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Group Members: Jeff Deyo
All Music Guide:
Nashville-based alternative CCM group Sonicflood comprised singer Jeff Deyo, guitarists Dwayne Larring, and Dana Weaver, bassist Rick Heil, keyboardist Jason Halbert, and drummer Aaron Blanton. Discovered after a March 1998 club date by Gotee Records president Joey Elwood, Sonicflood issued their self-titled LP later that year, topping the CHR charts with the single "I Want to Know You (In the Secret)." Sonicpraise was issued in fall 2000.
Sonicflood (sometimes stylized as SONICFLOOd) is an American contemporary worship music band from Nashville, Tennessee. The band originally formed in 1997 under the name Zilch. The group took the name Sonicflood, a reference to a line in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19, verse 6, in 1998 as they became known as a praise and worship band following some line-up changes.
They released their debut album at a time when such music was gaining commercial success in the Christian music industry. In turn, their success fed the contemporary worship music genre, expanding its appeal.
Since their debut, Sonicflood has sold almost two million albums, and produced top worship hits (often as covers) including "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever", "Resonate", "Cry Holy" and "Here I am to Worship". In the early years of their existence, the group earned two Dove awards and three further nominations, and one Grammy nomination. Additionally, their eponymous debut took Gold status, and spawned several No. 1 hits on Christian radio.
Sonicflood's line-up has changed significantly from its original band, partially due to disagreements over the artistic direction that they should take. These conflicts eventually left the band with no founding members. With Rick Heil at the helm since 2000, the band has continued to release albums and tour internationally.Dietor-Hartley, Shannon (December 1999). "Album Advice / Sonicflood". Church Musician Today (4): 28. ISSN 0009-6466. Riddle, Melissa (May 29, 2000). "Modern Worship Music Booms". CCM Update. OCLC 22937802.
ContentsHistory1.1 As Zilch1.2 Formation of Sonicflood1.3 Sonicflood and Sonicpraise1.4 Under Rick Heil
Zilch began as dc Talk's traveling band, forming into an independent act in 1997. The initial recording lineup was lead singer and guitarist Mark Lee Townsend, keyboardist Jason Halbert, bassist Otto "Sugar Bear" Price and drummer Rick May. Zilch released its first album, Platinum, in 1997 on Gotee Records but received little publicity. Platinum featured a modern rock sound with clear influences from 1960s pop music. One review cited the sound as being similar to that of All Star United, and another to Weezer plus pop and hip-hop influences.
This release was not praise and worship music, which the band would soon become known for, but contained more standard fare, including songs on topics like friendship, complacency, and priorities. Overall, the band was characterized as not taking themselves seriously, for instance by including a cover of the Schoolhouse Rock! song "My Hero, Zero", and reflected in the band's name, which was taken from the song by the same name written by The Monkees. Likewise, the title of the album was a play on their own status as musicians. "We're appointing ourselves superstars with a 'Platinum' album..." Jason Halbert told one reporter, "That basically means Zilch!," Their song "In The Sky" is an answer to two hits at the time, Joan Osborne "One of Us" and Dishwalla "Counting Blue Cars", opening with the line, "... she asked if God was just a slob like us, well maybe something there is lacking," the second verse begins with, "Let me tell you all my thoughts on God, cause I just met with Him this morning..."
In early 1998 Mark Lee Townsend stepped down from the role of lead singer and was replaced by then-independent artist Jeff Deyo. Zilch would play shows, sometimes ending them with a praise song such as "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High." The band found that playing such music changed the nature of audience interaction with their performance, in positive ways.
Formation of Sonicflood
"We had misconceptions of what [praise and worship] was... Our idea in the past was that it had to be acoustic guitar, piano, and organ. Now, all of that goes out the window."Jeff Deyo on praise and worship music
Their label took notice as well, and eventually suggested that the band consider recording a full-length praise and worship album. This idea was initially met with resistance from the band, which was already in the process of recording a second album under the title Millennium. Eventually, the band agreed to do a praise and worship as a one-off, with no intention of continuing beyond the single album. However, as the recording progressed, the band decided to commit to the project. Jeff Deyo characterized the band's name change as a sign of that commitment, saying that it was similar to the story of the conversion of Paul of Tarsus.
Sonicflood began rotating personnel making changes that would heavily impact the future of the band. Otto Price played bass, co-produced, and shared some writing credits on the album, but not wanting to continue touring, dropped out of the core band. Price would eventually take the spot of vice president of A&R at Word Records. Mark Lee Townsend did similarly, and was listed on Sonicflood as an additional musician. Already an industry veteran, he went on to produce albums for The OC Supertones and Relient K, among others. Additionally, he intended to release a second project under the name Zilch. However, despite occasional status updates throughout the 00s, that album is yet unreleased.
Seven Day Jesus guitarist Dwayne Larring and drummer Aaron Blanton became members of the band, bringing their number to four. The original lineup, under which the album Sonicflood was recorded consisted of Deyo, Halbert, Blanton, and Larring. Heil, then the Big Tent Revival bass guitar player, took over on bass guitar in early 1999 before Sonicflood began touring, but did not appear on the album.
