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The Vault

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 history here.

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 Europe.

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 has gotten.

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 Christ's Sermon
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 current album?

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 the Belgian
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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Beta Music 2005