Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • 1999 1 Apr
"The world is a big place and we definitely have tried to step out of our little comfort zone and to go places that are a little bit more Holland, Turkey, Ireland, Bosnia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Hungary, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Norway, Germany, Japan..."
--All Star United's Ian Eskelin

by Mike Nappa for Music

Standing in an airport terminal in England, Dave Clo couldn't help but smile. The guitarist for Christian rockers, {{All Star United}}, he'd arrived in London a day early and now was waiting to meet his band-mates. He hoisted his sign of greeting for ASU and grinned some more at the crowd of fans that was gathering excitedly behind him. Yep, this would be some welcome for the guys, he felt sure.

Finally, the rest of {{All Star United}}-Ian Eskelin (lead vocals and the band's front man), Christian Crowe (drums), Patrick "The Fork" McCallum (keyboards) and Adrian Walther (bass)-strolled off the plane, through customs, and into the Gatwick airport terminal. There they were enthusiastically greeted by scores of Brit fans. They were pleasantly surprised by the reception-until they saw the sign Clo was holding to announce their arrival.

It read: Backstreet Boys!

Never ones to disappoint fans-or to ruin a practical joke-they played along with Clo's gag, warmly chatting with the unknowing Londoners and signing autographs (as the Backstreet Boys) upon request. Eskelin laughs out loud when remembering that mistaken moment of fame in Gatwick's terminal.

"The whole airport saw us come out," he says, "with our sunglasses on and all this musical gear, a double-decker tour bus waiting outside, and all these people thought we were the Backstreet Boys!" He shrugs. "So we went along with it and signed autographs and stuff."

Welcome to the world of the {{All Star United}} states, where surprises are as easy to find as ASU's trademark guitar-heavy, Christian pop hits. Like the surprise at the show in Atlanta. A prank-prone stage crew shocked the band by dropping a 10-foot-tall, ceramic angel from the ceiling (held in suspension with a chain) onto the stage during a song.

Or the time Eskelin got bored during an interview with a newspaperman and started making up wacky nicknames for his associates (like Pat "Fruit Bat" McCallum)-which, of course, were prominently displayed in the next day's paper.

Or the time somebody wisecracked that cheerleaders would be great onstage during the song "Popular Americans"-and Eskelin got with his tour promoter to make it happen.

Make no mistake, though. Although the guys in ASU like to have fun, their music and ministry is no joking matter. Crowe explains, "Our hope is that we can just point people towards God and have them see what's available with Christianity." Walther agrees, "Our goal is to lead people to Christ through the way we know best-Rock-n-Roll!"

Having a worldwide platform to share the gospel is what makes a career in Christian music worthwhile, according to Walther. He says, "It's really awesome to have fans around the world who love our songs and sing along wherever we go."

Which brings us to the other unique thing about this group of fun-loving Christian musicians. They've been touring practically nonstop the past two years, performing over 500 concerts in that time. Their travels have taken them all over the USA, and into world venues like Holland, Turkey, Ireland, Bosnia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Hungary, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Norway, Germany, Japan, and the list goes on.

"The world is a big place," Eskelin says, "and we definitely have tried to step out of our little comfort zone and to go places that are a little bit more interesting."

Ask them what's been memorable about these far-flung tours, and McCallum answers: "Getting to play in Turkey." It was there the band performed an outdoor concert in a Turkish square under the shadow of an Islamic mosque. Armed guards stood nearby, ready to shut down the show if this thing got to be "too Christian." Setting up in the back of a flatbed truck, ASU sang their Christ-focused songs nonetheless. Concludes McCallum, "We decided we'd play crazy places like TurkeyWe discovered that the Holy Spirit can move through music in those places."

For Crowe, it was the show in Holland that was unforgettable. As headliners for the Flevo Festival, {{All Star United}} performed for a crowd of 12,000 screaming fans.

Crowe still feels a rush about the experience. "It was just a sea of people in front of us that were going absolutely manic to our songs," he says. "They loved it over there[and] they were singing the lyrics to the songs! They speak Dutch, and they were singing our lyrics in English, singing them back to us. So that was amazing."

Even though they've performed for huge audiences, Eskelin says it the power to touch individuals-not crowds-that keeps him humble. "It's just odd sometimes for me to even think about how deep these songs can just invade someone's life."

Over the past two years, Eskelin has gotten many letters about how his music has affected people. "Someone wrote me a letter [about] the song 'Tenderness' on the first album," he reports. "They listened to the song, started praying, and accepted Christ. And then we had another letter from this mother whose son had cancer and had died. He was listening to the song, 'Lullaby.' It was the only song that made the pain go away."

He shakes his head and smiles in disbelief. "I'm totally thrilled with what's happening."

Well, except for that Backstreet Boys thing of course. But don't worry. Knowing Ian Eskelin, he's probably got something special planned for Dave Clo in response-and it might just include a giant, ceramic angel too.

Kudos for All Star United
"#1 Rock Song of the Year" (for "Smash Hit")
Grammy nominee in the "Rock/Gospel Album of the Year" category (for their self-titled debut album)
Voted "One of the Best New Artists of 1997" by CCM Magazine
Debut album named "One of the Top Ten Best Albums of 1997" by 7 Ball Magazine
Four consecutive #1 hit radio songs from the ASU debut album ("Saviour of My Universe," "Smash Hit," "Bright Red Carpet," and "Tenderness.")

==International Anthems for the Human Race== (Essential Records) 1999
==All Star United== (Reunion Records) 1997
To contact {{All Star United}}, send email to: Or send snail mail to: P.O. Box 24446, Nashville, Tennessee, 37202.