In The Vault, you'll find a collection of old feature pieces
from our back issues. Beta started in June 1999, so you'll find a veritable
Remembering the birds: Woven
Hand's David Eugene Edwards
Fans and critics who know David Eugene Edwards
are perpetually fascinated with the way he handles the delicate, sometimes
impossibly fragile, balance that sits at the heart of his music. Edwards,
who fronts 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand is an evangelical Christian. His
music draws sustenance from the fire and brimstone Christianity that
America's heartland embraces. This faith relates to spiritual struggle,
prayer and thanksgiving without self-consciousness or irony, and Edwards'
music is baptized with intense, dynamic shifts that reflect the battle of
inner striving. At the same time, his music flows freely into other
traditions -- angry punk, rock and folk -- ones that Christians often reject
as evil. And further fueling these strange currencies is the fact that
Edwards's largest followings reside, not in the Midwest, but in the less
religiously fervent areas of America's east and west coasts, Chicago, and
Trading as Woven Hand, Edwards' recent album Consider the
Birds strikes a chord that, were it not so deeply felt, would come off
sounding hokey. The songs this time are more folk-based than rock-derived,
but they bear his trademark: a questing for answers and belief. Beta's
Lee Chung Horn spoke to Edwards, and found a man whose simple answers
reflect a steady faith.
The press fell all over themselves extolling Sufjan
Stevens' record "Seven Swans" last year. There was so much praise even
though people knew the record was a deeply spiritual record. What do you
make of that?
I am glad for Sufjan. The record deserves all the praise it
Do you think non-religious people were inspired by the
spiritual underpinnings of that record? Do you think evangelical Christians
in the heartland of America - the ones who were aware of Stevens' record -
were ironically uncomfortable with the fact that Sufjan, a Christian, was
working in a non Christian idiom?
It's a hard question to answer. I believe some people would
never accept that rock n' roll can be used for truth. But, at the same time,
I believe people liked the record, by the will of God, for just what it is -
a great work of art and truth.
"Consider the Birds", the title of your album, comes from
on the Mount. Why have decided to use this as your album title?
I wanted to remind myself of the birds. I am often anxious.
I need to fall on my faith more.
Gina Fallico did the cover drawings. Who is she?
Gina is a long-time friend of my wife and I. She is a
wonderful artist and person.
"Consider The Birds" is your second album as Woven Hand.
For people who haven't heard the first one, could you tell us a little about
how this one
is a departure or continues what you were doing before?
I'm sorry, but I can't really say. I'm too close to it to
understand it fully. In some ways, it departs from my first album. In other
ways, it's a continuation.
Could you introduce the people you worked with on this
I worked with a bunch of people. They are all friends from
around where I live. Daniel McMahon played piano, Ordy Garrison played
drums, Shane Trost was on bass.
Your second album was a soundtrack to a performance by
dance company called Blush. Was it strange to write something for a dance
performance? Did you consciously try to write with a visual angle?
I just made music the way I would normally. The director
then placed the music where he thought it would be appropriate. In
retrospect, we worked well together.
Nick Cave writes songs that also have a heavy religious
bent, but his
religious beliefs are less "concrete" than yours. Are you an admirer?
Of course. Nick Cave is a great storyteller and performer.
I understand you have a strong following in Europe. Why
do you think
that is? Who have you toured with?
For the reason that Europeans often have broader tastes than
Americans. In the beginning, we toured mostly with Morphine in the US and
Europe. We had, and still do have a great friendship with them. We also
toured with Shane MacGowan in the US. And also, a little bit with Nick Cave
in the US.
You've said in interviews that you were 13 or 14 when you
started playing guitar. What musical influences did you have starting out?
First, it was just church music. That was a big influence.
Then, it was Andre Crouch in the 70s, and Joy Division in the 80s. Now I
just listen to Andre Crouch and Joy Division.
I understand you started up Woven Hand while 16
Horsepower was on a
one-year hiatus. And that this was because, unlike the guys in the band, you
didn't have a day job. Do you think it is getting harder these days for
musicians to earn a living?
I don't rightly know if there is an easier way.
Has your church community been supportive of your work?
Yes, my church community has always been supportive.
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