The Prayer Chain

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The Prayer Chain
Origin California, U.S.
Genres Christian alternative rock
Years active 1991–1995
Labels Reunion, Rode Dog
Website theprayerchain.com
Past members Tim Taber
Andrew Prickett
Eric Campuzano
Wayne Everett

The Prayer Chain was a 1990s Christian alternative rock band. The band has been called "the epitome of the Christian underground".[1] The Prayer Chain was known for producing moody, angst-ridden music which was, in turn, the result of creative differences within the band and with their record label.[2]

History[edit]

The Prayer Chain formed in February 1990 when Campuzano & Prickett's band, Laughing Boy, broke up at the same time as Taber's band, Tapestry, broke up. Campuzano knew Taber through a Bible study group.[3] Originally, Taber both sang and played drums, though drum machines were also used.[4] The band auditioned Everett to play drums later that year at a Prayer Chain show in California.

Their first album, The Neverland Sessions was recorded with Steve Hindalong at Neverland Studios and was released independently.

After signing to Reunion Records they put out the Whirlpool EP and started touring, while focusing on their first album, Shawl, released in 1993. In 1993, The Prayer Chain released their first collection of all new material since 1990. The album showed a more aggressive side of the band compared to the upbeat poppier sound of the Whirlpool EP.[citation needed] The band distanced themselves from their past, announcing in album opener, "Crawl", that is "Shine is dead", referring to their hit song "Shine".[citation needed] The album produced fan favorites[citation needed] "Never Enough", "Fifty-Eight" (written in 5/8 time) and ""Worm". "Crawl" and "Like I Was" were also released as a 7-inch single, with clips released for both.[citation needed]

In April 1994, the band released their first live recording, recorded toward the end of the tour for Shawl. It included several of bonus tracks from the Shawl era.

After extensive national and international shows they started working on their final album, Mercury, which was released in 1995. Originally the band wanted to do a worship-based album.[5] Campuzano said "When we were discussing this record, a lot of people said Shawl was a negative album, so we all kinda wanted to do this real drony 'get lost in the music' type record -- only with praise songs. But we really started just disliking each other, so that didn't allow us to fully praise God, because there's just too much disconnection in the band.[6]

Their most ambitious project to date, the band says "We purposefully made a record that would get us fired from the job Reunion had planned out for us, which was 'the new Petra.'" On the change of sound, Campuzano says "All of us made a conscious decision to not make Shawl Part 2, but a record where tried to not be influenced by any other popular music at the time. For the most part, I think we were very successful."[7] Everett says "It ended up being a lot more emotional than the last one (Shawl), which was a lot more mental, so not only lyrically but musically, we went for something that was a lot more earthy and emotional rather than something that's got a lot of complicated riffing or a lot of dynamics."[8]

Producer Steve Hindalong is credited by the band as helping bring the project together. Taber says "On this album, there was maybe only two or three fairly finished ideas before we started recording. The rest was 'Well we think we've got a verse, we think we might have a chorus, and we're not sure about the melody, we're not sure about the arrangement, we're not sure about any of the parts.' So Steve's influence helped us even be able to complete the songs and steer us in a certain direction....without Steve on this record, it wouldn't have been Mercury, it wouldn't have been the same record at all." [9]

Their first draft of the album, Humb, was rejected by Reunion, and the band "were instructed to go back into the studio, and write more songs. Something they could sell."[citation needed] The band then wrote "Sky High".

Themes on the album include distance ("Mercury", "Creole", "Shiver", "Waterdogs") and disconnection ("Grylliade") as well as love ("Manta Rae", "Bendy Line") and worship ("Humb", "Sky High", "Sun Stoned").[citation needed] Everett says "The record definitely does have that element of disconnection to it, certainly with God and even beyond talking of spiritual things — it really explores feeling disconnected with other other people around you. With a lover, even within the band — there's songs on this record about all of us being totally disconnected with each other, and having to make a record at the same time. It also has songs with a lot of hope in them such as 'Humb' and 'Sky High' and 'Sun Stoned', which really invite a relinquishing to God in order to achieve peace and to become more connected with all these things that you've been separated from."[10] Campuzano says "The whole record basically itself is a manifestation of God telling us exactly what to do. All the lyrics, regardless of who they're written by, seem to be really together. It wasn't like we set out to do a thematic record, but I think the record itself did turn out to be thematic, in that it is a man's walk with God, from the beginning of 'Humb' to the end of 'Sun Stoned'. And that is something that we did not set out to do, or outline."[11]

"We always thought God put us in this position so we could break down some walls or notions about Christian music...I think we did that with touring, and with the eventual release of Mercury."
 —Eric Campuzano[12]

