An Interview With Endless Pursuit Worship
I had the privilege of interviewing Zach, the lead vocalist of the worship band Endless Pursuit, about their heart behind their music, what true worship is, and their latest single Renew. I also got to find our more about Endless Pursuit’s up and coming single, God of Justice – read on to find out more!
What are the names of the members in the band and what are their roles?
All of us are 17. I’m the lead vocalist and songwriter, Zeke is the bassist and he edits our songs; usually I get ideas to him and he says something along the lines of, “Man, that’s terrible, let’s change this up!” Luke is the lead guitarist and helps out with lots of different things. Generally, I come up with the ideas and Zeke and Luke make everything musically possible – they are all around really good musicians.
When did you form the band?
We’ve been together for about 3 years.
How did the band form?
A kid at school randomly invited me to church one day – he just walked up to me while I was waiting for my ride and asked me. It was at this church that I met Luke, and I met him again at a small group at his house. I’d wanted to form a band for a while, and after getting to know Luke, I pestered him until he agreed to form Endless Pursuit – I wouldn’t stop bugging him, I was so persistent! We were just having fun, so we went with it. Originally it was just Luke, and I, and then Zeke came later.
When did you all become Christians? Were you brought up in Church?
All of us have been brought up in the Church, but we were all saved at different times. Luke was saved at the age of 4, Zeke asked Jesus into his life about 6 years ago, and I was saved when I was 8 (I was also baptized at this age). Luke has been part of Celebration Church for about 12 years, andI’ve been to lots of Baptist churches but now belong to a Bible church.
How long has music been a part of your life?
For me, personally, since 8th grade. I’m currently a senior in high school, so I’ve been listening to music for five years. I got into music by going to a Switchfoot concert – I was at a Boy scouts event, and I didn’t actually know that they would be playing! As for worship music, it’s been a significant part of my life for about three years.
Why did you start the band? Did you have the idea of it growing into a ‘proper’ worship band?
Oh yeah, definitely. We were California Dreamin’! The idea of being in all of these big shows…the truth is, we were terrible. We have so many terrible garage band demos on Dropbox! Luke is humorous about it and likes to embarrass everyone; he takes great pleasure in reminding us of how bad we were. We wanted to be a Christian rock band, and we tried hand to achieve that but eventually decided to just be a worship band (that was about two years ago). Originally, we wanted to get big and just have fun doing it.
What motivates you to produce music that glorifies God?
First and foremost, the Great Commission. Music breaks down so many boundaries and it enables us to do something we’re good at and passionate about, whilst still connecting with other people. We can really use music to make much of Jesus!
Do you want to do this for life? What is your goal? Definitely. I would love to be a worship pastor at a church and still be in the band, to have all of that going on at the same time. I want to be involved with the local church but also travel around and meet all different sorts of followers from all different walks of life.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of large and small churches in terms of the worship music?
One of the biggest pros of the larger churches is the finance; there’s naturally going to be more money available, which means you can get really good gear and really good musicians. As far as the cons, I think it’s that you don’t know everyone motives, but that can be very true in a smaller church too. In a big church, it’s also difficult to keep everyone accountable and keep up with everybody -you don’t really KNOW whether or not the vision and truth that you’re speaking into their lives is being used or not. You’re dealing with so many people! In smaller churches, the music can still be great too, but you do have less equipment, gear, and people. However, it does mean that you get to know who you’re working with; it feels more like a family.
What has been your experience of worship in church? Have you had any times where it hasn’t been very good? Have you ever thought, “Is this really worship or a performance?”
Yes to all of the above. There’s times when you’re there and really not feeling it, and that’s terrible but it’s honestly the inner dialogue of your mind and heart saying, “I don’t want to be here today but I’m just going to do my best to go at it and look good.” I’ve heard that from multiple people; we’re flawed and it happens. But I’ve also had great worship experiences. It’s not necessarily been because of an emotional high, but when you know the amount of truth being spoken is going to impact everybody there. It’s when people are actually centering their minds on Christ and they’re going to apply it. It’s not just emotional moment. But it’s true that everyone in worship ministry has had those moments like, “Man, why are we even doing this?” and then there’s moments like, “THIS is why we do it.”
Do you have any worship artists or bands that you admire?
I love John Mark McMillan’s voice and song writing style – he’s not afraid to venture out beyond the genre of so-called worship music. I can only speak for the American Church, but there’s this general illusion that a certain genre constitutes worship. Worship isn’t music – music is an avenue we use for worship, but if you treat worship as when you sing to God, that’s not right. Worship is a lifestyle submitted to Christ. Anyway, I get sidetracked! Another artist is John Foreman of Switchfoot – he’s not necessarily considered a worship artist but I love his stuff. I really like Bethel’s sound, and Hillsong; obviously Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, and Hillsong Young & Free have got some cool stuff going on with their sound.
How would you describe your style of music?
