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Petra Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Petra lyrics)
If there's one band whose name conjures up images of pure, passionate, power-packed rock and roll, it's Petra. They've whisked listeners away on a wild ride since the heartbeat of the band began years ago. And more than 7 million records sold, four Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame certainly solidifies the fact that Petra was no one-trick pony. And that momentum never stopped as the group helped define the rock genre for a whole generation of music lovers, perhaps more so than any other Christian rock act that has followed in its historic path.
"The key thing for us has been to know what our calling is," says Bob Hartman, Petra's founder, guitarist and primary songwriter. "Going all the way back to the beginning, that's how we learned who we were - from our roots. It's the basis for what we do, and having that foundation in place has helped us to never take for granted what we're doing and to always realize it's a gift from God."
There aren't too many bands today who can boast the kind of far-reaching legacy that comes with a 30-year exploding career as one of contemporary Christian music's most influential pioneering artists. Petra emerged in the 1970s with its own distinct style, unleashing a raw power that cemented its growing reputation as a band of innovators - mavericks in the exploding contemporary Christian music marketplace.
But if you thought you knew them then... think again. All history aside, this band is just getting started. As Petra releases its 20th studio recording, arguably its most aggressive rock album to date, Jekyll and Hyde, it continues to push the sonic envelope in huge ways. "It seems strange to say that this is our most aggressive rock record, but I truly believe it is," says Petra lead singer John Schlitt. "We're excited to do a project that sounds the way this one does. Petra fans have been wanting a rock album like this. They've asked for it, and they're getting it."
Going against all musical trends, Petra stepped up to the plate this time around with an unbridled attitude that resulted in new energy. Jekyll and Hyde is nothing less than an exhilarating ride that showcases a hard-driving, robust wall of sound more powerful than anything ever heard on a Petra album before now.
"There are huge guitars and a no-holds-barred attitude," adds Hartman, who has re-joined the group and is touring as Petra's lead guitarist for the first time in seven years. "It's just big-time rock. We've been waiting for a while to do an album like this, so everything that's been pent up inside is coming out right here in this music."
Jekyll and Hyde is Petra's second album on Inpop Records (a follow-up to 2001's Revival) and was produced by Newsboys frontman and Inpop co-owner, Peter Furler. It was Furler's first time working with Petra in a producer's role, and he also added his own signature drumming to the album's collection of aggressive rock tracks.
"I think almost everyone has a 'Petra' story or can remember the first time they heard the band," says Furler. "Petra has played a very important role in our industry and paved the way for bands like Newsboys."
"Peter did a great job helping us select the songs and the different musical elements to incorporate," Hartman adds. "Having that outside perspective from someone like Peter has helped. And at the same time, when I hear this album, it's really Petra."
Jekyll and Hyde's title track is an intriguing look at the internal battle between right and wrong, according to Hartman. "It's about the fighting that goes on inside of us. It's like when Paul said, 'The things I want to do are the things I don't do, and the things I don't want to do are the things that I do.' 'Jekyll and Hyde' is the personification of that struggle."
"'Til Everything I Do," is a gritty, mid-tempo track that says 'Til everything I do I do for You/ Through every test of faith You take me through / 'Til every path I take is straight and true / 'Til everything I do I do for You. "All About Who You Know" is an unabashed rock anthem complete with bold guitar riffs and Schlitt's power-packed vocals. Some of the album's other many highlights include songs like "Test of Time," "Would'a, Should'a, Could'a," "Stand," "Perfect World," "Sacred Trust," "Life As We Know It" and the worshipful, "I Will Seek You."
"These songs have been so fun to record," says Schlitt, "and I can't wait until we get to take them to a live setting. This is one of those albums on which every song is a great song to perform live. It's fresh, new, aggressive material, and we're having a blast with it."
"I continually marvel at the miracle that happens with the songs we record," Hartman admits. "When I sit down to write a song, I'm usually alone in my basement. So to see it put on a recording and sent out all over the world, and to hear that people are affected by it, is always amazing to me."
Hartman's return to the Petra stage is something he's eager to do, and rightly so. It is Petra's live show that earned the group its formidable fan base of supporters (also known as "Petheads"). "It's been really fun for me to go back out on the road again," says Hartman. "Everything you go through out on the road is all for that couple of hours on stage. It's all about that - and that's the part that I really missed."
"When we're on the road playing concerts, we're constantly reminded of the importance of getting on stage and representing Christ," Schlitt adds. "We found out early on that when we can lead an audience through an evening of entertainment and bring them to a focus on worship - that's the point when God really begins to work. That's when people are truly impacted, and it can be a life-changing experience. That's really what is most important about who we are and why we're still doing what we do."
Sonically passionate, unapologetic, and even a little unruly, Jekyll and Hyde runs thick with spiritual truths and adds a whole new dimension to Petra's musical repertoire. It marks yet another milestone in this group's history, and creates an excitement and collective hunger about what the future holds for this band of rock and roll pace-setters.