We caught up with artist Phil Wickham and talked about his Heaven and Earth album.
Phil, it’s a privilege to meet you; I’m a big fan.
Thank you very much.
Tell me about the album.
The record is called Heaven and Earth — an eight — month process, my previous albums averaged three — months — because it begins on earth and ends in heaven.
The song Eden has an amazing atmospheric, other world sound.
Thanks. That’s what we were trying to do. The song ‘Eden’ talks about human desires and being in a place like Adam and Eve where we’re created to be unashamed and guiltless, unselfish with nothing to hide.
A book, Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller, inspired me. In the chapter called Naked, he shares his take on the Adam and Eve story and why people are looking for things, looking for fulfillment and satisfaction. It goes back to how it all started. How we were all created to be naked and unashamed before God and not having anything to hide and be completely accessible to His love.
I read that chapter and was so inspired by the fact that we were meant to be in Eden. We were meant to know God and live life His way and the amazing fact that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to know God in a very real spiritual sense. And one day we’ll get see Him face to face.
It starts with Eden and that desire and goes on to say that Jesus has become the fulfillment of that desire. Because of what Jesus has done, we have this hope in this place called heaven.. That was the idea behind the record. It was the first time that I’ve written songs that are shaped around an idea. I really tried to sit down and fill in the gaps where I felt like the idea needed to have some structure.
What was it like recording at Abby Road?
I recorded strings for the album At Abbey Road which was amazing. The London Symphony Orchestra — 18 musicians — played three and a half songs on the record. The same people that played on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack were playing my music. It was an amazing experience.
My parents grew up in the ’60s and so I heard Beatle songs a lot. Sitting in the very room and using the same microphones and sitting on the same couches was amazing. Abbey Road had Beatles’ graffiti on the studio walls. Not just the Beatles, but also all these legendary artists that had gone before us. As a musician it was a cloud nine experience.
My wife and I had three days to hang out. We drove through the country, went to Oxford where C.S. Lewis taught. We walked around London and took in a play.
Tell me about marriage.
We have an interesting situation because we don’t have the 9 to 5 kind of jobs where we come home every night and then go to a church community every weekend. My wife travels with me and is my right hand on the road. It’s a good friendship, and we are relying on each other more and more. It’s made us realize how much we need to keep each other accountable since we don’t have that weekly church experience.
I’ve been traveling around as a musician for five years and this last year I’ve had a partner who has kept me accountable and pushes me to a place of higher faithfulness towards God and seeking His Word and knowing Him more.
One of my pastors told me before I got married, If you want to be able to serve the Lord, then go out there and don’t get married. But if you want to be more like the Lord, then get married. And I have known that to be true, already.
Your whole life you think about: What does God want me to do? What do I want to do?
But now I ask: What are her needs? How do I need to be there for her today? My needs are secondary. It’s quite a learning process, but in doing so it’s helped me understand more of how I’m supposed to be with the Lord. What does the Lord want for me today? How do I fit in the Lord’s plan?
How do you express spiritual intimacy together?
We read the Bible and pray together every day. What works for us is that we need to be diligent and get time on our own with the Lord. She may be in one book and I’m in another. When we’re together we bring what God is showing us into our day — to — day lives. We’ll talk about the verses that really stuck for each of us.
Phil, who inspires you musically?
I love music and I love a lot of the rock stuff that’s coming out of Britain. I try to be very aware of what’s going on in the music world outside of Christian music. Most of the artists I love are actually mainstream artists. In the Christian music world, Delirious? has impacted me.
Delirious? was the first band to really show me that it’s okay to be an artist and a worship leader at the same time; this was at a time when you were either an artist or in praise band. They showed me that you can be a worship leader and at the same time create art and music and do it in your own style. When I first heard Delirious? I thought, that’s the kind of thing I want to do. People who want to hear music can come and enjoy the music; if they just want to worship with us they can do that too.
I love Radio Head, Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Aqualung — all the bands that are doing stuff that’s new and special and cool.
What have you and your wife done for fun recently?
We live in San Diego County. There are some amazing resort spas along the beach and there’s one fairly close to our house. We got a massage for couples. We did that on our honeymoon and we went to this really beautiful resort spa overlooking the ocean and did the same thing again. That was fun. It’s not something that we do every day. She loved that and that was probably my favorite thing.
Copyright © 2010 by Jim Mueller, President and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries.