To help celebrate the release of Bradford Hoel’s new record ‘Battlezone’, we took the time to have a chat with the Christian pastor about the album, his vision, and what’s in store for the future.
How did you first start making music? Where did it all begin?
“I started experimenting with singing and writing songs about the age of 12, but I did not have a purpose for my art until I was a young man college! At that time I was the kind of ‘dyed in the wool’ atheist, neither my family came from a Christian background and I never had an opportunity to hear the gospel. To make a long story short, a friend of ours was in a terrible car accident and was not expected to live. He was not a Christian but his family were, and they came and prayed for him at the hospital. Not only did he live which amazed the doctors but he was doing his hobby of rock climbing just six weeks afterwards!”
“This certainly got the attention of myself and my brother who is two years younger than I, and he went on to borrow a Bible and read it for the first time ever, committing his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I came home from my first semester of college and asked my brother to go out to the bars, and well he said “I can’t do that anymore and I don’t drink anymore I’m a Christian, I’ve given my life to Jesus Christ”, and of course like any good brother would, I made his life miserable! I harassed him, I made fun of him as any good atheist would, but my brother understood me, challenged me and said, “Bradford, I know you won’t take anybody’s word for it.” - so he challenged me to go on a spiritual journey and study the Bible and see if it’s true.”
“I found out it was right for me at that moment, and I had a choice to make. I was going to believe the truth and receive Jesus as Lord Savior. I believe that God has an incredible sense of humour, and turned me around to come to know the truth and then eventually call me to Pastor being an Evangelist, it’s funny. In the end, I finally had a reason to do my music, and that inspired me to do my first album, ‘Battlezone’. I’ve been working on and off on and off for number years but it finally came together.”
How would you describe your sound?
“That’s a very difficult question actually because the themes might be contemporary Christian music, but almost every song seems to be in a different musical style or genre. On this particular album, you’re going to have driving rock rhythms, you’re going to have maybe a bit of alternative rock, you’re going to have blues songs, reggae songs, power ballads and sometimes I don’t know if I can even classify it! You’ve got to hear it to kind of believe that I guess we’ve gotten a lot of great reviews as of late one of the things they say about the album is it has a lot of substance. That includes artistry as well, and that’s a tough balance to do.”
What is your songwriting process? How did it all come together?
“The process for each song seems to be different. Sometimes it’s simple and I get a theme and melody in my head and work with it until it is the best song it can be! Sometimes, I just get the hook alone and build around it! Every once in a while I get a song all at once! A situation like that occurred when my father died, I received almost the whole song in the shower a couple of days before his funeral! That is one of the songs on our album called ‘The Fathers Song’.”
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
“The most important thing to me is the content or message or emotion I wish to communicate, after that the music and lyrics style!”
What influences most define your music and the new album?
“I was influenced greatly by a lot of the early contemporary Christian artists. Keith Green certainly was important to me, Degarmo and Key too but I enjoy current artists as well such as Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, and even Carmen.”
So, what’s next now that the album is out?
“I am excited to announce in next few months I have my second original music album coming out! Most of the songs are written, but we are still working out the arrangements and an album title! I have a weekly service on Facebook and YouTube channel - Rock Family Live Broadcast - be such to check them out.”
What would your dream collaboration be?
“To be honest I already have my dream partner, a world-class keyboard teacher who did an amazing job helping me put together this and my next album! But it would be cool to tour with Steven Curtis Chapman or Third Day, etc.”
You’re new to the music scene, but what advice would you give to bands who are looking to make it big?
“One piece of advice I received is to be yourself. No one wants copycats! They want originals! Trust God and be who God created you to be!”
And finally, what has been your best moment as a musician so far?
“The best and most satisfying thing to me is when fans say my songs touched them and helped them through a difficult time in their life!”
Bradford Hoel’s debut album, ‘Battlezone’ is out now on both Spotify and iTunes. Grab a glimpse of the new album above with the title track streaming for free. You can also find teaching and writing by Bradford Hoel online, with his book ‘By Grace Through Faith’ available here, and various videos on his Youtube page here.