Punk Band, Cephas, talk to Christian Mums
Saturday, 25 March 2006 19:37
Cephas are a Christian Punk Band. If you went to Greenbelt last year
then you may have heard them. They play in both Christian and secular
venues around the UK and are based in Staines. As well as through gigs, they keep in contact with their fans through a thriving message board on their website. Individually they are John,
Ray, Andy and Adam. All four are committed Christians who want to tell
people about Jesus, through their music. They look scary and sound mean
on stage, but in person they are pleasant, articulate and have rather disconcerting
Home Counties accents.
<img xsrc="http://www.christianmums.com/images/articles/cephas4.jpg" border="0" alt="Cephas in action" width="250" height="187" align="right" />To quote from their website:
"Over the past few years
Cephas have happily offended rather a lot of people. We could be racist, homophobic,
tell kids to go home and cut themselves... and people would be OK with that.
It wouldn't be as controversial as a bunch of Christians challenging people
with their own beliefs. Which is ironically what punk is supposed to be about..."
In this interview Cephas talked to Christian Mums about music, teenagers,
the church and their mothers.
To find out more about the band, to read their testimonies or to listen to
their music, go to www.cephas.info
What is punk? And more specifically what is "Christian Punk"?
It's an attitude rather than a look, the idea that if you believe
something strongly enough you'll do something about it. All the mohicans
are great and it's part of the culture that we're with, but punk is more about
having something to say.
As a good friend of ours says "there's more to punk than
showing your pants"
Punk is about being outside the conformed way of doing
things. Not only do you believe strongly in something, but you're going
to do it, regardless of socially accepted codes and religious conventions. As
a Christian band, we have a gospel that needs to be told regardless of
what genre of music people listen to or what clothes they wear - it's completely
Punk comes from the 70's idea of anarchy. We agree something
is badly wrong with the world, but as Christians we believe that Jesus came.
There is a solution that anarchy doesn't really have. That's what Christian
What would you say to parents who are concerned about the music their
kids are listening to?
There's a reason for everything. If they listen to Marilyn
Manson or something similar, it's definitely tailored towards people who are
in a particular emotional state. Kids don't listen to it normally because
it's music about the devil or swearing or whatever, but there is a reason for
it and it's probably unrelated to the actual music. When kids we know
are into that sort of music it seems to come from some kind of bottled-up hurt
from elsewhere. If it is a really subversive music style, you've got to
look at what they get out of it - why the bleakness appeals to them.
The main thing I would say is "Don't take it away from
them", you'll just create far more of a gap between you, and them and they
will just go and listen to it elsewhere. You can't keep them away from
it. They've got to explore it for themselves and come to their own decision
about it. It must be really tough for parents though.
It depends on their age though - you wouldn't want say
an 8 year old listening to it. There's an argument for parents or youth
workers to make themselves aware of what kids are listening to. Ask yourself
how you can push kids to think about what these lyrics have got to say, rather
than just absorbing them unquestioningly. Is the world really the way
this group is portraying it?
Would you say that Christian teenagers should mainly listen to Christian
Not at all. We've almost gone the opposite way, really.
A lot of the Christian music doesn't actually meet the needs
of young people Not that we're saying don't listen to it, it's like the
question about them leaving the church and going away, - they're in a
secular society, with their friends at school who aren't Christian, they're
going to want to go off and find other things. They're not going
to look at a bad Christian alternative and say, yeah, I'll settle for that.
They'll go off and find their own place. I mean we all listen to
mostly secular music. I can't think of many Christian bands that I would
listen to. We listen to Delirious, but I think I see Delirious in a different
light, as a worship band primarily.
They need to go out and experience alternatives to make their
mind up on the Christian lifestyle. Even when they do become Christian
it doesn't mean they have to cut off all their connections with the world. For
us music serves two needs. We enjoy it, but also it keeps us connected
to what's going on and what kids are listening to and what issues are floating
around. But it's really funny cos hardly any bands have got any statements
anymore, they just sing about nothing much
I dunno though, you do see it on the message boards on our
website. Kids will come on every day with a different screen name, and
it's often a line from a song that sums up how fed up they are. You do
get an insight into what the songs mean to them. They'll be calling themselves
"I hate myself and I want to die," or something. If you
chat to them and say "Hi, are you all right," you often find
out why and you see a correlation between the music and the emotions that they
find it hard to express more directly.
For myself, I remember as a kid asking a youth leader whether
it was wrong to listen to music with swearing and stuff in, and the youth leader
said, "You'll grow out of it". At the time, I was thinking,
"Yeah, whatever. I can't see that happening", but there are some bands
that I just find childish and pointless now. I have kind of grown out
Read on, for Cephas on church for teenagers, and their mums...
Can you sum up your attitude to music?
I guess for me, some good music is like poetry or a play or
something, even the really bleak stuff. Shakespeare wrote really morbid
stuff, yet you wouldn't stop your kids from reading it. I even I find
I can actually worship to some of it, cos you're seeing that, yeah, the world
is pretty messed up, and it makes you say, "Thank you, Lord, that I'm
not in that situation anymore."
You have contact with a lot of young people. Why is it that so many
kids from Christian homes leave the church as they become teenagers?
