Abel’s album, Lesser Men, is of the brazen variety, brimming with full soundscapes. There are loud, rushing crescendos such as the chanting on Saint and melancholy introspective musings such as the guilt-ridden confession during The Martyr. Every track is as an experience, leaving the listener with something after the song ends, giving them each the ability to stand on their own. Lesser Men is not a subtle album; the lyrics are straightforward, creating clear mental pictures and making bold statements. Anyone listening through the album will not be left wondering where Abel stands on issues of faith. Those who actively listen without asking questions related to both the self and faith will be rare. With intricate melodies and instrumentation, the music just as straightforward and bold, rarely leaving the listener with an understated moment. This results in an album that immediately captures and is approachable to many different types of listeners.
Recently I had the opportunity to ask Abel’s lead singer and guitarist Kevin Kneifel a few questions about the band and the new album, which is available for a full, free download at: http://comeandlive.com/CLD/abel/
1. What does Abel want to accomplish as a band?
That is such a difficult question because in many ways we are still trying to figure that out ourselves. Being in a band is a perpetual state of “becoming.” I think if you were to ask many other artists that same question they might give abstract answers like “make more money,” or “release a great record.” For us, our greatest desire is to touch lives with the gospel of Christ, the depth of his sacrifice, and his unfathomable love for us. I want people to know that God loves them exactly as they are, and that in Him they can become all they are meant to be. We live in that same state of “becoming” as any other band, but instead of measuring show turnouts, we’re praying for God to show us ways to connect and reach people in a real way.
2. What does Abel want the listener to walk away with when they hear your new album, Lesser Men?
The songs on Lesser Men were written over a period of about nine months, and I recently re-read the lyrics and thought about the message behind them to refresh my thoughts and feelings about the record. It’s good for me to do that every once in a while so I don’t lose the meaning of what I’m singing.
It’s interesting on second approach how much of the record is about being willing to give up the things we want for ourselves in order to receive the true purpose God has for us. I never really realized how engrained in the lyrics that theme is, like part of my heart was hidden from me when I was writing them. But it’s the truth. Our plans–even our goals for ministry–are often a product of our own ambition. Being willing to lay those things down opens the door for God to come into our lives and guide us toward His purposes. That is something I really want for myself, and I can see that more than ever now in Lesser Men.
3. How do you approach spirituality and musicianship?
I think we are lucky to be able to use our art and talents to praise God. We tend to put God in a box, picking and choosing what He likes and doesn’t like based off our own personal opinions and prejudices. How awesome is it then that in reality, God wants us to use anything and everything He’s given us to honor Him and encourage others! Music is a big part of that.
4. I read a review of your 2009 E.P. Honest Love, which stated your music was very good, but was too overtly spiritual and would not be accessible or connect with listeners that don’t believe in Christ. The reviewer believed this would leave you pigeonholed in the “Christian music scene.” What are your thoughts on these comments?
I’ve heard this statement reiterated a few times, and it’s an interesting thought. I’ve always said that if this band accomplishes anything, it will be without compromising our message or faith in Christ. I don’t see how we could even be a band without our faith–it is critical to every piece of music we write. How that affects who is listening depends just as much on the climate of the music industry as it does the spiritual state of the audience. If we’re meant to reach an audience even greater than the “Christian music scene,” then that’s really in God’s hands, not ours.
5. This is your first album on the label Come&Live. What made you guys want to join this project?
Honestly, it was the other artists on Come&Live! that initially drew us to the label. We did a tour with The Ember Days and were really encouraged by them. Once our contract with Facedown Records was fulfilled, and we started talking to Chad about joining C&L!, we could see it was exactly where we needed to be in every way.
6. Any random facts or interesting stories from the road that you’d like to share?
On a recent tour out to California, we drove through the state of Wyoming for the first time ever. We had been joking about blowing a tire in “the middle of nowhere Wyoming” for most of the ride out there. So naturally we blew a trailer tire about an hour into the state. Nothing really mind-blowing happened after that, we replaced the tire, and kept going, but sometimes it just feels good to have one of those prototypical experiences.
Oh, and go download our album Lesser Men for free at http://comeandlive.com/downloads