If you take a look at the CD cover for Mainstay’s CD, “Well Meaning Fiction,” you’ll see three guys on the cover. However, when you meet the band in person, only two of the three on the cover are still in the group, along with two brand new additions, both of whom look like British brothers, with their punky 1980s Duran Duran hairstyles and piercing eyes. At the heart of this group is lead singer and songwriter Justin Anderson, an amiable young guy with a great grin from Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city he says is like most other American cities, spiritually-speaking.
“The spiritual climate in Minneapolis, I suppose, is like any other city,” says Justin. “There are lost people and people who know Christ. People that are lost don’t know they’re lost. And the people who do know Christ, including myself, need to do more to reach out to those people.”
So Justin surrounds himself with fellow Christian musicians, including Ryan DeYounge, who is tall, blonde, and looks like a California surfer dude, along with Scott Campbell and Dan Ostebo, the aforementioned “Duran Duran brothers,” in an effort to make positive, spiritual pop-rock.
Bass-player Dan says R&B, jazz, and funk have all influenced his playing.
“My heart, though, is definitely into rock-n-roll bass lines,” he says. “I like melodic, European-style sounds, and great hooks.”
Does Mainstay sound like Switchfoot? Yes. But they also count other bands like Jimmy Eat World, Dishwalla, Acceptance, Deathcab For Cutie, Silverchair, and the Goo Goo Dolls among their influences.
“Our music is similar to bands like Acceptance and Switchfoot,” says Ryan. “It’s melodic rock—nothing fancy, just straight-up melodic rock. We generally appeal to people from age 15 to 45.”
Mainstay’s CD, “Well Meaning Fiction,” released in February 2006 on BEC Recordings. It’s filled with several appealing songs. Their debut radio single “Take Away,” according to Dan, is getting the biggest reaction in concert.
Justin, who wrote “Take Away,” wants the song to encourage people to live a God-centered life.
“It’s a song about the sovereignty of God and how He can take away whatever He wants whenever He wants,” he says. “It might not make any sense to us, but He is still being good through it all.”
Talking with Justin, you will get the idea that he is not a fan of man-centered teaching. He’s much more interested in what The Bible says, and, more specifically, what Jesus says in the New Testament.
“I love Jesus,” he says. “I want to know Him more. I want to be captivated by Him on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been digging in the gospels. I want to learn fresh, new things, to see things I haven’t seen through The Word and my personal prayer life and through serving others.”
Statements like those can only come from Christian rockers, because mainstream rockers would never say things like that. One often wonders if people involved in the Christian music scene never have a bad day, but they do.
When asked what gets on their nerves, Scott speaks up.
“People who drive poorly,” he states, matter-of-factly. “There are laws. There are things you’re supposed to do when you drive, and when people don’t do these things, it’s really frustrating.”
All the guys laugh. It’s good to know these rockers are human.
It seems like Mainstay is one of those rare bands that can and will straddle the line between being both Christian and mainstream, much like Switchfoot. Justin recognizes that there’s a need for young bands to reach out to people who may or may not go to church to let them know that The Bible is life changing, and that Christianity is not meant to be trendy.
“I think the modern American church is way too focused on trivial things,” he says. “I don’t like it when people try and make Christianity cool or trendy. It’s so much bigger than that. The modern American church says, ‘Life is hard, but Jesus is a friend who can help you. He’s nice. He’ll pat you on the back. He’ll make you feel good about yourself.’ That’s setting young people up to fail because that’s a false gospel. I think it’s important to give people sound biblical doctrine rather than a pat on the back or friendship seminars. Biblical doctrine is much more helpful—I know it has been in my life.”
Mainstay, who’ve toured with Sanctus Real and The Afters, will play Faith Night with the Buffalo Bisons, as sponsored by Kingdom Bound, on Saturday, June 3, 2006, in downtown Buffalo, New York, at Dunn Tire Park. For tickets, call 888-456-0451.
For more info, check out www.mainstayrock.com
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