Iron Bell Music will be releasing their new album God That Saves on May 19. Comprised of songwriters and performers Stephen McWhirter, Joel Gerdis and Josh Glauber, Iron Bell Music is the fruition of worship nights held year-round for the community of Louisville at an area barn.
Performing well-known worship songs along with their own originals throughout each evening gathering, the worship nights exist so that people can come as they are and encounter the presence of God. God That Saves was recorded live at the barn during one of those nights of worship.
Encompassing 11 original songs, the album's first single, "God That Saves," is currently at radio and already No. 11 on the Insp Indicator chart. Written by McWhirter, the song was inspired from his own personal testimony. After a long time of abusing drugs and eventually spiraling into a serious addiction, it was one life-changing evening where McWhirter encountered the Lord and was given a peace like no other.
Q: Who is Iron Bell Music? And what's the significance of your name Iron Bell Music?
A: Iron Bell Music is part of a ministry in Louisville, KY called Iron Bell Ministries. We gather weekly for prayer and worship and Iron Bell Music came out of those gatherings. We meet in a renovated horse barn turned worship venue, called the Iron Bell, which is how we got the name "Iron Bell Music."
The why behind the name comes from the original use for the old iron farm bells that would be rung to call people in from the fields to set at the dinner table. Ultimately, for us, the meaning behind the name "Iron Bell Music" is a picture of God calling His sons and daughters to the table of His presence, to be in intimacy with Him.
Q: How did the three come together?
A: We were friends prior to the forming of the group, but the Lord led us all to the Iron Bell to be a part of their prayer and worship ministry. We never started gathering to worship and pray with the thought that we would start a band. The Lord began birthing songs through our times of worship, and Iron Bell Music is just the natural outcome.
Q: There are so many worship records out there, what makes your music stand out? How would you describe your sound?
A: We believe the Lord has given us a sound that is not so much unique from other worship albums in its production, but it does have some rock and rootsy tinges with electric guitars and a blending of instruments like the mandolin and violin. Ultimately, we believe this album will connect because it is the honest outcome of time spent in the presence of God. Every song on this live record highlights one of His attributes, so what you are hearing is us declaring His name and adoring God, simply for who He is. Music is emotional, so we pray that the Lord will use this album to bring people into deeper relationship with Him, to not just know about Him intellectually, but to really know Him intimately.
Q: Your new record I believe came from the worship nights at a local barn. Tell us more about your worship nights at the barn?
A: What started with a handful of people has grown to become evenings packed with people meeting in a barn in Louisville, KY. Our worship nights are just that, nights where we come together to simply worship God with songs and to pray. We want to facilitate an atmosphere where people truly encounter the Lord. No fluff. We want to get out of the way and rely on Him to move and lead. When we recorded the album we told the crowd, "Ok, so we are recording songs tonight but what we want to capture is the sound of the Lord being enthroned in praise of his people" (Psalm 22:3).
Q: Let's talk about your new album. Did the three of you write all the songs? What do you like most about songwriting?
A: Stephen McWhirter is solo or co-writer on most of the songs, and Joel Gerdis and Josh Glauber were solo or co-writers on four of them. Also, we collaborated with other artists such as Matt Maher, Jacob Sooter, Mia Fieldes, Jonathan Smith, Bryan Fowler, Jaye Thomas, Dustin Smith and David Leonard.
The thing we love most about song writing is getting to partner with the Lord in the songwriting process. We don't always just sit down and start writing - it is often waiting to hear what the Lord wants us to sing about Him. All of the songs are the product of genuine, personal seasons and encounters with the Lord.
Q: Talk to us about the title track and single "God That Saves." How did the song come about?
A: The song "God That Saves" was written by Stephen (McWhirter) and comes from his own story. He grew up the son of a traveling evangelist, but the man he knew in private and the one he knew in public were not the same. Due to the hypocrisy he witnessed as a child, he believed Jesus was simply fantasy, and as he grew into his early teens he wanted nothing to do with Christianity. At this time of his life, he fell into extreme drug addiction. Eventually, he became a crystal meth addict, which went on for about five years.
During this dark chapter, someone gave him a book about Jesus that he miraculously accepted. One night, at 3am, he set in a bed reading the book with drugs next to him on the side table. That night as he read, he was acutely aware of the presence of God in the room. Stephen began to have an internal dialogue with the Lord - he knew He was real but didn't know how to quiet the life of addiction he had known for so long. In that moment, with a thought more powerful than he could ever have imagined, He felt the Lord say "You don't have to do it alone because I will do it!" In that moment, Stephen believed Him and gave his life to Christ. He found himself with a willpower not his own. Overnight, he went from addiction to redemption because he had personally encountered the God that saves.
Q: My personal favorite off the album is "Fall Away." Tell us more about how God inspired this song for you?
A: We love to sing "Fall Away" at our worship nights! The song comes from something we always pray before our gatherings; we always ask that everything that is from the Lord would stick and take root in our hearts, and anything that is not from Him would simply fall away. The song itself was written by Stephen McWhirter, Mia Fields and Jonathan Smith, and is sung on the album by Josh Glauber.
Q: What's your hope for this new record? How do you wish these songs could impact God's kingdom?
A: Like we said earlier, we pray that the Lord will use this album to bring people into deeper relationship with Him, that these songs would play part in taking people on the eighteen inch journey from the head to the heart, not just knowing about God intellectually but to really know Him intimately.
Ultimately, when we wrote these songs, we asked "God, what do people need to declare about You? What do they need to tell You they love You for?" We pray the Church will embrace these songs in their congregations, not because we want to be famous but because we firmly believe when people sing them they are declaring the character of God over their lives and their church.