by Dan MacIntosh
"Oh Lord, don't let me be misunderstood." -Eric Burdon
This solitary line from an
old Animals' song best sums up Mad At The World's relationship to the
Christian music world to date. Having released it's third, and probably
best album, the group still suffers from the Rodney Dangerfield disease
of getting little to no respect.
"Up until two months
ago," says band leader Roger Rose, "we never had a booking agent,
because nobody thought they could book us. It was weird because we sold a
decent amount of records, yet you never saw us in the magazines. I
tried to get a booking agent and manager, but everybody was scared of
Experts on race relations
say the primary cause of prejudice is ignorance. Disliking someone
because of a preconceived notion, not based upon any first hand
experience with that individual, is nothing more than a foolish jump to a
conclusion. To know someone, is to love that person; to not know them,
is to not have a relationship with them at all.
This lack of interaction
with its record buying public has given birth to many misconceptions
about Mad At The World. One of these misguided opinions is that the band
is unapproachable and aloof.
"At Cornerstone," says
Rose's younger brother Randy, "people even wrote us up like that, like
we were trying to avoid the press. We're sorta shy. It's not that we're
strange." Mad At The World is not made up of strange people, just
creative ones. It is also an all male band.
"Randy is definitely a
boy," states Roger, clearing up one of the more common misconceptions of
the group. "People used to write us after the first album," continues
Rose, "and say 'Is that your wife -- sister?'" And how was this little
confusion overcome? "The sideburns were the giveaway," answers Randy.
Listening to the latest from MATW brings to
mind none other than the Kinks. Stop laughing for a moment while I
explain. All Kinks records are broken up into two categories: 1) The
songs that Ray Davies wrote -- which are mainly sensitive and
introspective. 2) The songs that his brother Dave Davies wrote -- which
are the out and out rockers. There are some exceptions to this rule, but
these differences stem from the two opposite personalities in the band
-- one an extrovert, the other an introvert. I have noticed these same
qualities in MATW. Roger Rose is the Morrissey-like introspective, and
Randy Rose is your basic hard rock vocalist.
"As to why Randy sings what he sings, and I
sing what I sing, I think that it's more of a mechanical thing where
Randy does like more of the gutsy style," explains Roger. "Some of the
mellow songs, Randy actually wishes weren't even on the album. 'That's
too wimpy, Roger,'" mimics the older brother. "If I could do 'em both
good (rockers as well as ballads) I would, I just think that Randy does a
better job (on the rockers)."
"I like screaming," adds Randy, "and getting
loud with sort of 'in your face' type singing, a lot more than Roger
does. To touch on the ballad thing, I don't personally care for my voice
when it's real mild and mellow. It reminds me too much of the Byrds or
Some of this hard rock appreciation on Randy's part helped to shift
MATW's sound from a keyboard oriented one, on the band's debut, to a
more guitar structured base. "Six or eight months after the first
album," remembers Randy, "I really started liking more of a rock-edged
type thing. I tried to even push it more in that direction than Flowers In The Rain went, which you could tell there were a couple more guitars thrown on there."
"On Mad At The World's first album," explains Roger, "I had just
discovered keyboards and OD'd on them. It was great because I could
arrange everything all by myself. It sounded all tight and clean and
The band switched to a more guitar-influenced style because it was too
difficult to reproduce the synth-based songs of the first album live.
"We went into the studio," says Roger of MATW's latest, "totally with
the intention of being able to play every song as good, if not better
than we did on the record."
MATW's music is usually quite serious, and often times dark. Many people
probably think the ones who make these records are as gloomy as the
music sometimes feels. "I'm a happy person," exclaims Roger, "believe it
or not. People might think that I sit in a dark room and cry, or put
holes in the wall out of my frustration. I'm a normal happy guy. I play
racquetball to get rid of my frustration."
"Me and Roger," continues Randy, "when we're together we're like constant clowns. It's a nonstop joke, basically."
"I think of my personality," intones Roger, "as a little bit like a
scale. I think with all my dark side that you see on the lyrics or hear
in the music, there's that equal amount of happy and optimistic view
which totally does balance out my life. But, it's just too boring to
write about. I don't think I can do that right without it just being
bubble gum music." Rose feels that the sad music he makes has an
emotionally medicinal effect on listeners.
"I think sad songs help a sad time," Roger continues. "If you want to
get healed through your pain, you gotta feel it and experience it, and
get over with it." "You don't have to lie to yourself," continues Randy,
"and put yourself in a plastic happiness."
MATW's music is positive, in the band members' opinion, but this
optimism is intentionally subtle. "I think the semi-subtle messages are
so much more powerful; the 'spell it out,' 'tell you what to think,' and
almost, 'recite a prayer to you' kind of thing is not as effective.
It's not at a real level," says Randy. "It doesn't give you the
opportunity to think or feel for yourself," concludes Roger, "It's doing
it for you, and that kind of defeats the purpose."
The newfound subtlety is a change of direction from MATW's earlier
releases. "I had one guy write me," explains Roger, "and say 'What
happened on this album? Where's the straightforward Christian
message?' There've only been a couple letters like that; most of
them have been very, very supportive."
Even though Roger Rose makes it clear in his lyrics that there are
solutions to the problems he sings about, such as "lost love"in the
title cut of the new album Seasons of Love, the music is mostly sad,
bathed in minor keys. "I think sensitive people, the people that the
songs are really going to effect, will get the messages. There's nothing
better than seeing a movie that gets you emotionally involved, and
maybe even gets you sad, and then you see that touching ending. It's so
much more inspirational than to see a movie that's just happy all the
way through, then the happiness is not as powerful as when it comes
after something heavy."