Sonicflood and Sonicpraise
Sonicflood released its debut album in February 1999. With this release, the band became one of many bands in the burgeoning genre of praise and worship music, joining Delirious?, Hillsong, Matt Redman, and others at a time when the genre was a fast-growing part of the Christian music industry. The album landed on Billboard charts including the Billboard 200, the top 10 Christian albums, and peaking at No. 2 on the Heatseekers Chart. The band would stay on the top 10 Christian album charts well into the year 2000 (for over 72 weeks), and becoming possibly the best known praise and worship band in America.
The release had two No. 1 hits on Christian radio, "I Want to Know You" (written by Andy Park) and "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever" (written by Martin Smith of Delirious?), and several lesser charting singles. The latter was probably their most well known song, and would gain an additional Dove nomination the following year, in the "Song of the Year" category. The band garnered three Dove Award nominations in 2000 and one win, for "Praise and Worship Album". In 1999 the band recorded a live album at the Flevo Festival but featuring content from other shows as well. Originally scheduled for a late 2000 release, changes in the band's structure would delay the album until 2001. .
In the fall of 1999 the band toured with speaker Josh McDowell. The following Spring Sonicflood joined the "Love Liberty Disco Tour", headlined by the Newsboys. The band also recorded a track for the compilation album City on a Hill with Peter Furler as lead vocalist. This release would take a Dove award for "Special Event Album" in 2001, although by that time the band would bear no resemblance to the one which recorded it.
Sonicflood dissolved throughout the year 2000, citing differences over the vision of the band. Issues that led to the band dissolving included whether the band should return to a more conventional musical strain or continue making praise and worship music and how the band should sound. These were complicated by the fact that the band had no true leadership; the original arrangement was equal ownership for each member. In a corporate fashion, this meant that each one had equal say in the direction of the band.
Jeff Deyo resigned in May 2000 at the behest of the remaining members. In later interviews, he stated that he viewed what happened as himself having been laid off. Dean Rush, the lead singer of the New Zealand worship band Form and who had previously played with the Newsboy's Phil Joel, was recruited as lead singer, but lasted only a short time. In summer 2000, various radio stations were sent a sneak preview CD of the live Sonicpraise concert recordings with Rush on lead vocals. Since this was a rough cut, these tracks received little if any airplay. This is a collector's item for those who can find it. By the fall of that year, all members except Heil had departed. During this period the disagreements between members escalated into legal threats. It was reported that Larring and Blanton were pushed out under pressure directly from Heil. For his part, Heil denies using any form of legal action. Heil took the role of lead singer and began recruiting new members to fill the band's touring obligations.
This turmoil led to the delay of their live album because the now-departed members owned the name Sonicflood, which in turn prevented any publishing under it. By spring 2001, Sonicflood had gone Gold and the legal complexities that surrounded the band's name and ownership had been resolved. Sonicpraise, the live album recorded in 1999, was finally released. Similar to their eponymous album, it featured a mix of songs from that Sonicflood and new covers written by other praise artists. This album earned a Grammy nomination for "Best Gospel Rock Album", and the band was on Billboard charts once again.
Jeff Deyo went on to sign with Gotee, releasing a series of praise and worship albums under his own name. Aaron Blanton joined By the Tree as their drummer, eventually becoming their lead singer and guitarist, which he remains to this day. Halbert and Larring formed a production company, based in Los Angeles.
Gotee Records continues to release Sonicflood products from time to time. These albums include Gold (a 2004 re-release of both Gotee albums with some bonus material), The Early Years in 2006 (which contains a mix of songs from the same,) and an installment in the Open Mic Karaoke series.
Under Rick Heil
With Heil at the helm, the band recruited Tom Michael, Todd Shay and Brett Vargason, each of whom were members of the John Cox Band and David "Moose" Alan, who played keyboards for Big Tent Revival. The band switched record labels, leaving Gotee and partnering with newly formed INO Records. Heil began developing a praise and worship album, designing it similarly to the band's 1999 release, with a mix of covers and original songs. The result of these efforts became Resonate, released in the fall of 2001. Owing to the completely new lineup, the sound of Resonate deviates from that of Sonicflood. The album has a largely electronic sound which was cited as unpolished, like a debut record. Their 2003 release Cry Holy takes an acoustic rock sound, drawing comparisons to Chris Tomlin.
Following the 2005 release of This Generation, the band toured internationally, recording their performances along the way. While in Muslim-dominated Turkey the band filmed a music video for their song "This Generation". Sonicflood toured with sponsorship by Compassion International in the Spring of 2006, and continued to tour in Europe in the Summer. These recordings were released as Glimpse: Live Recordings From Around The World in fall 2006. As support for Glimpse, the band embarked on a United States tour, with sponsorship from the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, and included missionaries as speakers.
