Interview: Frye Family Band

May 20 2020

Frye Family Band have just made their return with the new EP, 'Things Unseen'. Louder Than The Music asked band leader and dad, Tom Frye, and his son Jonathon, all about their life in music, the new seven-song EP, and what influences and inspires the music they create.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

I always say the short answer is "kicking and screaming." Music and ministry were not on my radar, but it they have become the place where I feel most comfortable. For years, even as I began performing, I struggled with issues of fear and insecurity. But the more I just strapped on my guitar and did it, the more I began to understand that God calls us into those places where we feel ill-equipped so that we will necessarily have to depend on Him to go where He directs us. And that is the most freeing thing. Because of my struggles with fear, I never recognized music as a passion of mine. I remember going to concerts and thinking, “That looks like so much fun, but I could never do it.” As such, my involvement in music ministry is really only a result of the people God has continually brought into my life. People that pulled things out of me I never knew existed. I think a lot of people who are interested in pursuing music are looking for the right formula. What I have learned is that the only formula is to be obedient to steward the gift God gives us, and that looks different for everyone.

As far as the Frye Family Band goes, the transition from my solo music ministry to the Frye Family Band was not as intentional as it was organic. It really was just a natural by-product of our parenting philosophy; “Do life together”.

Tell us about your new EP 'Things Unseen' and what the inspiration behind it was?

The opportunity to work with Michael Farren was an incredible blessing. Michael is such a talented songwriter and producer, having penned some of CCM’s biggest songs in the last few years. The common theme throughout the project is trust - ruthless trust. Trust when we cannot see the next step, trust when we're scared, desperate, lonely, hurting, or even facing death. The chorus of the title track sums it up well.

I will trust though I cannot see
This road ahead where You are leading me
My wandering heart looks to You my King
I fix my eyes on the things unseen

On the EP you've included a cover of 'Cats In The Cradle', tell us why you decided to record that song?

Originally, Jonathon and I performed 'Cats in the Cradle' as part of a Father’s Day service at our church. After the service, people shared with us how moved they were at seeing a father and son perform it. As we talked about the response, we realized how much this song fit with our message of “parenting on purpose” so we decided to add it to our set. I don’t think there’s been a time we’ve performed since that hasn’t included 'Cats in the Cradle.'

What message would you like people to take from your music?

My hope is that they see a normal family serving together and that in our music they hear hope. Hope that assures them that no matter their past or present, God’s love for them is so much deeper and His ability to rescue them is far greater than they could ever imagine.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked. We have so many influences from classic rock artists Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles, to folk artists like John Prine, CCM artists including Rich Mullins, Andrew Peterson, Mitch McVicker, and Third Day, country artists such as Willie Nelson, and Zac Brown Band, and contemporary acts including Ed Sheeran, Ben Rector, and Jason Mraz. Each have, in one way or another, contributed to our music. The underlining quality with all of our musical influences is their ability to craft incredible lyrics. We hear all kinds of descriptions of our style including Country, Americana, Folk, and Acoustic Pop. But when we perform live, we are simply an acoustic-driven lyric-focused band.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

There are so many, but if we’re talking straight up bucket list it would have to be Johnny Van Zant. I wouldn’t be playing guitar if it weren’t for the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which means the songs I write and perform would never have existed without them. I recently heard that once Lynyrd Skynrd wraps up their farewell tour, Johnny plans to release a Christian album, which would make writing with him even more special for me.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

It may sound trite, but I would say just to know that when this is all over I did the best with whatever ability I have. And hopefully, I have encouraged people in their faith.

What is your favorite album of all time?

(Tom) It depends on how I’m feeling, but I always come back to two, Lynyrd Skynyrd One More From The Road, and Rich Mullins A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band. I really can’t pick between these two.

(Jonathon) X (Deluxe Edition) by Ed Sheeran

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

(Tom) Peace of Christ by Rich Mullins

(Jonathon) Thirty Thousand Feet by Ben Rector

What does the next year hold for you?

As the world seeks to find a way to move forward and hopefully out of this season of pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainly for everyone in the music industry. There are so many questions about what events, and even life, will look like in the coming months. But trusting in the truth of Isaiah 48:17, we are moving forward to schedule concerts, worship services, and our Family to Family events. The Family to Family events will include music as well as topical presentations designed to encourage discipleship in the lives of individuals and families. Additionally, we offer post-event small group studies, and even one-on-one coaching. With Kaylyn and Maggie now married, and Jonathon’s recent graduation from college, we are deepening the focus of our ministry as we move into this new season of life.

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