Sanctus Real rocking out about faith
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Saturday, 04 August 2012 07:27
A lot has changed for Sanctus Real since they were teenagers jamming in a Toledo basement.
Back then, remembers lead singer Matt Hammitt, their biggest concern was where to order food from.
"We were a bunch of kids eating pizza and Twinkies in a basement, making music and playing an occasional gig for a few people."
Now the band has a couple Grammy nominations to its credit, and its audiences have grown to tens of thousands.
The subject matter of their material has become more mature, reflecting their changing lives with families and children.
"It's been really neat to see our audiences expand and see how our newer material impacts our fans on a deeper level," Hammitt said in a recent telephone interview.
Still some things stay the same. "We're still a rock band even though we've mellowed some with age. We still love jammin' together, rockin' out and having a good time."
And he added, whether Sanctus Real is playing a fun or serious song, "we've always been a band that sings about our faith, and that's the one thing that always remains true about us. That's who we are.
"We write about where real life meets faith, how to reconcile all things that happen in life with God. That's the one thing we've always maintained through the years."
Sanctus Real - Hammitt, guitarists Chris Rohman and Pete Prevost, bassist Dan Gartley, and drummer Mark Graalman - returns to Stroh Arena on the Bowling Green State University campus for an Aug. 11 show at 7 p.m.
Sanctus Real will headline a triple bill that includes The Afters, supporting their recent hits "Light Up the Sky" and "Lift Me Up," and Southbound Far, like the headliners a Toledo-bred band.
Tickets are $30 for the first 10 rows, $20 for reserved seats and $15 for groups of 10 or more. Call 877-BGSU TICKET or at TICKETMASTER.com.
This is a return engagement at the Stroh for the band. A year ago they played the inaugural show at the venue. It went so well - probably the most successful entertainment act to play the Stroh in its first season - that BGSU asked the band to come back.
Sanctus Real, Hammitt said, has been laying low since spring. Doing the occasional one-off gig and music festivals. They plan to continue that through fall, as his wife and Rohman's wife are both expecting.
This will be Hammitt's fourth child. The birth comes as his family continues to cope with his baby son's continuing heart defect.
Hammitt recorded a solo album, inspired by his son's illness. Those songs, he said, have found their way into the band's setlists, especially "All of Me."
The song has become an anthem for people going through hard times, he said. "It's crazy to see how people have used that song," Hammitt said.
"Probably the most rewarding thing about doing music is you put into a song what people really want to say but they didn't have the words to say it."
The song then offers them a release, he said.
His son Bowen, who will turn 2 Sept. 9, is "doing as well as he could for the condition he has."
He still needs another open heart surgery, that the family hopes will be his last and will allow him to live a "fairly healthy life."
The song is a searingly honest look at the uncertainties of having a child who is critically ill yet that still sounds a note of hope.
"I'm really prone to write things out of real life experiences," Hammitt, the band's principal songwriter, said. " I really like to be able to dump that into a song in an honest way."
Then the songs are sent out and reach listeners on the other side.