theRide plays Vail Church Friday night
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” At 7 p.m. on a Tuesday, four clean-cut guys are unloading the contents of their cars onto a small stage. They haul drums, guitars and speakers to the front of The Vail Church in Avon, where they plan to rehearse until about 9 p.m. (That’s when the neighbors start to complain about the noise.)
To local band theRide, rocking out in a church is nothing new. The guys have been spreading their gritty brand of Christian rock to churches, bars and even motorcycle rallies across the country.
They know what you’re thinking ” “Christian rock? Hmm… ” ” but the guys insist their sound breaks away from the perky, cookie-cutter anthems some listeners associate with the genre.
That kind of Christian rock is what the boys call “chord chuggin,'” a three-chord formula that works for ACDC or Tom Petty, but falls flat in the hands of unimaginative bands.
“It’s almost like there’s an ABC color by numbers and everybody sort of colors by the numbers,” lead singer Joe Schlegel said. “The bands that we really love don’t do that at all, and we don’t want to do that at all, either.”
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With their second album, “The Story of People,” theRide strives for an accessible sound with lyrics that stare down the darker side of life. The band plans a record release concert tonight at The Vail Church in Eagle-Vail.
It started with faith. Schlegel, 29, said he became a Christian during his senior year of high school. A girl he dated took him to her church, and he was hooked. Music was a big deal to Schlegel even back then, but most christian songs failed to resonate with him because they were geared toward his parents’ generation.
“So ever since then, I always had a passion to try to take modern-sounding music like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews but be able to put some kind of purpose behind the lyrics, take our faith and put it behind the lyrics,” he said.
Schlegel moved to the Vail Valley, where about four years ago he teamed up with other musicians who shared his values.
He already knew guitarist Jon Melot, 27, from college, where the two had played together during worship services. Drummer Jason Alligood, 31, was a friend from The Vail Church, and he recruited bassist Stephen Couch, 28.
Like many young guys who gravitate to Vail, the foursome came to the mountains for the skiing/snowboarding lifestyle. Their name, theRide, reflects the local culture. The guys were actively involved in the church as well, so the choice to play modern Christian music came naturally.
“I’d say that religion ends up in our songs because we’re Christian men,” Schlegel said. “I don’t write it into the lyrics intentionally, ever. I’ve never sat down and said, ‘I’m going to write a Christian song.'”
Heading into their first gig, the band was pretty rough around the edges. It was a Gospel Music Association competition in Estes Park. TheRide had only three songs in their repertoire at the time, but their performance was solid enough to win them second place.
“We just got up and put our game faces on and acted like we were supposed to be there,” Couch said.
Band members released their first album in 2006. That, they said, was interesting. A comedy of errors during the recording process took them to six different studios, only to have the finished product stolen during a break-in at a Vancouver, Wash. studio.
Despite its turbulent creation, the CD has sold about 2,000 copies on iTunes, and generated some interest abroad. A radio station from Greenland recently interviewed Schlegel.
Given the drama surrounding their last recording, the guys approached the second CD with determination. They recorded the whole thing in 12 days in Vancouver. With a drawing of a typewriter on the cover, the CD reflects the stories the guys have heard through meeting people across the country.
“Hold up Your Head” is a musical pep talk to coax listeners through tough times. “It’s almost a battle cry,” Schlegel said.
“Not So Long Ago” casts a critical eye on the industry behind the church: “Cheers and riches move the chorus/Truth and Spirit have been divorced/Somewhere we lost what this is for/To applaud a worthy Lord.”
Although Christian music can be polarizing, the band hopes to cultivate a sound that’s accessible to everyone.
“We strive to have a purpose behind our music and have people be blessed by it,” Schlegel said. “Blessed in the sense that they can go: a) ‘I can relate to these guys because they have the same struggles I do’ and b) If people are looking for something ” what we were all looking for ” hopefully that can be found in our music.”
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or email@example.com.