Maybe it’s okay to think everything’s all right, to ignore problems going on down the street, outside your door, inside the hearts of people you know. Maybe it’s best just to live life in the universe you’ve fashioned for yourself, oblivious to chaos swirling barely beyond your view. Or maybe not.
Perhaps we should be cognizant of the situations at hand. Admit that bad things happen, and people aren’t always what they seem to be. But knowledge is power, and hope can be found, if you choose to look for it. If you choose to leave your Fool’s Paradise.
Monday Morning, Selectric Records’ debut melodic modern rock band, knows the potential heartbreak and struggle that comes with wresting oneself from a place of contentment, denial, even apathy. They see clearly the issues facing those who choose to live in that lack of knowledge. They address such problems facing the church and world at large on their debut national release, Fool’s Paradise.
“The overall theme is about problems, but they’re problems that can be overcome,” says lead singer and primary lyricist Derek Stipe. “The songs address a variety of issues – ‘Blind’ deals with addictions, ‘Can’t Go On’ covers racial topics, “These Eyes” explores self doubt – and they’ve come about through experience with close friends, relatives, even ourselves. “These problems exist, but there are always ways to overcome,” Derek says.
As young musicians growing up together in North Carolina, Monday Morning’s primaries – Derek, guitarist Justin Blythe, bassist Kevin Stipe (Derek’s brother), and drummer Kent Rector – were nurtured in the support of family, friends, and a church community that encouraged them to follow their musical dreams.
“The first show we played was for 800 people,” Justin says, remembering the band’s earliest support. “But the more we played and were accepted among church circles, the more we realized, on some levels, that we needed to branch out.”
Independent records and regional touring brought Monday Morning a larger fan base as well as interest from music industry veterans like David Bach, who currently serves as Selectric’s label chief. Bach held a similar position with a different company when he first met Monday Morning and signed the fledgling group to a multi-layered deal. But the band and Bach were both set adrift in the wake of mergers and acquisitions, a situation that left Monday Morning’s direction uncertain but creative fires untouched.
“There came a point afterwards where we made the decision, ‘Let’s work really, really hard to be great live,’” Justin says, “so we’d rehearse three times a week, eight hours a stretch, and we did that for the better part of a year.”
“In those six months following the label fallout, we wrote some aggressive stuff,” Derek says. “‘ Wonder of it All ’ happened at the tail end of that period when I was writing all this angry stuff and finally came to the realization that I just had to let everything go. It was like putting on paper everything that had angered me for a year or two and saying, ‘It’s over with. There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s something else for me out there.’”
That something else was a renewed professional relationship with Bach, now at the new 3.1 Productions enterprise forged by industry veterans John and Dino Elefante. Bach brought Monday Morning on board the company’s rock imprint, Selectric Records, and Fool’s Paradise was born.
“David Bach signed us twice…that’s why he’s the greatest A&R guy ever,” laughs Derek, sparking similar reactions from his bandmates. “The first time we signed a record deal, it was in a big conference room, everybody shaking hands. When we signed with Selectric, it was us hanging out in Subway back home, signing over a meatball sub. A little bit different, but maybe a little better.”
But it’s in the soul-searching issues dealt with on all 12 songs of Fool’s Paradise that Monday Morning shows its true power. Tracks like the lead single, “Sunshine,” acknowledges the transformative power of new information, like sunshine breaking through thick clouds to both dispel shadows and reveal true nature.
The band members’ willingness to tackle difficult ideas head on while rocking out comes directly from Monday Morning’s maturity and engagement in the world around them. “I think we’re a lot more aware of what’s going on politically,” Justin says. “When you’re 17, 18, 19, you don’t care about picking up a newspaper and keeping up with world events.”
“We wrote a lot of these songs during those years when we weren’t quite as involved in our world,” Derek says, “but now the entire record deals with problems that we experience personally because of this messed-up world. “‘Fool’s Paradise’? We’re there in the form of our entire society being content with where we stand as a nation, even as a church,” Derek continues. “If you look back at the early church by reading the New Testament, you see how far we’ve strayed. Somehow, modern civilization is okay with that, and while I’m not saying we’re going to change the world or anything, at least we’re acknowledging that there are problems.”
It’s in finding solutions to those problems that Monday Morning’s maturity also shows through, partnering with New Orleans-based organization Desire Street Ministries as a pattern for actively engaging in the lives of communities. And it’s Monday Morning’s hope that the messages contained on Fool’s Paradise will spur listeners to action.
“What do we hope people take away from this record? Purpose. It’s as simple as that,” Derek says. “Hopefully, your interpretation of the songs and record as a whole will inspire you to do something. I don’t know what that’s going to be. What’s your heart for? What does it convict you of? But simply put, purpose.”
Maybe it’s okay for tomorrow’s leader to step up and say something today. Maybe it’s better to embed such messages in a form that those who need to hear can readily understand. Maybe it’s best to be bold, to remind the world that people aren’t perfect, but something out there is. And maybe that’s the ultimate solution to living in a Fool’s Paradise.
Source: Savvy Media Solutions