Every so often you come across musicians on Youtube that you want to learn more about. A couple years ago I was watching some clips from the Village Underground in NYC and came across Broken ChainZ. I was immediately captured by the song, the sound, and their worship. I was able to catch up with the band to talk about their vision, sound, and debut album. Read it below!
TosinMoji:Tell me about how Broken ChainZ began.
Jerry “Juice”:Broken ChainZ band started in summer 2009. It basically started out with me reaching out to some guys that I actually prayed about. God led me to some musicians that I believed could be a part of the sound and a part of this movement. I told them what God put on my heart to do as far as this freedom movement and what Broken ChainZ was about.
TosinMoji:What is this freedom sound that you talk about?
Juice: Basically it’s about liberation. The vision stems from Luke 4: 18-19 where Jesus said the spirit of the Lord is upon me for He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. One thing that stuck out is when He said to liberate the captives. I just believe that we have a lot of Christians who are still bound and we cover that up with attractive gospel music that really doesn’t hit the core. But overall there’s a lot of great and inspiring gospel music out there. But I just felt that there’s a rebellious generation out there that needs to hear an aggressive, in your face style of music with the message that let’s them know they can be free.
TosinMoji: I like that! So you all just released your debut album. Congrats! What was the process like?
Juice: What I normally do is I come to the rehearsal with whatever idea I have or whatever inspiration God has given me and kind of pull from their thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. We share this idea musically and make it into the sound that you hear on the album. The contribution from each of these guys is what makes the Broken Chainz sound what it is.
Phinees: This is probably the longest ministry/band I’ve ever played with. We all bring our own personality to the sound. Everyone plays a different instrument but I realized when you listen to gospel records you hear the same people playing the same thing. When I listened to the playback of the record I felt like I played this way on this song and on another one I sound like a totally different person. But it’s still the same personality. So I love how we make our own personality not fit in a box.
Marcus: This was initially Juice’s sound or idea and we all participated in carrying out that vision and bringing it to life. We have all been able to utilize what we have and be able to execute it in a way that it’s just a different sound.
TosinMoji: Your sound is very different from the typical gospel sound. How receptive are people to your music?
Juice: We’ve had our share of rejection simply because people do two things when they view something that’s different and new. They either try to destroy it or they run away from it. But you have those people who we are actually reaching out to who have a heart of the band because they hear a sound that their spirit or their soul is crying out for. So we definitely have the traditional crowd that’s not gonna get this album at all, but we’re not called to everybody. We’re just called to a certain few especially in this generation that see that these guys are young, fresh, dope, but they do love God.
TosinMoji: So I love the way you all have described your sound and vision for the project. What about the lyrics? Who writes them or is it a collaborative effort?
Juice: Simply because this is our first album it’s been me writing and Saeed would co-write. We would shoot ideas back and forth as far as where the song should go. These are songs that God’s given me either few years ago or just recently.
Marcus: Like I said, this was initially Juice’s idea but now that we are a lot more familiar with the sound and with each other we’re definitely going to make it more of a collaborative effort and put it together in the next album. We all have ideas to bring to the table.
TosinMoji: What are your favorite songs on the album?
Phinees: Freedom Cry. It’s the anthem of the band. It’s very cross-cultural
Carlin: Cross Anthem. It’s an aggressive song. I love the fact that it’s a hymn and we approached it differently.
TosinMoji: Yea I really like that song. It was interesting how you took that song and switched it up.
Juice: That was actually my pastor’s idea. My pastor told me you guys should do a hymn. I looked at him like ‘A hymn with our style? That would never work’. Lo and behold I was coming from a studio session and next thing you know it’s on the album.
Marcus: My favorite song might be Cross Anthem as well. It’s a hymn that’s been modernized and Broken Chainz-ized.
Matthais: My favorite is Merciful God. Most people like Cross Anthem and I love that song too but Merciful God is a worship song and I’m all about that.
Juice: I think my favorite song would have to be Musician’s Cry. Not because of the musicality of it but basically because of the relationship it has with me personally. The words are like my spirit speaking out loud. Every word from start to finish.
TosinMoji: What are your rehearsals like? I imagine they get quite interesting!
Juice: We have a couple of clowns. Carlin and Marcus are the funniest guys in the entire universe. They need their own T.V show. These guys will have you crying throughout the whole rehearsal. One thing I love about rehearsals is that we cry out to God. One thing that we do when we come to rehearsal is we speak out loud the things we are believing God to do in our lives. That’s our tradition. We don’t play first, we go straight into confessing and speaking those things that are not as though they are.
TosinMoji: Wow that’s amazing! How did that start?
Juice: It was something we did for the first time a couple years ago and the Spirit of God just said ‘This is us. This is what we do’. And we have witnessed God through us confessing and speaking those things in the atmosphere.
TosinMoji: Amen. What do you guys expect listeners to get from your music?
Matthais: When you get the album you should be prepared for the unexpected. You should be prepared for a sound that’s unprecedented. Be prepared for a spiritual whirlwind. Something different; it’s not something that you’ve heard before.
Juice:We want listeners to be engaged. It is our job to set the atmosphere and begin this journey to this place called freedom where people—young people—are not afraid to lift up their hands, jump, scream, shout, and just experience God in a way where they feel they’re not being judged. They can see young, black men who are radical and on fire for God. It’s not only about Jesus Culture, Planetshakers, or Hillsong. We have people right here in New York that are on fire for God.
Well there you have it! Listen to their debut album,Sound of War, Cry of Freedom, and you can certainly tell these young men are on fire for God–and want others to experience that same feeling. The album is amazing, both lyrically and musically. If you are looking for a new sound or just more music to add to your collection this is definitely a band to check out!
Watch their video for Freedom Cry!