The four-man band consists of Neil, drummer Nathan Evans, lead guitarist Lee Slater, and the bassist/keyboardist/loop-guru known only as “Rees.” Now based in Bristol, England, steve was founded on a two-pronged approach to ministry: to radically reach and disciple young people and to impact mainstream culture.
Says Neil, “We all auditioned to be in the band [with] a Christian ministry called NGM led by directors Ray and Nancy Goudie. They had a vision many years ago, to use music to impact the emerging culture with the love and power of God.”
While that type of ministry may seem strange to Americans, that model of using music to spread Christianity isn’t uncommon in the UK—other acts like Manchester’s World Wide Message Tribe do much the same thing.
Says band manager Helen Pett, “There’s an openness in a lot of schools. They have people come in to talk about spirituality as part of curriculum. We aren’t allowed to preach the Gospel or to say that Christianity is true, but we are allowed to talk about christianity and share our own beliefs.”
From those beginnings, steve graduated to training other acts/performers through NGM, helping them with writing or performance and conducting workshops, while continuing to play in mainstream and church events.
Last year, someone sent their demo to ForeFront Records’ A&R department, where it landed on A&R Manager, Steve Hartley’s desk.
“The CD arrived at ForeFront, and it just said ‘steve,’ so everyone thought it was for me,” jokes Hartley. And, name aside, he was impressed with what he heard: “They rocked. I just think what the band are about is very unique within Christian music; there are not a lot of bands that are doing what steve are doing with the rock and programming. The heart of what the lyrics are talking about is divine—you can’t help but be drawn into the music.”
“We want people to experience God in the way that God would want to meet with them,” says guitarist Lee Slater. “Maybe they’re Christians, and God just wants to spend time with them and speak to them through the music. Or maybe they’re not at that stage where they know who God is, or are in any kind of relationship with him, but can discover something quite exciting about God through the music, and by coming into his presense.”
“The music on falling down is about our experiences, places He’s brought us to,” Lee explains. “We sing about our struggles and how we learned to worship God more through the day. We’ve found that worship is exciting —it makes us grow as people.” Good worship, he says, come from an “honest heart. That honesty comes through in the lyrics, in something that people can relate to.”
Says Neil, “Musically, our songs are beyond boundaries of what people might be use to singing, but people can worship through them. We play them alongside more well-known worship songs. They work in both church settings and mainstream pub or club settings. These songs aren’t congregational worship songs—but they’re still from a heart of worship, which leads people into God’s presense.”
Among their favorites on falling down, drummer Nathan says, is “My Ever, My All.” “It’s quite a big sounding song, based on Psalm 89. It’s just a total worship song about how much God means to us.” It also sports a drums and bass section and a wild guitar solo from Lee, which Nathan, says “stretches you a little bit.”
As for Rees, his favorite is “Hey Now”: “Musically, it has everything I like—it rocks hard, has a groove, and it’s got some real cheesy Casio keyboard elements,” referring to the vintage synths that he made an integral part of steve’s sound. “It’s a ‘here we are, let’s rock’ kinda song,” he says.
Other highlights include “Divine Design,” about our identity as a new creation in Christ, and “I am Here,” written about the death of Nathan’s father.
Says Lee, the band prays when they play their music that “the people before us would have a God experience” and that people in any setting, church or club, would be impacted by their lyrics and passion.