Sunday, January 01, 2006

Interview: Saint Thomas, Patron Saint of Catholic Rock 'n' Roll

Saint Thomas and his Catholic Rock band, The Genuflectors, currently dominate the Catholic Rock charts and plan on kicking off their 2006 Ultimate Forgiveness Tour at The Confessional in Witsend. The Genuflectors began their careers as the house band at The Confessional, and with the success of their new CD, "Got Forgiveness?," the band is planning to branch out beyond their Witsend brethren, spreading their Catholic Rock influence across the nation. The title track surged to the top of the Catholic Rock charts in less than a week, and The Genuflectors round out the top five with “Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned…Again,” “The Ballad of John Kerry,” “Go to Hail, Mary,” and “God Hates Bureaucrats.” I was able to catch up with front man, Saint Thomas, at The Confessional where the band was preparing to kick off their tour with a New Year’s Eve gig. The neon sign hanging over The Confessional’s entrance, blinking “Protestants Welcome,” offered me a sense of comfort as I entered Saint Thomas’s musical sanctuary. I spotted Saint Thomas sitting in a booth adjacent to the bar. He was scribbling in a notebook and appeared to be in deep contemplation when I intervened.

Witsend Daily: What was the inspiration behind the idea of tapping into the unexplored niche of Catholic Rock?

Saint Thomas: Late one night, after playing a gig at The Confessional, I was having trouble falling asleep. I was still coming down from the rush of playing and feeling God’s energy flow through me. I’m telling you, it’s exhausting.

WD: I can only imagine.

ST: I was flipping through the channels on the tube when my thumb was struck with a temporary paralysis—divine intervention, if you will. My mind was wavering between the conscious and subconscious worlds when a commercial struck me. It was one of those late-night ads selling music compilations. You know, the ones selling a bunch of nostalgic one-hit wonders that sound good only when they’re all on one album and you’re already delirious with lack of sleep.

WD: Can I make a confession?

ST: (Looks around) Look where you are. We can go to one of the confessional booths if you’d prefer, or you can spill it right here.

WD: In a moment of weakness, I bought the “Greatest Love Songs of the ‘70s.”

ST: No worries, Brother Lindsey; you’re forgiven. I have the same CD. The commercial I'm speaking of, though, was advertising some Christian Rock “Best of…” compilation. And it wasn’t the words that moved me per se, but rather, the audience. There were clips of Christian Rock fans at concerts, the cameras panning the audience and capturing a sea of catatonic, glazed over looks in their devout eyes. I thought to myself, ‘Cha Ching!’ Their looks reminded me of Sunday mass when I was a kid and used to peek around the cathedral while genuflecting, catching wayward, yet deeply entranced looks of members who, like me, weren’t properly bowing down.

WD: Is this what inspired the band’s name?

ST: Yep. I always thought the Catholic Church to be too regimental, and I expressed this in my music while playing with my previous band, Witsend of the World. Our sound and the lyrics I wrote were too predictable, and that’s why we had trouble landing gigs.

WD: Your music, in particular your new album, has received mixed reviews from the critics. Some have embraced you, dubbing you The Patron Saint of Catholic Rock, while others have condemned your music, decrying it as blasphemous garbage.

ST: I’m flattered by the whole sainthood thing; it sure beats waiting around for word from the Vatican to trickle down. I bear no ill-will toward those who condemn my music. After all, it’s the whole forgiveness thing that underlies our songs.

WD: Did you know members from your own church have organized an event in which they plan on building a pyre with your albums, setting them afire on a wooden raft and casting them off into the Witsend Harbor?

ST: Yeah, I heard about it.

WD: If you could say anything to these people, what would it be?

ST: Thanks for buying my album.

WD: Fair enough. Because you labeled yourself Catholic Rock, any concerns that your audience will be too limited?

ST: Not really. Catholic Rockers are the target audience, but we hope to be a successful “crossover” band. We hope our music will cross over to other pop charts, and who knows, maybe someday we can land a hit on a Christian Rock chart. I also think our band will be a catalyst for musicians of other religions. Don’t be surprised to see Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon Rock bands carving out their own niche in the rock-'n'-roll world.

WD: Don’t you think these niches would compete against one another, and it could get ugly?

ST: The last thing I want is to start a Holy Rock War. Quite the opposite. Unlike politics and religion, I see music as a great leveler in our world. Music transcends borders and ignorance. In fact, we are building a solid Jewish fan base, and we’ve already booked a couple of synagogues on this upcoming tour.

WD: So what inspired this year’s Ultimate Forgiveness Tour?

ST: You’re a newspaper man; read the papers.

WD: Touché. Any final words you want to leave with our readers?

ST: Nothing my Boss hasn’t already told them.

5 Comments:

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