Evidence, a Christian rock band, grows in faith and renown

Monday, May 2, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:23 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Ayron Plummer, lyricist for Evidence, harmonizes with the music during practice March 20 at the Evangelical Free Church in Columbia. "My life has been centered around music,” Plummer said. “It's gotten to a point where I cannot sleep unless I have my headphones in."

COLUMBIA — When you think of church music, bells and chimes might come to mind.

But inside a reverberant former sanctuary at Evangelical Free Church, electric guitar riffs bounce off the walls, creating a rock ’n’ roll sound.


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That's Evidence, a Christian rock band whose members champion hope and perseverance through music. 

The band came together about two years ago in Columbia. It has played in St. Louis, Springfield and Jefferson City and has opened for national touring bands Remedy Drive, Abandon and Wavorly in Columbia.

The band’s lead vocalists, Jason Mathews,, 19, and Ayron Plummer, 20, discovered three years ago that they were both writing songs and soon began combining their styles. After writing about 20 songs and incorporating a drummer, guitarists, violinist and bass player, Evidence had formed.

The band has seven members in all, ranging in age from 13 to 20. The youngest, Kerri Mathews, Jason's sister, is a violinist and the band's only female member. With the exception of two members, they each attend a different school and have had a different pathway to the band. But their mission is collective: to share the gospel through their music. The band's name, Evidence, is derived from the message that music is a sign of God's presence.

Their rock sound is a combination of the music genres that influence them. Mathews said he is influenced by hard rock and jazz music. Plummer is influenced by gospel music. They decided to put the sounds together, using a metal foundation and layering it with a wide range of instruments and gospel-inspired lyrics.

The band’s music and lyrics echo the battles of life and the desire for a way out when one feels trapped.

Plummer, who is from Columbia, said their music can be interpreted as “anthems for the lost,” giving light to those who feel down in their lives.

The chorus of the band’s song "Creed of Hope" embodies such a message: "Hold on to the hope that’s inside you/let it shine and fully guide you/just see it through to more brighter days/cling on to what you know/you still have so far to go/just hold on and keep the faith."

Sources of inspiration

For both Plummer and Mathews, this theme resonates with struggles they endured in their younger years; they described their earlier selves as “dorks.”

“In elementary school no one would talk to us; we were both kicked around,” said Mathews, who grew up in Columbia. “There’s lots of different situations in our lives when things are down, and we ended up coming out on top. I mean, we’re part of a successful Christian rock band making it somewhere.”

He said the start of the band was something worthwhile for them all. And, somewhere in between the weekly practices and concerts, the bands’ members have found they’ve grown closer to God as well.

Brian Mathews, Evidence's drummer and Jason Mathews’ brother, said making Christian music is another way of evangelizing, and he is now less afraid to do so.

“It’s really shown me who I am as a Christian.," said Brian Mathews, 16. "I’ve definitely grown in my faith.”

Although band members often find inspiration from their own experiences to write songs, Plummer said that in some cases the lyrics come from the struggles of friends. Sometimes, the inspiration isn't a specific person. "Creed of Hope" speaks of a girl who is outcast because she is different.

“I go by what I’ve seen and what I’ve gone through myself," Plummer said. "I’ve been the friend who sits there with the person and says, ‘We gotta get help.’”

Like those of "Creed of Hope," many of their lyrics are subtle enough to appeal to secular audiences as well as religious ones. Jason Mathews said that this is intentional and that they don’t aim to close anyone off from their music. 

“Just because we’re different doesn’t mean you have to be harsh toward one another,” Mathews said. “We’re all people; we’re all here for one purpose.”

The struggle and support

Despite the band’s attempt to embrace secular language, Mathews said he thinks being a Christian band has cost them gigs.

“I think we’ve realized it’s not just going to happen overnight,” Mathews said.

He said he thinks the hardest part of starting a band is getting your name out there. But then Mathews paused and altered his view slightly, saying, "You know, I think we've been blessed more than a lot of other bands have been." 

