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Rock That Doesn't Roll: The Story of Christian Music
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Rock That Doesn't Roll: The Story of Christian Music

Author: Andrew Gill and Leah Payne

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Rock That Doesn’t Roll looks at how Christian music shaped the world we're living in now by telling individual stories from the peak era of the contemporary Christian music industry. In the 80s, 90s and early 2000s CCM grew into a billion dollar business that affected millions of evangelical young people. Through interviews with artists, industry players and average fans we trace the long-lasting personal, cultural and political impact of sometimes cringe-worthy music. Expect hilarious moments and heartfelt yearning, purity culture and conservative politics- all in equal measure. Whether you’ve deconstructed, come out or renegotiated your faith, we hope you feel seen. If you’ve never given Christian music any thought beyond a punchline, we hope you’ll gain a deeper understanding of a subculture that’s shaping the world around us now.
11 Episodes
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In this bonus episode, Andrew and Leah talk with Lars Gotrich of NPR Music, the producer who brought Amy Grant to play a Tiny Desk Concert. Lars shares how he went from "judgy Christian punk rocker" to someone good at existing in two worlds at once. To hear the full interview, join our Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/rtdr Find Lars’ playlists and tea newsletter at vikingschoice.org
What happens when one of the country’s most outspoken critics of white male Christian political conservatism sits down with a well-known white male conservative Christian political pundit? Find out, as Kristin Du Mez and David French discuss politics, culture, and the desperate need for hospitality in the digital age on No Small Endeavor with Lee C. Camp.
In this bonus episode Leah and Andrew interview Jim Cooper, the composer who wrote and recorded the original score for Rock That Doesn't Roll. He talks about growing up in the DC area, getting obsessed with Fugazi and Dischord Records, then throwing away all his secular music. The full hour-long interview is at our Patreon. The conversation goes on to talk about abandoning a theology major at Wheaton College for music, getting support from John J Thompson and True Tunes, performing at Cornerstone and eating humble pie after opening for Wilco. Join our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/RTDR Some of Jim's music: https://infomercialusa.bandcamp.com/ https://detholz.bandcamp.com/ https://tyme.bandcamp.com/album/someday-in-the-ancient-future Andrew references Ian MacKaye's Episcopalian upbringing in the discussion. Read more about that here: https://wamu.org/story/14/10/17/the_unlikely_bond_between_a_dc_church_and_the_punk_music_scene/
‘Tis the season for holiday specials and Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock and Roll to You) of Rock that Doesn’t Roll are bringing you a surprise holiday gift: weirdly specific awards for Contemporary Christian Music Christmas tunes! So come on, ring those bells, grab your Christmas shoes, and get ready to Yo-Ho-Ho yourself into some holiday cheer - it’s Christmastime! Do you have a CCM Christmas story to tell? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com Sign up for our Substack to keep up with show developments.
For 1990s and early aughts youth group alumni, Christian rock is often the source of embarrassment or shame - but does it have to be that way? The season finale of Rock That Doesn't Roll explores the idea that maybe, just maybe, the key to getting over angst about Christian rock isn't rejecting it or avoiding it, but coming to peace with the person you were when you fell in love with it. With insight from historian Randall J. Stephens (author, The Devil's Music), hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock & Roll to You) follow the story of David Bazan, a Pentecostal pastor's kid-turned-indie rocker who spent decades running from his CCM past. Along the way, Bazan founded Pedro the Lion, and gained critical acclaim, but his fraught relationship with evangelical Christianity and the world of Contemporary Christian Music haunted him. In the end, Bazan suggests that one way to make peace with a CCM past is to learn to be “the billy of your actual hills.” Thanks for joining us for the first season - it’s been an incredible journey. Do you have a Christian rock story to tell? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com Sign up for our Substack to keep up with show developments.
The late 90s and early aughts were a banner time for a really specific type of rock band - the are-they-or-aren't-they a Christian band, band. Sixpence None the Richer. Creed. Evanescence. Lifehouse. Owl City. Paramore. They all had different sounds, but they left listeners wondering: are they - or aren't they - “Christian music?” This week on Rock that Doesn't Roll: does an artist who identifies as Christian have to brand their music as such? With insight from David Dark (author, We Become What We Normalize), hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock & Roll to You) follow the story of Jon Foreman, a pastor’s kid from Carlsbad, California whose band Switchfoot created songs that resonated with youth group kids and climbed the Top 40 charts. Were they, or were they not, a Christian band? We explore efforts to rethink Christian music, and how mainstream superstars U2 led the way for bands like Switchfoot to wrestle with the marketing category of “Christian” - and find an enduring connection with their fans along the way. Did you ever love a Christian-ish band? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com Sign up for our Substack to keep up with show developments.
Bookstore Guys

