Benjamin and Matt (or “the brothers” as we’ll call them) had been writing, recording and performing under the banner of “StreetChoir” since its inception in 1999. Their first album was called “Tomorrow’s Dreams” - a collection of original songs that both the brothers had written, recorded without any overdubbing with Joshua Fishburn and Matt Cross. The heartbeat behind the album was the same heartbeat behind why they shared music with folks out on the sidewalks of downtown San Luis Obispo, CA, at one o’clock in the morning. They heard a sound that set them free and wanted others to hear that same sound. Fast forward ahead to 2013 and that heartbeat is the same motivation for spending two years recording their 7th and newest album “Sympathetic Friend.”
Can you imagine the anticipation that comes with releasing your first or second album? You believe with every fiber of your being that this music is going go somewhere, and that the fruits of your labor will be heard by many. After all, your music is “original.” The brothers learned slowly and painfully that the heartbeat they heard, and persistently made into songs and records, didn’t necessarily translate over to make some profound connection with people and the music industry that seemed almost juxtaposed to new sounds. In their naiveté the brothers believed that people would just automatically hear what they heard and their music would be quickly accepted.
Shortly after StreetChoir’s 2nd release called “Broadkast” (which was a 5 song EP recorded in 2001) they went on to record “Forgive and Forget” with Kevin Prosch as the Engineer/Producer. Forgive and Forget seemed like the break-thru album the brothers had hoped for, and Kevin Prosch would be the means to get there. There is much to be said about their relationship with Kevin, but it should only be known that for years he was a great supporter and encourager to StreetChoir’s music always making sure that they knew he understood their sound and heartbeat. However, Forgive and Forget was not StreetChoir’s break-thru album. In fact, it didn’t lead them to any solid connection in the music industry and they struggled to understand where their music should be performed. It wasn’t club music, it wasn’t church music and it didn’t fit any genre as much as they wanted it to. The best they could do at that time was distribution through a new label called ForeRunner Music out in Kansas City, and performing wherever they could. They struggled to connect and find an appropriate setting for their music. A lot of the problem was the brothers own inner battles regarding who their music should be pointed to.
Both brother come from a Christian background and both having a strong history of leading music in churches, the brothers were always geared a little differently and were never interested in making purely “secular” music or interested in making purely “Christian music”. There was and still is a blend of music that can be heard in a worship service at a modern church or in a club. This has been struggle from the beginning and a great sacrifice for the brothers to remain true to their sound. Many bands or singer/songwriters beat the drum that the general population will gravitate toward, but StreetChoir made it their mission to stay with their original heartbeat, sharing that sound with whoever will “get it.”
Sounds like a heavy price to pay to make original music and to stay true. By the end of their 6th album “The Innocence” the brothers had spent about $60,000 in recording, performing and investing in new equipment that would help them keep their music alive and growing. Over these 14 years, StreetChoir has never made a profit. It’s all been an investment of their own hard-earned cash and help from from friends and family. Why? Benjamin now married 12 years with 2 children, living in Las Vegas, Matt living in Amarillo and their newest member and drummer Nathan Prosch lives in Kansas City. They are worlds apart. Why would the brothers make another StreetChoir album after all the expense and growing pressures of life’s demands that pull them anywhere else but toward music?
Two years had gone by since the release of “The Innocence” and the brothers didn’t need to have anyone pull them aside and say “enough is enough already”. This phrase was in their own heads and it took every ounce within the two of them to even think about writing more music for StreetChoir, let alone recording another album. In fact, StreetChoir was practically non-existent at that time with no hope in site for continuing on. It was at that time when everything was at rock bottom that there was a spark that ignited the brothers once again. This time it was about making an album with a brother, Nathan Prosch, to encourage him. And it was about Benjamin and his family starting over again in Las Vegas. And it was about the rug being pulled out from Matt’s feet in Amarillo, and the changes that would follow. It’s was also about Mark Bowden, a long time StreetChoir “patron saint” and the boy you see on the front cover of the album, whose picture was torn and put back together again.
StreetChoir is the essence of never allowing the heartbeat to die and pushing forward when there seems to be no strength to push and by all means, making certain that others get to hear that sound- “Sympathetic Friend” is that sound.