FFH: The Ties That Bind
- Thursday, November 11, 2004
"Still the Cross" finds the band confident and assured of its newfound roles. Alongside Miller and Williamson, Jeromy wielded control from behind the producer’s console as well. And it actually felt comfortable, he says, since he put in his share of knob-turning as producer on projects by Fervent Records artist Big Daddy Weave and new Fervent artist Palisade. Additionally, the songwriting for "Still the Cross" represents the band as a whole, more so than any other time because more of its members had a hand in writing. Jeromy co-wrote material with Smith and Boggs, partly “from necessity as we were working on so many songs at one time,” he says.
The result is a body of work that represents the band on all creative fronts. “I think we’ve found ‘our sound,’” Jeromy says. “Not only are the vocals trademark, but we’re really coming into our own. It’s like we just hit our stride,” he explains.
Laying the Foundation
Functioning as a band, however, means far more than perfecting the musical aspect. Though it’s common to hear of band breakups due to “creative differences,” it’s often the stuff outside of music that serves as the agitator. Throughout history band mates have been notorious for their lifestyles as much as their musical prowess. A shared outlook on life is an important and binding thread for any collective. For this band, the commonality has always been Christ, Jeromy says. “We had the opportunity early on to learn everything that it takes to be a band, aside from the music.”
He recalls a series of conversations that took place when Boggs first joined the band. “We talked about how our lifestyles would be different if we weren’t in this band. We talked about what FFH was going to leave as a legacy. It’s more than just playing and singing. Christian music is not a style of music. It’s a lifestyle of people who listen ... and we got all that stuff figured out before we put on this mantle,” he explains.
Eschewing drinking alcohol and smoking and cautiously filtering the movies they watch on the tour bus are self-imposed restrictions for these band members. “But it’s not to be legalistic,” Jeromy explains. “It’s just to be safe. It’s to make sure we create an atmosphere that’s pursuing God.”
Boggs interjects: “Some people try to get as close to the line of sin as they can without going overboard. We just want to stay away from that line so as to be holy, pure and blameless as [the apostle] Peter taught.”
Foundational for this band has also been the importance of family over the years. Aside from Boggs, all the members, including the touring drummer are related. Thus “keeping us together hasn’t been an issue,” Jeromy says. “There hasn’t ever been a time when we said, ‘Let’s just bail on this.’”
The last year, however, given the arrival of the Deibler’s firstborn, the birth of Smith’s second child and a death in Smith’s family, among other changes, forced FFH to look hard at its future.
Juggling career and parenthood has proven more difficult than anything they ever anticipated, Jeromy says. “People ask us, ‘How do you balance all this?’ We tell them flat out, ‘We don’t!’ We’re not good at it yet.” Jennifer concurs, “Every day I consider quitting. But then I go out on the road, and I say, ‘God, You’re going to have to reconfirm to me that this is where You want me.’ All I want to do is be with my baby,” she admits.
Next to parenthood, it’s a general maturing process — for all the members of FFH—that’s prompted them to such soul searching. All the members span the mid-20s to mid-30s. And they actually welcome adulthood now, with all its responsibilities, they say.
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