"We want people to see who Christ really is, and what He can do for your life. Not just this big happy shiny package that people like to present. Or your TV evangelist's hairspray -- which is real scary."
Believable Picnic's Jade Hanson

by Dan MacIntosh for the Music Channel at crosswalk.com


{{Believable Picnic}}'s music is one long smorgasbord table of delectable pop sounds. And even though their new album is called ==Welcome to the Future==, it's the songs from pop music's past that mostly inspire this three-member group.

"We all grew up listening to similar types of music, which was really melodic pop music," says leader Jade Hanson. "The stuff that inspires me -- and please don't laugh when I tell you this -- is anybody from John Denver to The Beatles; aside from that, just great songwriters. We're into great songs, and not necessarily great people, if that makes any sense."

By welcoming listeners to future -- which this album's title clearly does -- the group is expressing a positive attitude about what's to come next. (This, by the way, is in direct contrast to all the doom and gloom Y2K predictions so often seen in today's media).

"We're real positive about the future," says Hanson. "Everybody out there who is in business would like you to think that Y2K is going to ruin the world in the year 2000. But from my point of view, it's just a way for some to make money. 'Buy this, and be safe,' and that whole deal. We're looking forward to the future with great expectations."

The music this group makes is melodic and memorable. The kind of songs you hum to yourself after only one listen. Yet, there are serious messages intentionally placed within these candy-coated tunes.

"The music is the vehicle," explains Hanson. "That's the kind of music we love, and the kind we've always thought we needed to stay on. We're not the most evangelistic band lyrically. We'd rather talk about issues, because there are (already) so many wonderful evangelistic bands out there. We want to be real, as to who we are and in what is going on in the world and how Christ has affected us in our decision making processes and our views."

One of the messages Believable Picnic is trying to get across is that human beings need to delve beneath the surface of life to get to its real meaning. In the song "Sugar" they sing:

"Sweeten the deal/You don't have to think about anything real."

It points out how it's just so easy to get caught up in the sugar rush of modern life, without ever really facing what is real.

"The word 'real' is really the catch word for us right now," explains Hanson. "(Recently) at GMA, we were watching everything that is (supposedly) Christian, marketing wise. And all the ways that Christianity is represented in the media these days just irritates the snot out of us. It's not real. It's not what it's all about. A lot of it is not even biblical to us, and we have issues with that."

"We want people to see who Christ really is, and what He can do for your life. Not just this big happy shiny package that people like to present. Or your TV evangelist's hairspray -- which is real scary."

"To us, it's becoming somewhat appalling. Every time you turn on you TV, you're like 'No, it's not like that!' It's almost embarrassing."

When asked to name somebody they truly respect within the Christian media, {{Steve Taylor}} comes immediately to mind. Taylor's label, Squint, has made an immediate impact for Christians in the media, especially through the success of {{Sixpence None The Richer}}.

One also suspects that Taylor's patented sarcastic wit must have also impacted this humorous group's songwriting approach somewhere along the way.

"He's not of the world, but he's in the world. People, like MTV -- who pretty much slam Christianity --accept him for who he is, and respect him for what he believes and allow him to be a part of what they're doing. And yet, anybody else who tries to get in there (on MTV), they slap down. Steve is, to us, a very real guy. He has real things to say. He's grounded."

Taylor, as an artist, has always tried to stretch his listeners' expectations. This approach has always appealed to Believable Picnic, as they also try and do this same kind of stretching with their music. "He's not afraid to say what he feels. So many people try to write their lyrics so carefully, so as not to offend, or, not to be above people's heads."

"From our point of view, we think it's OK to make people think a little, to dig a little deeper to figure out what we're saying."

Now is clearly a time for Christians to put their roots down deep, and get to the heart of what it means to be a Christian. One need look no further than Littleton, CO to be reminded of just how out of control this world is -- even among the young.

"I don't want to over spiritualize anything, but to me (Littleton) just says that Satan has taken a stronghold in our youth. If that's not obvious, I don't know what else would be, because why else would somebody want to go in and kill 25 people -- maybe some of them they don't even know? Why would you do that?"

The members of Believable Picnic see young people on a daily basis: It's a part of their job. They have a chance to reach out to these kids; some that might be suffering with the same problems that saddled those two young men from Littleton. One wonders what can be said, and what can be done for these struggling ones.

"I can answer that with an observation, and that observation would be that as we've traveled around -- and we've been from one end of the country and back many times -- the thing I see that scares me the most in these kids eyes is that there's no hope. They say that by the time a kid is 17 or 18 years old -- or even younger -- they have the life experiences of a 25-year-old person. They've done everything that we've done. And kids are smarter today than we were. The information age has changed that."

"We (the church) sell these kids happy shiny Christianity, but they know the reality of life. It used to be that the smiley face of the Jesus People Movement was applicable to the times. But today, you need to be able to tell these kids the truth, and give them hope -- the hope of the bible and the hope of Christ -- and you have to be able to relate it in a very real way."

Believable Picnic's underlying message is that with the believable hope of Christ, the future is indeed a welcome place.