Nobody can argue with Plato’s point: Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. People almost always get creative, not for the fun of it, but because they need it. Or they need the cash for it. But the beautiful part of that scenario is that more often than not, when necessity produces invention, the result is amazing.
Addison Road’s self-titled INO Records debut is proof enough that great things happen when people put their heads and hearts together toward a common creative goal.
In fact, the Dallas-based pop-rock band was ‘invented’ on the fly in 2001 when then dating Baylor students Jenny and Ryan Simmons (now married) were offered $500 to ‘bring their band and play’ for a large Disciple Now gathering. The only problem: Jenny and Ryan didn’t have a band.
But $500 was a great motivator. So Jenny and Ryan pooled some student loan money, snagged their friend Ryan Gregg, who played in another band, recruited Travis Lawrence to play bass and tapped Jeff Sutton to play drums. With barely a rehearsal under their belts, this rag-tag group of fledgling musicians played that $500 gig, and by the time school was out, necessity’s invention found the doors of opportunity wide open.
After college, with more and more invitations to perform, the five-some decided to make a go of it. “Our parents and friends were a little freaked out that after college we didn’t pursue ‘real’ jobs,” lead singer Jenny Simmons says. “I always thought I’d go into ministry or missions, so the whole idea of being in a band was new to me, but as the doors opened, I knew we had to walk through.” They took the $800 they made at a garage sale and paid the deposit on a duplex in Dallas, where they began leading worship at a local church. There, the band cultivated its strong work ethic with its heart for ministry and its gift of great songwriting.
Six years, thousands of miles, hundreds of performances at festivals, conferences, camps (and everywhere in between) and three impressive independent recordings later, Addison Road has renewed its mission and found its voice.
Produced by Chris Stevens (TobyMac, Sanctus Real, Mandisa), Addison Road is the culmination of the band’s mission to inspire people from all walks of life to find their hope, their identity in God, to be changed by His grace and to extend that grace to a world in need. More than a year in the making, the band’s INO Records debut is fueled by a passion that comes from finally getting to the heart of the matter. Finally knowing what they want to say.
“To be honest, when we started, we didn’t really know what we wanted to say,” says lead guitar/vocalist Ryan Gregg. “It’s been a really long process… at times very frustrating and intense, a refining process. But God’s opened our eyes to what He wanted from us…Some of the best songs came in the last two weeks in the studio…”
My life comes from the one who made the stars and brought the sun
He loves me more than these so I don’t need another identity…
All that matters is I know Your love has set me free…
The driving, pop/rock first single, “All That Matters” speaks to the pressure and insecurities that girls and young women feel in today’s culture. Inspired by encounters with girls the band has met at concerts, Jenny says, “’All That Matters’ is a reminder to them that God sees us as beautiful, just as we are, created in His image.”
“Hope Now,” like many songs, is the result of a turbulent period in the band’s history. “A couple of years ago, we weren’t getting along very well,” Ryan Gregg says, “and it was at the point of deciding ‘Are we going to keep doing this, are we going to be able to get along, make a living or what?’ We made a trip to Nashville to meet with this manager, and he caught on right away. He said, ‘You’re a great band with great songs, but you’re missing the hope here. There’s too much negative in what you’re singing about, and Christian music is about giving people hope. Everything rides on hope now.’” Needless to say, for Addison Road, the trip home was rough, but later that night, in his room, Ryan Gregg began to wrestle with what the manager said. “I couldn’t get that line out of my head, ‘Everything rides on hope now.’ I grabbed a guitar and the chorus came immediately.” Lyrically, and interpersonally, the song represents a turning point for the band…and is an important and powerful truth for all who hear.
What we do here is just the beginning
New life is starting at every ending
We are a part of a story unfolding
This is the weight of the world we are holding
This could be our day…
“This Could Be Our Day,” an aggressive anthem/challenge to listeners to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world, underscores Addison Road’s passion for worship that reaches OUT.
“It’s not enough to accept the grace and mercy God has for us,” Jenny says. “When we’re renewed and refined by God, there’s so much we can do to make a difference. This whole album is about that process of refining but also getting out of our comfort zones and taking that grace into the world.”
In music and in community—online or on the road—Addison Road takes that call to action seriously, as enthusiastic supporters of Village of Hope in Uganda, a ministry to women and children ravaged by poverty and AIDs. Through Mocha Club, the band raises funds and awareness for this ministry. “We’ve always believed that living beyond ourselves is essential. One of the first things we did as a band was look for an organization that we could get behind as part of our mission, to use what small influence we might have to encourage others to reach out,” Ryan Simmons says. Addison Road hopes to travel to Uganda in the near future to experience Village of Hope community in real time.
In the meantime, this band of podcast-loving, worship-minded artists will continue creating music born in the reality of life infused with real hope—fulfilling the mission behind their music.
“Whether we’re playing at a conference or a camp, we want to be in relationship before, during and after the fact, in the pool with the kids, in prayer groups, having Oreos with the kids in the cabins, sharing with the staff at night…” Jenny adds. “We’re there to love on people. We’re not just musicians and singers with a platform, we’re humans, and we look at what we do as a process of going through life together.”