Award-winning family band, The Springmans, have just released their new EP, Upside Down. The new project features the band's home-grown, organic brand of feel-good pop and praise music, which is woven together with quality musicianship and production at every turn. Produced by and co-written with multi-Grammy and Dove Award winner Mark Heimermann (dcTalk, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys), both the new single and the project are worthy follow-ups to The Springmans' award-winning debut album, Happy Beach.
As industry insiders know, winning awards such as the Parents Choice Award and the GMA Canada Covenant Award, as The Springmans did with Happy Beach, is a very unusual accomplishment for any artist, but especially for an indie band.
The Springmans' sophomore release, Upside Down, captures the vibe and charm of the first project and takes it up a notch. More than a collection of songs or a family jam session, however, Upside Down is a serious declaration of devotion made by young believers and their spiritually grounded father.
With a passion for sharing the life-changing truth of the gospel with the world, Perry and the kids begin and end every song in scripture, weaving eternal messages of hope, mercy, grace, and joy into each verse and chorus on Upside Down, and turning conventional thinking about what contemporary praise and worship music could and should be on its head.
Q: Thanks, for doing this interview with us. Tell us more about yourselves: Who are the Springmans?
Perry: We are a family band that loves to praise Jesus! We have been called "musicianaries" because our faith is the most important thing to us, and we love to share it through feel-good pop and praise music. People have told us that we remind them of the Partridge family!
Perry: The Springmans is made up of (from shortest to tallest) Jacob (11), Sarah (13), Ryan (15), Emma (18), and Perry ("Dad").
Jacob is the most amazing singer! He is always singing. If he's awake, he's singing. His voice is pure and perfect. Perfect pitch, and so creative-where did that come from? It could only be from God. He also plays violin and all sorts of percussion. He loves baseball and anything outdoors. He likes splitting wood with his Hults Bruk axe, and.....where's Jacob? We can't find him. Oh, he climbed a tree!
Sarah has the most incredible memory-beats Daddy at Princess Matching game every time. Self-taught on her light-up keyboard, she reminds people of Laurie Partridge of the Partridge Family. But, unlike Laurie, Sarah actually can really play! Sarah loves flowers and will one day own her own florist shop. She also rides horses and competes in show-jumping events.
Ryan has been playing drums since he was two years old. Back then, his parents would often banish him outside on the front step to bang on his drum.....until the day they realized he was actually playing an actual beat. He played his first gig (unpaid, non-union) when he was four.
Emma led the way to the stage for her siblings, and the confidence she has on stage makes her a people magnet. Often called the "kid wrangler," she has a natural gift for working with children. Like Sarah and Ryan, she loves riding horses, and is training to be an equestrian coach. Emma just earned her NL (National Lifeguard) certification. Though left-handed, she plays right-handed ukulele and mandolin.
Perry can sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" in five languages. He has toured for more than twenty years with his band, Perry and The Poorboys, in many countries around the world. He was there when the Berlin wall came down, and he was in St. Petersburg, Russia, in August 1991, when communism was finally defeated. Spasibo!
Julia does not play any instrument in the band, nor does she sing or dance. As Perry's wife and the mother of these four energetic kids, she has the nearly impossible job of helping to keep them properly clothed and fed, cleaned and on time, smiling and happy. It can truthfully be said that she really does achieve the impossible. And Julia does it with wisdom, grace, and beauty.
Q: I believe all of you play instruments. What kind of musical instruments do you play?
Perry: Well, we're pretty much all self-taught musicians. It's sort of like an unplanned, but wellwatered garden. Our garden flourished because of our love of music, and that music is a great way to share Christ with the world! So far, we play drums, djembe, percussion, guitars, mandolin, ukulele, keyboards, and violin. The kids are constantly interested in trying new instruments, which we're fine with as long as it isn't a harp or a double bass or some other instrument that costs as much as a new car!
Q: I have read that you try to make your music so that everyone (including seniors and children) can sing to them. How do you create music that ministers to such a wide age group?
Perry: Thanks for asking. This has become my favorite subject over the last few years. Many churches today have separate ministries for nearly every age demographic. Has it always been that way? Even in biblical times? No, and no. In fact, I've never seen a biblical reference to the kids going to their respective Sunday (um...Saturday) school service. In Mark 10:13-16 the disciples try to send the kids away to "Shabbat school" so the adults can have Jesus all to themselves, but Jesus rebukes them and says, "let the children come unto me." Why did He do that? Just to be nice to kids?