There's a real problem with Christian parents who obviously
want their kids to grow up in the church and have a really strong faith. It's
something that they are powerless to effect. Obviously they can bring
up their kids to go along to certain things, but with regards to actually making
that step for themselves, from our experience that almost becomes harder the
more it's thrown at you. At 15 you may know all about the bible and been going
to church all your life, but because it has been hand fed to you, you've never
actually had that real life challenging situation. For people like Ray
and myself, who didn't grow up in Christian homes, we came to a point on our
own where we looked at our lives and made that whole commitment for ourselves.
There was a young man I met at greenbelt last year who I've
kept in contact with. He was brought up in a Christian family. He's
so used to having Christianity thrown at him all the time, it got to the point
that regardless of what his parents were saying to him, he automatically just
switched off. It was just "that again". It was only the
other day that I had my first spiritual conversation with him on the Internet.
Up until then it was just small talk. I knew it was going
to come, but if I'd gone straight in there then he would have run a mile. With
teenagers these days, they've got to make their own choices. The more
you push them in a certain direction the more they rebel and go the opposite
What would you say to parents who are worried about their teenagers?
Don't go on at them. Relax, pray, and trust God, you know.
. The parents in my church who have been successful have been
the ones who have really let their kids experiment and live for themselves
Let them make there own choices. Even if it means that
they are going to go off and spread their wings.
For myself - I was taken to church right up till I was about
14. It wasn't a case of "Do you want to go to church?" but,
"You're coming to church, like it or not" When I was allowed to decide
for myself, I stopped going though I kept going along to the youth groups
because I'd got friends there. When I got to 16 I was grown up, I
kind of wanted to live a little. I didn't want to be in a church youth
group on a Sunday night, when my mates were out, going down the pub. It
was only by going off and doing that and acknowledging that life isn't actually
all that great outside, that I started to ask, "What is it all about?"
and wanted to make that decision for myself. That's how young people
come back I think. My parents have always shown strong examples of faith,
and through that I could see that there was something here.
That's an important point - the lifestyle you see in your parents.
If Christianity is pushed on kids, almost like a punishment, then they
will just seeing is as restricting force on their lives. Whereas if they
see how it makes a difference to how their mum and dad live their lives, even
seeing answers to prayer, then that's what they are going to turn to. I've
known people who's parents have given them a really strict Christian upbringing,
which just terrified them.
If you were setting up a church from scratch that would appeal to teenagers,
what would it be like?
If you had a punk church, it would be a nightmare, no-one would
come except punks, you'd get no variation, no age difference.
It's not healthy like that. There are old people in my
own church who come up and ask "How's the band going?" Obviously
they're not into the music, but we're brothers and sisters in Christ and they
have wisdom to share. I wouldn't want to do the whole "teenage church"
I don't think any of us had that attitude when we were
teenagers though. When you're that age you think these older guys have
got no idea, they're past it.
The problem is the actual Church service, that's the difficult
point. "How are we going to meet the needs of everybody?" I
think for young people, the key to keeping them in the church is the stuff that
goes on outside the service, the support that they get.
What role can church youth work play?
I used to really respect the youth workers in my church. They
really gave a damn about what we were doing. They just wanted to be involved
and would ask how things were going. More than anything they would just
listen and they were happy to go "yeah, - I understand that". I
think that's really important.
I had a youth worker who had an "open phone" philosophy.
Any time of the day we could call him. He wasn't even employed by
the church, he just did it because he felt God wanted him to. I remember,
I got in to a state once at college, and I just had nowhere to go, I couldn't
go to my parents because they would probably have had a fit. I couldn't
go to my friends because I needed some advice. Who do you turn to? That's
the problem isn't it. This chap came out of work. He was a top banker,
in a really big company. He dropped his work, came to pick me up from
college, took me for a burger, and talked me through the problem.
If young people feel important and wanted then it works a whole
It depends on how you do it though. Teenagers often feel
patronised by "You can run a youth service",
Most times that happens there's a sense of , "Oh
look, the kids are putting on a performance," rather than, "There's
real spiritual input here" The kids are leading prayers, and worship
or whatever for real.
They've actually got something to give, haven't they.
What do your mums think of you being a Christian Punk band?
My mum isn't a Christian but her partner is into punk so they find
it quite surreal. They're really supportive about the music side of things,
but not when we keep going on about God. My dad is a Christian, but he
just doesn't get it, the ministry side of things
My mum and dad aren't Christians either. They're very supportive
of me as a person, but they don't really fully understand the band. They're
quite excited at the prospect of us being successful and so they see the preaching
as being a really bad move.
My mum is really encouraging of the whole thing, she is a Christian,
and I thing she's quite proud in a motherly sort of way.
She comes along to gigs with her earplugs in, doesn't she?
She hasn't been along to a gig for years actually, which I think she's
a bit gutted about. I think she was a bit shocked when I said I was giving
up my job and coming to live back at home to do the band full time, but her
attitude was "If you feel that's from God then just go for it,".
My mum is so supportive. She always helps us out financially
if we're in need, and she really respects the fact that we're going out and
taking the gospel to people. She really, really hates the music though,
she can't stand it!
Interview by Claire Cullingworth