LIVEtheLIFE Magazine is thrilled to be talking this week with rising CCM band Chandler. “I Know You’re There,” its debut single, has already topped Christian charts in its native Georgia, and is going nationwide and international very, very soon.

With a very radio-friendly sound and a tenacious reliance on a great and mighty God, expect Chandler to make a huge impact on Contemporary Christian Music in 2007. We sit down with (Chandler members) of Chandler to talk about the rise to stardom, the focus on what truly matters, and how many people ask them if they’re related to Matthew Perry. In our opinion, “I Know You’re There” is an phenomenal single! It just swells up with emotional vocal delivery and a genuine message of trust and faith. Radio certainly hasn’t had something like this in a while. How did you come up with “I Know You’re There?” What’s your songwriting process like?

Jeff Chandler: I don’t know that we really have a formula for our songwriting…as far as “I Know You’re There” I was driving to work one day and God literally handed it to me. All of a sudden it just came on me. It was really funny. I didn’t want to forget any of it so I was feverishly writing on a McDonalds napkin, singing into my recorder and driving down the road with my knees.

LTLM: Chandler claims its roots in Georgia, which is known for, among other things, its deep gospel tradition, and now, you’ve topped its Christian charts. How has Georgia influenced your sound?

Jon Chandler: Our southern roots have definitely effected our music. Georgia is the birth place of SO much great music. In the gospel music realm came groups such as NewSong, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Aaron Schust, Bebo Norman not to mention the main stream heavy hitters like Ray Charles and Collective Soul.

LTLM: What can we expect from Chandler’s debut album next year?

Joel Chandler: God has really just begun to open our hearts and minds to a new perspective on worship. We believe that worship is a basic element of our existence. All of us were made to worship, and all of us worship something out of our need to worship God. This record is something that is being born out of our relationships with God and our need to express that through our music.

LTLM: Other radio-friendly tracks on your official website, like “Purify” and “Lightning,” are so raw in their delivery and lyric that it is unmistakably Christian. How do you handle the thin line between songs that are both radio-friendly yet deliver the message you want to tell your listeners?

Trey Roth: Truth is universal…and inside everyone knows that there is a void. We know that the void is the absence of God. Our listeners may or may not know that consciously, but they connect with the truth behind the music. Our goal is to make great music that draws the listener and then connect them with the truth behind it. Everyone follows great music. So we are always trying to push the envelope…trying to take our music a step further.

LTLM: Okay, two less serious questions. Has anyone approached you and asked if you took your name from Matthew Perry’s character of “Friends?”

All: YES….if we hear that one more time we will hurt people. (just kidding)

We have…A LOT…

LTLM: Name a guilty pleasure.

Jeff: Double Chocolate cake and my wife’s chocolate chip cookies.
Joel: Eating the Starbucks pastry samples that we are supposed to give to customers.
Tim Elrod: Coca-cola
Trey: Catching shop-lifters
Jon: Spending too much time on PhotoShop.

LTLM: You’ve literally followed God’s direction and put everything into your music – a God-ministry, if ever we’ve heard one – and left your jobs to pursue it. How do you handle the low moments?

Jeff: I have a wife and four children, so taking that step into full time ministry really stretched my faith. The rest of the guys have worked odd jobs and let me support my family from the ministry. There hearts are so pure. For the last couple of years they have done this on more of a volunteer basis, even though the work was definitely full time. Some of us are still working jobs outside the ministry. We CERTAINLY don’t do this for the money (laughing). In the low times we remind one another that the reason we do this is to help others. Keeping the vision in sight.

LTLM: Six degrees of Chandler have found you a few degrees from Joel Engle and Casting Crowns! What’s it like to be on the verge of developing a legitimate name in the industry?

Jeff: Legitimacy in God’s system has nothing to do with the industry. If you are following your God given passion and honestly pursuing His calling on your life to the best of your ability; in God’s eyes your ministry is just as legit as anyone of our “industry leaders” per se.

LTLM: Do you ever see yourselves doing an international tour, perhaps visiting the Philippines?

Tim: We will go wherever God opens the door…

Jon: We would love to come to the Philippines.. (hint, hint)

LTLM: Tell us about your individual ministries.

Jeff: I am on staff at my church as the Worship and Arts pastor. I also have a ministry called “Emerge” that focuses on unifying the churches in our community to put aside denominational differences and come together to address and solve issues that face our locale.

Joel: Tim, Trey, Jon and I often help lead worship at various churches and ministries one of them being Emerge. Our mission when we are playing is to lead people into the presence of God no matter where we play or how many people there are (or sometimes aren’t  ). Numbers don’t matter. Worshiping God for His awesome love, mercy, and compassion does. He deserves our praise and our worship.

LTLM: What are your favorite Bible verse and why?

Jeff: The verse we have adopted as our focus for this ministry is Matthew 5. Matthew 5 tells us that we are to be salt and light. A huge percentage of the believers lose sight of this purpose when it comes to our daily lives. Salt by it’s nature brings about healing and flavor where it is applied. We challenge ourselves and our audience to embrace this truth: Is wherever you are a better place because you are there?

Joel: My favorite Bible verse through my life has been Ps. 91. It promises that God will always be there! No matter what no matter where you are. Even in the middle of trouble He is there. He blesses us and honors us with long life. He promises safety for us: that His angels will take care of us and keep us safe. He promises that if we call on Him he will answer us. It shows not only the mightiness of God but the compassionate fatherly love of God as well.

LTLM: We’re so thrilled to have had this time with you guys. Any last words for your (future) fans in the Philippines?

Jeff: We love you. We believe that you have the power to make the Philippines better tomorrow than it is today. We stand with you in our hearts…we worship with you through our music. We hope to see you soon! God speed.

Visit the official Chandler Myspace page or the official Chandler website.

Click here to request I Know You’re There on any of the Edge radio stations in the Philippines.