But that was then. And they just don't make records like they used to.
...Scratch that last thought.
Enter - The Elms.
With the release of their debut Big Surpirse (2001) and Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll (2002), The Elms have emerged as the new champions of the intelligent rock song.
Both albums are destined to touch your heart and get you on your feet.
Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll is 52 minutes of thought-provoking, soulful rock built upon irresistible hooks. Lyrically, the songs' premises range from modern love to life when you're down and out, and how hope endures.
With songs the From the powerful opening strains of "Speaking In Tongues", through the emotionally-charged introspective rock ballad, "You Saved Me", The Elms have made a spiritual album for a secular world, without even really trying.
"It's a very hopeful record," says Owen Thomas, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for The Elms. "If you listen to the collective body of work, you'll find that we're a band that's very much aware of spiritual matters, always considering those things. I really feel like the only truth I have known through relationships and triumph and heartbreak is the hope that has been faithful to me...
"'Let Love In,' 'Smile At Life Again,' or 'You Saved Me' - these are songs that scream hope," adds Owen. "I have been down. I have been lied to, I have been disheartened. Yet, the one constant is that tomorrow is another day and God will be there."
"There is something about how you engage your audience and put them right into the moment with you," explains Owen. "I don't feel like that's a common factor amongst modern bands. I love the the idea of four guys getting in a room and starting to band out chords and singing about the dirt they went through yesterday," he adds. "We still enjoy, after driving as hard at this as we have over the last few years, getting onstage and the vibe of all that. Guitars and hands swinging, we enjoy playing music. Too many bands get consumed with business and career and they lose the essence of what I think a band should be all about. There is a spirit and soul when four guys get together and make it happen."
"We called the album Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll because these are the three most important things to me and the band, in that order," admits Owen. "Truth is the one thing that everyone on the planet has as a common denominator. Among every person is our desire for truth. There are language barriers and cultural differences, but everyone has that desire... The way we play music and present it is designed to tell people that that truth is attainable and you can find it. You just have to know where to look for it.
"Soul has a double meaning. It represents one's spiritual inner core, his or her soul, and it is also meant to represent the intangible, uncontrollable movement that takes place when we connect with each other, with our audience. And rock and roll...well," he says, laughing, "that speaks for itself."
The next step in the band's career was the release of The Chess Hotel in 2006. With big beats, catchy melodies, accompanied by words that stir the listener to think about what really matters, The Chess Hotel is an album that shines.
Fans and music industry insiders alike are amazed at the maturity of Owen’s songwriting. Though only in his twenties, he is capable of writing and singing through the eyes of someone who has lived through a remarkable life. "I think I am at my best when I am most vulnerable. Whenever I feel transparent, totally uninhibited. It makes for the best performance, and for the most resonant song."
Although the sound is all theirs, hints of acts like Oasis, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and the Beatles have been noticed in the music of The Elms. The Elms have shared stages with bands such as the O.C. Supertones, Audio Adrenaline, The Waiting, Sixpence None the Richer, Big Tent Revival, Skillet, and many others. They have released two independent albums (Gardenshow in 1996 and Just Visiting in 1998) and recorded at world-famous Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, home to great records from R.E.M., Led Zeppelin, Primal Scream, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The Elms prove that Christians can make the most aesthetically challenging, captivating music, fit for an audience of masses.