Cornerstone New Band Interview: Fue

One21music, in our quest to find the best up and coming Christian musicians, is featuring the bands from the Cornerstone 2011 New Band Showcase.  The Cornerstone New Band Showcase has launched many huge careers for Christian musicians including P.O.D., Sixpence None The Richer and Over The Rhine. The Cornerstone 2011 New Band Showcase features sixteen bands who will be performing on the Cornerstone Main Stage from Thursday, June 30th through Sunday, July 3rd.  In the two weeks leading up to Cornerstone 2011, One21music will be featuring interviews with 11 of the showcase bands and a 10 song free music sampler, which will be available, exclusively on on Wednesday, June 22.

We continue the Cornerstone 2011 New Band Showcase interview series with Fue.  This group of worship leaders play a atmospheric style of alt rock that will someday fill big arenas.


Fue (pronounced “few”) is an alternative Christian rock band from DeKalb, IL.  Fue began in 2009 as a group of friends playing together as a worship team at Campus Ministries International and over time evolved into their own unique original style of music.  Their music blends the power of modern alt while capturing your ear through the intense emotional vocals of lead singer Joanna RutzkyFue is rounded out with Isaac Flex on bass and brothers Tim May and Aaron May playing guitar and drums, respectively.  In 2010, Fue released a 3-track EP, Hallelujah .   The band followed up this success in February 2011 with the release of their second EP, Sweet Obsession Fue is currently taking the positive message and energy of their music playing live shows at churches, music venues, and festivals throughout the Midwest.


Interview with Christian Musicians Fue

O21: Tell us what we need to know about Fue that is not in your bio.

Aaron: Our bio talks a lot about who we are and what we have done. Beyond that our desire as a band is to have a positive impact on people. The experiences of recording and performing are incredible, but hearing the people that have been positively influenced by our music is beyond what a good performance can do.

Joanna: We started out playing on our worship teams at church and out of that overflow and the desire to create music ourselves, we decided to start writing our own stuff and performing shows in hopes of reaching people who don’t know God. We believe creating music that glorifies God and turns peoples’ hearts towards Him is part of the ministry that God has called each of us to, and that is going out and preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth.

O21: How would you describe your sound? What artists influenced you?

Joanna: Our sound fits into the Alternative Rock/Pop Rock genres and it also has a lot of tension and thrill within it.  We use a lot of minor chords which create tension within our music to express the hardships we go through. Within all of that there’s the thrill of experiencing God’s joy in the midst of our trials and refocusing our attention towards Him who will never leave us and is a very present help in time of need.

I’d have to say for myself that one of my biggest influences would be Misty Edwards. Her worship is so honest and that helped me to open up my mind to relate to God very personally. Musically I am influenced by Patrick Watson, Mutemath, and Muse.

Tim: Switchfoot is one of my biggest musical influences! Jon Foreman has had a huge impact on me both musically and in my personal life.

Isaac: August Burns Red is a huge influence in my music.

Aaron: Muse has been a big musical influence on me as a musician with the way the drummer uses simplistic beats to add to the overall picture of the song while still being creative and passionate in his playing.

O21: Tell us about your recordings?  What is your favorite Fue song?

Tim: All of our recorded music is original music that we’ve all written together so that’s something really special to us.  My current favorite song would have to be “Sweet Obsession” love the bass line in the chorus! It’s very moving.

Joanna: My favorite song is “The Storm” because the music really reflects all of the emotions I was going through when I wrote that song.

Aaron: My favorite is “My Deliverer”. I think it has a great ability to catch someone’s ear at the first listen and it includes a lot of dynamics.

Isaac: Mine would have to be “Anything” because the minute I heard that song I fell in love with it. I could relate with the feelings of doubt on whether God really loves me no matter what I do.

O21: What is the best thing about making music?

Joanna: Being able to express the feelings and emotions that I am dealing with in my life and putting it to music which is really freeing for my soul.

Aaron: One thing I love about making music is the freedom you have as an artist to do whatever you want; there is no right or wrong path to take. There are so many alternatives ways to approach writing music and arranging songs that it gives you the chance to really form a song from start to finish and make it personal and relatable.

Tim: There’s nothing quite like it.  The ability to be able to express all these things we go through in life through music alongside people you love and respect in hopes that it will touch someone’s heart is an amazing honor and a whole lot of fun!

O21: How does your faith influence you musically and lyrically?

Joanna: All of our lyrics are based out of themes and scripture of the Bible and how it relates to our lives.

Isaac: Our talent as musicians is for the glory of God and to use that talent to impact other people’s lives.

Aaron: My faith has an influence on me because I believe God has given me a unique talent that I am to use for His glory. Lyrics are a strong way to portray your message as a band; it is the melodic vocal harmonies along with the actual lyrics that can have a big impact on people.

O21: What is your view of Christian music?

Tim: I don’t care for the term “Christian Music” because I feel it’s unnecessary in many ways.  Since genres can’t be Christians and only Christians can be Christian I don’t understand the need to separate ourselves into a sub-genre because of our faith.  It feels like more of a marketing technique than anything else to me.  That being said though there have been many artist who fell into that genre that I grew up listening to and loved their music nonetheless and still do to this day.  I think it’s just an unfortunate thing that further keeps Christians in our own little box when in fact we’re called to go outside that box.

O21: How do you think the general public and the mainstream music industry view faith based music?

