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Wild in the Country? As If...
Monday, 07 October 2002 01:28

In a little village just outside Aylesbury, there is a farmhouse. In this farmhouse, there is a recording studio. In this studio three men - Phil Goss, Phil Heard, & Steve Rothwell let their creative juices run riot on a regular basis. Phil Goss likes it so much, he practically lives there (well, he would it's his home).

The threesome are currently the biggest phenomenon to hit the music world. They're number 1 in 40 countries, and sales of their album have surpassed those of Michael, M'donna and the Spices combined.

Now, for those of you who haven't seen the movie 'Clueless' (and why not, may I ask), let me briefly explain: when someone shouts, 'As if!,' they're implying that the previous speakers remarks aren't to be taken seriously. In other words, all that stuff about being big - let's just say I was calling those things that be not as though they were, so to speak. But enough about that, what's a nice Christian band doing, naming themselves after a catch-phrase from 'Clueless,' anyway?

"It doesn't mean anything in particular," says Steve, the man whose idea the name was to begin with. "It's a catchy name and starting with an A, we thought that in any listing for bands, we'd be in the top slot."

As If... formed three years ago, from the remains of a six-piece called "The Upper Room" (later Strangely Normal). Phil G's earliest claim to fame was sharing a stage with Norman Wisdom at the age of two. By the time he was 15, he was into the occult and playing in a band called Witchcraft, before becoming a Christian at a Billy Graham crusade. The other Phil - son of a jazz drummer learnt to drum on his dad's kit at 15, whilst Steve formed his first band, Madrigal, shortly after becoming a Christian. They have yet to give up their day jobs - Phil H works in insurance. Steve is a telephone engineer and Phil G manages the studio, which is used by loads of other acts, both Christian and mainstream.

Their sound is a fusion of driving technohouse and equally driving rock, not far removed from what Republica have been storming up the charts with lately. Says Phil G: "We never really listen to other stuff - we've always done our own thing. Our music's quite experimental. Having our own studio means we don't have to spend a bomb going into a studio to try things out, we can do things here and spend as long as we like. We're very blessed to have the technology to try things out here. We just do things that come into our heads. If it sounds good, we'll record it."

"We're pleased that the sound we do is coming in," adds the other Phil "because I feel that as Christians, it's very important to be contemporary if we're serious about witnessing to people you've got to be where they're at." Then there are the stage theatrics. No As If... gig would ever be complete without Phil H vaulting over his drum kit - and there was the one time they walked off stage after a gig and accidentally went out through the fire door and couldn't get back in to do the encore! According to Steve, the madness makes them more approachable to non-Christian audiences. It must be working, they were recently chosen to play at a Prince's Trust Concert, after the organisers specifically asked for a band with high moral standards. "Everyone's got some sort of need," observes Phil G. "They're looking for love, and some of them have gone down the road of sex, drugs and rock & roll. Some of our songs hint that isn't the answer."

"We've all been on the other side of the fence, so to speak, not always having been Christians, so we understand where people's questions are coming from rather, than if we'd all been brought up in Christian families, so that's obviously had an effect on our music. We find a lot of people pick up on that, they like the lyrics because they're not all thee' and thou' or have 'God' or 'Jesus' in every other word, but still have something of a moral stance."

"People are sort of questioning things and thinking. There's got to be a bit more to life than this" Phil H adds. "You can seen the endless cycle of debauchery, drink, drugs and stuff, and people realise it's not giving them answers. And I think people are very open in this generation. Young people are questioning more. Why am I here? And if you can give people some hints, then so much the better."

George Luke

(From BGM Magazine)