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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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The power of words

By KEVIN VANANTWERPEN
Updated: 02/29/12 9:51pm

I’m dating a photographer (check out the photos on www.facebook.com/chasingthesky to see some of her work). It’s not uncommon to for us to have playful arguments about whose art form is better. They’ll usually go something like:

Hilary: You can write a thousand words in an hour and a half, but it’ll only be worth one photo that I took in a fraction of a second.

Me: I can completely destroy someone or make their day with one short, well-crafted sentence. Good luck doing that with a picture.

And while photography is great and all, words have come to play a very important role in Chasing the Sky. Shortly after I joined the band, our vocalist Brenden and I had a conversation about what we wanted out of the lyrics. We realized that words are one of the most powerful forces known to human kind. It’d be a shame to spend months writing and recording an album and completely miss an opportunity to say something meaningful.

We want our music to be fun. But we also want our words to matter. If they can, in some way, impact someone’s life – even just one person – every sleepless night, every cup of coffee, every argument, every hour of practice, every blistered finger, every dollar spent on new equipment and recording would be worth it. And if it never matters to anyone – well hey, at least we tried.

I didn’t always write all the lyrics in this band. If you give our first release, “The Empty Chair – EP,” a listen, you’ll hear lyrics from me (such as in “The Glass Winter”), lyrics from our vocalist Brenden (such as in “William” and “A Certain Degree”) and lyrics co-written by the two of us along with our former bassist, Mike Ritz (such as in “Satellites” and “Beautiful, Broken Thing”).

Brenden handed the responsibility (and as I like to think of it, the gift) to me during a band retreat with our former drummer, Ryan Dekkinga. At the time, we were a young band – we all had a different idea of what Chasing the Sky should be, but none of us wanted to be bold and say it, at risk of ruining what good things we had going on.

So we took a trip to Ludington State Park, sat on the beach with our guitars and a jambe, and drank a lot of beer. Eventually our tongues loosened up, and we all tossed our reservations on the sand between us. It was one of the best nights in the history of this band.

Eventually, I told Brenden, “I’d really like to write the lyrics. Writing has been a part of my life ever since I can remember, and I feel like I can do a lot with this band.”

I was nervous. I didn’t want to be shot down. I’d only been in the band a few months. Maybe Brenden saw some sort of talent in me. Maybe he was just trying to make me happy, so they didn’t have to find another bass player. Maybe he just didn’t want to do all the work himself. But either way, it was the best gift anyone’s ever given me.

kvanantwerpen@lanthorn.com

Published February 29, 2012 in Chasing the Sky

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