Published: Mar 15, 2011
The Christians visited LIPA to perform some of their best-loved hits and talk about their craft.
Widely known for their unique soulful style and socially aware lyrics, they are the latest guests to share their industry knowledge with students.
Founder member and frontman Garry Christian led the musical masterclass and, along with band members Joey Ankrah and Neil Griffiths, took questions from the floor.
Garry recalled his early years, when he first became interested in music, learned “how to hold a note”, and began singing a cappella, for fun, with his brothers Roger and Russell. Garry, his siblings and Henry Priestman later formed the original Christians line-up.
He recounted the way they first approached the major labels with their work and talked about what attracted him to music.
He said: “It was in our back room. Learning the craft of doing it all. I was loving it for what it was, not to be famous or anything like that. For me it was the music. We were having a laugh with it all.”
The self-titled debut album that the fledgling soul band subsequently released in 1987 with Island Records sold over a million copies.
In between songs, which included signature tunes Ideal World and Born Again, they talked to students about making records, building a fan base, maintaining artistic integrity and the changing face of the industry. While on the subject of studio recording, Garry recalled producer Laurie Latham helping him sing to tape and working with session musicians like Pino Palladino and Manu Katché.
The band reflected on the magic of music and the importance of writing lyrics that say something about the world.
Garry, who invited students on to the stage to sing backing vocals on Forgotten Town, said: “I love it when bands just emerge from nowhere. Four mates and they are a proper band. I hate all that TV stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful singers, but a year later they're forgotten. There’s no real substance or follow on.
“Think big. Think about what’s happening on Earth without being too morbid. It really is a good time to be a writer.”
As well as gigging, The Christians are working on a new album. During the masterclass they performed one of the first songs from it, Overwhelmed.
Top picture: Joey Ankrah, Garry Christian and Neil Griffiths (front, from the left) perform with LIPA music students.