10 questions for Luke Hellebronth
You've just released your debut album Stand Up. Where does the inspiration for the title track come from?
It's out of this journey we've been on with Worship Central for the last year based on 2 Chronicles 20 when King Jehoshaphat and his people are facing this vast army approaching and facing death in this desperate situation. They do the right thing and they get on their knees and pray before God and say we don't know what to do but our eyes will be fixed on you.
We have this confidence in God as our mighty fortress. God is with us and for us. The bridge says 'our faith is in you, the battle is yours' and again there's this boldness of standing firm on this truth and these promises of God.
Most readers will be pleased to hear about these biblical themes. But some Christians claim there isn't enough biblical truth in modern day worship songs. How do you respond to that?
There will always be criticism. It's what we can learn from that criticism when there's truth in it. I would definitely say its important for us to be singing songs of truth that have the Word of God breathed in it and we're singing the Word of God pure and simple.
And would you agree not all worship songs do that?
Yeah, I think there are songs that have different roles. I don't think every song has to be taken from a particular scripture or feel like its theologically heavy. God is asking us to worship with our mind, our heart, our soul and our spirit. So I think we need songs of real meat and truth that are theologically anchored but we also need simple love songs that connect more easily with our emotions. We need the whole spectrum.
One song that a lot of people have been talking about from your album is Miracle of Grace. How did it come about?
I wrote it with Aaron Keyes. We had breakfast together then we had an hour and a half to write and that song came out. When we were recording it in the studio it was really organic. Ben hit record and it just kind of happened so that was a sweet moment. It connects with people because it's simple and stripped back.
What has the response to Stand Up been like from friends outside of the Christian faith?
A lot of my non-Christian friends have been really supportive. It's great for people outside of the church environment to see that the Church cares about the praises of God and we're serious about making good quality music and we're not lagging behind creatively. It's out there and we're unapologetic about it. We've got something to say and we believe what's in the Word of God.
The dream was that these songs would get out beyond the four corners of the church.
Your song Spirit Break Out has been recorded by Kim Walker Smith of Jesus Culture and even features in the trailer for upcoming Hollywood blockbuster 'Noah'. What's your reaction to that?
It's just a God thing. It's amazing to see what God is doing with that song around the world. We never write for these songs to travel around the world and hearing about Noah is crazy. It's mental to get your head around it.
This lady in our church was dying of cancer and that song was ministering to her as she was dying. I sung that at her funeral and it was such an emotional occasion and so powerful that God was using that song in that moment for her. That's just as powerful if not more powerful for me as it being on a Hollywood blockbuster. You never know what God is going to do. If people are saying this song puts into words what I want to express then that is brilliant.
I was surprised to hear your background is in jazz guitar. That's a very different style to most modern worship music, including your album. Why is that?
My musical expression changed from jazz and improvisation to songwriting. It's become all about the song, the emotive lyric and captivating melody. I love jazz and still listen to it but I love the song and the dynamic of giving people something to sing. I fell in love with that as I started to lead worship and the power of a lyric. I love the pop song and that feel. Great hooks and simple melodies. And I love classical music but this is where I feel the expression is landing at the moment with these songs.
When you don't feel like singing to God or writing songs, what do you do to get inspired?
I love travelling, I love great food. Spending time with my wife. Going to parks, enjoying creation. Watching a great movie. I love life, getting out there and hanging out with friends. I've just got into making seriously good coffee. I'm passionate about life.
What are your favourite three albums of 2013?
I love One Republic. Ryan Tedder is an unbelievable songwriter. Their record Native has been huge for me. I'm loving Imagine Dragons. Phil Wickham's record is amazing. I could go on…
You're part of Worship Central, which is a movement as opposed to a band. Do you think there's a responsibility for you to bring in songs from those outside of your team that typically write for Worship Central records?
Yeah, that's something we're talking about at the moment. We've been putting these albums out there because it started out of our church. In some respects musically and from a songwriting point of view it's still at that place.
But on our website we've had songs from Tom Read who is the Worship Central guy in Hong Kong and we're starting to get songs in from New Zealand and South Africa. So I don't think it will be long before we start seeing these global songs.
When you're putting songs out there for the global church to sing I think there's a question of quality. We go through such a rigorous process with our songs, chucking them past theologians and really crafting a melody and a lyric so it's also a case of getting all those pieces together, but yes I think that will come.