We walk into the church building with our kids; they go to Sunday school, and the adults have 'grown-up church.' We don't worship together as a family. To me, that seems like a missed opportunity to grow together in faith. So, Mark Heimermann (the producer) and I began to create music that was both well-produced and could lyrically engage people of all ages. At first, it was a big challenge-until we remembered that we are all the children of God (not the teenagers of God, or the 20-somethings of God, or the adults of God....). So, we wrote about things that concern or interest us all. And we made it fun and meaningful.
I mean, people of all ages can thoroughly enjoy the beauty of a sunset or a couple of puppies playing, so why can't they also enjoy music together?
Sarah: We make songs that kids really like, and adults also really like and do not find annoying.
Ryan: For live concerts, adults love to listen to the music while the kids are interacting, doing actions, and coming up to the stage. These songs have meaningful lyrics and scripture, while still keeping younger children interested.
Q: I love how catchy "Upside Down" is. How did this song come about?
"Mark Heimermann wrote most of the song and was very gracious to invite me to contribute some lyrics to it as well," says Perry. "For a guy who co-wrote or wrote dcTalk songs like "Jesus Freak," "Consume Me," and "Between You And Me," it always amazed me how he included me in the songwriting process. Even that seems upside down!
To most people in the world, what we believe and how we live looks upside down. Our king came riding a donkey, not on a huge war horse. To be strong, we must become weak. To become rich, we must give it all away. We love those that hate us, persecute us, and laugh at us. To the world, that is messed up! Yet, that is exactly what God created us for. To live any other way is upside down.
A Kula, Hawaii, elementary school principal told me recently, "Twenty-five years ago, if you did a Christmas play and didn't do some kind of manger scene, you would likely get complaints. Today, if we had a Christmas play and did include a manger scene we would likely get complaints and a reprimand from our district supervisor." We don't have to look very far to see that our world has become upside down in so many ways.
Emma: We realized that our world is very upside down right now compared to how God wants us to live. And at the same time, our lives as Christians must look very upside down to those in our world who don't believe in Jesus.
Q: Give us a little preview of what listeners can expect out of the new album?
Perry: Upside Down (similar to Happy Beach) has a great variety of musical genres on it: straight-up pop, Irish-ish, New Orleans big-band, Punk-ish, Louisiana Bayou, Klezmer/Hebrewish, stadium-rock worship, and Reggae.
Jacob: It's worship songs for adults that kids like, too!
Sarah: Fun, catchy songs that have lots of scripture in them.
Ryan: Songs to listen to, songs to sing to, songs to clap to. In short, a little bit of everything.
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of this record?
Perry: We recorded a lot of it in San Jose, California, at Valley Christian School. They have an incredible fine arts program there and their recording studio was incredible! At the invitation of the school president, Dr. Cliff Daugherty, we recorded drums, bass, guitars, live strings and horns, flute, clarinet, and BGVs. They had a wonderful room filled with all sorts of percussion instruments that we used, including tympani, huge tuned wood blocks, a (very expensive) harp, bells, triangles, and gongs. Big gongs!
Jacob: Hanging out in the studio and listening to the results.
Emma: We recorded the album in Minnesota and in California, so we had many adventures. Working with the super-talented and awesome students at Valley Christian School in San Jose was a fun highlight.
Sarah: Getting each song from the producer after it was mixed, and listening to them as a family.
Ryan: We had a great time working with the students at Valley Christian School in San Jose who participated on the album. Also, it was awesome to have Mark Heimermann produce for us again! We had a ton of fun creating songs with him.
Q: How do you hope these songs would minister to the lives of your listeners?
Perry: So, being Canadian and all, we by nature don't expect to have much effect on anyone's lives. And, if we did, we would apologize immediately. But, on the other hand, my wife and I (and our family and friends) are very proud of our kids because they have, through a lot of hard work and great attitudes, accomplished something quite rare these days-a family that works together to spread the Gospel. It's almost old-fashioned. We want people who don't have hope to find it in Jesus. We pray that God will use our songs and our family to point the way to Him. It's a pretty simple prayer.
Jacob: The idea for the song, "You're The One," popped into my head a few years ago when I was about seven, and Dad thought it would make a great song. The song is about knowing that God will never leave, no matter what.
Emma: I hope that when people listen to these songs, they will know that they aren't alone-God is always here for us. I hope the songs will remind them that they are actually surrounded and supported by fellow Christians all over the world!
Sarah: Upside Down is a worship album, but all of the songs are really fun. I hope that believers and non-believers can listen to these songs and enjoy them, but also hear lyrics that praise God.
Ryan: We are looking forward to touring with our new music, hopefully inspiring people with the fantastic sound and scripture. We're hoping our listeners will recognize the uniqueness of our group and love the songs as much as we do!