Rock Impressions

by Giancarlo Bolther

It’s been a couple of years since we have had our previous interview, what is changed in the meanwhile in your life (both personal and artistic one)?
I’m usually in the moment of what I’m doing…you might find out more if you ask someone else (laughs). I guess things haven’t changed that much, overall. I’m still living in the same house. I still have the studio there. One things that’s new is I’ve been performing at church services instead of concerts, and I’ve enjoyed that. That’s not to say I won’t do more concerts…I just don’t know right now.
The most important change is I think I’ve moved toward the Lord more than I was before. Hopefully, I’m always growing in him.
Other than that, my kids are bigger…I’m a little older; but other than things haven’t changed that much. I do have a new album (laughs).

How did you go with the composing process of the new album?

The idea of doing a concept album about the Tabernacle came from my friend Paul Farmer. He also encouraged me to tell people the project was a secret. I was like, “I don’t think so.” But I mentioned to one reviewer…and there began to be a buzz about it. I hadn’t written a note at that point. Then I began to explore that idea, it really took on life, and became serious. I believe the Lord was in on this…
I had just returned from a tour of churches in Europe, and I started writing. The whole album poured out in 10-12 days.
My writing process is to sit at the piano…sometimes a guitar…with a little tape recorder, play and record ideas. One of the first things I wrote was “Suffer, trespass, stranger redeemed.” Paul had taken those random words from Leviticus…and they were sitting there on the piano. I just started singing those notes, over and over…

In my opinion there are some influences from early Happy The Man (with the use of horns), do you agree?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Happy the Man when I wrote this. Maybe once or twice…I don’t remember. I really heard them for the first time when they were at Nearfest. I loved what I heard. So, no, I don’t see a direct influence.

In your opinion, which are the main differencies between Testimony, One and the new album?
The new album is more mysterious…that’s the main thing I was going for…more intrigue and mystery…maybe a little darker. Testimony was really telling my story to a lot of music…it was my own story. On One I was trying to have people feel God’s heart. This new album is a journey through spiritual mysteries.
Also, Testimony was the most orchestrated work, followed by One. This new CD is the least orchestrated of the three albums and the most band-oriented.

Why did you choose the title “question mark”?
That had to do with the mystery factor. The Bible talks about hidden riches and secret places…of the mystery of Godliness. I wanted people to seek these things out, to search out these deep questions…like, “Where is the Tabernacle today?”

The promo edition hasn’t got the lirics, can you tell us something about them and what do you try to communicate with them?
I was communicating different things at different points. Mainly, I wanted to give people a flavour of what it’s like be among people who are with God. And to have compassions for the people outside…and then see this mysterious figure lead them in.
[NOTE to editor: The complete lyrics are available in the press section of Neal’s website, in the online press kit.]

What kind of feedbacks are you having back from the messages present in your albums?
Mostly really, really great. I’m amazed at well it is being received.

Did there were some negative critics about your beliefs that hurted you?
Sometimes it hurts…it’s not personal about me. If people are upset about Christianity, they have some good reasons for that. For example, there’s a lot of corruption in the Church. I can see that. I don’t usually get too upset about it.

Which was the best experience with an audience that you like best to remember?
One of my favourites was first time I gave my testimony about Jada’s healing at the Astoria in London. It’s on the bonus DVD of Testimony Live DVD. The Lord really moved in there that evening.

In our previous interview you told me that you feel to be like a child in the path of being a believer, were are you today in this path?
Jesus said that unless you become converted as little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. So hopefully I’ll always have that. It’s child-like in terms of guilt, wrath…but we do need to be wise. Jesus says we need to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Maybe I’m a toddler now (laughs). I think I’m growing in him. I’ll let him judge where I’m at, though. The Bible says he who is wise in his own eyes is a fool (thank you, Kerry Livgren).

