“We grew up in a fractured society, that wasn’t something we wanted to be a part of – unity and togetherness is way more important than your opinion being right.”
A tour down under has long been atop the wish list for Irish 5 piece Rend Collective, but the forthcoming Australian tour comes with just a tinge of sadness for drummer and vocalist Gareth Gilkeson.
This tour will be the first time Gareth won’t be joined by his family on the road, with his wife and fellow Rend Collective bandmate Ali deciding to sit this one out. Whilst a difficult decision, Gareth admits it’s the best decision for his family.
“We’ve travelled the world with our three kids who are all under the age of 6, it’s not an experience I would hugely recommend but it’s been a lot of fun! Ali’s staying home with the kids on this one as it’s a bit of a crazy itinerary. I’m nervous because I’m going to have to pack my own bag, and that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!”
The band who hail from Bangor in Northern Ireland are set to play a string of sold out shows across the country, kicking off this week in Perth. Although the tickets were snapped up in a matter of hours, Gareth was quick to point out that there was more than a touch of anxiety in the planning stages.
“There’s something very nerve racking about going to another country; we’re an independent band so the money’s not coming from anywhere except our back pockets!”
“With Australia we’ve always felt a close affinity with you folk, and over the years so many Australians have been really encouraging.”
Since storming onto the worship scene in 2010 with their debut album Organic Family Hymnal, Rend Collective have built up such a head of steam that they’re now viewed as one of the major players in the global worship movement. Their last 3 records hit number one on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums Chart, while 2014’s The Art of Celebration made it the top of the worldwide charts on iTunes. They are also regulars on the festival circuit, both in the US and the UK.
Let’s Get Real
But as we chat away about the merits of Home and Away and Neighbours, and their portrayal of Aussie life, I’m struck by how down to earth Gareth is. He reckons a big part of that is the Irish heritage and culture, which would rather strive for authenticity over excellence.
It could also be that despite all their success in the United States, the band has stayed true to their roots and live in Northern Ireland when they’re not on tour.
“We’re in the US about half of the year and we still live in Ireland the rest of the time and we’re not giving that up!”
The down to earth and accessible nature has been a key ingredient in Rend Collective’s success, and for Gareth that was birthed in the bands early days. Formed on a whim while leading worship for a student movement called Rend, Gareth never really expected the worship music to take off. He was 30 years of age when Rend Collective released their debut album, but previously had hoped to travel a different road with his music.
“During my twenties I was in a band that tried everything and had failed in every corner. I always thought it was the other band that would be successful. With Rend Collective, a big part of our ethos is to write music for people who don’t go to church.”
A Kind of Homecoming
Gareth said that Rend Collective is over the moon to be finally playing shows down under, with most of the band members having Australian relatives of some description.
“We all have cousins down there, Patrick our guitarist has about 10 aunties and uncles, and our singer Chris – his dad is from Adelaide. I’m really excited to see the response and worship as a church together. It’s going to be special for us; this will be the highlight of our career so far.”
Once the Australian leg of the Revival Anthem Tour wraps up in Brisbane, the band will continue on with over 30 shows across the US, before moving on to the UK and Europe. You can also keep your eyes peeled for the new album Choose to Worship, which is due in March, as well as the new single Sing it From the Shackles which has just been released.