Meet Phat Chance

Enter into any high school in America and it won't take long to find five teenage boys that call themselves a band. Some have even had the chance to play for their youth group or at a birthday party. But, seldom will a band be roaming those halls that has shared the stage with such groups as Rebecca St. James, Big Tent Revival and NewSong even before signing a record contract.

The story began in 1995 in the living room of fifth grader Justin Morgan and his brother, third grader Dallas Morgan. Friend Bryan Nance joined the boys on occasion to play their instruments. Though they were not yet fused together as a band, the three practiced sporadically throughout the year and made their first attempts at song writing.

Over the next four years, an evolution took place as a group was slowly formed. Justin picked up the bass guitar and began taking lessons. Bryan and Dallas continued to polish their respective guitar and drum playing skills. Brent Lain was named lead guitarist and youth camp friend Brandon Johnson was handed the title of lead vocalist.

This group could still be found at the Morgans', but were more dedicated to polishing the band's pop/rock sound. After church each week, the five would invade the game room for three-hour blocks of time in order to write, arrange and practice songs.

Still not settled on a name, Justin suggested they call their newly formed band "Phat Chance." The group agreed that it spelled out the band's goals. "'Phat' is an acronym for 'Praising Him All Times' and it goes along with the purpose of the group," said Justin.

As could be assumed from the group's name, the self-penned lyrics are almost completely vertically focused. "Without You" is a prayer that says without God, his people are lonely and have nothing to live for in life. "He is what makes us live everyday, he's the reason we're alive," said Justin.

"Protection," derived largely from Psalms, is a song about God's protection over the lives of Christians. "Even through the struggles we've had, God has enlightened our spirits and helped us grow-and been our protection," said Bryan.

Realizing they needed assistance in further polishing their unique pop/rock sound, Phat Chance called on friend Scotty Wilbanks, formerly of NewSong. Wilbanks suggested new arrangements for existing songs and produced a five-song independent album for the group.

With a newly refined sound, Phat Chance was soon performing for their youth group, area churches and youth rallies. Thanks to Justin and Dallas' father, noted concert promoter Roy Morgan, the boys soon landed on the Summer Jam 2000 tour as the pre-concert band. "We would play for about 30 minutes outside of the venue for people that were waiting in line," said Justin.

The group was overwhelmed with the response they received from their short sets. Crowds loved their fusion of hooky pop and guitar driven rock. Their merchandise table was crowded night after night with new fans that had enjoyed their tight performance. "While people from home liked our music, these people didn't even know us and they still liked us," said a grateful Brandon. "It was great to be able to talk to and minister to all those people."

Roy Morgan soon began talking with record labels on behalf of the group. With a few phone calls, Phat Chance's five-song demo landed in the hands of Mark Stuart, lead singer of Audio Adrenaline and co-owner of Flicker Records. The group was quickly added to the label's roster.

The signing was a dream come true for the five. "I don't think the initial shock has set in yet," said Brandon. "Every guy dreams about being in a band."

In addition to finding a record deal just a year and a half after the final band line-up was set into place, the group was almost instantly welcomed onto the Summer Jam 2001 tour and Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline's Festival Con Dios. "My goal is to get out there and have fun and show people they can have fun worshipping God," said Brandon.

While the group's love for music and excitement for the band has led them to a place where they are allowed to tour the country as professional musicians, the reward has not come without a cost. This will be their last semester in the school system-Justin and Brent will spend their senior year being home-schooled by a tutor on the road, as will sophomores Bryan and Dallas. Recent high school graduate Brandon will put plans for college aside to focus on music.

"I'm excited about doing music, but sad that I won't see my friends as much," said Justin. "But, I've been called to be in the band and travel and I need to obey that, even if it means leaving my school my senior year. I have been given an opportunity a lot of people don't have."

Due to the heightened pressure from being in the public eye as a Christian band, each member of the group has chosen a pastor or church leader as an accountability partner. "At their age, it is very important that they are accountable to an adult," said Roy Morgan, now the group's manager. "They have been given a position of influence and Satan will attack them more now. We have put up a shield of faith and prayer around them to help guard them."

With the wider platform acquired through a record deal and national tours, the group agrees that the ministry potential for the band is limitless. "God's been opening doors for us to play our songs and people have responded even better than we thought they would," said Bryan. "But, even if we don't top charts, that's fine as long as God keeps blessing us and expanding our boundaries so we can bring glory to his name. That's all we want."

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