God on their side
Which comes first: the Christian or the rocker? David Pollock speaks to Glasgow outfit Superhero who manage both with some considerable style
Religion and rock music don’t usually mix, but they’ve always been on speaking terms. Elvis himself grew up a good, god-fearing boy, while Bob Dylan, possibly the most famous one-time born-again Christian in music, released two albums of Christian songs in the late 70s. Then, of course, there’s gospel. Where would modern music be without gospel churches and choirs? Yet just because artists like Nick Cave or Johnny Cash make reference to God, it doesn’t make them altar boys, now does it?
There’s clearly a difference between talking about religion in music, and actually being a Christian rocker, and the latter is a deeply unfashionable genre of music, no matter how you look at it. After all, the point of rock for most listeners is that it allows them to apply any values they want onto it and themselves, and the whole idea of God getting in the way of that process is just a bit too dogmatic for teenage kids with no interest in being preached to. Besides, huge stars of the CR firmament such as English group Delirious? do tend to sound like Keane or Coldplay without, you know, the Satanic elements. Musically, Superhero are considerably more inventive than that, and singer Tim Cheshire is clear and easy about his experiences with his Christian rock outfit, Superhero.
‘The way our band formed was just the way 99 percent of others do,’ says Cheshire. ‘We were people with similar tastes in music who all played the necessary instruments. There was no ‘let’s take the world for Jesus’ plan, but we absolutely don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians.
‘I find it difficult to define what exactly Christian Rock means anyway. Is it a separate genre like jazz or blues? We certainly don’t make worship music, which would be sung congregationally by a group of people, so I presume it’s just the fact that our songs have meaning and that we’re upfront about what we believe – the same as any band worth their salt. The songs aren’t all about our faith, but because we have that faith, our music and ethos are influenced.’
Superhero formed around seven years ago after all attending the same Glasgow church, although the latest line-up – bassist Johnny ‘Dredd’ McAdam, drummer Mike Uphill, keyboard player Mike Crawford and guitarist Gavin McGrath – are spread throughout Britain from Glasgow to Leeds. The singer points out that the market for Christian Rock in the UK isn’t large enough to make a living from music, but that the situation is vastly different in the less-secular US, and Superhero are touring there in October promoting their forthcoming fourth album.
‘People generally do have a preconception about any band who are labelled a Christian one,’ says Cheshire, ‘and it’s usually a bad one. But y’know, that’s what we have to live with. I’ll continue to write and perform songs, though – I love it, I find music inspirational and uplifting in my own life, and I want to write songs that are meaningful to others. We’re not dogmatic or fundamentalist, we’re just singing about something we believe in, and it really is tough if people don’t like that.’
Superhero launch their new album Fake Lunar Landing at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow, Wed 3 Sep.