by Tracy Darlington
This Beautiful Republic Interview
"It makes me sad that I live in a culture that is so super-saturated with great music and has lost their appreciation for it." -- Ben Olin
This Beautiful Republic first made headlines when pioneering EMI-owned Christian rock label ForeFront Records (dc Talk, tobyMac) chose the act as its first new signing in five years. The band’s debut album, Even Heroes Need a Parachute, charted the singles “Jesus to the World” and “Casting Off” and earned glowing reviews. MusicFaith.com called TBR “my vote for New Artist of 2007” while Christianity Today compared the band to Foo Fighters and estimated it was “capable of improving from good to great.”
The band has just released their sophomore effort, Perceptions, and lead singer Ben Olin had lots to say about the band, their music, their travels, and more.
Tracy: How did you know God was calling you to pursue a career in music?
Ben Olin: I really didn’t. I took a chance at what I thought MIGHT be what he was calling me to. Thankfully I was right and he placed me in this band. I never had any intention of being a musician as a profession for the majority of my life, but when I started writing songs and getting better at performing them, I really thought it might be something that God could use to tell people about a relationship that we can have with Him.
How did you get your start?
We came from two separate bands; we'd played a few shows together here and there, but never really appreciated each other's music. So, when they lost their lead singer and my band broke up around the same time, it wasn't a logical thing for us to get together. God used a few other people to bring us together and when we did, it really just clicked and we saw how it could be successful; not only for ourselves in providing an income to live with, but to bring songs that people can be encouraged by.
The title track from your latest album deals with the idea that there are at least two sides to every story. Can you explain?
As the name implies, the perception of the title of the album could be different given the person interpreting it. For me, it's about giving people the benefit of the doubt. To consider that there might be more to the story than what might appear. We all agree though that the title mainly hopes to communicate that there's an angle that we can't see. The way that God sees us compared to the way that we see ourselves. We are disgusting and filthy humans with truly nothing good in and of ourselves. But He sees us as beautiful and loves us despite everything in the last sentence. His perception of us is completely and utterly contrary to our own and that's incredible because we don't deserve it.
Talk about the first two years you toured together as a band.
We had some great opportunities to do things that I’d have never done if I weren’t in the band; saw the Grand Canyon, saw Amsterdam, Sweden, Denmark, drove on the right side of the road in England, saw London, toured with great musicians, and a lot of other cool adventures.
Tell us a little bit about your first radio single “Jesus to the World”?
It’s a song that we wrote to remind us that we are God’s representatives on Earth.
How has touring taken its toll on you as a group?
It’s been a large learning curve. Being in a band is really hard, contrary to popular belief. You get sick of each other, you run on very little money, you blow out tires, have to drive endless hours, all while playing and maintaining a relationship with God, family, and friends. It’s hard. Yet, despite that, when we hear stories of how God is using the songs or something that we’ve said to impact their lives in a meaningful way, the challenges fade away.
How has traveling overseas affected your life?
It makes me sad that I live in a culture that is so super-saturated with great music and has lost their appreciation for it. That we’re so over-stimulated, that we’ve become numb to great performances and great songs; and we’re more worried about who we’re trying to impress or look cool in front of.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
In a band. Singing. Possibly road managing or working for a band better than mine?
How does Perceptions differ from Even Heroes Need a Parachute?
It’s a lot more mature and the songs are incredibly better. It represents three years of songwriting growth within the band because a lot of the songs on Heroes had been around for a long time. It’s the first CD we wrote with the five current members so it’s an album that means a lot to us and we’re confident in. The lyrics are more poignant and easier to connect with, I think.
What’s one thing you’d like to say to this generation?
That they’re not alone. Never. There’s always someone who is dealing with the same things that they are and that it’s a challenge to pull through those circumstances; but we’ve seen how a relationship that we have with Jesus has made those challenges a lot easier to deal with. It’s truly beautiful.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
I think my steps are the same as anyone else’s and it all comes down to discipline and placing value on the spiritual condition.
What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
I think I find God in the daily events rather than the large ordeals. So my verses that inspire me change.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?
Be patient and never get frustrated. Don’t push and always just speak about how you’ve seen Him in your own life. Threatening them with Hell, or judging them, or speaking down to them in any way is more counterproductive and will make your witnessing that much more difficult. Our lives are the greatest witness of Christ and there is no phrase that will cause someone to come to Christ.
What’s the most memorable place This Beautiful Republic has ever played?
We got to play in a lot of great places, but we played Flevo festival in Holland for 10,000+ people and it was insane. I think we get to go back next year!
What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
Fireworks on the 4th.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I play golf and have a marketing degree from The University of Toledo
When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing Grand Theft Auto (when I’m home), playing golf, playing with my 15 year old dog, and playing golf with Dad.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Strawberry yogurt with granola.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Lo-Carb Monster!! Lo-Carb Monster!! Cheese slices.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Eh, I’ll take one of the bottled frappucinos.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
I don’t have an iPod and rarely use the CD player, but I’m listening to the new Underoath, Classic Crime, As Cities Burn, and Oh Sleeper records.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to TitleTrakk.com readers?
I’d really love to have you listen to a few of our songs. If you enjoy
rock songs, listen to “No Turning Back,” and if you like pretty
or very encouraging songs, listen to “Learning To Fall.” Both
are on our MySpace page!
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.