In 2007, the band appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord to promote their appearance at an upcoming World Harvest Church-sponsored event. Bandleader Rick Heil appeared again the following year, in support of A Heart Like Yours, telling the story of his healing from Crohn's disease Heil contracted the disease at the age of 11, and was afflicted with it for 26 years. Heil's case was particularly bad and, he was told, incurable, leaving his only hope for cure in miracles. While Heil does not profess to have experienced a miracle per se, he does say that "Jesus is the great physician... the healer of the heart, the soul, the mind."
A Heart Like Yours has a rock and piano-dominated sound. One critic labeled the release as having a "pseudo-worship/pop album" feel, and noted lyrics "which don't fit very well within the worship genre", at least on some songs.
In 2009, guitarist Phil Baquie received notice of his military unit's activation, and orders to deploy to Afghanistan in October as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Though not yet a United States citizen, Baquie is in the military reserve, which is a possible path to citizenship. Baquie's final album appearance was on their 2009 Christmas album, When Love First Cried.Powell (2002). "Zilch". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. pp. 1065–1066. Brown, Bruce A. (September–October 1997). "Bankshots: Zilch". 7ball (14): 34. ISSN 1082-3980. Bumgarner, David (September–October 1997). "Reviews: Platinum". 7ball (14): 44. ISSN 1082-3980. Crabbe, Betrand (January–February 1998). "Tools / Music / Zilch Platinum". YouthWorker Journal 19 (3): 60, 62. ISSN 0747-3486. Taylor, Sean (December 1997). "Reviews / Platinum". CBA Marketplace 30 (12): 70. ISSN 1092-7239. OCLC 36184061. "Who's That Guy?". Zilch Online. January 15, 1998. Archived from the original on July 2, 1998. Chismar, Janet. "Jeff Deyo Traces the Road to and From Sonicflood". Crosswalk.com. Carlozo, Lou (November 1999). "The Latest Craze". CCM Magazine 22 (5): 40–42, 44. ISSN 1524-7848. Cooksey, G. (2005). "SONICFLOOd". In Pilchak, Angela M., ed. Contemporary Musicians. Volume 51. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. pp. 150–152. ISBN 0-7876-8064-8. ISSN 1044-2197. Parrish, Robin (2004). "A Conversation with Jeff Deyo". "Word Entertainment Announces Changes to A&R Department". Cmspin.com. McCabe, Ginny (July 1999). "Praise & Worship Music Changing for the Millennium". CBA Marketplace 32 (7): 222. ISSN 1092-7239. OCLC 36184061. "Christian Retail Top Albums". CCM Update. July 17, 2000. OCLC 22937802. "Truth Be Told". CCM Magazine 28 (3): 9. September 2005. ISSN 1524-7848. Moring, Mark (Jan–Feb 2001). "'I Could Sing of Your Love Forever'". Campus Life 59 (6): 20. ISSN 0008-2538. "Sonicflood on tour with the Newsboys". Cross Rhythms (56). April 2000. Franklin, Malia; Brasher, Joan (September 4, 2000). "Key Member Exits Spell Uncertain Future for Sonicflood, Burlap". CCM Update. OCLC 22937802. "Sonicflood get new lead in Dean Rush". Cross Rhythms (59). October 2000. Akins, Debra; Hendrickson, Lucas W. (May 21, 2001). "Sonicflood Makes Label Jump Following Turbulent Year". CCM Update. OCLC 22937802. • Partial reprint: "Sonicflood to sign to Jeff Moseley's INO Music label". Cross Rhythms (63). July 2001. "Sonicflood change band line up". Cross Rhythms (60). December 2000. Powell, Mark Allan (2002). "Sonicflood". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (First printing ed.). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 845–846. ISBN 1-56563-679-1. Castle, Nick (July 2004). "Gold Review". Cross Rhythms (81). Jones, Ewan (November 2, 2006). "The Early Years Review". Cross Rhythms. Toller, Richard (July 2004). "Open Mic Karaoke: Sonicflood Vol 1 Review". Cross Rhythms (81). Ake, Colin (January 3, 2003). "Cry Holy Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Cummings, Tony (November 2001). "Resonate Review". Cross Rhythms (66). "*Friday, September 1st, 2006* Sonicflood". Jesus Freak Hideout / The M Collective [ Newswire ]. September 1, 2006. "*Tuesday, January 24th, 2006* Sonicflood". Jesus Freak Hideout / The M Collective [ Newswire ]. January 24, 2006. Sonicflood (April 16, 2007). "*Monday, April 16th, 2007* Sonicflood". Jesus Freak Hideout. "Healing Touch". Cross Rhythms. September 10, 2008. Freeman, Huey (May 12, 2006). "Touching His Cloak: Sonicflood musician learns the age of miracles isn't over". Herald & Review (Decatur, IL). Willoughby, Peter (January 18, 2009). "A Heart Like Yours Review". Cross Rhythms. Dawson, Adam (August 7, 2008). "A Heart Like Yours Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. "SONICFLOOd Guitarist Leaves For Afghanistan". Jesus Freak Hideout. October 22, 2009.