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10 Questions with
We Are Messengers' Darren Mulligan

  There are boatloads of very genuine and lovable CCM artists, to be sure. But if radio programmers took a poll of the most raw amongst them, there's little doubt Darren Mulligan would be one of the first names on most lists. And that's largely why his band We Are Messengers has made the impact it has over the past few years, both on-air and on stage. WAM's latest single "Maybe It's OK" - the lead track to their CD, Honest.

1. You've traveled an interesting road in your career. What have been some of the major points of your artistic journey that's brought
you to where you are currently?

  One of my earliest memories is watching my Mam and Dad dance in the kitchen after 12-hour work shifts with unpayable bills sitting on the kitchen table. That taught me the incredible power of music to take us away from our heartache and frustration. That captivated me and hooked me on music. I loved the raw power of grunge as a teenager and the aching, hauntingly-beautiful music of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. I loved playing guitar and played in cover bands, bar bands and eventually in a screamo band that toured America in the early 2000s; but I really never sang.
  Falling in love with Jesus really changed how I approached music and songwriting. I started singing in 2010 because a little band we put together in Ireland needed a singer and I was it. In May 2014, I was sitting in my car outside my son's school and I told God that I didn't need music any longer and the very next day Josh Bailey, A&R of Word Records in Nashville, called me via Skype. I came out to Nashville and the rest is history. You couldn't make our story up.

2. Best guess, where would you be right now and what would you be doing if the
We Are Messengers thing never existed?

   I'm so grateful that we get to do this and it's not lost on me that having a successful career in music is like winning the lottery; and right now, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I know I was made for this. However, I loved what I did before, working with children who have physical and intellectual disabilities. It was the most rewarding job/vocation I ever had.

3. You've been on the road a ton over the past couple of years. Hundreds of dates all over the country. How has touring helped
you become a better artist?
Has it provided any perspective on who you are as a person, husband, father, friend, etc?

  There really is no better way to become excellent at anything other than doing it and we've done a ridiculous amount-probably 500+ shows in three years. Arenas, churches, theaters, festivals...the whole lot. We have learned to be patient, to approach performances with excellence but to also be willing to throw our setlists and ideas out the window mid-show if something beautiful is happening. I love that we live in the tension of excellence and chaos and that allows us to meet people where they are at in the moment, instead of applying a one-performance-fits-all type of show. We've learned that every room of people is unique and needs something authentic and true in the moment.

  Touring has made me realize that who I am at home needs to be consistent with who I am on the road. There is no room for a Jekyll and Hyde approach to music and home life. My family deserves the best of me and that's what I am trying to give them. We have surrounded ourselves with an incredible team of people who have integrity, drive, enthusiasm and who are deeply-committed to what God is doing through We Are Messengers. None of this is possible without a team, a family and a dream.

4. Who is Darren Mulligan now compared to the pre-We Are Messengers version of Darren Mulligan? How is he the same guy and
how has he changed/grown/developed
over the past several years?

  I hope I'm still very much the same and that people still think that it's good news to see We Are Messengers walking through the door. The Darren Mulligan sitting back home in Ireland four years ago didn't need applause or chart positions. All he wanted was to love his family, honor God and love his community. It was a beautifully simple life. It's been a strange few years, after the first few singles had such amazing success the desire to continue having success crept in and stole a lot of my joy and contentment. Before we started the new record, I spent a lot of time putting that nonsense to death.
  In many ways, I've rediscovered my love for people, for putting words to the things most of us cannot articulate and watching that radically change people's lives. I've gone back to the simplicity of trusting that what I have is enough to make a real difference in this life and that's enough.

See We Are Messengers' Official Music Video For "Maybe It's Ok") - Click Here

5. It's reasonable to believe your extensive touring has come as a result of your radio success over the past few years. Considering you didn't grow up with Christian radio, how has your perception of it changed over time and what misconceptions (if any) have you had to overcome throughout your artist career so far?

