Michael Gungor leads the band Gungor with his wife Lisa, they recently released a new live album. Michael also recently published a new book titled ‘The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse’, self described as “a book for creators”.
Was The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse something that just flowed out or did it take quite a bit of work to get it out into the world?
The first draft flowed out pretty quickly. It was something that I had been wanting to say, and at first, the words just kept pouring out. But then I had to go through and polish and re-write everything. That took a lot longer.
What’s the biggest thing you personally have gotten out of the book writing process?
It is interesting how the writing process affects your thinking. I was writing about these ideas that I thought I believed in, but in actually having to fully articulate them; it made me engage with the ideas in a different sort of way. Writing really has a way of clarifying your thinking. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.
[I'd love to have some insight into your musical side] Style wise, is what we hear on the albums just the music bursting from inside you? Are the unique rhythms just something that comes natural?
Yeah, I have a pretty diverse musical taste, and I think that’s reflected in the music that we make. I try not to think in terms of genre, so our music is often just an experiment with whatever we happen to have in our hands. I also have a propensity towards the odd. Whether that’s odd instrumentation or odd time sign signatures, I enjoy it when music makes me have to stop and listen.
What kind of pressure do you feel when you’re writing new music? After being nominated for Grammys and having lots of churches play your songs, do you find it harder to write songs, maybe easier? Has it changed how you sit down and write a song at all?
There is certainly the temptation to just go back and repeat what has worked in the past. But that is something I try to avoid doing because, in reality, what worked in the past was honesty. Those songs were crafted in a way that wasn’t necessarily trying to please the crowd. We didn’t make that music to be accepted by anybody. We wrote that music because it was burning in our souls to write that music. That’s why I create what I create. So I do my best to avoid the temptation to change the way I write. Ironically, if I stay true to that, it probably means that I will end up totally changing the way that I write because I am continually evolving as a person. If I stay true to who I am, my art should continue to evolve as well.
What comes next after the live album? Are you already planning or working on a new full length?
We are on tour right now and are planning on getting into the studio for our next album when we get back home. I have lots of ideas brewing, but I think I’m going to need some serious time at home in my garage/studio to start experimenting for awhile before the artistic vision starts clarifying. One of the themes that I have a suspicion will show its head is the idea of lament. Part of my faith’s tradition is this idea of shaking one’s fist at the heavens as a way of keeping your soul intact and out of denial and compartmentalization. That’s something that I think a lot of modern religious expression has lost its way on. I’m curious about exploring that a little.
Tyler Hayes runs the music discovery site NBT.FM