Sometimes aspiring Christian artists spend years and years developing their music and building their ministry before God places them on a national platform. Then there are times when God hits the fast forward button and a new act seems to emerge almost overnight. Rush Of Fools is definitely on the divine fast track.
In an amazingly short period of time, the Birmingham-based band went from winning a national talent contest to landing a record deal with Midas Records, a management deal with industry veteran Andrew Patton’s Patton House Entertainment, and a booking agreement with the Greg Oliver Agency. This spring the band will embark on the World on Fire Tour with By the Tree and The Turning.
The first single, “Undo,” is a compelling ballad that paints a portrait of God’s mercy and grace. Willis possesses a warm, evocative voice that draws the listener into the songs, and many will find themselves in the poignant lyric. “We see what kids are wanting and we know what they yearn for, and it’s still the same thing we yearn for,” says Willis. “A lot of the inspiration for our songs comes from talking with people and feeling the same things.I think everyone can connect to our music in some way.”
Enamored with the band’s fresh sound and pure hearts, several of the industry’s top producers signed on to help craft the project, and the band is thrilled to be working with Matt Bronlewee (Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Leeland), Scott Davis (Jessie Daniels) and Jason Ingram, who fronts acclaimed band The Longing.
“Honestly it’s amazing to us because there is nothing special about us,” Huguley says modestly. “There’s nothing great that we’ve done. We’re not accomplished or well known. We’re just guys from Alabama who love music and love God.We want to exalt God’s glory and demote ourselves.”
Huguley uses this analogy to illustrate his point: “If a jeweler shows a diamond, he shows it on black felt, and he does it so the diamond will shine greater. We are all sinful and dirty and because of our sin, God’s glory shines that much greater.”
The band takes its name from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. In the scripture the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in an effort to humble them. “Paul tells the church to remember that there was nothing special about them before Christ,” says Huguley. “None of them were smart. None of them were from rich, wealthy families. None of them were huge political leaders.
However, Paul explains to them that God is what made the difference in their lives. Verse 27 is the kicker for us. ‘But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.’ This is us as a band.”
Each member of Rush Of Fools has known since an early age they wanted to serve God with their lives and their music. “Since high school, I just always had a passion for ministry and in recent years, a passion for church planting. I thought that what God was wiring me for before he slapped us in the face with all of this stuff that we weren’t really expecting,” says Huguley with a big smile.
Although he didn’t foresee a career in the arts, Huguley has always had a love for music. So did Willis. “There were three things going on in my life,” recalls Willis of his high school years. “There was baseball. There was leading worship at my church, and then there were cars.”
A gifted athlete as well as musician, Willis also has a passion for restoring cars. After high school, he was attending college when a friend told him about Huguley, who was looking to recruit a lead singer for his band. “I just fell in love with his heart and passion,” says Huguley. “He had the same mindset as I did as far as worship and music. It was amazing.”
The pieces of the musical puzzle continued coming together as they recruited Chesnut and Sharpe. “We practiced in the summer a little bit and our first show was on October 19, 2005 in a really small town in Alabama,” recalls Willis. “We did a couple of little shows in December of ’05. At that point our drummer was 15 years old. We were still learning each other and having fun leading worship. Whatever opportunity God gave us, we did it.”
The group heard about a talent competition called Band With A Mission and decided to give it a try. They entered, not evening knowing what the prize would be. They were just looking to get some feedback and improve their craft. “By the time we entered Band With A Mission, we had only been playing for probably five or six months,” says Wes. “That in itself just shows how big God is.We just weren’t prepared. He prepared us. He’s preparing us now.”
The guys traveled to Nashville and much to their surprise, they won Band With A Mission. “It was so no stress for us because we weren’t expecting to win,” says Huguley. “We were going to just have a good time.”
Representatives from several labels were at Rocketown, a popular Nashville venue, during the finals of the competition. “We just worshiped and played our songs the way we always do, whether we’re practicing or at a concert or a worship service,” says Huguley. “We always play the same way. We just try to share our hearts. We are in this for God’s glory. We just want to be used for the gospel and it’s really what we’ve been about. That is our heart and passion.”
The band was soon fielding offers from labels and managers, who had seen the promise on display in the band’s passionate performance and unbridled thirst to serve God. When such desire meets talent and youthful enthusiasm, it’s a combination talent scouts recognize immediately.
Soon after, Rush Of Fools was in the studio working on a debut CD for Midas Records. “The cool thing about Midas is they’re not into changing us,” says Willis. “They are into developing where we want to be. We want to be leading worship and writing lyrics for the church. We are all passionate about the gospel and about worshipping. That’s the gift that led us all to be like brothers.”
The guys frequently spend time in the Word and that informs many of their songs, among them “Peace Be Still.” “We were on tour and we went back to the hotel room,” recalls Willis. “We were all relaxed. It was one of those moments where we all were reading our Bibles and it was a beautiful day. We were like ‘let’s write something simple and beautiful.’ Then later we got the chance to revamp it with Jason Ingram and Matt Bronlewee, which has been great.”
Lyrically engaging and musically inventive, the Rush Of Fools Sound is being tagged by some as “progressive worship.” Though they are young, they aren’t the least bit hesitant to be bold about their faith. “People want to know the truth. Reality TV is the biggest thing right now,” says Huguley. “Everyone wants to know what’s real and what’s real is that we are tainted. For far too long now, Christians have been scared to say that because we’ve got to put on our armor and look great in front of everybody. It just doesn’t work because it’s not real and honest. Our message is to tell the truth.”