I really like indie stuff, music with a chill vibe, but I typically never get my way with the sound! Luke and Zeke are like, “Um…no.” We are on the alternative side of things; we just do whatever the song would need. We try to not make our songs sound way too different from each other, though. We’re now working on our second song in the studio so we’ve got time to work all that out.
What’s your song writing process?
It happens differently for every song. Honestly, sometimes I tend to start with a chorus which might have already been in my head for a while, and then I may sit down at the piano or with a guitar and nail out a chorus, and the verses and bridge soon follow. I couldn’t tell you an exact way I do it.
Do you write the lyrics, melody, or chords first?
It’s usually the melody first, then the lyrics to fill in with the melody. How long does it take to produce a song, from the initial ideas to seeing it on Spotify? Renew took about a year. All sorts of worship pastors tore it apart multiple times, which was heart breaking to me because I thought it was great as it was. Even in the studio, our producer was like, “It’s way too slow, we’re going to speed it up, cut this out, that’s not going to work…” But every contribution made it sound so much better. We’re going to try to speed the process up with the next song, but every song is so different.
Do you think we over-complicate worship music?
It depends on the context. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Who am I leading worship with and who are we leading?” As far as musicality goes, I think there’s a time and a place for everything. For the type of people that are in the churches I am around, a simpler approach is best. But if you’re doing a conference for a bunch of really talented pastors and worship leaders, by all means go all out and do something musically crazy. What you need to have in mind is, “Is this going to help or hurt the worship of our people?” And if it’s going to help people, then go for it. But if the answer is it’s going to hurt their walk with God, then obviously it’s not something you want to do.
What audience did you have in mind when writing Renew?
We wrote it with specifically the Church in mind. I was at a conference called Renew and the second I got home; I thought what if I wrote a song that encapsulated this weekend that would remind the Church of everything that happened. You know, the emotional high you will eventually forget, but a song can really capture that and remind you of all God has done.
Do you listen to secular music? If so, what?
Oh yeah. Definitely. I might get really judged for that. I listen to a lot of indie music, specifically indie folk. One of my favorite bands right now is a band named Tow’rs. All of their songs commonly have the question of life and why we’re here, and they just talk about life. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it – singing is just talking in pitch. I’ve never really understood the problem with thewhole secular side of things – as long as it’s honoring God, obviously.
Is there any music you avoid? How do you judge what music you should be avoiding?
There’s always things we should avoid that will hurt our walk with Christ. Anything that takes away from us giving Christ the glory, anything that’s not pure – I strongly advise against it. If it’s not within Biblical guidelines then it’s going to lead us astray. Sin will suck you into it the second you will just allow yourself to be open to it. And music is so powerful, so if we’re allowing ourselves to listen to things that aren’t appropriate, good, or something that is taking us away from Christ then I think that’s a mistake.
Your latest single is called Renew – what does it mean to be renewed and how does it happen – is it a one-time event or an on-going process?
That’s a complicated question but I like it! So you have justification (which happens when you’ve made a decision to follow Christ), sanctification (which is the Holy Spirit renewing our minds and helping us to focus on Christ), and glorification (which is once you’ve died and you’re in yourresurrected, glorified state). I directed the song towards sanctification; it’s the process of the Holy Spirit constantly renewing us and getting us prepared for that day when we stand before God. It’s about the Holy Spirit continually healing us and focusing us on Christ, making us more like Him.
How do you invite renewal into your life?
The biggest thing for me is reading the Bible and really getting into God’s word. It’s about taking time to spend it with God, whether that be just sitting there, sometimes just being silent and sometimes just talking to Him. So yeah, the most effective ways are Bible reading and prayer.
How long has Renew been released for, and where can people listen to it?
It’s been out since March, and people can get it on pretty much anything – iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube. Amazon is taking forever, but it will be up on there at some point too! There are also various websites that I can’t even access because I’m not in the right country. So basically, it’s all over the place!
Why should people listen to and buy Renew?
I’m probably a little inclined to say this, a little biased, but I think it’s a pretty good song! But more importantly, it’s actually got meaning and depth to it and I hope it’s something that’s used to help people in their walk with Christ.
Do you have anything to tell us about your up-and- coming single?
Our next song that is going to be released is called God of Justice. I overheard a conversation from someone saying, “You know, if your God is a God of love then what’s this about people going to hell, like that doesn’t make any sense to me, that’s obviously not true.” I really wanted to address that, and I wanted to take a scriptural look at the issue. The chorus includes the words, “Loving God of justice” – He is loving but also a God of justice; we are sinners and we do deserve God’s judgment, but He’s loving in that He sent his only Son to die for us and to take those sins on Himself and now when God looks on us who believe He sees his Son’s righteousness, not our own.
So that’s really what I wanted to address with that song. You can check out more of Endless Pursuit’s music, thoughts, and stay up to date on all of their upcoming releases over on their Twitter: @EPBworship