Kindred Concerts is proud to announce The Full Armor Band as our March Artist of the month. The Full Armor Band are talented and gifted musicians and songwriters from Middletown, NY. We recently were able to spend some time picking the brain of Douglas Hutchings, keyboard player, lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the Full Armor Band. Here’s our conversation about the band’s music and ministry:
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me. It’s so greatly appreciated. Before we begin, could you take a moment to share with us who makes up the band and what instrument or element you bring?
Sure thing. We’ve got:
Kyle Hancharick rhythm guitar, vocals
Tara Lakeman- Vocals
Douglas Q. Hutchings- Keyboards, Vocals
Francis Zelinka- Lead guitar, backup vocals
Matt Juliano- Drums
How did you guys meet and form the group Full Armor?
Tara and I have grew up in the same small Parish in NY, where we started singing in the choir together at 12 years old. Full Armor officially formed when I was a senior in High School and got asked to put together a youth band for a new “contemporary” mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Middletown, NY.
Ephesians 5 talks about putting on the Full Armor of God. Was this where you got the idea for the band? If not how did you come to choose that name?
It is! It took us forever to come up with a band name. I remember at our first live show (an open mic in Middletown NY) we were introduced as the “Douglas Hutchings ensemble”. Needless to say, that name did not fly with the band…My dad suggested the Ephesians quote. As young people, trying to live humble and holy lives in this day and age, it is so important to be mindful of the various graces God gives us for our journey. We figured what better way to remind ourselves than to make it our band name!
You have a brand new CD entitled “None The Same,” Which is your fourth official album as a band. Though you stay true to your core elements, there’s a wide variety of styles including folk, blues, rockabilly and a hint of rock. Could you give us an overview of this CD and what makes it different from your previous CDs?
Musically this is definitely the most experimental we have ever been with our style. Ironically, this is also the most authentic we have ever been, musically speaking, in my opinion. I think for any faith based band, it’s so difficult to find your “sound” in today’s worship/church culture. It’s so easy to make music that sounds stock and generic because most bands are told that they have to sound like today’s popular worship artists, instead of like themselves!
Two of my favorite songs from your new CD are the song called “Lead Me To The Light and New Creation.” In the songs you share a similar theme of how you were lost and searching to fill that empty void in your heart and soul that nothing seemed to be able to fill. In your searching God revealed himself to you and transformed your life. Could you talk about these song and concept of God leading you to the light and what happened to you in this transformation process?
Sure. New creation talks about those flaws that we all have as humans. It’s so easy to get caught up in the guilt that comes from those flaws. When we surrender to His will for our lives (“Come Holy Spirit, Come), God consumes every part of us, including the ugly parts that we consider flaws making them beautiful!
“Lead Me to the Light” is my self declared “love song to the band”. I wrote it after we got back from summer tour last year. I had just spent 3 weeks with my best friends- people I can laugh, cry, sing, and pray with. The song speaks about how the friendships God puts in our lives are to help us along our journey of faith. Community is SO important for Christians to have in order to maintain a healthy faith life.
Another song that I absolutely love is the song called “The One I Can’t Live Without.” I love it because it’s eerily similar to the story and process my wife and I shared over the course of 6 years before we finally figured it out. Was this song written for anyone in particular or if not could you share your thoughts on the message behind it and what you would say to someone who is trying to find that true love you describe in the song.
I should start by saying that I have never been in love, so it’s very nice to see that the song seems to resonate with people who have been. To make a long story, a little shorter, my sister got married last year, to a man who she was good friends with in elementary school . He had moved away when they were in 8th grade, and they had not really kept in touch. In April 2011, they were at a mutual friends wedding. She came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He says as soon as he turned around and saw her he knew. They were married a year later. I was given the honor to be asked to write this song and sing it at the ceremony, as their wedding gift! (It sometimes pays off to be a songwriter!)
Now one of the most touching and moving songs you have on your new CD is the song “What I Pray About” a song that is a tribute to the Sandy Hook Shooting. In the song you ask the questions of how can someone look at something beautiful and innocent and want to destroy it, where was God in all of this? Why would he allow such a tragedy to happen? And as the song progresses these tough questions are what is pressing on your heart as you come to God in prayer. Could you talk about the idea of this song, what you were going through as you wrote it, and what you would say to someone who is dealing with or has dealt with such a terrible tragedy as this?
In all honesty, this song was never meant to go beyond the walls of my home office. It was written about something pretty personal, and I wanted to keep it that way. However, there was something that just moved me about the first two lines of the chorus. So, I let God take over, and decided to share what I had with Kyle (my songwriting partner in crime). He worked out an amazing new guitar part, that felt like it was meant to be married with that lyric that I loved. A few weeks later, Sandy Hook happened. I work up at 2 AM and knew what the second verse to this song had to be. That’s when I knew this song was meant to be about more than just a personal tragedy in my life. We all have things that have shook up to our core, and caused us pain that we did not know could sting so much. This song asks those questions to God directly (this is what I pray about tonight) but does not try to find any new smart way to answer to age old question, “Where was God when…”. The faithful act of going to God in authentic, honest prayer with those questions and doubts is the best way to find peace and understanding. If we continue to speak to God honestly, he will speak back, but anger makes it so hard to hear sometimes!
One of your biggest performances was in 2008 where you performed at Pope Benedict XVI’s youth rally to a crowd of over 25,000 youth in New York City. What was this experience like, how did you get to be a part of this event, and how would you respond to all the negative comments the Pope has been receiving for resigning?
