- Christianity Today Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2009 3 Mar
Every once in a great while, a band comes along that conquers the odds and stands out in today's often bland music scene. With the perfect balance of talent, passion and experience, Luke Brown (vocals, guitars and songwriter), Rick Wilson (drums), Quinton Gibson (guitar) and Tracy Ferrie (bass) have the pieces in place to become the next breakout rock 'n' roll success story.
Strange Celebrity is the brainchild of dynamic frontman Luke Brown, who started the band in 2001 as the pursuit of a long-time dream; a dream to be in a rock band that could write and record hit songs as well as deliver an unparalleled live show. Employed as a songwriter in Nashville, Tenn., one would have expected it to be easy for Brown to find the missing people–pieces to his musical puzzle. But finding great musicians wasn't enough. Brown wanted band mates that would bring both the musical bond and the personal chemistry he desired.
Even as he began to pursue this dream, Brown wasn't a stranger to the world of music. Growing up in Chattanooga, Tenn., he began singing in various venues and eventually became a member of two full-time bands. Despite that success, he searched for the musical partnership that could be his personal stamp and the fulfillment of his true heart. Not knowing where it would take him, he began writing songs for what would become the physical representation of his dream, Strange Celebrity.
Enter Rick Wilson, a drummer from New Jersey who had attended school for jazz performance. Heavily involved in praise and worship over the years, Wilson too was searching for a place to dedicate his musical craft-something that was more than just show after show. He made a leap of faith and began working for a producer in Nashville, which then led to a meeting with Brown. A friendship formed quickly and a musical bond developed. Soon Brown and Wilson began the search for the individuals to complete their band. After auditioning a host of talented musicians, but not finding the right chemistry, Brown called on some musical connections he had made over the years. Tracy Ferrie, a seasoned bass player originally from Indiana, came to mind, and this acquaintance of three years turned out to be just the right fit.
Still missing was a key fourth memberthe guitarist. Quinton Gibson spent many years as a "hired gun" for a variety of acts and had played in a band with Ferrie back in Indiana. Gibson longed for a partnership where he could implement his musical talents. Reconnecting with Ferrie in Nashville led to the realization of this desire as he rounded out Strange Celebrity-not only on guitars, but also in mind and purpose. "We really have the whole 'family' aspect going," Gibson excitedly shares. "That's true," adds Ferrie. "It's like we're a chain-link fence. We each have different and common interests, and through that we all work together to make this great team."
Brown could not be happier about the team of musicians and friends that is Strange Celebrity. "It's amazing to me to step back sometimes and observe how God had a plan all along, and how He allowed this thing to come together like it has."
With the team in place, Brown and his new bandmates sought the counsel of Warner Bros. A&R rep and famed musician Chris Rodriguez, who provided the well-rounded direction and advice that was needed as they began to record their first project together for Squint Entertainment (a Warner/Curb Company).
Releasing June 2003, Remedy is sure to take the music world by storm. With contributing songwriters and talented producers Nick Trevisick and Dan Wilde (a founding member of the Rembrandts), this album is a dream come true for all the members.
Gibson, Ferrie and Wilson are quick to point out that Brown wrote "these amazing songs and seemed to have a perfect vision of who the band members are as artists." Brown not only contributed songwriting credits to the recording, but also co-produced two songs on Remedy with writing/production partner Chuck Butler. As the songs were completed and came together, the enthusiasm at the newfound label intensified, which added to the band's excitement about the project. "We wanted our songs to be great and to really put ourselves on the line," says Brown. "The album has a definite style. It has a unique sound, but nothing that leaves you guessing what kind of music you're hearing."
"The real hope is that we've made a record that is a collection of songs where you enjoy every piece of it," states Wilson. "Nothing too outlandish, but also something that will set a standard of quality music as well."
The band's goal is to make solid records from start to finish-records that take the listener through a range of emotions and challenges him or her to think without preaching or pretending to have all the answers. The result of their dreams, goals and efforts is poised for a grand debut–and Strange Celebrity is ready for its close-up. With musical influences ranging from classic rock and mainstream alternative to millennium pop, this band has a clear sense of purpose as its songs show amazing diversity and longevity of sound.
Lyrically, the debut is far from typical. Brown's open touch with words gives the songs a sense of character and depth with an unmistakable spiritual edge. Though certainly not shy about his emotional and spiritual passions, he manages to turn impressive phrases that match the hooky music to create an intriguing sound. This unique approach can only draw the listener deeper into areas of self-discovery and spiritual seeking, and allow the lyrical explorations to contemplate how responsibilities, choices and actions impact people. "This record deals with a roller coaster of emotions," says Brown. "It's very human relationship-based and about trying to find out who you're supposed to be."
Brown feels that his lyrics are infinitely open to interpretation. "That's the great thing about a song. A lyric may mean something totally different for someone else than it does for me and be just as valid."
"We also want to plant positive seeds of hope," Brown says. "We keep the music hopeful, and perhaps it will take the place of other music out there that seems hopeless. We hope that people will see something different in what we are doing." As great as the excitement is to have quality lyrics, a solid message and superior music, Strange Celebrity has an equal passion to be a light of hope to everyone they meet. "Being musicians doesn't mean that our calling is higher than anyone else's," says Ferrie. "Just because you're on a pedestal doesn't mean that the music is your ministry. Ministry is about service, in whatever form that comes. Perhaps that service happens as someone receives a message of hope from a song."
With musical chops tighter than ever, Strange Celebrity is chomping at the bit to begin a rigorous touring schedule that will ensure its place on everyone's radar by the summer season. Brown notes that "music is not only our passion, but we are fortunate to have it as our job. Through it we have the opportunity to share something positive. We want to be excellent at our jobs, no matter what. The message we want to share will be accepted if we can continue to achieve that."
"We're really anxious to be out there," Brown excitedly shares. "We want people to have a good time. The concert is for the people. We want to give our all for them." Gibson adds, "I love to see the reaction from the people–to know that some kind of fire has been lit and that it will stick. That's why we're doing this after all." It will only take a short encounter with the music of Strange Celebrity to see that by virtue of finger-on-the-pulse songs and powerful live performances, the band is beyond the hype and in the here and now … to stay!