I’m pleased to share the following interview with Dave Wang, frontman and guitarist for the band Critical Mass. Dave shares his insights on the band, their new project Body Language, and the state of Catholic music.
Congratulations on the release of your new project, Body Language. Before telling us about the music on this new CD, please share a bit about yourself and your family.
I am a dad of 9. I’m a university professor in my day job and my wife is a physician. Our days are pretty insane as all the kids are active in sports. They play hockey and soccer. I have coached most of my kids at one time or another in soccer.
What are the origins of Critical Mass and how has the band developed over time?
It’s been over a decade of making music. The band members have changed over the years but I have been the constant. The music tends to reflect the influences of the current band members. After world youth day 2002, we had a wholesale change of personnel with the new musicians mostly still in college. We also recently added a member who was part of Canada’s punk scene twenty years ago. Needless to say, the new album is edgier and rockier than previous releases but we still have our signature ballads. We have redone two of our most popular songs as well from the past, Body and Blood as well as Walk You Home. We have a new Tantum Ergo and a song called Devotion, dedicated to marriage. These four songs are all ballads. We have harder edged songs singing about society’s view on sex, about celibacy, homosexuality and even contraception.
What inspired Body Language and how would you describe the music to listeners who haven’t heard it yet? What is the message of the project?
Pope John Paul II definitely was the biggest influence. When I first read about the Theology of the Body, which places love, sex and communion in the true Catholic context, it was a huge revelation to me. FOr the first time, our teachings about chastity, our teachings about contraception, our teachings about marriage… it was being taught, not from the point of view of “thou shalt not…” but about “elevating” the sexual act to its proper place. Once you have done that, all of our so-called restrictive teachings don’t seem to be anymore. For teens who are so preoccupied with sex, this is probably the best way to teach them about love and sex. The music, of course, is geared towards this audience.
All in all, pretty risky stuff… a Christian rock album about sex geared towards the youth.
You’ve taken a new approach with this CD offering it by digital download. What’s the motivation for that innovative type of marketing? Is this the future of the music industry?
The music industry is definitely in flux. The record companies are in collapse and CD sales are plummeting so badly that USA Today predicted there may not even be CDs in stores next Christmas! We have released our album first as a digital download (mp3s). They can be obtained by going to www.CatholicRock.com. Essentially, we send the mp3s directly to your computer. The beauty of this is that the music can be continually enhanced as can the liner notes. We plan to eventually have our liner notes direct the listener back to our website where we are currently updating so there will be great resources for the youth to talk about sex and love in the context of their faith.
What do you want listeners to take away from their experience of enjoying Body Language?
First, turn it up loud! Seriously, though. I want people to think about the message. The lyrics took about a year to write and was one of the toughest things I have ever done. However, we also really want people to get the music out to others. Share the music and tell them to come to our website if they are interested in supporting us.
How can people find out more about Critical Mass and follow the band?
Visit www.CatholicRock.com and www.myspace.com/CatholicRock. We’d also like to announce that mediatrix records (www.mediatrixrecords.com) is now partnering with us to get our music into the US Market.
Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes. There might be a concern about letting younger kids listen to the music because of the topics. Due to having to constantly listen to the music, my kids, ranging from 4 to 16, have all pretty much memorized many of the songs, yes, even including stuff talking about sex. Of course, it is over their heads right now. However, secular songs that are everywhere are influencing them right now. See how many kids know the song ‘crank that” by Soulja Boy and know all the actions that go with the song. Parents should research the slang. It is disturbing what that song is actually about. Personally, I’d rather influence them with my frank lyrics talking about the church’s view on sex than have them listen to garbage like Soulja Boy’s song.