Unspoken will be releasing their upcoming record Reason, on June 21. It is available now for pre-order. Its title single "Reason" is currently making fast strides at radio, already in the Top 20 on Christian Airplay, AC Monitored, AC Indicator, and Hot AC/CHR charts. It's also the most added song among AC stations four weeks in a row.
Working with producers such as Tedd T. (for KING & COUNTRY), Chris Stevens (tobyMac), and more, Unspoken brought a fresh take to their soulful-pop sound with the new songs, along with their most heartfelt and personal lyrics to date. Lead singer Chad Mattson describes that Reason came out of a time of personal challenges against depression and anxiety, in which he, his family, and the band had to find a new level of trust with their faith.
We are honored to be able to catch up with Unspoken's Chad Mattson as he talks exclusively with us about their new record.
Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us. It's almost three years since your last record. When and how did the making of Reason begin?
Probably 2 years ago. We typically put out a record and then give ourselves 6 months, maybe a year, of just kind of getting together talking about songs here and there. And then we just start writing, writing, writing, writing, and putting together an outline of the record, and so we've been working on this record for I'd say altogether 2 years, with 1 year super focused.
Q: Do you have a vision for this new album? If you were to sum up the message of this new record, what would it be?
I think the vision of the record was to write songs for our own families, songs that we needed to hear ourselves. So that was the vision, big picture, which was a bit different from previous records. Almost every song was something we were talking about in our own homes. And we also tried it simplify this record a little bit and not try to be so cool.
And then I think there are a lot of themes, but it's really just the Gospel truths, the very basic truths that bring us into the kingdom of God. God is love and he loves us and he paid the price for us and to let those things inspire us and spur us own to continue to take the next time continue to do the right thing and to trust that god is with us for us ad he loves us more than we can imagine and to actually live like we believe that's true.
Q: I must say I am very impressed with the songs on your new album. Each of them seems to speak to the various circumstances of our lives. When you are writing your songs, do you write with specific circumstances or people in mind?
Yes. A lot of these songs were birthed out of things we were going through in our own household and conversations we were having and writing specifically about. And realizing we're all so closely related as humans that whatever we're going through is something our next door neighbor is probably going through, or is about to go through, or just went through. So just knowing that if we write from the heart and write what we believe is true about the Lord that it would connect with people. When you're willing to be vulnerable, it gives ability to speak into other people's lives and say "Hey, we're just as broken. This is how we're processing through that."
Q: "You've Always Been" has been on repeat for me. What inspired you to write a song that speaks so gloriously about Jesus?
Well honestly the inspiration for the song came at about three in the morning as I was watching 1950s gospel videos on Youtube. There was a black and white video of this vocal group with a blind singer, I can't remember the group name, and at one point the singer goes off and says "God you've been my eyes when I couldn't see, you were my father when he left home..." and he kept going, and I was incredibly moved. Because I started to think about my own life, and I said "God You've been this for me, You've been that for me..."
And then of course we're having conversations with people and hearing their stories, how the fatherless somehow have a father because of Jesus, and people who grow up as an only child or with no friends, God was their friend or brother or their sister. That was kind of the inspiration for this because I was so deeply moved by the ad-lib on this guy's video. So I brought in this idea and the Lord just smiled on us in the writing session and gave something special, which is something we need to be reminded when we're going through stuff. God will always be. And one of the big things I found out that I was so grateful for was that God didn't answer every prayer I've ever prayed even in my hours of desperation, but what He did was reveal to me that He's opened the door to Jesus. And Jesus will always be everything we ever need.
Q: "Human Condition" is another song that really got my attention. What's the story behind this one?
I had the title 'Human Condition' in my phone, and then we went in to write with a friend of ours and he brought up "What about a title 'Human Condition'?" and I went 'Oh my gosh, I've got the same title.' And so we really had to sit there and think --what is the human condition? At that time my life was in shambles, and what I was doing was going onto Instagram and all of the socials and seeing how God was blessing and using all of my peers, while our career didn't seem to be going anywhere. And is started to get, maybe bitter, but just discontent with the idea that 'Man, God's using all these other people."
I was just going through the struggles of this, which isn't something I normally struggle with. I usually have a positive attitude and feel genuinely happy for the people around us who are winning. But for whatever reason because my life felt like it was in shambles, I was thinking that 'Well if God just made my business and my ministry take off maybe that would make up for it.' So I was putting so much focus on growing what we were doing and constantly falling on my face, so we just tried to talk about that human condition. That thing of just never being content and the struggle we have with that.
Q: Your songs are not just an encouragement to believers, but a song like "Reason" is a great witnessing moment too for unbelievers. What's the story behind "Reason"?
Well the first verse talks about how this year's felt like four seasons of winter, which is just straight up autobiography. A lot of times we go through these hardships and we want to see a sign from God that He's with us. And I felt like the spirit of the Lord was really telling me "You don't need a sign. All you gotta do is look to the cross." All the sign, all the proof that we'll ever need that God is with us- if we're ever doubting that God is with us or that He loves us- all you have to do is look to the cross. And that kind of idea started to well up and inspire us to talk about how He will finish the work that He started and hold us on His shoulder. We already have a reason to wake up, we already have a reason to do the right thing we already have a reason to take the next step, all of those things. That's kind of the thought behind this song, and this song went through many different phases, but we feel like we landed in a good spot and became the title track and first single. We realized that really this song's theme, His love is the reason, is really woven through every other song on the record.
Q: I believe your daughter had a lead acting role in the video "Reason." How do you feel about it?
We had a lot of different creative options for the video, but the one storyline I loved the best was about a little boy who was trying to do all these ambitious things, similar idea to what you now see in the video, and I said 'Man I really like this idea, but I think it should be a girl, and my daughter would be perfect for this.' I just through that it would be super meaningful to have this girl do all these kind of tomboy things, and I thought it would be appropriate with where our culture is at. And then it turned out to be a pretty neat father-daughter moment for us. So I was excited, I knew she could do a great job.
Overall, it was a wonderful video. Most music videos are about a day long shoot, this was like eight days long, so there's a lot of work that went into this. It was a huge commitment for my daughter and wife, the band, and myself, but the director of the video (Max Hsu) has always been willing to go above and beyond, and it helped us all go above and beyond too, so we're all working together to make this wonderful project. We just had a lot of fun with it, it was tiring, it took a lot of work, but I think we made something special here that gives us a picture a little bit of how we are and how the Lord is. The story of this song and video certainly helped me see how I could be a better dad and a better son of the Father. Plus we just had fun doing something crazy. And Romy loved it, it was right up her alley.
Q: Throughout the making of this album, how has your faith grown through this entire process?
My faith has never grown so much, not because of the album itself, but because of life and the goodness of God and realizing that our hardships are always going to be the greatest blessings to us. Even though we fight so hard to keep hardships at bay, I'm learning as I get older and wiser to embrace these things, as they are going to be the greatest gifts to me from the Lord because it's always a gift to realize your need for God.
Each one of us, we don't want to have needs, we want to be self-sufficient, but to realize our need for God is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us, to make us more dependent on Him and fall more in love with Him. This was the hardest season of my adult life, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's certainly made me more like Jesus, it's brought my family and me closer together, the band closer together. Now we're just excited to see what the Lord's going to do with it.