Exclusive: Darren Mulligan Says We Are Messengers Holds Nothing Back On ‘Wholehearted’ Album

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Curb | Word Entertainment band We Are Messengers recently debuted its third full-length studio album, Wholehearted. Listen to the brand new 12-song collection HERE. Written and recorded during the global pandemic, Wholehearted features the K-LOVE Fan Award-winning group’s current radio single, “Come What May,” as well as previously released instant grat tracks “God You Are (feat. Josh Baldwin)” and “Friend Of Sinners.” Mulligan is a featured co-writer on each of the project’s original offerings with additional contributions by Kyle Williams, Jeff Pardo, Phil Wickham, Apollo LTD’s Adam Stark and Jordan Phillips, for KING & COUNTRY multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Backus, Ryan Ellis and Ethan Hulse, among other songwriting all-stars. In this TCB Exclusive, Mulligan tells how the band holds nothing back in their new music and what it was like filming the record’s accompanying music videos in his hometown in Ireland.

Congratulations on the recent release of your latest music! Can you talk about the title Wholehearted and the theme of the album?
It’s our third album, and on this record, we had a lot to say and talk about, so we had to really drill down and decide what the most important message would be – the overarching theme. For me, that was this idea that Jesus holds nothing back in His demonstration of love for us. So we wanted to write a record that was really wholehearted in a similar way and we would hold nothing back. So the truth about the beautiful things, the truth about the ugly things, the truth about doubt, fear, anxiety. We also want people to recognize the great sense of hope, joy, possibility, and purpose that we have in Jesus. So it’s a pretty 360 view of our experience and walk with Jesus over these past couple of years.

Which lyric do you think the world most needs to hear now in its current state?
There is a lyric on the song “Holding On.” It’s one of those deep album cuts, but it’s one of my favorites on the record. 

There’s a reason for living / Stick around and you’ll see / Yeah, it’s a tough season / But loss still has meaning / There’s fruit on that tree / So I’ll keep on holding on

It’s a song we wrote with a friend of ours who had lost his child. We wanted to write a song for people who are just wrestling continuously with something hard. And encourage them that sometimes all you can do is hold on and wait. I think that line really speaks to me and our hope is that it will keep many people alive who are wrestling with mental health issues, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Those people need an opportunity to have their voices heard and sometimes all they can do is hold on.

This album is marked by guest artists and many co-writing collaborations. How do you think that enhances the sound and overall quality?
I think it’s just better when you do things together. A lot of times we think we have all the ideas and solutions. But conversation is a really important part of writing a record. So one of the main goals this band has is to start conversations about Jesus. And I think to be at our best, we need to be having conversations with the people around us. So that’s where the songwriting has been improved upon with having multiple people involved. 
As far as the features, there are a couple of guys we really felt would fit perfectly on a few of the songs. One of those is “God You Are”. We really wanted a worship leader that we trust and who has incredible integrity, and also a voice that is gritty, manly, and strong to sing on it too. It’s a strange phrase to say that, but I recognize that in our church, a lot of the music tends to be quite tender and sometimes men can feel they don’t have a voice in the song movement. So I wanted to write a worship song that men could feel that they could sing together. Not just men, but also women, but that voice needed to have a similar intensity. Josh Baldwin brings that perfectly. 
And then on “Come What May”, which has really been just an incredible thing to watch that song travel around the world, we wanted Cory Asbury. Cory brings his self-deprecating humor and humility, which I also have. I just wanted to share his voice on that song. Sometimes the Holy Spirit just puts things together, and He really brought Cory into it. 

How will you define success for this collection?
The fruit of We Are Messengers is people turning from suicide, people getting help and hope in the middle of mental health crises, marriages being restored, and people turning from addiction, pride. Transformation, really. We have the knowledge that it all sounds like a very lofty goal because at the end of the day, God is doing the work. We want to partner with God in what He is doing. We want to be a part of it, so our role is to bring melody and lyric to what the Holy Spirit is already doing. Success for us is seeing this fruit. And then from a very practical level, there is such a dynamic that allows our shows to become such a fun experience. More diverse instrumentally, lyrically, melodically. At the end of the day, we are a rock and roll band that loves Jesus imperfectly, so I think the record reflects that and allows that.

The official music videos were all filmed in Ireland. Why was that important to you to have that filming location?
It’s a part of growing up and realizing what we’ve left behind at home. But it’s not just mourning or longing for that, it’s more just recognizing that all of these songs and all of who we are has its foundation in where we come from. So if you know where you come from, you are going to have a better idea of where you are going. We come from a very earthy, gritty, blue collar, working class, farming community. So that’s allowed us to deal with the success we have without becoming prideful or haughty. We remember that everything we have is a gift and is from the simple kindness of God. So we wanted to shoot those videos to also remind people of who we are and where we come from. You are better able to connect with an artist when you get a glimpse behind the curtain to get a real appearance. So we stripped everything back – there is no fancy settings. It’s just 12 music videos shot around our home in Ireland along the coastline. They are some of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I think they actually make the songs sound better. So you should watch the videos if you want to get the best experience of the songs.

What are you most expectant for in the remainder of 2021?
A couple of things – finishing our touring strong, to go out well. On November 23, myself, my wife, and my kids get to go back to Ireland for two months. We are going to two months in our cottage over there and do simple things, just remember how important it is to be together as a family and be together with people we love back home. So I’m expecting that God is going to continue to use theses song in my absence. Sometimes artists get concerned about always needing to push and be on the road, but what I’ve seen from this record is me taking my hands off has allowed God to make this our most successful launch of an album we’ve ever had. It’s beautiful – we realized we had 30 million streams week one, and you can’t make that. I’m a wee man from a farming community of 60 people. How do you get here? I’m only here because of the goodness of God and a few yeses.

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