Constant, the label debut from newly signed BEC recording artist and three-time GMA Canada Covenant Award-nominated singer/songwriter and worship leader Andrew Marcus, releases August 12 in the United States and releases July 29 in Canada. Produced by Scott Cash (Dan Bremnes) and executive produced by Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin), Constant—Marcus' sixth studio recording—features writing and vocal collaborations from such leading worship names as Paul Baloche and Leeland, among others. Marcus penned or co-penned the album's seven selections, anchored by the touchstone track, “Glory To His Name.” Constant also showcases “You Are With Me,” co-written with Baloche and nominated for a 2015 Covenant Award; the declaratory “Good To Me” (feat. Baloche); and the title track (feat. Leeland). In addition, the project includes bonus live acoustic renditions of three songs, recorded at a cabin near Nashville. Andrew recently took a few minutes to preview Constant with us and talk about the making of the record and the stories behind the songs.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of Constant! Please take us through the journey to this record. How long has this album been in the making? And, how does it feel to have the finished version ready for release?
I have been working on this album since August 2014. Over the past couple of years some people at church encouraged me to think about recording a new album. We’ve been singing “Glory to His Name” at our church for a few years and I was always overwhelmed at the response. That was the song that triggered the album. During the “turn to your neighbour and welcome them to church” moment I was sharing with a lady that I felt called to record a new album. She looked at me in shock, then ran and got her Bible to show me something. She shared the story of Moses and Aaron getting more than enough for the temple when they made an appeal to the people. The Lord told her to underline the verse, but she had no idea who that word was for. When I mentioned the new project and the fear of not having the finances she knew the word was for me. She encouraged me to record the new album. She said something I’ll never forget: “Andrew, this is God’s project, it’s His money, these are His songs for His church. And you are His! This album literally has nothing to do with you!” It was in that moment that I knew I needed to step out in faith and work on God's project. God has been so faithful throughout the entire process and I am so excited to share these songs with God’s Church! My prayer is that the music encourage every listener to worship the Almighty God and bring glory to His name!
How did your partnership with BEC Records come to be?
It is such a God story in how my partnership with BEC came to be. We had Citizens and Saints leading worship at our church earlier this year and our young adult worship team opened for them. I was playing electric guitar that night and also overseeing our hospitality team. I had the opportunity to chat with Zach from the band and we talked about life and ministry. I shared a song with him and he is really the one who connected me with BEC. He dropped me an email later that week saying he wanted to introduce me to the BEC team. Everything else happened so fast. We had a few meetings and the more we connected the more I just fell in love with the team. I am so excited about this partnership and I really believe God has big plans for His glory with this album, and whatever else he leads us to do together in the future.
I understand that you have a prodigal son testimony of sorts from your teenage years? Can you briefly share that story with us and explain how it impacted this collection?
Growing up I always knew that God was real and that He had a plan for my life. However, throughout high school I didn't necessarily have the desire to follow Him or surrender my life to Him. So like many teens, I did things my own way and in my own strength.
When my parents would go to church they would have to drag me along. I always wanted to stay at “bedside Baptist” with “pastor pillow.” The portion of the service I liked the least was worship. I would pretend I had a stomach ache and would go wait in the bathroom until the music was finished. Until my first year of university I never sang or played instruments.
Everything in my life changed when I decided to go to church on my own. I drove to a church that I’ve never been to before (the Holy Spirit led me to a place in a different city). I remember sitting at the top corner in the balcony. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t want to know anybody. The pastor said, “I want you to think of your talents and offer them to the Lord.” I put my hand up and said, “Lord use me in music.” I quickly put my hand down. Not only have I never played an instrument, I didn't even like music in general. I was just starting the business program at a local university thinking I would continue in that field, but the Lord clearly had different plans.
A few days later I got an email from a guy I didn't know. He specifically said he wanted to teach me guitar and that he didn't teach for the money, but for "people who wanted to use their talents to glorify God.” It was as if he knew I prayed that prayer a few days earlier at that church service! I ended up meeting him to take a few guitar lessons and he looked familiar. I found out he was on the worship team of the church that the Holy Spirit led me to a few weeks before. When I started seeing the Lord’s fingerprints all over my life so clearly I knew that I needed to surrender to Him. I ended up switching out of the business program and got my bachelor of theology while taking lessons and learning more and more about music.
These new songs are a huge part of my story. I find myself singing and writing about the amazing redemption that we have in Jesus. The work He has done in my life—and continues to do— births songs within me about His loving kindness, His faithfulness and His sovereignty.
How would you describe the sound of the record to brand new listeners?
My desire for this project from the moment we stepped into pre-production was to create songs people could sing together. My goal was never to write for radio or anything else. I enjoy doing experimental recordings in my studio at home, but when it came to this specific record, my desire was to fuel the Church with songs that proclaim the gospel in a way that people from all walks of life could understand— songs with singable melodies that are filled with gospel Truths about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Of course, we always try and think of new and creative ways of sharing those Truths both lyrically and musically.
