August 20th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
The question always comes, says singer Ben Richter: How did the band decide to call itself The Museum?
The Christian rock quartet, based in the Decatur, Georgia, is new to the commercial music scene; its first CD to be released under a record label, "Let Love Win," has been out for just a few weeks.
"I don't think we really planned on that being a band name," Richter said by phone as the band rode its bus from Jackson, Mississippi to San Antonio, Texas. "We kind of dreaded having that conversation, to pick a name."
He said the band was going through the process of recording an independent album when drummer Josh Kirk went on a mission trip to Romania. While there he had a memorable visit at a museum that chronicled how Christian protests helped bring down communism in Romania.
Upon his return, he shared his amazement with the rest of the band.
"Immediately it just clicked for us that this exactly what we want to be about," Richter said. "We just really hoped from the beginning that our ministry and our music would be something that is evidence of the revolution that Christ has done in our own hearts."
Richter laughs when he recalls the potential band names on the list that were quickly thrown away when Kirk's tale inspired the name The Museum.
"We wanted a name with meaning behind it," Richter said. "It's funny though. We never thought we'd have to answer the question so many times, but it's a great way to share our ministry and it's opened up some cool conversations."
The band is on the road promoting the new album and playing other concerts. Stops include a CD release show in San Antonio (where Richter grew up) on Friday, and then Evansville, Indiana; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Peachtree City, Georgia. The band has yet to announce dates for a fall tour with DecembeRadio.
The band says the new CD– they had an independent effort in 2008– is an extension of their service to God.
"In all the small things that we do, we want to love and serve people," Richter said. "That's the central message of the record, how we can be the hands and feet of God in the world and love just as Jesus did."
Most reviews call the new CD a good initial effort but say the band has room to grow. Jen Rose at Jesus freak Hideout said she liked the album but hoped for a more rock sound:
Richter, who grew up drumming to the melodies of the Beach Boys, said the band's secular influences include the 90's rock of Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind.
Richter's biggest hero in Christian music has been Jeremy Camp. It was at a 2003 concert where the then-college student and part-time worship leader was moved by at a Camp concert to give music the full attention that he says God wanted him to give it.
Still, Richter went into the oil business after college before pursuing music as a fulltime career, quitting his job and beginning to lead music for a youth group in Texas.
Every now and then, they would try out new players and guitarist Geoff Ashcraft came to one of the sessions in 2004. Ashcraft describes the audition as the worst of his life. Hyperbole, perhaps? Oh no, says Richter.
"He came in and his fingers were sweating, he was stiff (and) he could not do anything right. His guitar wouldn't stay in tune," Richter said. "He explains it now that it was God humbling him and he forgot how to play for five minutes."
But two months later, Richter and another guitarist were doing a camp and need another player. The guitarist assured Richter that Ashcraft was actually good. There was no other option so Richter called Ashcraft and invited him down. They have been friends since, with Ashcraft coming with when Richter was hired by a church in the Atlanta area.
Richter said that the two arrived on Monday and had to play at a Wednesday service. They need a drummer and a bass player. Someone at the church volunteered that the janitor was a great drummer; Richter met him when he came by to empty the trash. Kirk was as good as advertised.
Bassist Chris Brink joined the group after playing with Richter at Southside Church in Peachtree City.
Richter said Brink helped the band form its identity. "He seemed to level the playing field of personalities," Richter said. "Once it was the four of us together and we began writing some new songs together... the vision became clearer."
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