Isaac: They take it as a lesser quality of music because of the Christ-centric themes and that they perceive it to be not relatable and irrelevant.

Joanna: People also seem to think that Christian artists are really trapped within a certain musical style and sound that they can’t get out of. I think most people have a certain stereotype when they hear Christian rock.

O21: How do you think that will impact your career?

Isaac: I don’t think it will negatively impact us because we provide a unique blend of lyrical scriptural themes but with relatable pain and sufferings of being humans.

Joanna: We also don’t want to fit into the Christian music mold and we believe that the music we create is something unique that pushes the boundaries of what Christian music sounds like. We’ve developed our sound a lot over the past year, so this is heard more in the newer songs that we’re working on right now.

O21: What responsibility do you think an artist/performer has to its listeners?

Joanna: As we write our songs, I think it’s important that when we talk about pain, struggles, or difficulties in our lives’ that we always turn the focus back to God so that the message is encouraging and leaves people with hope instead of despair.

Tim: Being honest and real with people and yourself.  Also practicing what you’re singing on stage by being able to be the same off stage.

O21: In today’s music scene, with the demise of record companies and myspace, how does an artist develop a large enough following to sustain a career?

Tim: So far everything I’ve seen us do as a band as been through connections.  It’s all about who you know and going from there.

Isaac: You got to find people that identify with your music and provide them with interesting and entertaining performances, merch, contests, etc.  After that it’s about networking and finding ways to reach more people. For example, Cornerstone is a huge opportunity to expose ourselves and impact a different selection of fans.

Aaron: Getting your music out there anyway you can to establish a fan base. Also stepping out and taking sometimes costly risks for the sake of promotion can be worth it.

O21: What is your best memory of your career so far?

Aaron: Our CD release party for “Sweet Obsession” was my most memorable show of our career so far. The people that showed up and the participation they had made it easier to have energy on stage and have fun.

Joanna: My favorite memory of our career so far is also the CD release party we had for “Sweet Obsession”. My favorite part of the night was when we shifted over to an acoustic set for a couple of songs and we started playing “Anything”. As Tim started singing the first verse I heard the entire room start singing with him and I realized that these people listened to our music enough to memorize the words. It was the first time I had the thought that people really like our music, and it was really encouraging for me. It left me thinking about how much our music can influence people’s lives and the responsibility we have as a band to live our lives with integrity and walk with the humility and grace that Jesus did.

Tim: Yep, CD release show for sure!

O21: What are your road traditions?

Joanna: Playing loud music and jamming in the car!

Aaron: …and sleeping!

O21: What do you love about music?

Tim: I love music’s ability to transcend things that words alone couldn’t accomplish as well as its ability to be used as a vessel to reach places within us nothing else could.

Joanna: Everything!

Isaac: The ability to express my deep emotions through melodies and rhythms instead of the spoken word.

Aaron: I love how life changing a song can be. People are able to relate to other people through what they are singing about and that can help them through their struggles in life.

O21: What is your favorite song?

Aaron: I’d have to say “Learning To Breathe” by Switchfoot it’s simply a classic.

Isaac: “Meridian” by August Burns Red is my favorite. I love the dynamics and passionate intensity it builds up to.

Joanna: “Two Step” by Dave Matthews Band and “To Build a Home” by Cinematic Orchestra. There’s so many I couldn’t choose just one.

Tim: Wow, that’s a hard question!  Not sure if I could say what my favorite song of all time but currently I’m really enjoying “Separator” by Radiohead off their “Kings Of Limb” album.

O21: What is the best live show you have ever seen?

Tim: I’m a huge Switchfoot fan so I love seeing those guys.  At one concert I got pulled out of the crowd because of the shirt I was wearing and Jon introduced me to the crowd.  Pretty amazing night!

Joanna: Patrick Watson. I saw them in Chicago and they were absolute ear candy! Every song had unique elements that made me think, “I can’t believe they just did that!” I had goose bumps most of the night, and I always get goose bumps when I hear a really great song. The guitarist used balloons and duct tape on his electric guitars to create some amazing effects and the drummer used pots for percussion and played the xylophone for a couple of songs. It was just crazy to see the creativity that was used in the performance, and stirred a hunger in me to create something unique and interesting.

Isaac: Mute Math was sick live. They were incredibly energetic and entertaining.

Aaron: Fue last night…

O21: What is one thing people don’t understand about your music?

Joanna: How much time goes into recording a song to make it sound so effortless.

Tim: Also, the fact that we’re just starting out as a band I think a lot of people are still trying to figure out what we’re all about.  You know like why do we do what we do?  Why music?  I think we all believe to answer those questions over the next year or so as we begin to really get ourselves out there and are given more opportunities to say what we’re all about.  It’s through ways like this interview that we can really show a different side of the band — so thank you for that opportunity!

Thank you Joanna and guys.  That was a fun interview.  I look forward to catching your show at Cornerstone 2011.

Fue has a cool but complex sound that you should dig into by clicking through to Amazon and buying their two EP’s , Hallelujah and  Sweet Obsession.

If you just want a taste of Fue check out “Delight in You” from the One21music Cornerstone 2011 New Band Showcase sampler that will be released on One21music on June 22nd.

Fue will be playing the Cornerstone 2011 New Band Showcase on Thursday, June 30th at noon. See you there!


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