Live From Portland

After three full-length albums, several countries, hundreds of shows, thousands of miles and 1.6 million faces rocked, Portland, Oregon-based fivesome Kutless has decided it’s just as great to give as it is to receive.

They are doing so this year with the release of the band’s fourth full-length album, Hearts Of The Innocent. With tour dates ahead, Kutless looks to contribute its part in giving back to the world that has been so kind to them over the past six years. In fact, the rock act already started linking up with charities last year, performing a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims and raising over $50,000 in one night. And, according to Kutless vocalist Jon Micah Sumrall, the Katrina benefit was just the start, as the band anticipates teaming up with other charities in the near future.

Such goodwill will also be spread through the band’s music, most notably their latest effort, Hearts Of The Innocent. Produced by Aaron Sprinkle, Hearts Of The Innocent was assembled sporadically throughout 2005. While most artists would see such intermittent recording schedules as an obstruction to a creative process, Sumrall actually saw the time between recording sessions as a positive aspect. "I think it even helped with the overall diversity of the record, as we weren’t in one mindset throughout the entire recording process," he says. "I’m very excited about it and am very pleased with the way it turned out." Hearts Of The Innocent fires off with the propulsive single, "Shut Me Out."

"We kind of wanted to put out the first single with an in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll song," says Sumrall, "to be like, ‘Hey, we’re back and we’re rockin’ it.’" As for the single’s meaning, Sumrall says that Christian artists sometimes receive flack for being bold in their faith and sharing what they believe. But, he says, "For us, it’s always been important that we don’t change what we’re saying simply because of the pressure from people around us. We want to be real." The song is based on the Biblical story of Paul’s determination in spreading the truth. "This whole song is a little in-your-face perspective in that we have things in our hearts that we believe are right and true, and in the same nature that Paul did a couple thousand years ago, we feel like you can ridicule us, point fingers at us, yell at us and do whatever to us, but we believe in this and you can’t make us stop," says Sumrall.

Hearts Of The Innocent’s title track is a message of awareness, of which Sumrall says is a wake-up call to the generation of adults to take closer look at the neglected youth across the world. "Our whole focus is to reach out to young people and traveling around, you see a lot of hurting people," he continues. "It seems like it gets younger and younger every year. Ten-year-old kids are dealing with stuff that ten-year-old kids shouldn’t even know about. It’s really sad, I think. We need to make a difference. We’re pretty young, still, but we’ve tried to set a standard and do the best we can."

Hearts Of The Innocent marks the recording debut of the band’s newest members, drummer Jeffrey Gilbert and bassist Dave Leutkenhoelter, both formerly of Seven Places. Launched by original members Sumrall and guitarists James Mead and Ryan Shrout, Kutless formed while still in college in 2000, signed to Tooth & Nail/BEC in late 2001 and had released its self-titled debut the following year. 2004 brought the band’s sophomore effort, Sea Of Faces, and a year later, Strong Tower, was released, Kutless had persevered from its initial rough road, eventually sustaining themselves with their musical talents, and today, are giving back to the community. "This year, we’ve been reaching out a little bit more," says Sumrall. "We’ve got three records out now and we’ve kind of solidified the band, so to speak. It’s been fun, because now, this past year and this coming year, we’ll be able to branch out and team up with other organizations and partnerships to try and make a difference in the world and in individuals' lives."

Artist/Band Professional Life: 1999 – Present

Members: Jon Micah Sumrall – vocals James Mead – guitar Dave Luetkenhoelter – bass Ryan Shrout – guitar Jeffrey Gilbert - drums

Review By CCM Music