by Sam Robinson
It’s been a very big year for Florida band All Things New. In May they released their self-titled debut album, toured with Newsboys, and have now re-released the album as a Christmas edition, with three bonus tracks. I talked to lead singer Garrett Hornbuckle about the album back in September, but phoned him up again for a catch-up and to talk about the new Christmas tracks, the season, and classic 90s Christmas records.
SAM: It’s been a few months since we last caught up… when we did you let slip about your Christmas release, it’s finally out – are you stoked?
GARRETT: Oh man, we are so excited about this Christmas edition. It’s the first time All Things New has recorded any Christmas music so we’re really excited. We love Christmas music and man, we’re getting in the Christmas spirit by blasting the music. Things have been awesome for us. We just got off the road with Rhett Walker – we really love those guys. That was a lot of fun. We went on tour with Rhett Walker & Rush of Fools so that was a really fun tour. So we’ve got this Christmas thing coming out and we’re really excited about it.
SAM: How did the tour go?
GARRETT: The tour went really well. It was basically – imagine going on tour with your best friends, and that’s pretty much how it was, man. I remember one day before the show we all actually played tackle football on a big field before the show, so that was pretty awesome. Literally – it was like touring with your best buddies. Rhett Walker and his band were just amazing guys and – Rush of Fools – just normal people who love Jesus and love playing music.
SAM: There were no injuries playing tackle football beforehand?
GARRETT: There wasn’t but Rhett got a little sore, man. He’s not the biggest dude, but he’s pretty strong. I was pretty impressed. He was tackling me. Y’know, our guitar player he assumes that he ran me over, but I tackled him, y’know? I might of had to pull his pants down, but I got him. Y’know what I’m saying?
SAM: Well done! [Laughs] Back to the Christmas record – what you’ve done is three tracks which are part of a re-release of your album that came out earlier in the year. What’s the appeal in making a Christmas record?
GARRETT: Yeah, for us it was really fast. We only had a few days to make it. So I think we tracked it all in one day, then did the vocals the next day. So it was only a two-day process for us in Nashville. It was really different. We kinda took it in more… there’s two songs on there that are kind of more acoustic, organic feel. Then one we did which is a little more produced and more pop – a really fun, upbeat song. We all love Christmas music. We love the season. So it was really exciting and fun to create Christmas music for this edition to our album.
SAM: What Christmas records have you grown up loving?
GARRETT: Y’know what man? I’m a little ashamed to say, and embarrassed, but *NSYNC Christmas [Home for Christmas], man. That was a good one, man. My boy JT – Justin Timberlake. [Laughs]
SAM: Do you have that CD?
GARRETT: Ah… I don’t know if I do but if I did I probably wouldn’t admit it to you, Sam.
SAM: Well, can I confess something to you? The first album I ever bought was Hanson’s Christmas album, and to this day I still have it.
GARRETT: Dude! Hanson! Doo-wop, y’know?
SAM: Yeah! I have a copy in my house of Snowed In. So Hanson, *NSYNC – nothing to be ashamed of there.
GARRETT: I’m glad there’s no judgement here!
SAM: I’m keen to ask you though – we talked earlier in the year about the original edition of the album and talked of how the message of redemption is a big thing across that record. Do you feel like these three Christmas songs complement that in a way?
GARRETT: Y’know what? I don’t really think there’s a theme going into these Christmas songs. I think we did two covers, then we wrote a song with Mia Fieldes and Jonathan Smith called He Has Come. I don’t really know if there was a message going into it. But I guess looking at it – He Has Come and Go Tell It On the Mountain both proclaim Jesus Christ is here. There’s a line that says ‘Look what the Lord has done, He has come’. Y’know, look what the Lord has done: he was born, he is here. He is here for us. So I kinda would say maybe that could be a theme with those couple of songs. Proclaiming that and rejoicing in the fact that our Lord and Saviour was born.
SAM: That original song, He Has Come – what can you tell us about it?
GARRETT: Yeah, we wrote it with Mia Fieldes and Jonathan Smith and they’re just amazing writers. We just wanted to have a fresh concept and a fresh take of a Christmas song. We’re just really excited about it. We love the song and love the production of the song in the approach that we took. I love how the chorus proclaims: ‘Let the drummer play, let the earth rejoice that our Lord has come. That He has come’. Just proclaiming that. ‘Look what the Lord has done! He has come.’
