There is something so sweet about surrender yet at the same time, there’s something a little intimidating about commitment and it’s that spot in the middle where believers sometimes get mired. Giving our all to God can be a challenge, yet MIKESCHAIR frontman Mike Grayson knows the rewards and with the band’s latest Curb Records album, All or Nothing, he’s inviting others to take the plunge.
“It’s human nature to pick and choose the verses that we like out of the Bible and we push aside the ones that are a little harder to hear,” Grayson says. “The fact is the Lord doesn’t want a lukewarm believer. The title song on our new album is obviously about the fact that we want to be on the ALL side.”
“All or Nothing” was the first song Grayson penned for the group’s third studio album, and it immediately became a creative anchor. “As I continued to write, the word ‘all’ just kept coming up,” Grayson relates. “Throughout the span of the whole project, the goal is to inspire people to be sold out, to be on fire for God, to choose the ‘all’ side of the phrase ‘all or nothing.’ There are at least three songs that have ‘all’ in the title, so it’s very much centered around that word. It’s the first time where I actually wrote a song and then followed a theme throughout the whole process of writing the record.”
Just what made the theme of total commitment resonate so strongly with Grayson? “We’ve been doing this almost 10 years now, which is crazy,” he says shaking his head at how quickly time has passed. “I feel like this is a season of challenging our fans to really take that step with us and say ‘Hey! This is it! I’ve made a choice and I want to see it through.’”
For Grayson, the initial choice to serve God with his musical gifts came while he was a student at Nashville’s Belmont University. The Orlando native made friends with a few other aspiring musicians and began spending time writing songs and developing a unique sound. They submitted a demo for Belmont’s Christian Music Showcase and scored a coveted performance slot that was so well received it boosted their confidence and ultimately helped pave the way for a deal with Curb Records.
?The band’s self-titled debut album instantly earned them a devoted following with such memorable singles as “Let the Waters Rise” and “Can’t Take Away. Their penchant for combining meaty lyrics with engaging melodies helped garner four Dove Award nominations in 2010, including song of the year for “Let the Waters Rise” and rock contemporary song for “Can’t Take Away.”
MIKESCHAIR continued the momentum with their sophomore collection A Beautiful Life. The album solidified Grayson’s reputation as one of the industry’s most compelling young vocalists and a songwriter of considerable depth and insight. Their second album spawned the powerful hit “Someone Worth Dying For” which became yet another landmark achievement in the band’s career.
“I’ve always related to songs like ‘Let The Waters Rise’ or ‘Someone Worth Dying For,’” says Grayson, who wrote or co-wrote every song on “All or Nothing.” “I’ve always wanted to be really honest in my writing and not shy away from the reality of the world and what it means to be here, but the prayer is that there’s glimmer of hope in all of these songs to help people lift their eyes up a little bit from where they are.”
In recording “All or Nothing,” MIKESCHAIR once again worked with producer Matt Bronleewe, whose writing and/or production credits include Jars of Clay, Plumb, Michael W. Smith and Natalie Imbruglia. “He’s amazing. This record is a fresh thing for MIKESCHAIR,” says Grayson. “On this record, there’s a lot of really fun songs. There’s a song called ‘Loved By You’ that is just rejoicing in the fact that we’re loved. ‘This Is Our Moment’ is this huge anthem song. I wrote it with Matt Bronleewe and Jason Walker. We wrote it while the Olympics were happening.”
Since the last album, Grayson has gotten married and entered a new chapter of his young life. “There’s a lot of songs on this record that reflect the season that I personally have been going through,” he says. “You can see that reflected in the writing.”
The sound of the record was also inspired by this sunny season in Grayson’s life. “We went a lot more organic on this record,” he relates. “There are more organic tones and instruments and yet there’s still the funky sounds that MIKESCHAIR has done in the past. This season has felt like a time to do something a little different. It’s my voice and people are going to hear MIKESCHAIR for sure, but it’s a little more poppy and fun.”
?The lead single, “All I Can Do,” is a buoyant number that serves as a great introduction to the band’s third collection. The lyric was inspired by a small group study that Grayson and his wife Molly have been doing on the book “Crazy Love.” “The first chapter is all about prayer and the way we approach God and the way we think when we’re praying,” Grayson explains. “I got really convicted about the way that I pray because I realize that I’m literally like a kid most of the time when I pray because I’ll just jump right into ‘God this is what I want. This is what I need. This is what I feel you should be doing and you’re not.’ I don’t want my life to look ungrateful. I want my life to scream thankfulness and gratefulness because there’s so much that God has done. I have tendency to always look for the next thing coming up and I rarely rejoice in what God has done and what he has me in now. So this song reminds me I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to stop and say thank you. I want to be able to rest in what God has done and be faithful. I want to find the Lord in the moment. We’re not promised tomorrow so let’s find what God has for us in the now.”
Throughout the album, Grayson’s strong, vibrant voice continues to serve up songs that urge believers into a closer more satisfying relationship with their creator. “I Can Wait” reminds listeners of God’s faithfulness by assuring that God is always right on time. Matthew West makes a guest appearance on the intriguing “People Like Me.” The album closes with the powerful “All to Jesus.” “It’s like a modern take on ‘I Surrender All,’” Grayson says. “My prayer is by the end of the record, people will hear ‘All to Jesus’ and that literally be the cry of their heart---all to Jesus I surrender. That’s why I put it at the end in hopes of not closing the chapter, but in saying, ‘Okay I’ve gone through the journey, this is where I want to land and go on from there.’’
MIKESCHAIR has been on an incredible journey from college buddies who started a band to young men with a successful music ministry that has impacted people from eight to 80 with their thought-provoking songs. Along the way, they’ve experienced some interesting moments. They recorded their first Christmas project, which included original holiday tunes. The band saw their logo emblazoned on a NASCAR race car. Grayson received his first gold album when “Let the Waters Rise” was included on multi-artist WOW hits collection. The band toured with Big Daddy Weave, Matthew West and other acclaimed acts as well as headlining their own tour. They also traveled to Peru, Guatemala and Honduras doing mission work for Buckner International and Food for the Hungry.
?“The DNA of the band has always been about bringing awareness to need,” says Grayson. “We are so blessed, and if I can take a couple minutes out of a show and talk to ears that will listen and give a voice to those who don’t have a voice, that’s a huge part of what we feel called to do as a band. That’s something that you’ll see from MIKESCHAIR for years to come.”
Creating uplifting music, serving others and giving their all to God are all in the DNA of MIKESCHAIR and as Grayson and his bandmates move forward with All or Nothing, they hope they’ve inspired others. “We want to effectively communicate the message we feel God has given us,” Grayson says of the band’s mission. “Ultimately, the goal is pointing to Jesus.’