No one has been more surprised by the record-smashing rise of Casting Crowns (Beach Street Records) than, uh, the seven members of Casting Crowns. They’re the fastest selling debut artist ever in Christian music with sales of their self-titled release surpassing 800,000 copies in less than a year. They also made history in late spring when their song “Who Am I” became the first song to simultaneously hold the No. 1 position on Christian Radio and Retail Weekly’s Adult Contemporary, Inspirational and Christian Hit Radio charts.

Their follow-up release, a combination CD/DVD titled "Live from Atlanta," finds Mark Hall, Chris Huffman, Melodee DeVeVo, Juan DeVeVo, Andy Williams, Megan Garrett and Hector Cervantes combining five favorites from their debut with one new song in a concert performed for a passionate, hometown crowd.

We asked them to stop spinning from a whirlwind of activity long enough to answer a few questions.

15. RATTLING CAGES
It seems the majority of songs you hear on Christian radio lean toward consolation rather than confrontation. And then along comes the cage-rattling “If We Are the Body.” “Honestly, I never knew my music was hard-hitting until I started reading it in magazines. It just comes out that way for me,” explains Mark, the 2004 Dove Award winning “Songwriter of the Year.” “As believers, we speak, act and write out of our spiritual gifts, and that is what makes Christian music so incredible. The same God who used John the Baptist also used Barnabas.”

14. DON’T FIDDLE WITH IT
Don’t try to come between Melodee and her violin. Because it’s 200 years old, she is extremely protective of it. Her bandmates report that she has a bulletproof, climate-controlled case that’s nicer than their bus. She won’t allow it out of her sight — even if the band takes a walk outside the bus.
 
13. SORRY WE ASKED
 Although the band members have plenty of ways to amuse themselves on tour, they have a rather unusual distraction. The Crowns say that Andy shows his bare belly to any and everyone.

12. JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS
The gang never gets into arguments about where they’ll stop to eat when on the road. They have a simple default plan:  They go wherever Mark’s wife/road manager, Melanie, tells them to go.

11. OH, MERCY ME
What’s it like to be easily recognized by Christian audiences? Mark was approached by a girl who said she really loved his music, especially the song “Spoken For.” Mark graciously told her, “I like that song, too; but it’s MercyMe’s.”

10. SO, OF COURSE, THEY BECAME MUSICIANS
Most artists, it seems, don’t take a straight path from would-be musician to full-time artist. But such is the case with Casting Crowns’ crew. Mark was (and is) a youth pastor. Hector was a graphic designer for the church. Andy delivered office supplies and did some interior design. Chris did car detailing. Megan was the front office manager for a physical therapist. Juan edited local cable TV shows. Melodee taught violin lessons and was a real estate agent.
 
9. PRE-DEAL PLAN
Long before “If We Are the Body” took off, Casting Crowns was planning its foray into the video world. Carl Horstmann, owner of Triple Horse Productions and a member of their church in Atlanta, approached them about creating a live worship video prior to signing their record deal. “After God broadened the ministry of Casting Crowns, Carl still donated much time and effort because he believed in our ministry and our message,” affirms Mark.