The Piano Guys Interview

The Piano Guys
(Photo : The Agency Group)
The Piano Guys
To their combined 16 kids, Paul Anderson, Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson and Al Van Der Beek are each known as "dad." To the rest of the world, they're known as The Piano Guys. In this exclusive interview with Hallels, I had a chance to talk with them about their faith and their latest CD, A Family Christmas, one of the most beautiful Christmas albums I've ever heard.

Kim - What is going on in the world of The Piano Guys?

Paul - Well, we just got off of a tour in Europe. We went to Switzerland, Germany, Vienna... It was amazing. We met some wonderful people and had some great shows. In between that, we're trying to keep up with shooting videos and doing interviews with people like you. It's been pretty crazy. We're having a lot of fun but we miss our families. We're going home for Christmas soon. We have two shows coming up still - one in Idaho and one in Salt Lake City. Come January, we have a little time off and we'll start writing for our fourth album.

Jon - We're trying to keep up with The Beatles, putting an album out every six months!

Paul - So we're not short on things to do - which is not a problem to have. We're very blessed. There is plenty to keep us busy and we're very grateful.

Kim - When ya'll decided to do a Christmas album, how did you determine which songs would make the final cut? Was it a group project?

Al - This is a Christian publication, so we can give you the rest of the story right?

Kim - Most definitely!

Jon - Every project we do and every recording session, we start out with prayer. We pray for help to come to a consensus and be inspired. We really feel like that prayer was answered for this album. As far as the selection of the songs, I love it because it takes you on a journey and it gives you the fun, the family, the spiritually and the true meaning of Christmas. I just love the feeling that it leaves you with. I think you can really feel the love of Christ. I personally love "Silent Night" and how it ends. We felt inspired to put the words of the third verse in there and I think it's really nice how the words match the musical arrangement. A beautiful sunrise is what we had in mind to go with the words "with the dawn of redeeming grace" and to me, that is the true message of Christmas. I'm so thrilled that people say that's what they feel, along with the fun and everything else that Christmas is all about.

Paul - I totally agree with you Jon. There are lots of songs out there that are more traditional and fun and they're not really about the true meaning of Christmas. It was a great opportunity for us to show the world what we really truly believe ... that all of our gifts come from God and from His Son, Jesus Christ and we're able to give testimony through our music. It's a great opportunity for us to be able to share our blessings and talents to be able to share His love for people. It's pretty awesome.

Kim - To me, music is a medium that crosses all boundaries regardless of faith. However, talking about faith can be tricky. When ya'll are doing interviews with publications that aren't Christian in nature, do you feel like you have to leave out your faith - the very foundation of who you each are?

The Piano Guys - We don't try to leave it out. We just have to try to share the amount that needs to be shared. If you share too much, it actually feels like it's not inspired. It's like we have an agenda or something. We have never been in a situation where we felt like we couldn't give all credit to God. We just listen to the Spirit and it tells us what we should say. When we pray before interviews, we just rely on that as to how much we need to share. We never purposely try to hold back on our beliefs and what we're about. We actually had an interview the other day with the Italian press and it was all about the music and then, before you knew it, the interview was all about God and religion. We're all LDS - all Mormon dads from Utah and he had questions. It happened naturally. When it goes like that, it's better than ever feeling like we're trying to force our beliefs on anyone.

Kim - I love way God opens doors that you don't even see coming! Final question for you all since I know you have a busy schedule today. What is your favorite Christmas song on the CD and why?

Paul - My favorite one is "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." The reason is that when we filmed the video to the song, I remember the moments we had. It was so incredibly spiritual and uplifting. Also, before we even filmed, it was the first instrumental song that I've ever listened to that actually made me cry. Every time I listen to it, it touches me so deeply because I'm thinking about our Savior. It just moves me deeply.

Jon - Yeah, it's tough to pick. I feel the same way about that tune. I would have to say, "Angels We Have Heard on High" because it involves all of us. I just love how it starts out instrumental and symbolic to the angels who began singing at the advent of Christ's birth. The vocals come in in the middle and piano arrangement, right when the words say, "in excelsis Deo!," which is "glory to God in the highest," that is when the music moves highest on the keyboard. I just love the symbolism of that song. It has a spiritual feel to it.

Al - They both stole mine so I have to think of another one. That's hard because there are so many great songs that have a lot of meaning on them. I would have to say "Silent Night." To me, it totally simplifies what Christmas is all about. It reminds me of the Scripture, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. And whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." He loves us so much and He gave us Jesus to atone for our sins. To me, that's what Christmas is all about ... family, God, Jesus Christ, giving, uncondition love and charity. The words are beautiful so it was awesome that we were able to throw in that verse and end the album with our testimony that we know that God lives and that He loves us.

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