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THE END IS NOW may be what they're calling the new album, but don't let the name fool you. The guys of LA Symphony are definitely more into looking ahead. Even more importantly, though, is the focus of these young men, what's underneath the exterior. Kind of the "man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart" type of thing.
"I grew up in the church," says Flynn. "But if there had been a hip hop group like LA Symphony around when I was a kid, it would have made a difference in my life. It would have given me something to relate to."
"We're not gospel rappers," they say. "We don't use our platform to preach. We want our music to be a door, opening into our lives. We want to relate to people who don't share our beliefs."
Back in 1997, these guys kept bumping into each other at different clubs, different music events. It led to a Bible study, and then friendships, and then to the group itself.
Since the group's origins in 1997, there have been some changes, of course. Among them, record labels, some artists who are no longer actively touring with the group, but are still considered family. Some of the changes have been more like upheavals, but there's a grounding, a foundation and a vision that keeps this bunch going.
“You know, everything we do in life, is going to influence somebody, positive or negative. LA Symphony keeps me reminded of this. It ministers to me way more than what I do for it.”
Like the morning Flynn woke up thinking he'd just had enough. He was tired of it, ready to quit and go on to something else. Then he checked his email. "Some guy, I don't know where he's from or anything, he said he listens to our album every day. He said it helps him get through his day. And it made me realize – that's what we're here for. As music makers, and Christians, it's our responsibility to help people get through their day."
Joey the Jerk agrees. He did an interview a while back, and was feeling kind of down at the time. The Squint deal was bugging him, and he was questioning the direction of not only the group, but himself. "I told the guy interviewing me, 'Well, you know, we might not even be here next year.' And the guy said, 'No! You can't do that! Your music ministers to me!' And that's it, you know, if we can help some people, then there's the direction."
For Cookbook, the direction is sometimes geographical in itself. "Everytime we get out of LA, doing the festivals, and all that. And some youth pastors maybe, come up, thank us. Tell us the difference our music makes with their kids. Like this email I got from some guy, he told me he gave our album to a friend of us. The friend's like, 'What? These guys are Christians?' After he listened, he was impressed. He went to church with the guy and got saved. That's what it's all about. We didn't do anything, really. You just realize, wow, it's going out all over. Other places."
And that ten star question: Where will you be in five years?
Joey says, "Well, a while back I might've just said, 'Wherever God leads me.' But at this point, I'm saying more it's about where God takes LA Symphony. It's like LA Symphony's my base, like a military base. I might go off on my own, have a project of my own, but it’s the outfit that is building me. I've grown so much as a Christian, as a man, and learned so much about myself and the business. Being part of LA Symphony, there's also accountability."
"That's right," says Flynn. "You know, everything we do in life, is going to influence somebody, positive or negative. LA Symphony keeps me reminded of this. It ministers to me way more than what I do for it."
As far as other types of musical aspirations besides the lyricism and poetry that is taking these young men to the top of the hip-hop culture? Well, Cookbook kinda sorta plays a little piano. Some members of Flynn's family play violin, does that count? Sharlok and Uno don't play anything at all, but Joey the Jerk can play X-Box.
The group heads out on a major tour late this spring, with Out of Eden. The tour runs from March to May, with a lot of midwest and southern dates booked so far.
With relatively successful solo acts, why form a group, I asked.
"The name says it," replies Flynn. "The individuals are good, as instruments, they have a part and a song to play. But when they come together, you get the bigger, fuller sound. A grandiose, symphonic sound."
The Symphony. LA Symphony.
- Karla Ayers, Christian Concert Authority Staff Writer
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