Back in the early ‘90s, Arrested Development covered the air waves and a day wouldn’t pass where you wouldn’t hear one of their hit singles: ‘Tennessee’, ‘Mr. Wendal’ or ‘People Everyday’.
Since then, they faded, broke up, disappeared, and then came back with various arrangements of band members. Lead vocalist, Speech, says that Arrested Development’s journey is just a matter of living life.
“For us the obstacles were trying to overcome the success of the first record and have other successes after that. I think for us it was very tough and we found ourselves in a situation that other bands don’t find themselves in, where our first record was so big and it was tough to fill in those shoes.
“As far as mistakes, as a band I think we’ve been through a lot of hardships internally that’s very common with other bands, but it’s mistakes that we choose to acknowledge and try to overcome them and move forward. I think it’s just mistakes as far as how we treated each other and how we want to treat each other now. We try to do a much better job now but I think it just describes the ups and downs of life.”
This year they’re back celebrating their 20th anniversary since releasing their much loved first album, ‘3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life Of...’, with their new album, ‘Standing At The Crossroads’. Their new album is what you’d expect off of Arrested Development, featuring hip hop tinged with blues, folk and gospel, with strong socially conscious lyrics. However, it has some interesting quirks. It’s recorded entirely on a laptop and it’s available completely free at their website.
“This whole album was recorded on a laptop during our tour and it made it a very unique record. Because right after we got off stage and we’re feeling the audience, we’re feeling the excitement of the crowd, we’re able to write lyrics that really related to what we just experienced,” Speech explains.
“We wanted to be as creative as possible and being a free record we can do whatever we want, we can sample whatever we want, go in any direction we want, and there are no rules that apply. The main reason is we wanted to give a free record to the fans. We knew we were celebrating our 20th year this year – it’s a big deal for us – and we thought it would be a great way to let them know, thank you.”
While not overtly obvious, Arrested Development is a very spiritual and religious band. Thinking back through some of the lyrics, you’d probably be saying right now that you’re not terribly surprised. What might surprise you is that Speech is an ordained minister, founding member of a church, and has written a book that seeks to interpret the bible called, ‘What Is Success? How To Be Successful God’s Way’.
“I think it’s important to teach Jesus and God and how much they love us. I think that there’s this perception that God is this big bully in the sky that just waits to strike us down with a big lightning bolt. I think my job as a pastor is to preach – in what the bible states clearly – is that God is willing to do anything for us and yet he is God and he has a definition for how he wants us. My job is to help people see his love and hopefully help people to want to shape their selves and mould themselves to the way that the instruction manual says to be.”
Certainly, bands have been castigated or lost a great deal of popularity by pundits even speculating that they’re religious. Take Evanescence and P.O.D., for example. Even emo kids didn’t think they were cool after they were linked to the big fella upstairs. However, Speech disagrees that this was the case for Arrested Development.
“I don’t know if they were critical about our spirituality in particular but I think that whenever you choose a side when it comes to religion it can get controversial. When someone says I choose Jesus, well your Muslim friends think that it’s a bit controversial; your friends that are into African religion may feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about. When you choose a side it can get interesting when it comes to religion. Most people try to stay neutral when it comes to this awesome religion, therefore they really don’t have to pick a side. I don’t think that there have been people really against it, but there have been some tensions that have happened because of it.”
Arrested Development headlines Valley Fiesta this weekend, Oct. 26-28.