Local Christian band getting national attention

by Bob Grawey
Staff writer
In America, sometimes all it takes for great talent to make it big is to get that one elusive break, especially in the music industry.

Never mind national television glitz shows like “America’s Got Talent” or “American Idol.”

Musical acts by the hundreds plod and play their way through local venues in the hope of getting that break and being “discovered.”

Local Christian rock band Hyland, though exceptionally talented, was no exception in trying to find that one break that would propel it into a bigger market beyond local churches and other area concerts.

From left: Hyland band members Ben Early, Jon Lewis, Michell Hanson and Steve Weigel. The local Christian rock band signed with Tooth & Nail Records.

Then a friend’s mistake changed the band’s path. In fact, it proved to be Hyland’s big break.

Lead singer, Jon Lewis, says a close friend was serving in an internship at the popular Aaron Sprinkle’s studio in Seattle a little over a year ago.

It is Christian label Tooth & Nail’s main recording studio for major Christian artists such as Kutless, Jeremy Camp, Hawk Nelson and Anberlin.

Lewis’ friend had a copy of one of Hyland’s songs the band had recorded, and was playing it on the studio system, but forgot to take it out.
Studio boss Sprinkle found the errant song, liked it and pitched Hyland to Tooth & Nail bosses.

“Within five days Aaron had pitched us to the label,” Lewis says, “and we had an offer for a record deal in our inbox.”

It has already been a year since Hyland signed with the record company and life has been full of changes for the band’s members.

“It’s been a ‘more and less’ situation,” Lewis explains. “Before we were working more and playing less. Now that we have signed, we are playing much more and working much less. Ben had to give up his full-time worship leader position (at the Crossing Church) because of us literally playing every weekend.”

On tour since January 2011, Hyland has been busy playing concerts at music festivals throughout the nation, covering 38 states so far.

Starting next month, the band will begin the “Music With a Mission Tour” traveling with Christian mega acts Hawk Nelson, Superchick and Fireflight.

The band released a full-length album, “Weights&Measures,” this past May under the Tooth & Nail label and recorded three music videos since January.

Prior to signing, the band self-recorded and released some independent songs, all original music reflecting the band members’ lives.

“Our music style comes from our influences, and our subjects stem from life,” Lewis says. “I look at my writing as an outlet. I never kept a journal, but anyone following our music over the years could have a really good indication of my journey.”

Somehow, Lewis even managed to find time to get married this year and a little “home sweet home” is something Lewis says members of Hyland would like to experience in the way of bringing a concert closer to their home towns.

Aside from Lewis, who is from North Branch (lead vocals, guitar and does most of the writing), Ben Early is from Zimmerman (vocals, keyboard and guitar), Steve Weigel is from Princeton (drums) and Michell Hanson comes from Cambridge (guitar).

As it is, though, the closest they will get to home on the “Music With a Mission Tour” is Waukesha, Wis.

To get a taste of Hyland’s music, search for the band on iTunes or on Facebook; enter Hylandrock. The band can also be found at www.myspace.com/hylandrock.