In 2001, Word Records acquired a pop quartet group named downhere. With relative
lyrics and a true passion for Christ, these boys from Canada immediately started making waves. Last year
Word helped us catch up with the guys. Here's what they had to say about their band, their music, and their
JFH: How did you guys become a band?|
Marc Martel: In 1996, Jason and I went out to Saskatchewan together to attend
Briercrest Bible College, where we were roommates. By that time we had
already been writing together for about a year. There, we began recording
our songs for a Recording Arts class we were in. In the Fall of 1998 we
signed to an indie label called Slyngshot Records, which one of our profs
had formed at the college. And thatís where we recorded our first
Once the project was completed, Jay and I decided that we definitely
wanted to tour with this CD, and see what happens. So we put a band
together, including Jeremy (who we had played with in worship teams on
several occasions), and toured across Canada. At this point we were touring
as a ministry/PR team for our college ≠ Briercrest was very instrumental in
getting us on our feet as a band. The college provided us with a van, sound
gear, lights, and even sound guys!
We only met Glenn a couple of years later at a World Vision artists
retreat in Florida. At the time, he was playing in another Canadian band.
After signing with Word Records in February 2001, we made the big move to
Nashville ≠ without a bassist, but we were desperately praying for one. And
shortly after that, we heard that Glennís band had broken up. So we gave
him a call, and now heís here, and thatís how downhere started.
Jesus freak Hideout: You guys recently moved to Nashville from Canada. How has that big move affected you?
The biggest thing for us was moving from a place where we had family and a support network to a place where we
were complete strangers... and very far from anything familiar!! But God was good - we have all been able to
get plugged into various churches in the area and are getting settled into community groups and the like. For
myself, I have gotten quite involved in the youth group at my church which has been just awesome - those kids
and the volunteers and staff that work with them have become an extended family for me... they'll even come and
meet us at the airport when we come home from a tour! :) Once again this has proven to us just the importance
of being plugged into a local church body...
JFH: How do you handle living all together in one house?
Well, we like to joke about it being a combination of Big Brother and Survivor - but we haven't
been able to sell it to Fox yet! *grin* But seriously, there are 7 of us in the house - Jay and Glenn are
married, and then there's Marc, myself, and Wes, our road manager. There are 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in the
house - 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and the same downstairs. So upstairs is the married couples' space
and downstairs is for the single guys... Guess which bathroom is nicknamed "the dirty bathroom?" *grin* But it has
actually worked out really well - we have a job jar that we all pick a chore from every week to make sure that
the house stays relatively clean, and we make an effort to eat supper (or dinner) together every night.
There is an obvious lack of personal space, especially for the marrieds, but it just means that we have to get
creative about finding it! Really, we feel that this is just another practical way of showing people how
serious we are about the importance of community within the body of Christ - we live it day in and day out.
Don't get me wrong - it's not always easy. But when you see each other every day, it's important to keep short
accounts... and besides, it's much more affordable! :)
JFH: What have you learned from being in a position to minister to so many youth?
Being in a band and traveling around singing about Christ and what He has done in our lives is a huge
responsibility - there's no room to be fake, because kids can pick that up in a heartbeat and it will totally
discredit your whole ministry. There is a real need for strong, godly men in our society today - men who are
committed to the Lord, to their families, and to their church. We want to live our lives in a way that challenges
people to examine their hearts to see where they are at in their relationship with Christ - and that requires
us to be on top of our spiritual walks as individuals. Today's youth are extremely open to the things of God,
and we want to show them that life with God is not boring, but rather it's as intense a ride as you'll ever find,
and the rewards are beyond comprehension. There's a whole new level of accountability required when you're in
public ministry - especially with youth.
JFH: How would you describe your sound?
Jason Germain: I would describe our sound as vocally melodic and harmonic
acoustic/electric driven pop/rock with sentiments of Eastern Canadian folk.
JFH: What were your musical influences?
Marc: For me itís been a variety of things. My first musical influence was my
mother, who sat me at the piano at an early age. I grew up listening to the
music of Keith Green and a lot of other Christian artists. It wasnít till
late in high school that I became interested in more aggressive stuff like
Pearl Jam and the whole grunge genre. College was a mixÖ stuff like Jars Of
Clay (Jay and I wore out their debut album our first year of college!), a
little DC Talk, U2, Radiohead. Iíve been all over the place as far as my
musical tastes, and I think every good song I hear influences me, especially
songs that are doing something new, or unique.
JFH: What is your favorite song on the new album?
Iíd have to say ďProtest To PraiseĒ is my favorite on the new album. For
me, itís a nice combination of heavy anthemic rock and soaring melody. Iím
also a big fan of the work Tom Howard did on the string arrangements. But
more so, itís a song that I think everyone can relate to. Weíve all gone
through times where things didnít go our way, but in the end, weíre better
for it because God used a situation to grow us, and to show us a little more
of who He is.
