A few months ago we posted about the song Break Every Chain, and many of you responded that it was on your radar and in your setlists. The Digital Age is a band becoming more and more well-known for their amazing covers of well known worship songs like Oceans, All The Poor & Powerless, and Break Every Chain.
Break Every Chain, written by Will Reagan, and recorded by gospel artist Tasha Cobb, won a Grammy for BEST GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC PERFORMANCE in 2014. This song is slowly becoming a worship anthem in churches all over the world.
Mark Waldrop of The Digital Age sat down and answered these questions for The Worship Community about the band and their version of Break Every Chain.
1) What’s happening with The Digital Age these days?
We’re currently at our studio Asterisk Sound in our hometown of Waco, Texas working on a follow-up EP to our Rehearsals EP we released a couple years ago. The “Rehearsals” idea came about as we were at our studio practicing to play at our home church on Sunday and decided to document the process. We lead worship to a bunch of college students so we try to modernize popular worship songs and hymns to sound like what we think our congregation of college students would be into! Other than that, we’re gearing up for a pretty busy fall with a tour we’re super excited about. I don’t think I’m at liberty to announce it yet, but if you’re on the west side of this fine country you better get ready!
2) When you all sit and decide to put your stamp on a worship song what does that process look like?
Well, as I said earlier, we’re a worship team from University Baptist Church in Waco, TX. When we write or pick songs to lead by other artists, we’re looking for songs that will connect with young adults. We don’t have an acoustic guitar in our band so when we pick songs that are traditionally slow or mellow, we have to be creative in how we carry the general feeling or vibe of the song. We don’t really go out of our way to drastically play songs differently, but since we have no acoustic, three vocalists, and like to incorporate lots of electronics into worship, things definitely get warped from the “original” sound.
A lot of times a song becomes so popular that we feel like we’re doing a disservice to our congregation by not trying to figure out how we’d play it. That’s what happened with our most recent “Rehearsals” video for “Oceans.” We all loved the song and felt like we needed to figure out how to pull it off with a male vocal and rock guitars. After we posted the link on Twitter a guy called our version “Broceans” which we really loved.
3) What do you love about the song “Break Every Chain?” What drew you to it?
A couple things actually – first of which was its simplicity. The original version by United Pursuit was three chords for like 7 minutes with no real verse or chorus. The lyrics kind of punched us in the gut with their declaration of honesty.
“There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.”
I found myself driving around just saying that line over and over in my head, which is a good sign in general.
Secondly, because the original version was so spacious and organic, we felt like many worship teams might not learn it because of its lack of form. We spent a week sitting with it kicking ideas around to figure out if we could give it a more traditional Verse-Chorus-Bridge vibe. That meant changing/adding some chords to lead the listener to the differing sections and shortening the song to a more palatable length for many churches.
We had this moment while listening to it first as a band that was very similar to our finding out about “How He Loves” during the Crowder Band days. It’s that weird, “Whoa! This is song is awesome! Why am I just now finding out about this!? More churches should play this!” With “Break Every Chain,” we were compelled to further the message and story of the song because it was impossible not to.
4) As musicians who use music for worship, what encouragement would you give to the worship teams and bands who are out there in the trenches week in and week out creating spaces for worship through music to happen?
Our favorite answer to that is to have fun. We see so many worship teams and leaders who take worship VERY seriously, and that can become such a burden on a person’s heart. Worship can definitely be a life-changing emotional moment, but it doesn’t always need to be. Sometimes people want to clap their hands and have a hoe-down on a Sunday morning. We like to say that we as a band play music to help people sing to God, and what an incredible thing to get to do! And keep in mind, having fun on stage doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play a bunch of high-BPM songs. For us, having fun on stage is directly related to what goes on off-stage and during the week.
5) What is YOUR favorite song for worship?
Right now I’m pretty obsessed with “Fall Afresh” by Jeremy Riddle. Being a full-time worship musician, it’s really difficult for me to just listen to worship music for worship music’s sake. I’m listening to lyrics, to melody, to chord structure, to instrumentation, etc. Every once in a while a song comes along that gives me goose bumps and takes me from analytical-Mark to full-on-Worshipping-Mark. I love that the song is about the Holy Spirit, and I definitely sense a growing movement of worship songs that incorporate the Holy Spirit more and more.
6) What is God speaking into your lives right now? How is He using you? What is He calling you to?
Lately God has really been teaching me about rest. Between touring with The Digital Age, recording other artists at our recording studio, and balancing family things, we’re all stretched pretty thin. After the end of the David Crowder*Band, we came home to Waco and put down our instruments for a few months and focused on non-musical aspects of life. That was such a valuable learning lesson for us because we’d never spent that long at home resting and listening for what God was telling us to do next.
Now through rest we’re able to see the path God’s laid before us much more clearly. We’re just a group of guys from Waco, Texas who love worship music and creating resources for the church. For the time being we’re called to continue that mission, and that’s something we’re really excited about doing.