Sometimes, the decision to stop…starts everything.
It’s exactly the situation Chris Cleveland found himself in when the previous iteration of his band Stars Go Dim came to a close. What started out as a simple side project became a successful recording and touring entity, even while Cleveland maintained his “day job” working at a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Yet as the original SGD began to fade, everyday life became more and more integrated into Cleveland’s reality – marriage, two kids, a steady job, a sense of contentment. He knew that music would always be a part of his life, but in the stillness of the moment, when touring was no longer his career, Cleveland was more able to get focused on the role music would have in his life moving forward.
And that’s when everything started.
And now, here’s what Stars Go Dim is in 2015 and moving into the future: a four-man collective forging like-minded modern pop, infused with both deep meaning and well-honed fun, merging layers of guitars, keys, loops and percussion to convey timeless messages.
“It was pretty crazy how God aligned things,” Cleveland says. "When putting together this new group, I knew it needed to start with one person, my big brother, Michael. We started playing together basically when we were born; we were on stage together when we were two and four. The original Stars Go Dim configuration was the first and only time we hadn't played music together, so it has been really awesome to come back together musically.”
Cleveland also added one of the most talented musicians and vocalists in Oklahoma, Kyle Williams, and gathered one more piece of the puzzle – drummer Josh Roach – and it was then that the new Stars Go Dim was fully formed.
Over the course of the next two years, the band began to write and play together.
This is where time and thought and patience and experimentation and struggle and innovation can all come together for something excellent.
The four men of Stars Go Dim, partnering with Fervent Records (Word Entertainment) along with their co-writers and producers, eschewed the 21st century idea of “record today, release later today,” and put together ideas for more than 60 songs before winnowing down to the 14 that make up their self-titled re-debut.
A lot of that experimentation came from making the purposeful effort to define a sound, something that was tough to do with such diverse talents and experiences.
“It was a real process getting to know each other musically, as well as personally,” Chris continues. “So once we sat down and thought about which songs were going to make the record, we had these ideas and templates about how these songs should sound, and with every piece added to the puzzle, these songs came to life more and more.”
And that life is felt most vividly on the project’s first single, “You Are Loved.” It’s a simple idea so often forgotten in the fractured attention span of life today, so Cleveland and his mates knew it was a reminder that the world desperately needs.
“As we've been paying attention to the reaction for the single, it blows me away to see the need,” Chris says. “For me, that's a message for my son and daughter as they grow up. I want them to know their innate value and their worth. We get comments all the time about what this simple, yet powerful message means to people.”
The messages on the 14-track self-titled album are not only timely but also timeless. The project boasts opening track– the reinvented hymn “Doxology” and the closing song is a memoriam called “Here” – serving as a reminder of both God’s presence in the universe and our ongoing need for it.
“Doxology, I wrote for my church; I had no intention for it to be a Stars Go Dim song,” Chris says.” “I wanted to take a song that was formidable, had deep theology, historical significance and was something people knew, and I wanted to do it in a way that my modern congregation could sing it and relive it and own it.
“Before I knew where anything else would go, I knew ‘Here’ was going to be the last song on the record,” Chris says. “It's about a friend of mine, Chase Lovelace, who passed away from cancer. I've never seen a faith like his; it was an incredible thing to witness.
“The song is an honest reflection of what was going on in me at that time," he says. “It’s a reminder that life is shorter than I think it should be, so when people approach this record, I want them to start listening to it and get the message of God and His holy presence, and I want them to end this record knowing that no matter what they go through, whatever circumstance, that God is still with them.” they go through, whatever circumstance, that God is still with them.”