Engineer Chris Colbert wrote, "you can hear the band break up on the record, you can see them extend a warm and heartfelt middle finger to the industry".[13]

"It seems to be the music you like for several years has more depth to it; and they're doing different things. Maybe the first time you heard it, you weren't too sure about it, but after you listened to it ten times, it grew on you, rather than to start getting old. So I think that's more of what of what this album will before people — that after repeated listens they won't be getting sick of it. Hopefully, they'll be finding new things that they didn't hear before, that it will be growing on them."
 —Tim Taber 1995[14]

Post break-up[edit]

Some releases which included rare recordings followed. The band has since done a reunion show in Chicago in 1998, the Gene Eugene tribute show in 2000, some local California shows and 2003 reunion shows at Cornerstone Festival and the Flevo Festival in the Netherlands.[15]

The band has released some of their work and rarities on the Bandcamp website. Most notably, they released the original version of their album Mercury, titled Humb, ending years of speculation between fans regarding the original album. The original version was sent to Reunion Records in 1994 and the band were subsequently told to go back into the studio to write more songs, "something they could sell".[citation needed] The most evident differences between Mercury and Humb are the absence of "Sky High" on Humb, which along with "Friend or Foe" was written after the record label rejected the original version of the album, and the inclusion of "Chalk", "Antarctica" and "Loverboy" on Humb, all which eventually appeared on Antarctica.[citation needed] Humb also had a different track order. The somewhat different mixing on the original album is considered to be darker.[16][non-primary source needed]

In April 2015, the band announced they would be releasing Mercury on double vinyl through Kickstarter to mark the 20th anniversary of the album. Funding for the album was achieved within three hours of the announcement. It is due to be released in July 2015.[17][better source needed]

Members[edit]

  • Tim Taber - vocals, founder of Floodgate Records (Cool Hand Luke, The Myriad), Transparent Productions, and Transparent Artists (Jeremy Edwardson)
  • Andrew Prickett - guitar, now plays with CUSH and does extensive recording/producing/engineering, has also played with The Violet Burning, My Brother's Mother, OneRepublic and others.
  • Eric Campuzano - bass guitar, now plays guitar for The Lassie Foundation & Stranger Kings. He's also released two drone solo projects under the moniker Charity Empressa. He also plays bass with CUSH, and has played with Starflyer 59.
  • Wayne Everett - drums, now playing guitar and started The Lassie Foundation, has played in Starflyer 59 and CUSH, has done some producing, also released a solo album titled KingsQueens in 2003 on Northern Records.

Discography[edit]

Full-Length Albums[edit]

  • The Neverland Sessions (1992)
  • Shawl (1993)
  • Mercury (1995)
  • Antarctica (1996)
  • Humb (2011)

EPs[edit]

  • 4 Song Demo (1990)
  • Whirlpool (1992)
  • Live (4-song version) (1994)
  • Live (8-song version) (1994)
  • Live at CBGB's (2005)

Singles (7-inch vinyl)[edit]

  • Shine (1992)
  • Crawl/Like I Was (1993)

Two-disc sets[edit]

  • Mercury & Mercurios Tin: Limited Edition Collector's Set (1995)
  • So Close...Yet So Far (Retrospective & B-sides) (1998)

Double Vinyl[edit]

  • Mercury (20th anniversary re-release) (2015)

Compilations[edit]

  • Live at the Strand (1997)
  • A Live Tribute Recording for Gene Eugene (2000)
  • Here Comes the Rust (retrospective) (2003)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (First printing ed.). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 724–726. ISBN 1-56563-679-1. 
  2. ^ Roth, J. Peter (September–October 1995). "The Last Prayer Chain Story". 7ball (2). Archived from the original on December 27, 1996. 
  3. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 96 (July/August 2002), page 58
  4. ^ Liner notes for "So Close...Yet So Far"
  5. ^ http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/music/the-lost-tim-taber-interview-540222.html
  6. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 11
  7. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 96 (July/August 2002), page 58
  8. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 9
  9. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 8
  10. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 11
  11. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 11
  12. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 96 (July/August 2002), page 5
  13. ^ "Chris Colbert (Part 1) on drones, breakfast with amy, the prayer chain's mercury, etc by Jason and Brent". 2003. Retrieved February 28, 2007. 
  14. ^ HM Magazine issue No. 53 (May/June 1995), page 10
  15. ^ Postma, Mike (January–February 2007). "The Prayer Chain". HM Magazine (123): 50–53. 
  16. ^ "Humb | The Prayer Chain". Theprayerchain.bandcamp.com. August 31, 1994. Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  17. ^ "The Prayer Chain 20th Anniversary Mercury Vinyl". Kickstarter. Retrieved April 3, 2015. 

External links[edit]