“…I don't know how to best characterize the nature of these songs,” he continues, “but I can definitely tell you that it's different from anything Michael W. has ever done. The sound is different too, more raw, and more focused on individual instruments than a big sweeping wash of sound. There's influences from early Elton John and the Rolling Stones, as well as newer influences like the latest records from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.”

Mooring’s take on the album as a whole highlights Stand’s mass appeal. “After hearing all of the recordings and all of the production of it, I was like, ‘Man, this is cool stuff,’” he says. “Stuff that like I [am] listening to, you know? This is stuff I know my friends would listen to.”

The Big Picture

As the conversation nears its conclusion, the topic turns back to the friendship the two share and what it means to Mooring. “I know I can run to Michael for advice about things,” he says. “So, to me, in a sense, he’s more than just a friend, he is a mentor – a strong champion who is back in the corner, who has been doing it for so long and that I can run to and say, ‘Okay, hey, what do I do in this certain situation? What is your advice on this?’”

Can you imagine being a new artist and having Smith speak into your life like that? True, Mooring has much to be grateful for. But that gratefulness is a two-way street. And, when you hear Smith speak about him, it’s clear his appreciation for Mooring expands beyond the kid’s musical abilities and, even, their personal friendship. As Smith has already indicated, he believes there’s something much bigger going on here.

“Most bands want to be rock stars,” he says. “And I don’t get any sort of sense that [Mooring and his band] want to be rock stars. To know how he writes songs – he starts praying, and he starts weeping on the floor. During that, he writes “Tears of the Saints” [from Leeland’s "Sound of Melodies"]. That’s pretty rare for a now 18-year-old teenager – weeping for God, who has a real heart for God. That is rare in this business. I think God’s going to honor that. Plus, I think he’s got an enormous amount of talent. I think we haven’t even begun to see what God’s going to do with this band and with him.”

One thing’s for sure, you can bet we’ll be watching.

© 2006 CCM Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.   Click here to subscribe.