Back in April 2017, I interviewed Dan Adams & Gareth Loh, aka Awesome Cutlery, about their new album ‘This is Awesome Cutlery’. Awesome Cutlery aim to produce fun music that helps families worship Jesus together. The chaps kindly took the time to give us the lowdown on life since then and shared the vision behind their new record, ‘All Together Now’, due out in December.
– Congratulations on the second album guys! It’s now been three years since the release of ‘This is Awesome Cutlery’. My impression is that the first album was really well received! What have been some of your reflections on the past three years?
Dan: When we recorded the first album, we just had some songs for our families and churches. We didn’t know what to expect, but thought the songs might be useful to others, so we asked God to use it to encourage families to talk about Jesus and worship him. It’s been overwhelming to hear from parents about conversations they’ve had on the back of a particular song or sketch. Others have said they really started doing family devotional times because of the booklet we brought out. What a joy!
Gareth: Looking back, we had a bit of soul-searching before starting the album in earnest – were we qualified? Were we allowed to do it? Would people think we were arrogant for trying? I’m glad God helped us find the right entrepreneurial approach of seeing the need and trying to meet it, but doing so with constant feedback along the way. We would have stopped if Christians we trusted told us, ‘Nice try, but music ministry isn’t for you’!
Dan” It’s still slightly strange to arrive at a Christian event and be approached by an enthusiastic parent who wants to share something of how the album has blessed their family. Each of those conversations is an opportunity to thank God for his faithfulness in answering prayer and his grace in using failures like us!
– Good stuff! Now, second albums are notoriously tricky! Was making All Together Now difficult?
Gareth: The thing that made it hardest was a sense of expectation. The first time, we didn’t know if anyone would listen – in fact, we only had 100 CDs printed the first run because we were worried about having garages full of unwanted copies! Knowing that this time quite a lot of people were likely to pick it up meant that we worked even harder on the songs, trying to fine-tune lyrics and melodies. As part of that, we were able to have a bigger budget, which means the album sounds a lot bigger than the first.
Dan: On the first album, G and I hardly spent any time in the same room writing together. All the songs were written by one of us then emailed across for feedback or suggestions. This time round we spent much more time together, and most of the songs are co-written. Sometimes we would meet for a day to write songs and come away with nothing useful. Other times, it really clicked and songs came very quickly. We’ve learnt much more about each other’s strengths and how we work together. I can come up with a lyric and melody idea and know that G will be much better at figuring out what chords should go with it.
Gareth: And likewise, Dan is great on coming up with a singable, catchy melody. I’ve very thankful to God for a team-mate on the project who is hugely gifted, and for the way that makes Awesome Cutlery better than the sum of its parts.
– Beautiful! Glad to hear it! So tell us, what are the super heroes up to this time?
Gareth: Still being pretty underwhelming! The hardest thing Captain Awesomeness tries to tackle is laying the table.
Dan: Just like the first album, the hero sketches fit around the songs. The album doesn’t really have a story-arc. It was more a matter of writing as many songs as we could, choosing the best ones, and then working out which ones would benefit from being introduced by a sketch.
Gareth: We’ve heard lots of parents say the sketches have helped children listen to the album, and also talk about discipleship issues together. It’s been fun aiming to continue that with these characters, whose relationship has definitely developed over time. Cutlery Boy especially really understands the Captain now, and that was nice to bring out in one or two of the sketches.
– What would you say have been your aims with this second album?
Dan: Our big prayer is that it might play a small part in God’s hands of raising up a generation who have a biblical worldview. A child’s worldview is being built all the time, based on what they see and hear. We hope that these songs and sketches will help children (and parents!) see themselves and the world the way God does. This is a tool that parents can add to their toolkits as they seek to teach their children how to see the world.
Gareth: Beyond that goal, and generally wanting to encourage singing together, there isn’t an overall theme for the album. We chose songs by things we got excited about ourselves. A few things I studied at Bible college – Union with Christ, and God’s plan & timing – ended up as tracks on the album. It was great to share those things with my own children as I was writing, and we hope that others will benefit in a similar way.
– Is there anything in particular we can be looking out for?
Dan: One song we’re really excited about is ‘Who I am’, which is a response to the pressure children are under to work out their own identity. I remember being at a school assembly and watching a group of children passionately singing a song from ‘The Greatest Showman’ – it contained glimmers of truth but ultimately gave them a self-centred way of understanding themselves. We wanted to write something that put God’s design for us in its true, positive light, and that helps us to celebrate the joy of being made in God’s image.
Gareth: There’s also a song called ‘We Are The Church’ which people have already enjoyed at some of our live shows. It’s got an anthemic feel, all about how huge church is – part of God’s masterplan of bringing all things under Christ. We hope churches might pick it up if they don’t have much like that in their repertoire.
– How might families and churches use the album?
Dan: One thing we want to do for ourselves is fill family times together with thinking about God, working at getting to know him better together. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to music on a car journey. One reason we invested so much in the production quality is so that it’s not painful to parents to listen multiple times over!
Gareth: Repetition is really powerful with children, it’s the way we learn when we are younger, so stick with it. It doesn’t take long for them to absorb the words better than you know them. You can also have fun with it – for example, one song says that God does AND doesn’t have a birthday, so a parent could easily say ‘What I’ve learned from that song is that God definitely doesn’t have a birthday.’ Children love correcting mistakes (don’t we all!?), and the conversation can go from there.
Dan: As for churches, we worked hard to make some of the songs really suited to singing congregationally. Along with that, we’ve been able to get sheet music and singalong videos done professionally, which we’re making available for free at www.awesomecutlery.com. Please visit and help yourselves!
You can pre-order All Together Now from 10ofthose here, ahead of it’s 4th December scheduled release!