Can you give us some insight into the meaning behind the title track and why you chose it to represent the collective record?
“Constant" was the last song written on the album and how it came to be was such a God thing. In fact, this whole album has been such a God thing! The Lord has been so Constant through the entire project from beginning to end.
When the record was complete I had six studio songs and three live versions. I felt so strongly that I was supposed to do a seventh song. Even looking back at an email a lady at our church wrote in 2014 when this whole project started, she had a word from the Lord that I was to do an album with seven songs. Amazing! That was such confirmation for me. Leeland and the rest of the band said they would love to be a part of the seventh song, so I flew a red-eye from Canada to meet them on a Monday morning and then drove 12 hours through the night from Oklahoma to the studio in Franklin. Again, looking back at everything, nothing makes sense! God really orchestrated this whole project from the beginning.
What was it like to work with Paul Baloche and Leeland?
I am so blessed and thankful for my friendships with Paul and Leeland over the years. I have learned so much from them from a distance and it has been absolutely incredible getting to learn even more as we continue to do life together.
Paul is such an incredible songwriter. I love working on new songs with him because I learn so much every time we co-write. I remember when we were working on “Good to Me,” Paul made some suggestions that I never really considered about the song. He has such an amazing perspective when it comes to writing. Some of his suggestions were so different from the original writings that it took a while for me to get used to the changes. I am so thankful for his input on these songs. It was an absolute joy and privilege to write with him, and it was also educational.
The same is true of Leeland. I remember we were working on a chorus idea for “Constant." Suddenly he left the room; he went to be alone with the Lord and just spent some time coming up with ideas. He came back to the tracking room with some totally different concepts. Both Paul and Leeland are overflowing with the love of Jesus and it’s contagious every time I connect with them. It overflows into their relationships and songs, and that joy follows them everywhere they go.
Were there any songs that were particularly challenging to write or record?
"Good To Me" was challenging to record. A friend of mine, Nevin Sawler, had this song idea in his heart for quite a few years. He shared it with me when I was staying at his house in Toronto after playing at his church, and I just fell in love with the verse. We came up with a new chorus idea together and I was so excited about it. Some of the ideas changed in the studio, as we continued to iron it out with Paul Baloche, Ed Cash and Scott Cash. I remember leaving those vocal recordings until the very last day I was in Nashville because the lyrics had changed quite a bit in the chorus and it almost became unfamiliar to me. I had to spend a few days worshiping to the song to get comfortable with it. Looking back now, I am so thankful that the Lord led us to move in the direction we did. God is so good. That process was challenging but also very educational. I learned so much about all the little details that often get overlooked when crafting a song.
Is there a certain song that has special meaning for you personally?
"Glory to His Name" has a very special place in my heart. It really was the song that birthed the entire record. How the song came to be can only be described as an event orchestrated by the Lord. I was attending a prayer meeting at my parents' house with some very close friends who are pastors. Their son came to me with a prophetic word during the prayer time. He said, “God is going to give you a new song. He will give it to you when you are not trying to write one; it will just come from the overflow of your worship to Him when you are not expecting it, and it will be a song that will reach the nations for His glory!” I thought that was really exciting but never really thought about it again. A few days later, when I was getting ready for the day, a melody came to me. I began singing "Glory to His Name" as I worshiped the Lord in my room. In less than 10 minutes I had both verses, the pre-chorus and chorus, not realizing at all that a song was being birthed. I quickly recorded a voice memo—not remembering the prophetic word, or really thinking anything of the song. I shared it with the worship team at the church I was attending at the time and we led it for our weekend services. The response overwhelmed me. Every time I lead this song at my home church or church I am visiting, God moves in such a powerful way. I pray that as we worship with this song, God will continue to get all the glory and praise.
If there is one take away message you hope people grasp after listening to the new music, what would it be?
Honestly, the only take away message that I pray people grasp after listening to this record is that Jesus Christ is Lord! I pray that every listener who hears this album is either reminded or learns for the first time that only in the name of Jesus are we saved. Jesus is alive, and His presence always surrounds us. Whether we are on mountain tops or valley lows, the Lord is constant in every season and He remains faithful to us through every battle He allows us to face.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
It overwhelms me to think that God has created friendships with so many people I’ve been inspired by over the years. It really doesn't make any sense to me. Tim Hughes came to the church I was attending when I was just starting to learn the guitar. I would watch that worship service on the church’s website literally every night with my mom and just observe how he communicated with the band, how he led the songs, and how he played chords on the guitar. It was all new to me at the time. Leeland Mooring has been a huge inspiration to me since his debut record in 2006. The way he loves Jesus and people, both on and off the stage, is incredible. I am so thankful for our friendship and I continue to learn so much from him every time we are together. Paul Baloche has been such an inspiration in the area of songwriting for the church, and Phil Wickham also has been a huge influence over the years.