Wow, can't believe we just got home from America where we have been recording our second Liz and the Lions album! Did that just happen?/// coooool.
This album has been the process. At the end of last year our band made a great plan for 2014 and this album: move to Nürnberg, devote the first couple months of the year to writing. Record it as soon as possible, integrate it and ourselves into Nürnberg and then tour it as soon as possible to as many places as possible. Fantastic plan! ….Obviously this year had a not so similar plan.
In a nut shell our plan "kind of" fell apart. Members left, tours got canceled, every show we had got canceled and very little writing happened. I kind of lost complete hope in the band. In the vision. In my vision and most importantly in God’s vision. I was done.
What is the point in continuing to fight for something that obviously doesn’t want to be fought for anymore? What is the point in continuing to believe something will work when you continue to have to build and rebuild it all the time? I was exhausted. The rest of the band was exhausted. So... we laid it down.
For a few months we honestly didn’t really talk much about the band. We stopped practicing. Stopped writing. Stopped praying together. Stop talking about how to “Fix” it. And we just let the brokeness, our brokeness of it all just simply be.
One night I was laying in bed and my guitar, which was sitting in the corner of the room looking like my nephew often looks when he gets put in time out, with these sad eyes that said, “come get me please”. I hadn’t played it in months…like 4. The idea of trying to write a song seemed worthless to me. I had no use for songs anymore. No use in writing since I had no one to play for. No album to write for. No tour to play it on. No one to impact. And through all those thoughts I had come to a part of my brokeness that was the most devastating part of all of it… the reality that the reason I wrote songs had no longer been about simply loving God through it… but about having an agenda, a mission, a huge purpose.
I have been traveling around the world to over 33 countries the past 7 years using my music to serve God. I offered it to Him as a way for Him to reach His people. And He did. Many people came to know the Lord, many people were healed, many people in developing countries were able to eat because of these songs. They were serving God. But as I laid there staring at my guitar with very little desire to play it unless someone was going to be effected by it, I realized I had completely lost the whole point of why I play. Why I sing. Why I write or express anything through my words and music…which should be to…. simply to express Him.
God is. The most beautiful sentence ever written. God is. God is everything. In everything. In everyone. And when we try to express through our art relationships, emotions, stories, journeys, etc… we really are just expressing a part of God. And our expression is simply a gift God gave us to intern be used as a gift back to Him. Then back to us. Then back to Him. So the moment I stopped writing music to simply please Him, is the moment I lost the gift. The moment I lost the true purpose of why I do and should write music. Often times as Christians I think we are so obsessed with figuring out how to server God, serve others, be the 2014 modern martyr, that we simply forget that the whole thing is suppose to just be about intimacy with God. Loving God. Befriending God. And if He chooses to use our offerings to serve His kingdom, He will. But that really shouldn’t be the point of it all. Because God choose to create children, who’s entior purpose is just to exist so He can love us, not soldiers that work for Him.
So I tried something new. I picked up my dusty guitar out of "time out" and I wrote a song without any hidden agenda behind it. Without any catchy hooks or sing a long parts. No one was going to hear this song but me and Him. To most ears that song probably sucked. I don’t even remember it, it was that bad, but this song was just what I needed to keep going. I realized that I didn’t want to write music for anyone else but me and God…and maybe Uli. I didn’t want an album that had an agenda. I simply wanted to write music I loved to write music because God gave me a gifting to write music. A gift that would allow me to express my stories though. My heart aches through. My whatevers through. Because He was going to be right there with me writing them together. And if people would like to listen to them, that’s cool to.
That night I whispered a simple prayer “I’m still in if you are.”
A few days later my oh so darling brother in law Misha messaged me to call him. He had an idea: To record this album together. I was overwhelmed and shocked by the idea of picking up this album again… but something about this call gave me chills and I realized I needed to consider this. Side note: Misha is basically the cool, hot version of a guy who should be on the big bang theory. He’s the guy everyone calls when they don’t know how, well, anything works. He’s brilliant. Super creative. And used to have a fan club of girls praying on their knees he would choose them… but my snassy sis picked him up. He's an engineer/ physics teacher/musician/ music engineer/ father of two crazy boys and married to a Burkhard- basically just the most well rounded human being whom I love and adore, and really look up to. So when HE asked ME if I wanted to record with him, I was pretty honored.