JFH: What is the story behind the first single, "Larger Than Life?"
Iím pumped that ďLargerĒ is our first single. Itís really the only song on
the album that is 100% co-written between Jason and I. Itís a song about
our friendship, but more than that, itís a song about the relationship that
Christians have with each other. We wrote the song together in the studio
while we were recording our independent album in Saskatchewan. At the time,
our friendship was suffering some severe attacks. We wrote the song about
how important community is for Christians, and how Christ, who is the bond
between us, conquers all things by His love. He is bigger and more powerful
than any problem this world can throw at us.
JFH: What message do you want listeners to take away from your new album?
Jason: The message that I hope people see in the album, if you were to sum it up,
is that God is so big and that it is so great that He is in control.
JFH: You guys already toured a lot before you signed your record contract. How have you adjusted to being part of a label in the Christian music industry?
Jason: For us joining forces with Word was a well prayed over decision.
So God had things lined up so that we could adjust. Word records has been SOOOO supportive! We have
a great managment team (Ray Ware/Wes Morris) that have definitely helped steam some wrinkles in plans and such.
There is always something to let go of to give to God.
JFH: What has been your favorite ministry opportunity as a band?
Glenn Lavendar: On Sept 11, the day of the attacks, downhere was scheduled to play at Seton
Hall University in New Jersey which is 20 miles away from Manhattan. As we
drove in, we could see the smoke over the city and just wondered why on earth
we decided to keep driving. We eventually arrived and the organizers wanted
to go on with the show so that's what we did. The show was an outdoor
concert designed to kickoff their school year. They had a great sound system
and stage and enough power to make sure everybody could hear the show. We
started into our show playing our first three songs when the police showed
up and said that they wanted to shut everything down. Now all of the permits
that were necessary for the night were obtained but neighbors were
complaining and this wasn't the night to tell them that we had the permits
we needed. So we unplugged everything and jumped off the stage and had the
audience all crowd in at the front. From that point on we just sang as loud
as we could and played our acoustic guitars. The words of our songs really
took on new meaning that night and we had a great time being able to play
and worship with a crowd that wasn't all Christian. Check out the lyrics to
"Protest to Praise" and "Calmer of the Storm" and you will see what I mean.
JFH: Why is it important to you to spell downhere with a lowercase "d"?
Glenn: The lower case "d" helps remind us to take the importance off of us as a
band. I think that it also helps add to the focus of what downhere is all
about, which is being down to earth and easy to talk to. We want to be a
band whose fans can say "I love their music and it was really cool how they
all just hung out after the show with us!" It's obviously not a big deal how
it gets spelled but whenever we are involved with writing our own name we
will continue with the "d"!
JFH: What is your favorite restaurant?
Glenn: I'm not really into the whole favorite, best or coolest thing. I just can't
narrow things down to one so I will have to divide this up between two of my
"favorite" Canadian restaurants. Well, one restaurant and one coffee shop.
Swiss Chalet and Tim Horton's. Maybe it's just because I'm not around them
anymore but these two establishments were ones that I visited fairly
regularly. At Swiss Chalet, the quarter chicken dinner is the standard but I
also like to order their chicken stir fry. Tim Horton's is famous for its
coffee of which I have never tasted, but it smells good. For me though it's
the chicken stew in a bread bowl meal. Mmmmmmmm. Chicken stew, bread bowl,
coffee (or in my case APPLE JUICE), and either a honey dip, apple fritter or
one of those powdery donuts. Yum Yum. Now I'm hungry!
JFH: What is your favorite movie? On-the-road past-time?
Jason: My favorite movie is called Avalon. It's about moving to America. Ha!
Actually it truly is my favorite. Favorite On-The-Road pastime... Hmmm... like in the van? I do these funky
self-invented work outs and all the guys laugh at me... but it keeps the metabolism up. ...Listening to my CD
player and dreaming of a future in film scoring.
JFH: What is your favorite on-the-road moment so far?
Glenn: One of my favorite road moments so far would have to be from our last trip
to Florida. We made a stop at 90.5 SpiritFM in Tampa to do some interviews
and meet the host and all of that kind of stuff. Our host Olivia and her
sidekick Americo were really cool and helped us to be crazier than usual
which was bad because we were already hyper when we got there for some
reason. Anyway, the whole night was filled with laughing and goofing around
while doing our interview and while taking calls. The strange thing is as
I'm writing this I can't pinpoint one specific thing that really made the
night fun -- it was just the entire evening. So next time we are at SpiritFM I
would do my best to make sure you can listen because chances are that things
will get crazy again!!