Could you tell us which were the ways Jesus has changed your life?
How much time do you have (laughs)? It’s a transformation of all areas. My favourite thing is what the Bible calls a circumcision of the heart…the peeling away of the deadness of your heart…so you can really feel love and compassion. I feel things in a way that I couldn’t before. I had become comfortably numb in my life. He’s changed my heart so I can love God, love my family, my music, and my audience in a different way.

Can you tell us about your relationship with God and how much time did you spend to pray in an ordinary day?
Well that depends I’m not a huge scheduler. I think sometimes those thinks can become robotic one of them main things in jesus teaching is don’t be like the pherasis where everything was turned into a method. I mean, having said that…I dunno I probably pray for an everage of 20-30 minutes. I pray throughtout the day. I pray with my kids. There were prayer meetings.
He’s here, man. It’s incredible. It’s really amazing it’s like…I feel he’s right with me, helping me along the way, coprecting me…we have to be willing to take correction. To be a good son. The bible says “dispise not the chastening of the Lord.” Once you know how wonderful He, you know if He’s correcting you it’s going to be best thing.

A lot of people thinks that following Jesus is like to loose freedom or that a believer doesn’t think with is own mind, what’s your answer to that?
It seems like two different subjects. On losing freedom: I believe you have two options: you can serve God or serve the flesh. You’re not really free when you’re serving the flesh…though it may seem that way. But what’s really running the show is one’s sinful nature: pride, greed, avarice…they are at play. If you serve God then you’re free from all that. The Bible says that where the spirit of the Lord dwells, there is freedom.
There is freedom from material existence…but it’s also clear…in Galatians, it is writing, “Use not your liberty as an occasion for the flesh, but in love to serve one another.” You’re free to serve God and your brothers and sisters. If you take that on, you’ll discover real freedom in your heart and soul. It’s lifelong process, though…it doesn’t all happen at once. [The disciple] Paul says, in Romans, “I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved.”
On being a believer and not thinking: Jesus wants us t think for ourselves. It’s also true that you don’t think so much with your mind, as of the Spirit. Your life is not your own, you were bought wiith a price. You still have your carnal, but you’re seeking to have this spiritual one take over. It’s a process. Jesus talks about taking up your cross, daily.

What do you think about the attitude to link rock music with evil contents?
I think music is like languages. And I think they can be used for evil or good.

In your opinion lirics can really influence the youg listeners?
Sure. But I also think it can be a complex issue. I hope that young people are affected by music…only time will tell.

What do you think about the artists that put subliminal messages in their albums, some involved seem to be The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Stix and many others…?
I never really cared much about that stuff. I remember the whole Paul [Mcartney] is dead thing…I just thought it was really weird. My friend Paul [Farmer], who was involved in inspiring me to do this album…he was really into it. That’s why I put the backwards whispering in.

In Italy we have had a lot of problems about the connections between satanism and heavy metal with some horrible murderes, what’s your point of view about this?

I think music is a powerful influence. That’s why I love it so much. It can powerful influence people to evil or to come to God.

What does it mean for you to be a Christian artist in a world (the music one in particular) were there is a very little place for God and his loving message?
You gotta come to my world, brother (laughs)! There’s two world’s going on: there’s this physical world…and then Jesus says, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” I find that there’s a lot of people really hungry for God.

These seem to be very dark times, in your opinion which is the most important thing to change as soon as possible in our world?
It starts with a “J” (laughs).

If somebody ask to you “Why do you do all that?” What is your replay?
My direction is really driven by where I feel God wants me to feel his heart. It’s really a liberating thing, because you know that what are doing is the right thing, even you can’t see that at the moment.

Which was the best gift that you’ve experienced since you’ve started your solo project?

The Holy Spirit.

Do you have a word of hope to end this interview?
Praise the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and watch what happens.


other interviews: 2003 (only in italian)

Reviews (only in italian): It's Not Too Late; Testimony; Testimony Live; One
; ?; Cover to Cover; Sola Scriptura;? Live; Sola Scriptura Live; Lifeline; So Many Roads; Testimony 2 Live

Web Site

Related Artists: Spock's Beard; Transatlantic

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