10 Questions with ... Aaron Shust
July 18, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
This Is What We Believe (2011)
1) Catch us up on your musical journey. How did you connect with Centricity Music?
I signed with Centricity Music last fall after hearing a lot of great things about how they operate and what they believe in. No one had one bad thing to say about joining their family. And it is just that: it's a family, not an institution. My previous label, Brash Music, also treated me like family, and when life took us our separate ways, I knew I wanted to have that sense of family in whichever label would have me.
2) What is the story behind the latest single "My Hope Is In You"?
I had finished writing all the songs for this record except two. Two were still in progress when the deadline demanded I play all the songs I had for the team. Out of 20 songs, seven were chosen. This gave me time to finish those two songs ("Your Majesty" and "Wondrous Love," which both made the record and I'm so glad they did: two of my favorites) but I was exhausted from a busy fall of touring and months of my youngest battling severe health issues. I didn't have the energy or apparent inspiration to write more.
I was finally open to taking an outside song, one that I had no part in writing, so long as I could embrace its message. I asked Ed Cash if he had any songs he thought may fit. He said he'd been sitting on this song for six months, and his wife and kids couldn't stop singing it. He played it for me, sent me the link to this beautiful song by April Geesbreght and when my wife heard it, she demanded I record it. I listen to my wife; she's smart like that.
3) Is there a particular message or theme to the songs on This Is What We Believe? With a title like that, I'd sure think so....
Funny, there were a few songs in that list of 20 that I love, that are great songs I think, but didn't fall into that category of basic doctrines of Christianity. I told the people I would cow-rite with: "This song that we're about to write has three criterion: it must fall into the category of 'This is what we believe,' it must be so easy to sing that you want to play it at your church this Sunday, and it must be under 100 words." We probably failed at the later two on a couple occasions, but it set our minds to the task of providing songs for the church that the church could embrace and give it a voice to not just ask for things of God or tell God how we feel, but to proclaim what we believe about who He is.
4) Do you have any humorous, inspiring or interesting stories from visits with radio stations?
I went to a radio station in Kentucky and spent a couple hours on the morning show. As I was leaving, a gentleman showed up at the station with his young daughter and her new blue guitar for me to sign. She was just learning to play and really liked my music. I taught her how to tune it and showed her a few chords. We've kept in touch via Twitter, they come to any show in the Kentucky area, and I hear that she just successfully performed "My Savior My God" on guitar for the first time. Little things like that aren't so little to me at all. I think of the musicians that I looked up to when I was kid and a fan of Christian music. It kind of blows my mind that people might see me like that. It's a beautiful responsibility and privilege.
5) Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
I can tell you this is my favorite album. I don't know. I fluctuate from the title track to "Your Majesty" to "Wondrous Love." It's a tight race.
6) Who inspires you personally, spiritually and/or professionally?
Billy Graham. A man who delivered a simple, non-flowery, straightforward message of God's love, a man who did his best to balance the platform he was given with the family he was blessed with. I'd be lying if I didn't say Chris Tomlin. He led me to the throne room of heaven through his music and concerts for years before I wrote my first corporate song. He writes for the church, which is difficult to do. It would be much easier for me to write songs that mean something different to every listener. Songs for the church can't be like that.
7) What is the best advice you've ever been given?
Proverbs 21:31 in the Message: "Do your best, prepare for the worst and trust God to bring the victory."
8) What song do you wish you had written?
Ave Maria by Bach/Gounod. Most beautiful melody to my ears.
9) Fill in the blank: I can't start the day without:
Coffee and Jesus; at least not start it well.
10) Do you have much time to check out other artists' music? What are you listening to right now?
I listen to a lot of soundtracks: Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Ennio Morricone, etc. It depends on the weather and food. "Buena Vista Social Club" on a hot day when Hispanic food is on the menu, the "Band of Brothers," "Rudy" or "Little Women" soundtrack on rainy or snowy mornings. "The Godfather" soundtrack when we're having Italian, which is often. It's Aaron Copland with meat and potatoes, and Jack Johnson on Pancake Saturday Mornings in the summertime. Life is an experience; it deserves a proper soundtrack. I listen to my friend Dizz when I drive, a young rap artist from my hometown of Aliquippa who has recently come to faith, in love with God and brilliant.