It was a pretty neat day. It feels like so long ago now, but it’s something we’ll tell our kids and grandkids about for sure. We were lucky enough to be picked from a pool of applicants to be performers for the day. The New York Archdiocese was in charge of that event, and since then have been asked to do several of their other youth events. Next month we are playing a youth event in NYC with 1400 teenagers, that ends with mass with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. It’s been awesome to get to collaborate with our church on such a local level!
As for the pope, I’m certainly no theologian, but I think the guy deserves a break if he feels it’s time!
Now, I was reading that you all on top of being a full time band, have or will be getting degrees in the next year or so. Douglas, you in particular have founded your own booking agency. Could you talk about this? What type of artists are you looking for? What service do you offer? How can artists reach you for your services?
Tara is graduating from college At Catholic University in DC this spring, and continuing to get a masters degree in Medical Physics at the University of Buffalo next year. Our drummer, Matt is a sophomore at Desales University and the rest of us are done with school….I recently moved back to NY from Nashville TN where I worked with a booking agency for 3 years. I bought out my boss and started my own business back home. Luckily for me, my current artists are keeping me more than occupied right now. So, I’m not looking for any new artists at this point.
Getting back to your new CD, one of the songs that stands out the most is the song, “Sow Love.” With your more rockabilly approach and your harmonies (which is what I love about you the most), you definitely have a good time with this one as you pose the question to God about letting you sow the love that He’s put in you and allowing you to be the instrument of peace He’s created you to be. Could you talk about this song and share how a person can sow the love God’s put inside of them?
This song is based on a prayer called from Prayer of St. Francis (everyone should read it!). The prayer basically speaks about God’s love in our hearts and what our response to that love needs to be. When God lives in us, we should overflow with that love.
This interview has been pretty serious, so I’d like to liven it up with a few fun light hearted questions in a segment I’d like to call “Off The Cuff.” For this next part answer them as honestly as you can with the first answer that comes to mind.
Ok- these are obviously my personal answers. I cant speak for the others =)
Lonesome Dove…Or Anne Of Green Gables (Both mini series!.Yikes) ummm… Apollo 13!
Coke or Pepsi
Favorite Worship Song of All Time (yours or someone else’s)
Lord, I Need You (Matt Maher’s live version!)
What’s your favorite place to spend time on the internet?
Facebook. It’s a problem.
Mets or Yankees?
M-E-T-S Mets! Mets! METS!
Favorite Bible verse?
Getting back to a more serious note, we’ve been talking a lot about your music. For those reading this that want to get a copy where can we find your music?
www.fullarmorband .com or just search full armor band on itunes! Or come out to a show =)
Now, Not The Same isn’t the only CD you have. One of my favorite CD’s is your third release, “What Love Is.” On that CD I love the title track because it deals with the idea of unconditional love as a friend and the doubt the friend seems to have about that love. Could you talk about this song, and the thought process behind it?
I wrote this song initially in response to something my long time buddy and band mate, Tara would always say. Back then, she was in her dramatic teenage years and would always say that “love doesn’t exist”. I don’t think she really believed it, but it made me sad to hear. God reveals himself to us in a lot of ways, and often times that is through the love of a friend. That song seems to be much more universal now adays though!
Another standout song on that album is “Amy’s Song,” a very emotional song dealing with the idea of infertility and loss through miscarriage and how through prayer and faith, God was able to bless her with the child she so desired. Was this song based off a true story? If not, could you share the story behind this song the idea that with God all things are possible?
Amy is my cousin in law. It took ten years and several miscarriages for her to finally be have a family. This song is about her journey of faith through that struggle. Luckily Amy’s story has a happy ending (with 2 beautiful kids) but not everyone is that lucky. Regardless of our struggle, God is asking us to hold onto him, while he holds onto us.
One of the catchiest songs on that CD is the song “From the Desert.” This song is extremely personal, as in it, you talk about growing up and learning to use struggles and obstacles in a positive way. Could you share your thoughts on this song and what you were going through as you wrote it?
I wrote this song when I was 2 years away from graduating college. I was so ready to be done with school and found myself asking God in frustration “when am I gonna be done learning?!”. The truth is, we never finish learning. God is constantly giving us opportunities to grow, and allow his love to shine through our lives.
Shout of Praise is another incredible worship song that you feature on your CD. I noticed that you have a heart and passion for worship as a band. If you were to define the word worship how would you define it and what would you say is true worship?
To me, Worship is acknowledging and responding to the presence of God in our lives. To me, the only response that feels appropriate is total surrender and humility in His presence.
What’s in the future for the Full Armor Band?
Short term: touring touring touring for this new record! There are also talks (just talks at this point) of a live album sometime this year.
How can we pray for you?
Pray for humility and discernment. We always want our efforts and labors to be for the right reason. That requires a lot of prayer and support.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the audience reading this right now?
I’ve already said so much. They must be sick of me by now!
Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedules to do this interview with me. It has been so awesome getting to learn about your heart and passion for Jesus and your ministry.
Tim Ewing is the founder of Kindred Concert Ministries. You can learn more about Kindred by going to facebook.com/kindredconcerts or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Full Armor Band is five-piece band contemporary Christian folk group from Middletown, NY. For more information about The Full Armor Band you can visit their website at www.fullarmorband.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/fullarmorband
Click here to read previous interviews.