By Amy Sondova Like a stealthy archer ready to take a clean shot with an arrow at the right moment, so was The Myriad with the creation of their latest album With Arrows, With Poise (KOCH). After winning the MTV2 “Dew Circuit Breakout” in December, the band’s May release was food for a public ravenous for more of The Myriad.
Working in reverse, The Myriad actually came up with the title for the album before actually crafting the songs. The band composed of Jeremy Richardson (lead vocals, guitar), John Roger Schofield (bass), Steven Tracy (guitar, keys), Jonathan Young (guitar, cello bow), and Randy Miller (drums) went into the studio with the concept of artistic storytelling through music in their minds. After a year of unexpected ups and down, the recording was a pivotal moment for The Myriad.
“It felt like we needed to take a moment and decide what it was that we needed to do. We identified with the archery metaphor—where everything must be very precise and accurate. You have one moment to take that shot and you’re doing it with poise in-between your own heartbeats and breaths. It was that idea; this is the moment that we really have to capitalize on, this is what we have to do. That set the tone for the whole album,” passionately shares Steven Tracy.
“A Clean Shot”, the first single and music video from the album, was also the song The Myriad sang live in the TRL studios in the heart of New York City’s Times Square upon winning MTV2’s contest. “The weird part is that there was this giant screen in Times Square right behind us, so as I’m playing, sometimes I’d turn around and see myself on this huge screen outside the studio and everyone’s watching it. That’s when it became real,” shares Steven.
The first time the band arrived in New York City (after driving all night) Steven and band mate Jonathan Young were so excited, they couldn’t sleep. In the early morning hours while the rest of the band slept, the two walked around Central Park. “New York City is like Christmastime on the sun,” laughs Steven. Mentioning that he loves the smell of hot roasted peanuts, Jonathan says, “We love New York City. It’s a town that can treat you really well or spit you out if it doesn’t want you there.” It seems that New York City is treating these Seattle natives just fine.
Describing “A Clean Shot” as the pop song of the album, Steven says that it was a happy coincidence it fell into the archery theme. Even though the band can’t actually use a bow and arrow, Steven and Jonathan noted Robin Hood as their favorite archer, suggesting that Cary Elwes’ portrayal in the spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights is far superior to Kevin Costner’s movie, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. “He started with a pseudo-British accent and was in a Kevin Costner accent by the end of the movie,” notes Steven.
Archery wasn’t the only things on the minds of the The Myriad as they recorded; they were also deeply enthralled with the mystery of God and the supernatural. The piano-driven melody “Forget What You Came For” is a song urging to abandon their personal agendas as they come before God. “It’s sort of a call to clear your mind and wait and see what comes of it, letting God reveal Himself to you in a new way,” says Steven, then adding, “If we really allow ourselves to ponder the complexity of God and the mystery of God, it brings us into a different level of fear and awe.”
Choosing to go on the wildly popular ghost tour, the minds of the band members began spinning as they visited the battlefields in Gettysburg, PA. Creatively considering the unseen spiritual reality through the song “Holiest of Thieves,” Steven explains, “A lot of times we create scenarios as a band and think, ‘What if aliens are actually angels? And what if they’re visiting us and it’s a supernatural thing we don’t understand?’”
“The album has this theme of the supernatural—what we don’t know. We allow ourselves to have that question mark. It’s allowing ourselves to say, ‘God, you’re a mysterious God and I can’t figure You out. I want a God that’s bigger than I can imagine,” elaborates Steven, who uses the beginning lyrics from “A Thousand Winters Melting” as an example. “Maybe the streets are full of angels dancing by my side. It’s cool to let your imagination go. There’s no black and white in how this all plays out.”
Not only did the band explore unearthly realms, The Myriad crafted an album that went beyond just guitar, bass, and drums. “This particular album was heavily influenced by film, movie scores, and soundtracks. The album ended up being dramatic and theatrical with big, epic moments in songs. It definitely has a theatrical flair,” shares Steven. The biggest change for the band was incorporating more keyboards into their songs.
Jonathan also used a cello bow on his guitar explaining, “I saw some old footage of Jimmy Page (co-founder of Led Zeppelin) doing it, so I thought I’d try it out.”
The album swells and pulls back at the proper moments to induce a magnified emotional impact. Then again, the band did have three to four versions of each song they worked on while in the studio in order to achieve the musical mastery brought forth in With Arrows, With Poise.
Used to playing in general market clubs, The Myriad is carving out a little niche of their own in the music industry, one that encompasses excellence in musical art for both Christian and non-Christian audiences. While the band has also toured with David Crowder Band, Third Day, and Eisley, they have been more closely compared to Radiohead, mewithoutyou, The Who, and Coldplay.
“We just try to speak to the world. We’re not speaking to any particular group of people, whether it be lyrically or just hanging out. When Jesus Christ came down, He was hanging with everyone. It didn’t matter what your economic status, your background, whether you were part of the government or not, whether you were a Pharisee or a Sadducee, He just wanted to hang with people because He loved them,” says Jonathan.
In fact, the band itself marvels how God can be so powerfully praised through a secular song, “The first time I listened to ‘OK, Computer’ (Radiohead) I felt like I was sitting in the throne room of heaven. God revealed Himself to me in a way that I have never experienced before,” shares Steven. “Of course, the band probably didn’t have that agenda for the listener, but God is bigger than what we set out to do, something for which I am immensely grateful.”
Generally frustrated with the market distinction between Christian and secular music, Jonathan says, “I love go to into museums, whether the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston or the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC). When you look at a piece of art, like a painting or a sculpture, you’re mesmerized that this kind of beauty can exist in this life. Most people don’t say, ‘I wonder if he’s a Christian’ or ‘I wonder what his belief system is.’ They’re just enjoying that piece of work right there as it is. It makes me wonder why in music there’s a different set of guidelines.” He sighs and goes on to say that it’s human nature to nomenclature everything and urges people to utilize their critical thinking skills.
Whether sharing the stage with Third Day or Mutemath, The Myriad lets their lives and lyrics do the speaking, as well as their personal interactions with fans. “People ask us, ‘How does your faith play into your music?’ For us, it’s like, how does it not? We’re believers and we’re just making the best art that we know how to make, and of course, our beliefs are going to come out in different ways. It may not be the conventional ways,” elaborates Steven. “We just want to make good music. Our responsibility is to make the best art that God has gifted us to make. His glory will shine through that sort of thing.”