BY HENRY MILLER
Nine million units sold. Twenty-seven No. 1 hits. Christian Artist of the Decade.
The list goes on and on for MercyMe.
“I’d say we’re one of the larger artists in our genre and we are super grateful,” guitarist Mike Scheuchzer said to The Monitor. “In Hollywood, though, we were just a blip on the radar. It was larger than anything we’ve ever experienced.”
The band will make a stop at State Farm Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday, promoting their most recent compilation, “Lifer.”
The band’s storied career speaks to the endurance of its members and the timelessness of its music. Their landmark song, “I Can Only Imagine,” was the first digital single in Christian music history to be certified platinum and double-platinum.
It is the same title as the movie, which told the relationship between lead singer Bart Millard and his dad — a volatile relationship that ended, however, in redemption.
“All that weird stuff happened many many years ago,” Scheuchzer said. “It was great to be a part of the movie production but we did very little of the work. It was about Bart and the relationship with his dad and writing that song. It was a heavy burden to live through it.
“But it’s all ancient history now.”
Scheuchzer said that while the whole Hollywood experience was fun, he’s thrilled to be back playing music and is especially enjoying releases from the new album.
“Since making ‘Welcome to the New,’ our whole perspective has changed,” Millard said. “There was a huge paradigm shift, so to speak, spiritually for us. The gospel didn’t change, but our perspective of who we are because of the gospel certainly changed.”
Millard grasped the concept of the no-strings-attached grace that Christ offers… and it literally changed him from the inside out. And now, “Lifer” serves as the next natural chapter. If the central message of “Welcome to the New” was grace, the core message of “Lifer” is triumph.
“It’s a reminder that there is victory,” Millard says of the project as a whole. “Life’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and no matter what comes our way, we need to be reminded that we should live our life as if we’ve already read the last page of the book and know how the whole thing turns out. Our eternity is set.”
While the band spent the last three years telling fans they can be made new in Christ, the band’s guitarist said with Lifer, they wanted to acknowledge that while that is indeed true, it doesn’t always mean life is easy. So, on this album, they set out to explore how a believer can navigate the race with enough perseverance to make it to the finish line.
“It’s something we go through as a band, even now, and we’ve been together for more than 20 years,” Scheuchzer said. “We fight like family but we also learn to live with each other like family.”
While the most intensive part of the recording process occurred in the final quarter of 2016, the band wrote one of the album’s standouts early on. “We Win” was written and recorded in record time and essentially became the cornerstone track for the entire album—a rally cry for those in the trenches.
“We went in to write and got so excited about ‘We Win’ that it was ready to mix by the end of the day. We’ve never done that in our lives,” Millard said. “To start an idea from scratch and have it done by the end of the day is insane.”
“We’ve never done something like that before, it really was an amazing effort,” Scheuchzer said. “We wrote that song faster than any other song we ever did. It withstood the process of time.”
Scheuchzer said he looks forward to getting back to the studio and working on more music. In the meantime, however, he will remind himself that nothingit about him when he’s on that stage.
“People pay good money to see us and we are out there to give it our all. Sure, I have to remind myself of that once in a while but it’s not all about me,” he said. “So I go out there and give it my all – and it’s a lot easier to do that when you love what you do.”
Got Faith Music presents the Christian Artist of the Decade in concert.
WHEN 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE State Farm Arena, 2600 N. 10th St., Hidalgo
COST Tickets start at $45 at ticketmaster.com