Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dustin Kensrue Interview on Songwriting 'The Water and Blood'

This article was written for the Christian Post. It was a part two for an interview I conducted two weeks ago. Check out the original here. 
Dustin Kensrue recently chatted with The Christian Post about his debut worship album The Water & Blood, and about being a Worship Pastor for Mars Hill Church after 14 years with hardcore-experimental band Thrice.

Read the first part of the interview where Dustin exclusively speaks on the new album and his transition to worship leader here.

Kensrue broke down the way he approaches music writing and how he distinguishes between writing worship, writing for himself, and writing for Thrice. For him, music is poetry, and the musician admitted his love for reading is the perfect place to get "fodder" for his lyrics.

When asked about how he approaches his song writing, he spoke of a process that is strict in detail and perfection.

"The way I write is very much focuses on whatever that song is has to be what that song needs to be," he said, speaking about the differences between writing for Thrice and writing worship for church.

"I really try to let it have an internal harmony and consistency. Especially in the last 7 or 8 years I've been really writing letting the music even inform the lyrics as I'm writing and that really shapes the music. There are times I've had this idea and as I'm building ... I either have to push the lyrics one way or the music one way. A lot of it is I like to read a lot. A lot of times that stuff is not even conscience.
It's like you're building a pallet," he continued.

Between 2006 and 2008, Thrice put out four EPs combined into two albums based on the Earth's elements: Fire and Water, Earth and Air. These were compiled into The Alchemy Index I-IV.

Every song from each of the elements contained songs that either had to do with the element thematically, or had the tone of what it would sound like in music. For example, the Fire album was very heavy, while the Water album was very dissonant and effected, and actually had songs about the ocean. Earth was very soulful and folk rock like, and featured beautiful acoustic and piano-driven songs. Air was, for lack of a better word, "airy," and powerful musically. Most of the songs had to do with flight.

Even more amazing was the format of the last track of each of the EPs.

The final song on each disc is written in the form of a sonnet, depicting the relationship of man with each of the particular elements. Each of these songs is in iambic pentameter, with a concluding rhyming couplet. These final couplets also contain the same vocal melody and chord progression as each other, although they are in different keys.
The "Water & Blood" will be released October 1.

"That's the beauty of structured poetry. Constraints foster creativity. They are an awesome first person perspective of the elements. Those were a lot of fun for me, and putting this constraints on myself," Kensrue said as those albums fostered a change in style and direction for the band that set the tone for later work.

He concluded the interview with giving fans some hope for whether there is a future for Thrice or not.

"There's definitely a future for Thrice I just have no idea what it looks like or when it looks like. I think it'll definitely be a couple of years before it even begins to make sense. I look forward to the day in whatever form we start doing stuff together again," he explained. "There's just so many factors, I can't say with any certainty or what that looks like. I love playing with those guys, and it would be a blast to do it again and it will be extra fun having had time away from it because 14 years straight is pretty intense."

The Water & Blood will be released Oct. 1 off of Mars Hill Music/BEC Recordings.

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