SAM: I’ve been following you on Twitter and I’ve noticed that there’s been a few photos of you flying in planes. You’ve been all over the place!
GARRETT: Man, we’ve been flying a lot. It’s kinda crazy. I feel like – I have another confession, Sam. I hate flying. I absolutely hate to fly. It scares me to death every time I get on a plane, but for some reason this past year I’ve flown more than I have in my whole life!
SAM: Garrett! I’m scared of flying too!
GARRETT: No you’re not, Sam! Seriously?
GARRETT: Dude! Man, I think we just became best friends!
SAM: Okay, alright, sounds good.
GARRETT: So yeah, it’s been crazy. We’ve been flying a lot and we’re getting ready for our next tour in February. We’re really excited about it, that should be a lot of fun. We’ve just got back from LA last week, that was a long trip from Florida.
SAM: One thing you mentioned last time we talked, you were about to do a big fun run around Disney World…
GARRETT: Man, that was awesome. I think they raised $30,000 or something like that. I was in the top ten on the 5K [run]. I’m not trying to brag or boast to you, but if I was, I’m tootin’ my own horn, y’know what I’m saying?
SAM: Yeah – but you said last time that you ran with your aunt and she kicked your butt! How did you get to the top ten?
GARRETT: Well, hey there. There might have only been ten people in the race. [Laughs] I’m really competitive, so when I got there I was like – my goal is to get top ten. I think I finished eigth or something like that. I was ready to do it man, I was kind of bummed I didn’t win. But I think the bass player from Audio Adrenaline was first place KJ-52 was in second. They were animals!
SAM: Awesome! Did you manage to break the race to go on any rides?
GARRETT: Oh yeah man. The night before we went to Night of Joy. Space Mountain at Disney World – if you ever get there it’s awesome, you gotta go. It’s an awesome roller coaster. We definitely got our ride on the night before.
SAM: How has your album All Things New continued to have an impact on people that you’re meeting? What are some stories you’ve heard?
GARRETT: Y’know, it’s really awesome. From every generation, young or old, female or male, people have been able to connect to this record and this theme of redemption that we’ve had in this record. It’s been really neat to be able to play and hear these stories. Multiple stories of people not feeling good enough, not feeling loved and then they hear New Man. Or feeling away from God and then hearing In Your Reach and realising no matter what, God’s gonna pull me through this. I’m not too far gone. I’m always in God’s reach. So it’s been really neat and encouraging to get Facebook messages or emails, or people tweeting us and telling us how our album has had an impact. It’s been so refreshing. It’s amazing. A constant reminder of why we do this.
SAM: One of your fans Jane sent in a question for you. She asks: How do you guys see your music ministering to people through God’s word of truth, and how do you see your music working for the kingdom?
GARRETT: Yeah, I definitely see our music is ministering to people in God’s word. I feel like we went into this record wanting to write songs that were spiritually deep. That challenge us. Like the song Keep Me On My Knees, where it says ‘Lord, is this is what I need to know you’re I need, then keep me on my knees’. I feel like sometimes we praise God in the great times, but in those desperate times is when I personally – I feel God the most, when I’m desperate for him. I feel like that’s just the truth. When we’re desperately seeking God. That’s when we feel God. In the Word it says: ‘Draw close to me and I’ll draw close to you’. I think it says that in James [4:8].
To answer the second question, I think people hearing it at shows – we’re doing kingdom work. It’s really cool to see the body of Christ coming together at these shows that we’re doing. Just making the kingdom known and see it grow. It’s been encouraging to be part of that, something greater than us, and greater than ourselves. Because why we do this is not for us, but it’s for Christ. He has all the glory behind it. It’s really neat to do this for the kingdom.
SAM: We’re about to hear the second of your Christmas tracks, Go Tell It On the Mountain. I’ve got to say, you’ve done a foot-stomping version of it. Would you agree?
