BLESSID UNION OF SOULS WITH SPONGE
Thursday, September 13 | 8PM
From meteoric rise on the radio throughout the 1990s, through the subsequent decade of thought-provoking songwriting and amassing an extremely dedicated fan base on tour, Blessid Union of Souls has become amongst the most beloved, meaningful and musically consistent acts of this generation. Thanks to the seamless merger of contagious pop, rock and soul from singer Eliot Sloan, coupled with his ability to continuously write socially conscious and spiritually inspiring songs, it’s no surprise to see gold records, chart-cruising singles and a slew of soundtrack appearances.
Just for the record, Blessid Union of Souls has thus far clocked in a number one smash, a trio of top tens, five top 20 tunes and seven to hit the top 40, spanning the diverse likes of the iconic ballad “I Believe,” the quirky and colorful “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me),” the acoustically framed “Light In Your Eyes,” plus romantic favorites like “I Wanna Be There” and “Let Me Be the One” (to name a mere handful). Add in the gold selling landmark debut disc Home, being featured on the gold selling Carole King tribute album Tapestry Revisited (Rod Stewart, Faith Hill, Amy Grant, The Bee Gees) and the double platinum soundtrack for “Pokemon: The First Movie,” in addition to appearances on “Contact” (starring Jodie Foster), “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “Cold Case,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Live with Regis” (no less than four times), “Good Morning, America,” “Top of the Pops,” “All My Children” and VH1, and Blessid Union of Souls’ fingerprints have literally encountered every facet of pop culture.
“You don’t have time to really prepare for it because all of a sudden your songs are being played on the radio, you’re getting video play and landing on TV shows all around the world,” suggests Sloan of his rocket ride to Blessid Union of Souls’ fame. “But I try not to think about it too much and never let myself get a big head. I just live a regular life with my wife and two kids at the house, drive to the studio for recordings and then hit the road when it’s time to tour.”
Sloan’s remarkably humble demeanor is rare for someone who’s shared the stage with superstar acts like Bon Jovi, Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind and Mike & the Mechanics (not to mention headlined major venues all across the globe), but the attitude stems from a lifelong Christian faith that’s repeatedly made its way into Blessid Union of Souls’ songwriting. And when he speaks of hitting the studio and road these days, it’s all revolving around the brand new CD The Mission Field, which takes a spiritually overt direction while retaining the signature qualities that have literally attracted millions of fans over the years.
“I’ve always sung about wanting to live right, and with The Mission Field, it’s just a matter of taking things one step further and doing in my heart what I’m called to do,” he assures of Blessid Union of Souls’ fourth national long player. “The songs we wrote for our first album Home were particularly strong in that direction, and though there was more of a light-hearted direction in some of the later tracks, the underlying spiritual tone was always there. I wanted to make an album that was closer to our first record musically and lyrically, which really gives The Mission Field a full circle feeling.”
Such is certainly the case across the piano popper “The Only Song,” a rousing praise anthem that’s loaded with pop sensibility and Sloan’s inviting vocals that truly get richer with time. During “Higher Calling,” meaty guitars are laced over alluring programming, simultaneously conjuring up a retro sensibility and a fresh edge for Blessid Union of Souls. Yet the title track is a clear calling card for the record, evoking the now classic “I Believe” with an appeal for listeners to impact their corner of the world to the fullest extent possible.
“You can never get too close to God, and throughout all of these songs, I’m always going in that direction,” the leader relates. “All of the pondering and articulating matters of faith on The Mission Field are basically an extension of the ideas I first started exploring on Home, which makes the two records seem like bookends with one another.
Though a longtime staple of EMI Records (David Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roxette) and V2 Records (The White Stripes, Moby), The Mission Field was recorded entirely on Sloan’s terms, but will pop up in all the usual physical and digital retail outlets thanks to distribution from Sony/Provident Music Group. With dual footing in the general and faith-based marketplace, the collection is sure to expand Blessid Union of Souls’ audience even further and serve as the next natural evolutionary step.
“A lot of fans have said this is the perfect transition and I also hope to inspire new listeners as well, but I don’t really think about marketplaces or numbers when I’m writing,” confides Sloan. “I always just want to make them sound as good as possible while singing something of substance, which on this record says ‘let’s strap in and really make a daily, conscious effort to follow in Christ’s footsteps.’ I’m always under construction, but at the same time, if I wait until I’m perfect before taking a step, then it’s never going to happen. I don’t know of any perfect people except one and they hung Him on the cross! I think the songs speak about looking at ourselves a little closer, paying more attention to what we say and do, and knowing that overall world change is possible, but it starts with one person at a time.”
Sponge has proven to be one of the Motor City’s heaviest hitters after gaining international notoriety with their debut album “Rotting Piñata” (Sony). Emerging from Detroit with hits like “Plowed” and “Molly (16 Candles)” Sponge received massive airplay on radio stations from coast to coast and were in heavy rotation on MTV. Both “Plowed” and “Molly” hit #5 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Charts, catapulting “Rotting Piñata” to Gold, and ultimately Platinum status.
Sponge’s follow up CD, the critically lauded “Wax Ecstatic” (Columbia) scored additional top ten Billboard hits including “Wax Ecstatic” and “Have You Seen Mary?” The band’s music was also featured in popular movies “The Craft,” “Chasing Amy,” “Mall Rats” and “Empire Records.” Sponge’s star continued to rise with network appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the “Conan O’Brien Show.”
Sponge’s subsequent releases “New Pop Sunday,” “For All The Drugs in The World,” “The Man,” “Galore Galore,” and “Destroy the Boy,” showcased the band’s swirling sonic attack, rooted in 70’s glam and of course, the Motor City influences of The Stooges, The MC5 and Motown-but still sounding distinctly like no one else.
“Plowed” continues to be the band’s signature rock track, having been spotlighted on Guitar Hero’s “Warriors of Rock – 90’s Rock Track Pack” – and on the Paper Jamz Guitar Series 2, in addition to the soundtrack for the Gerard Butler surf movie “Chasing Mavericks.”