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Stereo Deluxx Biography
"I realized early on that I probably needed to be in a band." laughs Lewis Lux, keyboardist and songwriter for Organic Records hot new band, Stereo Deluxx, whose debut album is titled So Clearly. "I guess it would sound better to say, I finally figured out that this was my God-given talent."
Lewis turns pensive, then continues, "I knew that I needed to be in ministry. There was just no way around that. And being on stage was something that came naturally to me. It just so happened that I got to be in music, too."
Raised in the often-dichotomous cultures of the church and public school, Lewis found it difficult to relate the truth of the Gospel to his unchurched high school friends. And his experience with contemporary Christian music didn't always help. "I started a band back in high school," Lewis explains, "and we were heavily into praise and worship music. Everything was blatantly Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. But there was no thinking to it. I would invite school friends to come and hear us play, and they kind of liked the music, but when we got to the praise and worship section, they were totally lost. They couldn't understand the 'language' of the church, and they couldn't get past the music."
"When Jesus taught, He always used parables," Lewis continues. "He didn't just come right out and tell you what He was trying to say. He made you think. I decided I wanted to create a band that would be more thought-provoking, but that would still be very ministry oriented."
He says he enrolled in Greenville College in order to find the rest of that band. Before long, Lewis hooked up with lead vocalist/lyricist Stacey Tiernan, and drummer Ed Cutler to form the core of Stereo Deluxx. An elementary education major, Stacy came to believe that the ministry of the band to kids was what God was really calling her to.
And Ed--who had to be convinced by his parents to take drum lessons, even though he had been banging on things since he was small--makes it clear that reaching the youth is the driving force of the band. 'The struggles of keeping something like this going, especially when you are just starting out, can be so hard sometimes. If you are not in it for the right reasons, you can easily be come discouraged,' he says. 'But seeing how our music can be used by God keeps pushing us on.'
The newly-formed baby band immediately started recording and sending out demos, and they created quite a buzz when they won the New Band showcase at the Cornerstone Festival. Record company execs started to call, and Lewis says they just knew they were about to hit the big time.
"Of course it didn't happen that way," he laughs. "And it is probably a good thing. We weren't ready. We spent the next two years just learning how to be a band, learning to play together and to relate to each other. Then when we finally learned how to be a band, the record companies started turning us down. They said our music was too progressive, too edgy for Christian music. It was definitely NOT the Cinderella story we always thought it would be."
"Until we played for Pamplin," Stacey interjects. "They saw what we were trying to accomplish with our music. A lot of other labels weren't getting it. It is really great to have people behind you who believe in you."
A Nashville showcase resulted in a record contract with Pamplin's Organic Records label, and landed Stereo Deluxx in Nashville for three months to record their debut project, So Clearly. It is a project that has resulted in an evolution of sorts for the band. Originally they wanted the album to be heavily electronic, danceable, and grooving. "But," says Lewis, "I personally said, 'let's use whatever we need to use to accomplish the purpose. If we need to use keyboards, let's do it. If we need to use guitars, then let's do that.' And actually, guitars kind of ruled, because we just found a lot of really cool sounds."
Guitar-guru Tony Palacios (Guardian, Michael W. Smith) contributed both his songwriting skills and his extraordinary musicianship to the project. "He is amazing," Stacey confides. "He is really good with melodies, and he came up with guitar riffs that make it drive!"
Lewis says the resulting project, which draws on his early Michael Jackson/SFC/Freedom of Soul influences, still has an up-front, in-your-face vibe, but while it has a dance beat, it still rocks. "It's got guitars, but there is still a definite pop element to the melodies," he says. "Who do we sound like? Well, there are some U2-ish guitars. A little bit of the Sneaker Pimps, a little Madonna. But really there is no one in Christian music I would compare us to."
"Praise and worship music is great, and it has its place," Stacy says. "But we wanted to create music that is more of an outreach, that can connect with kids like the ones I went to school with.'
"I think we get so caught up in the Christian sub-culture that we forget that we are really supposed to reach out to those outside our little group," finishes Lewis.