Bookstore Guys

2023-11-1549:53

Who could a 1990s Christian rock aficionado turn to in order to find the latest and greatest releases? For mainstream music fans, tastemakers included record store clerks of 1990s indie music stores, or retail juggernauts like Tower Records and Wherehouse - the kind of superfans depicted by Jack Black in High Fidelity. But for many evangelical teens of the 1990s, record stores were not the place to find kid-tested, parent-approved music. For that, Christian teens usually had to go to Christian bookstores. There, among the Bibles and Precious Moments dolls and Christian-themed t-shirts, they found the records that defined their adolescence. Their guides on the journey? Bookstore Guys. This week on Rock that Doesn’t Roll: with insight from ethnomusicologist Andrew Mall (author, God Rock, Inc.), hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock & Roll to You) follow the story of John J. Thompson (True Tunes podcast), a Christian bookstore guy who dreamed of transcending the Christian bookstore and creating a music store - along with a thriving artistic community - for fans of critically-acclaimed Christian rock. Do you have a story to share about your Christian rockstar dreams? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com Sign up for our Substack to keep up with show developments.
For every 1990s Christian rock star who made it big, there were thousands of never-realized, would-be Christian rock dreams. With special insight from Christian music industry veteran promoter Chris Hauser, hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock and Roll to You) follow the CCM aspirations of comedian Kevin James Thornton and artist/faith leader Sunia Won Gibbs. The two Christian music fans hoped to find stardom and a sense of the divine, but found many trials and travails awaited those who took the stage as evangelical pop stars. Along the way, Sunia and Kevin discover that while not every aspiring CCM artist “made it,” the world of Christian music certainly made them. Do you have a story to share about your Christian rockstar dreams? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com. Sign up for our Substack to keep up with show developments.
Punk Rock Prophets

Punk Rock Prophets

2023-10-1843:57

For 1990s evangelical teens, punk, hardcore, and ska were a gateway to a passionate, edgy way to express their Christianity outside the mainstream. But was the music and the message enough to keep the evangelical faith? In episode two, hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock and Roll to You) follow three Christian punk rock stories from Dr. Bradley Onishi of Axis Mundi Media, author D.L. Mayfield, and Tim Whitaker of The New Evangelicals as they share their stories of loving, leaving, or holding on to evangelical Christianity - and the music that fueled their teenaged devotion. Do you have a story to share about the Christian ska, punk, or hardcore scene? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/rtdr You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com
Youth Group Kids

Youth Group Kids

2023-10-0445:421

Christian rock has a lot of naysayers, but for evangelical teens of the 1990s, it was EVERYTHING. For most kids raised in conservative Christian households, mainstream music was forbidden - if teens were going to rock, they needed to do it God’s way. And the place to find Christian rock gods? Youth group. In the first episode of Rock that Doesn’t Roll, hosts Andrew Gill (producer, Sound Opinions) and Leah Payne (author, God Gave Rock and Roll to You) talk with comedian Steve Hernandez and author Tyler Huckabee finding music, meaning, and identity in 1990s youth group culture. Youth ministry consultant Mark Oestreicher explains the world of high-production youth groups, where rock shows reigned as the best way to draw a crowd of teens into evangelical churches. In this episode, the music of Delirious?, DCTalk, and Relient K bring kids in the doors of the youth group room. But it couldn’t always keep them. Steve and Tyler share their stories of loving - and in some cases leaving - the Christian rock scene that raised them. But even when you take the kid out of the youth group, it turns out that you may not be able to take the youth group music out of the kid. Do you have a story to share about rocking out to your favorite Christian band in youth group? Leave us a message at (629) 777-6336. If you want more seasons of Rock That Doesn’t Roll, you can support us on Patreon. You can connect with us on Instagram or by emailing RTDRpod@gmail.com
Trailer

Trailer

2023-08-2404:34

Join hosts Leah Payne and Andrew Gill as they explore the world of Christian rock in it’s peak era of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s.
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