  Christian radio fascinates me. I didn't even know that the genre existed until seven years ago. I assumed that it would be nothing but a pale imitation of mainstream music. What I've seen is that there is an incredible artistry in the genre and that it is developing and allowing for greater creativity all the time. We are so thankful for the Program Directors and Music Directors who have taken risks on artists like us, Jordan Feliz, Tauren Wells and many others. That's the only way we can continue to make music that pushes the envelope. We couldn't do what we've done without the format.
  However, it's a strange thing to sit in an Uber ride in any city in America and answer the question, "So what kind of music do you play?" When I respond with the word "Christian," more often than not, I'll get a dismissive look or a pity compliment, "Oh. That's cool..." before they change the topic. The misconception remains that Christian music and radio is less artistic, creative and honest than other genres; and if we are honest, there is some truth to that at times. However, we have this unwavering truth, radio stations that are loving their communities and amazing artists who are willing to give their lives away so that others may find theirs. That cannot be bought or sold and that's the real deal. I have nothing but hope and love for the format.

6. Is it difficult for an artist who's tasted airplay success to not write songs with a primary intention of making it radio-friendly?

  I don't, but I know that many artists feel the pressure to do so. I've sat in writes when for people that was the target, more tempo, simple vertical lyrics, something hooky for radio. I'm not saying those things are bad. We want to serve the folks who have put food on our tables but I never feel that pressure. We never write with an agenda other than to share our hearts and make the best music we can.

7. What's the background story that prompted your new single "Maybe It's OK"?
You're very missional in your music. What do you hope listeners will get out of this song?

  This one matters maybe more than anything I've written. I've struggled with mental health issues and have loved ones and family who have as well. This song is for those struggling with heartache, loneliness, disappointment, separation, anxiety, depression suicidal ideation, etc. I'm tired of pretending and putting a brave face on. It's not enough to tell people to read more, to pray more to burden them with doing more when they are falling apart behind closed doors.
  "Maybe it's OK" gives each of us permission to be real, to let the people we love see us for who we really are and trust that God can hold us in that and lead us somewhere more beautiful. I hope that listeners will experience the freedom that comes when we admit that we are not ok, when we stop pretending, trying to be strong and brave and let the Lord take our honesty and weakness and reveal His great strength through that authenticity. I hope that this song releases a wave of joy and hope across our communities.

8. What other subject matter do you plan to cover in other songs that make up
your current release?
Any particular breakthroughs for you,
either emotionally or spiritually
as you've been writing these new songs?

  As always, our songs are born from personal experience. I've really felt the steadiness and tenderness of God in every circumstance throughout this new season. We have songs that deal with chasing foreign shores instead of Him, songs about saying "sorry" to our families for leaving them so often, love songs for my wife as we've walked through difficult seasons in our marriage.
   We've focused on going back to that place in our music where we are incredibly honest. We have no time for pretense or musing on metaphors. These songs are our truth, raw and messy but full of hope and healing.
 

9. Off the top of your head,
what is one song you wish you'd written?

  John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" for me is one of the most beautifully crafted songs. We perform this most nights and it never fails to completely transform the atmosphere in any room. Some songs are gifts to the world and this is one of them.

10. Who are some of the artists you've been listening to recently that have most resonated with you, from a message and/
or performance standpoint?

  I'm a huge fan of Imagine Dragons. Their raw, visceral lyrics move me deeply and they have an amazing, addictive blend of pop, rock, throwback 80s synth vibes. I'm also a huge fan of David Crowder, he is someone who continually pushes the envelope in our format, tells his truth and his live performance is dripping with excellence and rowdiness.

~ from allaccess.com ~

 

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We Are Messengers
"Maybe It's OK"
(from Honest)


We Are Messengers' first batch of new music since the Dove Award-nominated act's 2016 critically-acclaimed self-titled debut. Extending their track record of transparent songwriting, the six-track set was produced by Tedd T. (Francesca Battistelli, Stars Go Dim) and Benjamin Backus (for KING & COUNTRY, Blanca) and features powerful radio hit
Maybe It's OK.

We Are Messengers
"Point To You"
(from We Are Messengers)


A native of Ireland, frontman Darren Mulligan weaves the experiences of his joys and struggles with life, music, and Christian faith into a touching collection of original songs. According to Darren, We Are Messengers offers 'simple songs for a complex world,' celebrating victory in Christ, relating timeless parables to today's society, and sharing hope in eternal life. Includes the hits, "Everything Comes Alive," "Magnify." and
"Point To You."
 

We Are Messengers
"From Heaven To Earth (Joy To The World)"
(from God With Us)


Join Darren Mulligan and We Are Messengers for a reverent four-song set of worshipful Christmas originals. God With Us features a guest appearance from MC Stephen Malcolm on "Christ Our King," and also includes "Flesh & Bone," "From Heaven To Earth (Joy To The World),"
and the title track.

 

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