GARRETT: I would agree, man! We tried to – we’re from the south… We’re a bunch of Florida boys so we tried to bring out the banjos and harmonicas and tried to make it rootsy and southern and organic as possible. I really feel like we accomplished that, so it’s a fun one to play… We started playing it and it just connected live last Christmas and it was a song that was really fun to play, it was upbeat and we arranged it a certain way with the three-piece harmonies and it kinda just stuck. So when we found out we were gonna do a few Christmas songs we’re like ‘man, we gotta do Go Tell It On the Mountain‘. And that’s really the reason, how live and the arrangement of it and the production of the song.
SAM: You recorded these tracks a little while ago, how did you get a good Christmas vibe going in the studio?
GARRETT: Y’know that was one thing… I think we recorded in July – we were in Nashville and it was hot. I’m like – we gotta drink some hot cocoa, we gotta put some Christmas lights up, we gotta get some Christmas trees. Well, we didn’t do any of that, but I would say, I did listen to *NSYNC Christmas a few times on the way to the studio.
SAM: Well – I must say that would definitely get you in the vibe!
GARRETT: Oh yeah!
SAM: I’ve gotta ask you, there’s something that us Australians would like to know. The front cover of this Christmas edition of the album is the same picture but with added snow. In Australia it’s actually summer at Christmas time.
GARRETT: Wow. How weird is that!
SAM: I know! So if you were an Australian band, what would you replace the snow with on the front cover?
GARRETT: Y’know what? Maybe like – sunshine, and ocean, and maybe a little bit of beach – we’d make the ground a little bit of sand. Have some waves coming in the background.
SAM: I like that! Maybe some lobster, some seafood.
GARRETT: Maybe a kangaroo in the corner?
SAM: That would be cool. They’re not specifically summer but that’s ok. [Laughs] What do you love about Christmas?
GARRETT: Oh man. Christmas – it is actually my favourite season. I love Christmas. I love Christmas movies, lights, trees. I love everything about it. I love the food – the food is outstanding. Most importantly I love the fellowship, man, that comes behind Christmas. Spending time with friends and family and just really soaking that. All Things New are always on the road so we lose sense of that. It’s really nice this season in the band, the next couple of months we’re taking off and not really doing a tonne of shows. It’s nice to be around friends and family.
SAM: What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
GARRETT: I love The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. Elf is awesome. Those are probably my top two.
SAM: How did you feel about The Santa Clause 3?
GARRETT: Y’know what? It was kinda like – it wasn’t bad… but the original is where it’s at.
SAM: Yes indeed. That scene with him falling off the roof – classic.
GARRETT: Oh yeah. You can’t go wrong. Then Home Alone is always a good one.
SAM: Would you like to make a full album of Christmas music in the future?
GARRETT: Oh that would be awesome. That would be so much fun. I know I’d love to do that and I know the guys would as well. So maybe in the next few years we could put out a full-length Christmas record, that would be really cool.
SAM: You’ve had a massive year this year. Your album came out and a re-release with Christmas tracks, and touring… what have you got in store for 2014?
GARRETT: Yeah, this year’s been awesome. Next year we’re going on tour with Francesca Battistelli and Sanctus Real. We’re really excited about that, that tour starts in February and runs until the end of March.
SAM: The last track of the three is called Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year. Is this something you desire?
GARRETT: You know what? Like I said – Christmas is my favourite season, and holidays. So I would like it to be Christmas time all year. I think everybody is happier. There is more traffic though, but everyone is happier. Everyone is always wearing some crazy Christmas sweaters, and it’s cold. I like the cold. So I desire Christmas time all year!
SAM: I wish we could wear ugly Christmas sweaters – it’s too hot to wear them here, but wouldn’t it be nice!
GARRETT: Yeah, y’know we’re in Florida. It’s a little warm here as well.
SAM: Who is the guest vocalist on this track?
GARRETT: Her name is Chanel Campbell. She’s our good friend from Nashville so yeah, we asked if she could do the female part on that song and she did an outstanding job.
SAM: Is there anything we should be listening out for when we hear this track?
GARRETT: There are sleigh bells. I say ‘It’s Christmas y’all!’ at the end. That was a last minute thing, and it still cracks me up every time I hear it.
SAM: Garrett, thanks for the chat. It’s been really good to have a catch-up with you after what’s been a very busy year and also hear the stories behind these Christmas tracks. Have a really good Christmas!
GARRETT: Oh hey, merry Christmas to you!
All Things New: Christmas Edition by All Things New is available now on iTunes.