It’s not uncommon for recording artists to be on the road, but Casting Crowns takes it to another level.
Singer-songwriter/youth pastor Mark Hall and a number of his bandmates and family members recently returned from a trip to Kenya. The contemporary Christian band also is one of the few American acts invited to perform in North Korea.
“We’ve been to North Korea twice,” drummer Brian Scoggin said by phone from his Georgia home. “The North Korea experience has been unique. We’ve been part of a variety show there. There are different kinds of acts from around the world that are invited to perform there. We’re dubbed as a ‘soft American rock band.’ It’s been different. It’s been cool.”
The view Scoggin has of the North Korean people mirrors what spoken word artist Henry Rollins said about those living in Iran. “When I tell people in America about what North Korea people are like, they’re surprised,” Scoggin said. “The people there are very nice. They’re nothing like the leaders of their country. I’ve never experienced anything like it, though. There is so much control by the government. They literally turn the lights off by cutting the power at night. There are speakers in the trees. It feels like what I read about how it was in Nazi Germany.”
Scoggin is pleased to be back in America for a tour with Casting Crowns, which will stop Sunday (7/22) at the Great Jones County Fair in Monticello. The popular contemporary Christian act will preview songs from its forthcoming but as yet untitled album, which will drop in the fall. Count on Casting Crowns — which also includes guitarists Juan DeVevo and Josh Mix, bassist Chris Huffman, pianist Megan Garrett and violinist Melodee DeVevo — to showcase songs, such as the single “Only Jesus.”
“We can’t wait for our fans to hear the new songs,” Scoggin said. “Mark writes all of the songs and we’re really enthusiastic about ‘Only Jesus’ because of not only how the song sounds, but also due to the meaning. The song is about leaving a legacy. It’s not about leaving our legacy, but the legacy of Jesus. It’s about how we don’t matter at all — but how Jesus only matters.”
It’s a stark contrast to the contemporary secular world, which is often about fame and its trappings. “You definitely see that,” Scoggin said. “It’s unfortunate. There’s much more going on than what’s happening with yourself.”
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There’s more happening with Casting Crowns, too, than its next project. The band also will draw from its 10-album collection when it returns to Monticello.
“We definitely have the songs in our canon,” Scoggin said. “You’ll definitely hear the familiar. After being together for 15 years, the songs accumulate. I just wish we had more time to play when we’re up there onstage.”
Casting Crowns enjoys playing fairs since it has an opportunity to perform for music fans who might not be familiar with the act.
“That’s the best part about playing an event like the one we’ll be playing in Iowa,” Scoggin said. “We can reach a broader audience than we would if we only played in front of our fans. We love playing to our fans, but a huge part of this is spreading the word. We’re aware of the power of our songs. We’ve received letters from people who are depressed and wanted to end their lives. But they receive something from our songs. We try to be inspirational. Live your life. Connect with Jesus and you’ll see the good that will come of it.”
Scoggin and the rest of the band hope to play more in the Heartland.
“We love performing in front of the people out there,” Scoggin said. “We have a nice fan base in places like Iowa. We need to get out to Iowa more. I love it out there. The people are friendly. They’re into our music and so many accept Jesus. Iowa is an amazing place.”
WHAT: Casting Crowns with Lauren Daigle opening
WHERE: Great Jones County Fair grandstand, 800 N. Maple St., Monticello
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday (7/22)
TICKETS: $35 track, seated, $30 amphitheater, Greatjonescountyfair.com; free on the hillsides, bring seating
GATE ADMISSION: $10; free ages 10 and under
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Castingcrowns.com