Christian Band Emery…
Authors of “BadChristian, Great Savior” Tell All!
[Editor’s Note: This interview contains some mature references in the discussion related to sexual sin. Parental guidance recommended.]
Matt Carter and Toby Morrell of the band Emery, alongside friend and Pastor Joey Svendsen, have written a book titled BadChristian, Great Savior, learn more at their website. The book is more like a portion of intimate short stories of open and honest, raw to the bone and uncorked experiences of actual accounts of three friends who have encountered bad behaviors behind the scenes of Christian culture. This book in some moments is more graphic than PG-13, and it requires parental guidance. These guys hold nothing back explaining who they were, who they are presently, and how they feel about several topics. The book brings up topics such as sexual sin, depression, betrayal, anger, resentment, and alcohol abuse. It’s a Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde tale as they lived what they described as a second life: attending church, leading worship, and appearing and acting to be as good as possible. The book had over 1,500 pre-sale copies sold. It was fan-funded, and it tripled its initial funding goal. The authors also challenge the modern day church, and they identify failures that plague today’s contemporary Christians.
BADCHRISTIAN.com was formed in 2013 by Matt Carter, Toby Morrell, and Joey Svendsen. Matt and Toby are worship leaders and founders of the sucessful rock band Emery. Emery to date has sold over 500,000 records and toured 49 states. Joey Svendsen is a campus pastor and counselor at Seacoast Church. Their website has a blog with over 10,000 subscribers, a podcast that debuted at 15 on the iTunes Top Charts, and their very own record label that has announced its first release via the website: Kings Kaleidoscope’s new album Live In Color.
I spoke with the authors about their tell-all book:
What made you three decide to write this book now, and how did you come up with the title?
JOEY: We wanted to share an in-depth look at why we were doing BadChristian. It was our desire through the book, to lead by example when it came to our plea for Christians to be transparent. For sure, we wanted to make some money and bring about more exposure to BadChristian. I think an indirect motivation was to bring some more legitimacy and credibility to BadChristian, which is probably rooted in some sinful pride, unfortunately.
You are brutally open and honest in this book. How do you think the Christian populous and Emery fans will take the book?
JOEY: People are blown away in a good way. They read it and it’s like a breath of fresh air. This has been eye-opening to us as our suspicion has been substantiated. There is a major lack of these sorts of discussions in and outside of church culture. Christians and non-Christians both want to be able to talk openly, without all the offense and hate-speech.
Did Toby really tell people the movie Saving Private Ryan had blooper clips at the end of the credits? If so that is beyond hilarious!
JOEY: I was there. He did it. I couldn’t believe it.
Emery to me is the greatest band to rotate in an MP3 player during a workout; does the band go into the studio with this in mind? By that I mean that people may have intense workouts listening to Emery’s music?
Toby: Ha! We should do that! We take that as a compliment, by the way. When we write we just love mixing up the tempos and really mixing aggressive music with emotion and then leading the listener on to the next spot. I hope we have appropriate highs and lows for all listeners!
Matt unveils a very revealing drinking story in this book; what inspired you to become that honest with your fans?
MATT: Well, for me, when something comes up in the back of my mind and I tell myself, “Yeah, I don’t want to talk about that,” then I immediately know that is exactly what I should talk about. It also was a more recent story, so I thought that was important to make it apparent that our sin isn’t all in the past, as in “back in the day.” For some reason, people are much more comfortable talking about their sin the longer ago it occurred.
Do you believe God wants us to be open and completely honest no matter how bad the sin?
JOEY: I definitely think that the context matters. I’m not going to tell my daughter that I masturbated to porn last night nor tell my congregation that I’m struggling with hate for the lady in the front row. However, if we have to err on one side, I do believe we err on being as open and honest as we possibly can. The book that is our foundation does this, Jesus did it, Paul did it, why the heck would we not do it?
The checklist on pages 25-26 is a great revelation. Do you think if more people tried this approach to their faith they would be better for it in the long run?
Toby: I hope people see that a checklist is about them and not about Jesus. I mainly wanted people to see that the list is always good and bad and that the whole thing is about them. If your list is just one thing, get closer with Jesus, then things will eventually fade that are bad for you and good things will become natural and the norm.
Explain more about what you describe as a “Sold-Out” Christian?
JOEY: “Sold-Out” means to be devoted wholeheartedly to something. We are devoted wholeheartedly to a faith that teaches that we will sometimes not be wholeheartedly devoted. It’s just a tough thing to nail down. My best stab at it though would be to say that a sold out Christian is one that tries to put Jesus first in everything, allowing Him to prioritize our lives. He also constantly fights against idols. He also admits when he is losing the fight and then goes back to putting Jesus first in everything. If we try to hide our sin, we are putting our reputations above Jesus’, lessening the importance of the Cross in our own lives.
When Emery comes back to Nashville can I jam on drums with you guys during sound check (one-song)?
Toby & Matt: You’ll have to ask Dave that! Dude is protective of his drums!