MercyMe digs deep for music that connects
Who: MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Tedashii, Kutless, Family Force 5, Luminate, Rhett Walker Band, Adam Cappa and Tim Timmons
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21
Where: World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.
Tickets: $10; 477-2100, worldarena.com, therockandworshiproadshow.com
Guitarist Michael Scheuchzer has played in MercyMe long enough to know the difference between shallow and authentic music.
Eminem, now that’s a guy who’s real to the core and channels it into his music, he says — although Eminem’s subject matter is a far cry from the Christian themes that dominate MercyMe’s work.
“He’s great at it and it shows, and it’s obvious why he’s sold million of records. People can connect to that.”
MercyMe headlines the Rock and Worship Roadshow, which plays the World Arena on Thursday.
The five-person group has topped the Christian music charts since they formed in 1994 and have won numerous Dove and American Music awards for their seven albums.
Their May release, “The Hurt and the Healer,” deals with real life in a way that other albums haven’t. Another plus: The music is radio-friendly with catchy melodies and the temptation is strong to hum along with Bart Millard’s tenor voice. Perhaps that’s why it debuted at No. 7 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
“It’s almost more first person than other records,” Scheuchzer says in a phone interview from his home near Dallas. “Old songs like ‘I Can Only Imagine’ seem more vague. ‘The Hurt and Healer’ felt more personal. The whole album came out of a trying time and pain.”
Millard lost a close cousin unexpectedly. He was a firefighter killed in the line of duty and left behind a wife and two children. The experience inspired the lyrics to the ballad, “The Hurt and the Healer,” and became the backbone to the album.
The question that is never far away.
The healing doesn’t come from the explained.
Jesus, please don’t let this go in vain.
MercyMe makes music for audiences that need company in keeping their faith, Scheuchzer says. “What I’ve noticed, as we play the song ‘The Hurt and the Healer’ live, it seems to be connecting with people like it hasn’t in years,” he says. “It feels like God is using us. We hope we’re not just singing happy songs people can dance to. That’s fun, but we want songs to impact people.”
Critics have noticed their growth. Indie Vision Music says that in “The Hurt,” the band has “created one of their most mature and lyrically profound of their career. … With plenty of rock songs to please the alternative genre, ‘The Hurt and the Healer’ stretches musical boundaries to boldly assert its authority as one of this year’s standout albums.”
Praise is nice, but Scheuchzer finds much of his strength through the band. They help keep him grounded.
“It’s just a headtrip being on stage and thousands of people are singing along,” he said. “It’s just not natural to get cheered for. Except when you’re a 4-year-old, that’s normal. But it’s not normal when you’re a grown-up. You fight ego, and that’s where we help each other out. We get off the stage and make fun of whoever screwed up. We’re not as special as people think we are. We remind each other we’re normal.”
Jennifer Mulson may be reached at 636-0270.