Artwork by Natalie Ho and Darren Lo
Many of you have wondered why we dropped off the face of the planet right after the release of our 3rd album “Humanity” in 2011. We didn’t film any music videos, did very little promotion and never released it on iTunes. For a while, we kept silent about our absence thinking that we could wait out the storm, but 2.5 years later we are still in the thick of it and trying to fight our way through.
In 2011, someone who alleged to have worked with our band filed a lawsuit against us, forcing us to hire an attorney to fight the case. Those horror stories you hear about artists having their careers detroyed by lawsuits have been our unfortunate reality these past few years. Since then we have been involved in intense litigation that has dragged on for the last 2 ½ years and has cost us tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. We still owe thousands more.
That same year the lawsuit was filed, 2 band members left, essentially ending the band as we knew it. The stress of everything took a huge toll on my already struggling health which ended up costing thousands of dollars in medical bills and emergency room visits.
For the next few years we watched from the sidelines as our musical peers continued to progress in their music careers while we were stuck in a dark abyss of debt and paperwork. Even though we were still making money from touring, everything was going straight towards paying for legal expenses. Unable to work or sign with any labels or management companies because of the black stain of our ongoing litigation, we were essentially on our own. All the while, our personal lives were violated in ways we never imagined as we were compelled to hand over our private emails, text messages, phone records, financial documents and other intimate details of our lives to the very person who was suing us. For myself, the hardest thing in all of this was having to defend my character against accusations that were unjust and untrue. Depression was the norm for a long time. Mornings were always the worst as I would lay in bed wondering if there was any point in getting up to do anything at all. For almost a year I went through the motions of doing music, all the while wondering what my other options were.
It finally dawned on me one day that there are ultimately 2 choices you can make when faced with adversity. Either wallow in your own self pity, get angry at your circumstances until you drown in a sea of despair and bitterness, or forgive those who have wronged you and do your best with whatever time and resources God has given you.
And so with that in mind, I assigned myself the simple task of waking up every morning to eat breakfast. From there, I forced myself to sing and to record even when I didn’t want to. While some people say you shouldn’t make music when you don’t feel like it, I had to do it to keep myself going. It was like exercise for my soul. And even though it was painful at first, my love for music slowly reawakened.
With all of our finances tied up in litigation, we had nothing left to pay for a producer, a mixing and mastering engineer, studio space, musicians and equipment. But in the midst of all of that, God’s love was revealed in the kindness of the people around us. Our church in California let us take over their entire sanctuary for a week so we could record drums. Not only did they help us set up all of the equipment, the church members came by every day to bring us food and keep us company. Two gifted string players, Nathan and Michael, flew out from New York and Texas to record on our album free of charge, incredible singers from all over the country lent their voices to our album, and the amazing family who opened up their home to me also allowed me to take over their entire 3rd floor loft for my home studio.
While the songs on “Mighty Sound” were birthed within struggle, I resolved to create something that would celebrate the triumphs within the disappointments, instead of mourning in the ruins of our wailing wall. I didn’t pen these songs because of our troubles; I wrote these songs in spite of them. Because it’s easy to complain about hardship, but it’s much harder to be grateful for what is good in the midst of it. And while this lawsuit is still going on, it has less power over me each day. After all, money is one of those things you can always make back, but time wasted on worry, bitterness and fear is time that is lost for good.
A few days ago, on the date when we released our single “Wasted”, it finally rained in California. The news had reported that there had been no rain in the bay area for over 200 days. And this wasn’t by any means a small drizzle, but a steady downpour. It was about 9pm that evening and I took baby Joseph out on the porch to watch the rain. I strapped him in his stroller, wrapped a blanket around him, and both of us quietly watched the rain while listening to the new album on my phone. As we sat there, I felt a strange mixture of joy and sadness welling up inside. The past 2 years had been a struggle for my health, my finances and my spirit. But watching that rain pour down on thirsty ground, gave me hope like I haven’t felt in a long time – hope that my own drought was coming to an end.
A pastor once told me that rain is a sign of impending change. I suppose it is fitting that that’s what ended up on our album cover. In spite of all the doubts I have had about God and the nature of his plans these past few years, my soul is steady knowing that we are held by mighty hands.