, they spent time together practicing during the week, meeting up with Matt and Steven on weekends.
Eventually the band developed musically and the foursome was signed to Essential Records in June of 2006, “We signed a record deal and I got married and my sister had a baby all within two weeks,” laughs Matt in remembrance. The band is released their debut album, The Glorious Revolution, in September 2007.
It’s not your typical full-length album containing only six songs. “The music business seems to be moving in this direction. It allows us to make new music more often,” explains Matt, who also notes that the album is full of extras. “Plus the disc is supposed to help people to get to know us better. It’s packed with videos and song-writing journals. It’s much more than just six songs.”
R.T. jumps in adding, “You get basically the whole experience of what goes into music and why we do what we do. Some of our videos are really goofy and ridiculous because we have that personality and some of the videos are about the songs.” He pauses and then says, “The consumers are kind of like ADD with music. They don’t want to wait two years for new music.” Plus, with the advantage of download sites like iTunes, Grey Holiday can get songs onto the iPods and MP3 players of listeners faster than ever.
Still, fans who love the Grey Holiday sound won’t have to wait long because the band plans to record another album in the next year. Matt playfully says, “We just whetted your appetite and you’ll be jumping at the bit for more.”
Co-writing some of the songs on The Glorious Revolution with producer Jason Ingram (Rush of Fools, Bebo Norman), the album goes from the heights of the glorious to the realms of revolution to the depths of the human spirit. One of the most poignant songs on the album is “You Belong to Me”, a ballad illustrating God’s love for His children from a Father’s perspective. “The song is about falling away from God and the way that life is supposed to be lived,” explains Matt. “God always has His arms open and is waiting for us to come back to Him. It’s really a song about coming back to God.”
“Glorious” is another song that explores God’s relationship with His creation. R.T. explains that the goal of the song is to help listeners to discover what is glorious all around them, “There are so many things in this world that we lose sight of—it’s about seeing the beauty that’s all around. It’s about slowing down and seeing the world.” Full of energy and movement, R.T. says it’s also a fun song to play live.
One of the catchiest tunes on the album also happens to be one of the most special to Matt. “’Let Go’ means a lot to me in my growth as a musician. I was really frustrated when we were making the album. This is the first time I’ve worked with a team of people who’ve got 13,000 different opinions,” he humbly admits. “I was at a breaking point when we were writing this record. As a songwriter, my first inclination is to be selfish about the songs, thinking that’s mine and I don’t want to change that.” Seeing his struggle, producer Jason Ingram offered Matt a reality check saying, “This isn’t your music. God is trying to work through you and you’re hindering the process.” Matt readily accepted Ingram’s gentle rebuke and was reminded to let go of his own pride and give God the glory.
Matt refers to “Revolution” as the band’s battle cry to their listeners passionately sharing, “The world is never going to satisfy us; we’ll never catch up with it. It’s always going to take from you. There’s no reason to stay in step with the world when was we Christians are called to be a change to the world and to make a difference.” Perhaps one of the album’s most interesting aspects is the gang vocals included in this song. About 20 high school and college students were brought into the recording studio to sing the chorus with Grey Holiday.
Ironically, it’s middle school, high school, and college students that are the band’s targeted demographic, which is why they chose to partner with The Mocha Club, an organization that partners with musicians to that raise support and awareness for humanitarian efforts in third world countries. “They help you develop your own little community. The Grey Holiday community with the Mocha Club will sponsor a specific project,” explains Matt, whose wife, a photographer, traveled with Invisible Children in Africa.
Community is something that Grey Holiday wants to share with their audience, even with a little community on the Mocha Club, that’s helping to change the lives of people forever through music. “With music you get this really interesting platform, where people want to listen to what you have to say,” shares R.T.
The band’s passion is magnetic, yet their passion is deep. Even the name “Grey Holiday” is an indication of the band’s faith in God, says R.T., “Grey Holiday is our reflection on Jesus’ crucifixion and how it was such a dark time in history, but it was also a great time because He died for our sins.” Taking a moment to reflect, R.T. then says, “When we hear our name or see it on our band gear, it reminds us that we were bought for a price. We hear our name and we go back to that place.”
Deeply impressed by his band mate’s answer, Matt pipes in, “That was a really good quote.”
Personality is a huge factor for Grey Holiday, who often play off each other’s comments. Matt and R.T. constantly derail the interview time and time again with witty banter. Take this conversation about the band’s song-writing process:
Matt starts, “I come up with the original idea and I take it to the guys. We form the song around everyone’s input. We’re still learning the process really.”
Then R.T. adds, “We’ll go with an analogy. Matt is basically the skeletal system of the song—the bones. Then Steven and Josh—they kind of make up the skin. I’m pretty much the muscles.”
Matt calmly interrupts and takes over the interview, “R.T., I have a question for you.”
Matt: “How much do you weigh?”
R.T.: “Uh…142 pounds.”
Matt: “And how tall are you?”
R.T.: “About 6’1”.” He pauses. “Okay, so I’m really slender. I’ll be the skin.”
Yet with all their playfulness, the band’s passion is clear through their deep lyrics, insightful wit, and willingness to take a chance on their two friends who didn’t even know how to play their instruments. Friendship is what bonds the band together, yet it’s also about the band’s God-given passion to make music Matt says, “The point of songs it to meet people where they are. If you’re not doing that, then you’re not making music that people want to hear.” And Grey Holiday is definitely making music that people want to hear—one glorious revolution at a time.
Read the hilarious interview outtakes with Matt and R.T. here.