Hope’s Anchor brought their brand of worship music to Madlife Stage & Studios in Woodstock Georgia. Hope’s Anchor’s website says, “Christian rock worship music designed to bring encouragement to those searching for a personal relationship with God.” I didn’t know this about the band when they first hit the stage. What I heard was high energy rock with passion, melodic vocals and heavy groove originals plus what I thought was inspiration from Prog Rock in their writing and rhythm section. Add to this a lead singer who knows exactly how to front a band vocally and visually (from working with Little Richard for 15 years I’d imagine). The members of Hope’s Anchor have a great time on stage and have lots of interaction between each other which I especially enjoy as a player myself and as part of the crowd.
Since seeing their show, I checked around the web and Youtube for what I could find, which was the title track off their latest CD: Run Away What I’ve heard off that CD is well produced with an edgy full sound (I especially love the drum sound ) by Stuck Mojo’s Corey Lowery.
I was pleased by the size of the crowd for a Thursday night second set. When the band hit the stage anyone with a DSLR camera was snapping away. I asked one young lady who she was shooting for or if she was with the band, “No we just love them so much and are really hoping they come play at our Church.” she said with a blush. Every time I looked back to the crowd I saw people focused on the stage, into the groove and with smiles on their faces. I dig people who love great worship bands, they’re open to not only watching a band but also experiencing it. In a time where many people are divided, I was glad to listen and watch a rock band that brought positive energy and optimism.
Hope’s Anchor Q&A
Vocals: Shawn “Swift” Johnson
Bass/Vocals: Harry Wolle
Guitar: Ray Hemms
Drums/Vocals: Jeff Wood
How did you all get together?
“It’s sort of a long story. Swift, Ray and Harry started playing together sometime in 2007; initially as a Lenny Kravitz cover band (that is long since defunct). Once we started writing together, we knew we wanted to focus on original music. We went through a few drummers before finally connecting with Jeff. We’ve been playing with Jeff for about 2 ½ years and have finally started to “hit our stride”.”
A bit of musical background on each of you?
“Swift developed his vocal “chops” and performance ability by touring with Little Richard for 15 years. Swift worked for Little Richard as a backup singer/dancer and was heavily influenced by the artists he was able to perform with on a nightly basis.
Ray’s sound is heavily influenced by the blues/funk and rock bands that he played in since the 90’s. In the early 2000’s, Ray and Swift played in a band that had touring success in the US and Europe opening for a number of national acts.
Jeff, the band’s only multi-instrumentalist, started playing drums at a very young age. In the early 90’s, Jeff switched to playing bass and played with a number of bands through the early 2000’s. After several years of not playing, he picked up the drums again for Hope’s Anchor.
Harry grew up playing bass and cutting his teeth by performing in progressive rock bands in 1990’s. Harry also went through a long-term playing hiatus, rediscovering music to support his local church’s worship team in 2006. He also supported a number of recordings as a session bass player.”
I think your music is appealing to all listeners, kind of a crossover brand from Worship to Alternative Rock that would appeal not only to people in the Church, any thoughts on that?
“First of all, I’m so happy that you find our music appealing … Our band’s focus was always to write “what’s on our heart” in a style that we like. We never set out to be a Worship/Christian band. We just realized that we’re a band, made up of Christians; and that our music/message speaks for itself. From a performance perspective, we love playing in any type of venue. We’ve performed in nightclubs/bars as well as churches. If we’re deemed a “cross-over” band, we’re more than willing to embrace and run with that label.
Is your writing a 4 member contribution or is there someone who does most of it?
All of our songs are a collaborative writing effort. Much of our music is written during “live sessions”, typically at the beginning of a rehearsal. We’re pretty focused on making sure that we’re “always recording” just in case we capture a few minutes of “magic”. Most of our songs were birthed from these sessions. Lyrically, we’ve all made contributions based on where we are in life at the time. We all add insight and perspective based on the concept and then work to develop it into a lyrical format. Another major member of our band is our producer, Corey Lowery. Corey has played a huge role in developing our sound and bringing these songs to life.”
One thing you want an audience to take away from your music? How about a non “follower”?
“We hope that listeners can relate to the message(s) our music delivers. We’re not trying to push “our beliefs” on anyone, we’re just trying to convey our own life experiences and how our faith has played a role during that moment in time. We don’t think our music alienates “non-believers”, we just think that it would show them another point of view. Our focus is to sing about truth, and no matter what you believe, truth always holds “true”.”
Who are your musical inspirations as a band and individually?
“We have a number of musical inspirations as a band. I’d say that collectively, we all love, heavy, groove-oriented groups. I can say definitively that we all love King’s X and bands that deliver that heavy, groove based sound.”
Do you have a dream gig?
“Dream gig? That’s a tough one … It could be anything from the Passion Conference with 50K college kids focused on worship to opening for a national act at Red Rocks. Ultimately, we just want to play anywhere that people have ears to listen. It’s actually a tougher gig than it sounds to be.”
Where can folks find your upcoming shows, or get in touch for bookings?