We talked for months about how we wanted to record the album. Took each song apart and discussed it through and through. We decided to completely DIY this album. Grass roots, in home project, with fancy smanshy equipment in a friends studio. Something about doing the album this way, and at this time, seemed so poetically perfect I couldn’t refuse. But there was just one problem… we didn’t have a full album yet.
Misha challenged me to get in the studio (in nurmeberg) every day for a few hours and simply write. "Even if it’s crap” he would say. I would nudge and complain about it and say that classic phrase "I can’t just simply write. I need to be inspired.” And he said something very interesting in response to this: “well, music is what inspired you right?” I agreed. “Well, it just so happens that sitting down and doing the thing that inspires you the most will actually inspire you the most to write.” Which turned out to be true. Obedience, deadlines and perseverance is all it takes to get it done.
Over the next couple of months I basically locked myself in the studio and in my bedroom (where I write best) and got to work. I continue to write out of the same mindset I was in the night I picked up my guitar out of time out. Out of a place of freedom and no consequence to what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. And out of that, God met me. I first started going through a few of the songs that we wrote over the past year before everything fell apart. And then I just started writing. Songs about how pissed off I was at life, relationships, friends, ministry, even God. And through those songs God continued to meet me. He started finishing my songs with lyrics that resolved and healed a lot of things I was going through. So I continued onto songs that made me giggle and laugh (there maybe be a surprise guest that sounds like the cookie monster in one of these songs… just maybe) Songs about my little lion cub friends in India (The Pellalu House). Songs about fairy tales, adventures, stormy seas and schnitzel. I wrote it all down and told God that if at the end of the day none of these songs make the album, and only He hears them, then let it be a love letter to Him and letting it be pleasing.
Through this process I honestly didn’t know if I had a band anymore and if anyone was gonna want to move forward with this. I had to make the hard decision to still go forward even if no one else wanted to. But yet again, God showed up. The band came around. We started practicing. We started playing shows. We started dreaming about about what God had for us and our music. We started having FUN. And we actually started sounding better then we ever had before. We decided to keep going.
So we flew to Atlanta. Uli and I first. We recorded the album in the the Drexlers Studio. The studio consist of Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, unicorn mask on the wall, “it’s miller time” light up signs, red lights flashing all around, and walls covered in vinyls of the great legends: janis, jimmy, john, jonny... all staring us in the eyes saying “make it great Lions, make it great.”
On the first night Misha showed us a few of the amps and instruments he actually hand made for us specifically for this album (did I mention how cool and smart he is?).
As we got to work I began to feel so excited and powerful in that studio. Ready to really dig in and get going. We flew Michi, our faithful drummer over, for a 5 day powerhouse trip where he recorded his parts and then flew back for school Tuesday morning (what a champ.) We recorded the whole album in those two weeks. Well, by “whole" i mean acoustic guitar, drums, bass and vocals. The rest of our band: Mrs. Ruth and Mr. Thomas (our stand in guitar player, but secretly our long term one, he just doesn’t know it yet) will now have to record their parts somehow from Germany (or maybe America if we can finance it)- WWeeeEEeee. But regardless: IT’S HAPPENING!!
I have never been more proud of a piece of art that I have created. That WE have created. Jesus and the Lions (far cooler name then our current one eh? eehhh?) This album might be the worst thing anyone has ever heard (but I don’t think so)... but I don’t care, it’s ours. It’s our victory. Our treasure. Our life. And I like it.
Do I want it to bless others. Sure. Do I wanted it to support our projects on the field, you betcha. But what I need is for it to be a love offering to God. Not a servant offering, just a love one. I want my heavenly father to listen to it (i imagine in awesome chrome headphones with a white leather chord) and rock out a bit and then smile and say “yeah! Love it kiddo!” That’s how it should be. Do your art. Let God enjoy it. Then let Him do whatever the hell He wants with it. Amen.
A big thanks to: Misha for recording this album, getting us off our bums and buying me reese's cups at 12 am so I could keep going. To Caroline for letting Misha be away for those long nights. For all of you who kept pushing and believing in us and this album. Your thoughts, kind words and prayer really motivated us and helped encourage us to keep going! And to Uli, Ruth and Michi for sticking with me this year through all of this. You are the most wild, fierce, loyal and crazy lions and I wouldn’t want to be in a band with anyone else…accept Miles