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Harvest Rock Syndicate

Jan/Feb 1991
Volume 6, Issue 1
1991 Harvest Rock Publications
Page 5



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 us."

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 something."

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 produced."

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."