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Interview:
MercyMe stays strong in the faith music world
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Barry Graul admits he had a little of the devil in him before he joined Christian rockers MercyMe.

"I grew up on Led Zeppelin and AC/DC and stuff like that," Graul, 54, says from his home in Nashville. "At one time back in the day I was in a band that was doing eight AC/DC songs in our set; 'Highway To Hell,' my mom loved that. Then on the flip side we were playing some current disco songs. It's was fun and kinda crazy at the same time."

"I as definitely the black sheep of the family. I experimented in everything and was living the rock star dream in my own little road. Singing 'Highway To Hell' and then getting up and going to church the next day, i didn't really care."

Once he moved to Nashville, however, Graul became Christian rock's go-to guitarist, logging time with Stryper's Michael Sweet, DC Talk, TobyMac and more before joining MercyMe in 2003. He's been with the group for six GMA Dove Awards and two American Music Awards, and while he wasn't part of the band back then he still feels some pride in this year's 15th anniversary of MercyMe's first national album, "Welcome to the New" and its defining single "I Can Only Imagine."

"That song, it kind of never goes away, which is a good thing," Graul says. "We always have had street cred with our music. It's kind of a joke, but Any time we get to record another record we want to make great art. We do. We want it to be relevant and we want it to be moving forward and not stick with the same old format. We've definitely pushed ourselves to stay fresh and current."

MercyMe will likely do the same as it works on its next album this year. But Graul promises certainly things will not change.

"Christian music is all about the lyrics, and we've always been the band to write songs to get people through tough times," he explains. "We we are our faith on our sleeves. We don't make any big deals about it except that we're gonna move forward with what we've always done and hopefully people are blessed by what we do."

MercyMe, Citizen Way and Zealand Worship

7 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

Northridge Church, 49555 N. Territorial Road, Plymouth.

Tickets are $25-$50.

Call 800-965-9324 or visit northridgechurch.com.




Web Site: www.northridgechurch.com

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