Mathews said Evidence has a fan base of almost 1,000 people, based on who "likes" them through social media such as Facebook and MySpace. One of those is Mae Godwin, 16, a friend of the members who has watched them since the beginning. Godwin has dreams of being in a band but didn't think it was possible until she saw Evidence’s success.

“They live in a small town, and they’re actually progressing as a CoMo band and as a Christian one,” Godwin said. “They had a goal, and they’re getting it. And, of course, they can’t do it without God’s help, and it’s making me want to rely on God more.”

Godwin said she thinks Evidence “shows a good message without being a cheesy worship band” and can reach out to non-Christians who are skeptical.

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like these guys," she said. "They’re hilarious, and they’re not afraid to make fun of themselves.”

Rob Allen is a fan of the band and the father of its previous bass player, Carly Allen. Although his daughter is no longer in the band, Allen still supports them. The band’s spirit gives him hope for today’s youth, he said.

“You know, you see many teens get into trouble or make poor decisions,” Allen said. “Why not throw your support to a team that’s trying to support a positive message and win people over for God?”

Another Evidence fan, Meagan Woodruff, 18, said it’s difficult to listen to the band without feeling happy and energized afterward. She said she was feeling down recently because one of her friends who is a soldier had just gone overseas to Uganda. She was driving home through a storm one day feeling sad about her friend when Evidence’s song "Rescue Me" came on her iPod. In that moment, she said, the lyrics helped her.

“God was telling me he was here,” she said.

Writing a song

On a recent Sunday at Evangelical Free Church, 600 Silvey St., beneath the curved wooden ceiling of the former sanctuary, the band members brainstormed lyrics for a new song for which they already had the melody.

Danny Brugmann, 18, the band’s bass player who joined Evidence a little over a month ago, brought up something he said he’d been thinking about lately.

“Our hearts are kind of scabbed over,” he said as he sat on a step with the bass in his lap. “We just get cold, and we have to let God break through and rip off the scabs, if you will. And we can’t do it ourselves, we have to let God do it.”

The other band members nodded, listening for an idea that could strike a chord in their new song. As they talked for a few more minutes, Plummer typed out the first verse on a laptop.

When Plummer told the others the theme of the new song could be "unlock my heart," it was obvious the idea struck them. They erupted in smiles and took on a new energy. Plummer even jumped up and down.

“You know it’s a good song when I’m sweating,” said Jason Mathews, who had been pacing around.

Soon the whole group was playing, electric guitar riffs bouncing off the walls again.

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Stephen Johnson May 2, 2011 | 1:42 p.m.

When a individual proclaims "Christian" rock as being Christian music, there is no quicker way to know that such an individual has very little, if any knowledge at all, about the Bible (AV1611).

Proclaiming such music as being Christian would no different than proclaiming the music of "Joy of Satan" as being Christian or "Led Zeppelin".

Rock star David Bowie said, "Rock has always been THE DEVILS MUSIC." (Rolling Stone, Feb. 12, 1976, p. 83)

Even secular Time magazine, (March 11, 1985 p.60) in an article about Contemporary Christian Music titled the article, "New Lyrics for the DEVIL'S MUSIC".

I could write a short story on this but I will leave it at this: If the beat of the music sounds like the world's music, it's still satan's music. Changing the words to the music means nothing and that's all "Christian" rock music has done--nothing more. And ones humanist beliefs on the matter won't justify it either.

Real Christian music:

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3

"yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written," Romans 3:4

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum May 2, 2011 | 3:31 p.m.

Hey Steve,

You've got some very deeply rooted emotional problems. The Bible ain't gonna help you. Good luck buddy!

(Report Comment)
Michael Povinelli May 2, 2011 | 5:20 p.m.

Dear Stephen,

As much as I would love for your hypocritcal post to be deleted, you do have a voice and you have a right for that voice to be heard.

Your claim that whoever "proclaims 'Christian' rock as being Christian music, there is no quicker way to tell that such an individual has very little, if any knowledge at all, of the the Bible," is infuriating. I looked at your sources and what I see is God's word and the words of imperfect humans being twisted around to fit your ideology that rock music is "The Devil's Music" no matter what lyrics are placed with the beat.

It is one thing to dislike the genre of rock music, but to then claim that Christian rock is Satan's music simply because you don't enjoy it is simply outrageous.

I looked at the website you suggested and listed to a few bits of what you would call "Christian" or "Holy" music. Then I looked back at your comment, "If the beat of the music sounds like the world's music, then it is still satan's music. Changing the words to the music means nothing and that's all Christian rock has ever done-nothing more."

You then say that if the beat is made by man on the earth then it is of satan. Well I listened to the music you suggested, it is made by man, therefore according to your logic it is the DEVIL'S MUSIC.

I will be honest Mr. Johnson, your post has made me want to be a better Christian. Not to twist the Bible's teaching to fit my own personal beliefs. I pray I will never become an educated scholar who uses the Word of God in such a way to make people believe in myself instead of the One who gave us the Word. I disagree with Louis, however; the Bible can help you, but you Mr. Johnson would be too stubborn, self-righteous, and arrogant to let the truth of God's word penetrate your heart.

According to Amos 3:3 that you posted, we will never be able to walk together, and I am okay with that.

(Report Comment)
Ben Taylor May 3, 2011 | 8:41 p.m.

There is nothing about a certain sound that can classify it as "Devil's Music". What you are asserting, essentially, is that certain volume levels of music, coupled with certain instruments, is inherently "evil".
Rock music began as a rebellious genre, it is true. But the reason it was labeled as rebellious is because of the lifestyles of its performers, and the lyrics typically associated with it. Jazz music could just as well be seen as "evil" if you look at what it was associated with: the decadence and loss of religion during the roaring 20's.

What classifies the message of a song is its lyrics, not the medium that conveys it.
"Worship" music can be seen as different by everyone; everyone worships differently, however minute the difference (although your way seems to be rather strikingly dissimilar). Worship music is generally seen as music that elicits the proper emotional response.
Christian music, however, is completely defined by those who play it, and the sentiments shown through the music. This emphasis on medium is petty and, honestly, confuses me.

(Report Comment)
Warren Mayer May 4, 2011 | 12:22 p.m.

Mr. Johnson, with all due respect, as much as I personally like David Bowie's music (my old vinyl album collection clearly validating that point), it would never occur to me to quote him (or Time magazine, for that matter) to make a valid point about biblical truth; I very much doubt that Bowie is the least bit concerned with authentic Christian theology. I think the man for that job would be, rather, the Apostle Paul, who says in 1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV) "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." Taken out of context, that verse can, of course, be wrongly interpreted to mean something like, "Well, I guess everything is OK, then." Not so. Paul's point, instead, is that music, like all good things, is a gift from God and can be redeemed for His glory. Kudos to the members of Evidence for their decision to embrace biblical truth even if it does result in lost gigs. Good luck to you all!

(Report Comment)
Stephen Johnson June 4, 2011 | 2:03 a.m.

Michael Povinelli,

Hypocritcal? You need to learn the definition of the word if you believe that.

You find my comment is infuriating? When was the last time you pick up a King James Bible and read it to see what musical instruments you can find in it?

Then talk to me about being "stubborn, self-righteous, and arrogant".

(Report Comment)
Stephen Johnson June 4, 2011 | 2:20 a.m.

Warren Mayer,

Point taken. I guess I should of added this to my comment:

Pick up a King James Bible and read it to see what musical instruments you can find in it. If you can't find in the Bible, then Jesus is trying to tell you something.

(Report Comment)
Stephen Johnson June 4, 2011 | 2:35 a.m.

Ben Taylor,

All you are trying to do is justify ones beliefs from a humanist viewpoint. The Bible does no such thing. That's what bented Michael Povinelli out of shape because the Bible won't let him.

We can hand out opinions to we are blue in the face but other than proving we have an opinion, what more does it prove?

The issue is, from the Bible and the Bible alone can you prove that "Christian" rock music to be Christian. The answer is no and that what has bend everyone here out of shape because they can't.

(Report Comment)

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