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The Frye Family Band
Tom Frye and the Frye Family Band got the phone call that many artists would dream of receiving. A new reality show was interested in featuring them in an upcoming series. Reality shows have become a phenomenon in television in the past few years, and the overwhelming success of shows such as Duck Dynasty have made the realty genre a launching pad for people to find fortune and fame. So Tom knew he had to at least give them a call back. And he did. Tom listened to the producer intently until a question popped up that stopped Tom in his tracks. The producer asked, “So isn’t it weird for a dad to write and perform songs with his kids?” That one question, says Tom, is why the Frye Family Band will not be a “dynasty” on television anytime soon. “It struck me that she could have asked that same question in numerous ways,” says Tom. “She could have said, isn’t it fun or neat or used any other kind of positive spin. When I heard that question, I knew our answer was going to be no. I could tell they weren’t looking for a functional family. They were looking for dysfunction. I think there are plenty of shows to watch on television where people can view that.”
Tom’s honesty has always spilled over into his music as reflected in the songs of the band’s new EP, Reclamation. With country, pop, and Inspirational influences, the new EP begins on a worshipful note with “Creation’s Song”; features the harmonious vocals of Frye daughters, Kaylyn and Maggie on the pop-tinged “All In”; cuts some serious country licks with “Song of Hope”; and then gets more reflective with “You Are God.” The EP ends with the deeply personal, guitar-driven “Broken Places,” and the upbeat bonus track, “Completely Yours.” The title Reclamation came from a central theme that Tom says was a year in the making.
“It struck me one day that we hear a lot about the threat of ‘identity theft’ and take significant precautions to avoid falling prey to those who would seek to profit from using our identity,” says Tom. “But this threat actually originated in the Garden of Eden with the fall of man, and continues through each generation. I have come to realize from struggles in my own life that when our adversary, the devil, can cause me to lose sight of who and Whose I am, I am at greater risk of stumbling. But when I cling to my true identity as a child of God, I am better able to keep my focus and guard myself against these schemes. Jesus said in John 10:10 the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, and when we lose sight of our identity, we are more prone to fall for his schemes. Most of the songs on Reclamation were written while processing different applications of this truth.”
Because of Tom and wife Lisa’s approach to parenting, including homeschooling all three of their children from grade school to high school, they formed Family First Ministries to encourage parents to make family life a priority. In addition to creating music together, the Frye family wrote the book, 101 Devotions for Busy Families (Carpenter’s Son Publishing), which features daily devotions from Tom, Lisa, and all three kids. Whether through concerts, speaking engagements, or writing for magazines and websites, their goal is always to encourage and strengthen families.
“There was a time in my life when I was so consumed by pursuing a career and the approval of others that I was neglecting the most important people in my life, my wife and children,” Tom admits. “A friend reminded me that my family is my first ministry. The Family was the first institution God established, and yet it is so easy in our fast-paced, get-ahead society to unintentionally push our family to the side.”
With his daughters now in college, it is increasingly more difficult to rearrange everyone’s schedule for concerts and events, but the Frye family somehow makes it work. Tom sees his role as a father to be just as important in this new season of life.
“Our job as parents from the very beginning is to prepare our children for a life of purpose,” says Tom. “Our parenting life verse has been and continues to be Psalm 127:4, ‘Children are arrows in the hands of a warrior.’ A warrior’s arrow is meant to be sent into the heat of the battle and pierce the heart of the enemy. As parents, we are often tempted to provide our children with that which leaves them feeling safe and secure, but raising children of purpose has nothing to do with security or safety and everything to do with genuine calling. Parenting is about helping our children transition to the next stage. It just happens to be that this next stage is preparing them for life on their own. This is both exciting and scary, but parenting young adults is really no different than any other time in their lives. It is still about helping them come into their own, and being there for them all the way.” ###
Q&A with Tom Frye of the Frye Family Band New EP, "Reclamation"
1) Talk about why you titled the EP “Reclamation.”
Throughout the past year, I was thinking a lot about my identity as a follower of Jesus. It struck me one day that we hear a lot about the threat of "identity theft" and take significant precautions to avoid falling prey to those who would seek to profit from using our identity. But this threat actually originated in the Garden of Eden with the fall of man, and continues through each generation. I have come to realize from struggles in my own life that when our adversary, the devil, can cause me to lose sight of who and Whose I am, I am at greater risk of stumbling. But when I cling to my true identity as a child of God (1 John 3:1), I am better able to keep my focus and guard myself against these schemes. Jesus said in John 10:10 the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, and when we lose sight of our identity, we are more prone to fall for his schemes. Five of the six songs (“Creations Song “being the odd song out) were written while processing different applications of this truth.
2) Talk about each song on the EP and what inspired each one.
“All In”: Our producer, Stephen Gause, asked me to write a few more songs to choose from as we were getting down to crunch time. I actually woke up dreaming two songs, on two consecutive days which ended up being the first two songs on the EP. The chorus to “All In” came first and I started considering how this chorus applied to our identity. I was thinking about how our culture tells us that truth is relative, but that Jesus referred to Himself as The Truth.
“Creations Song”: A friend had asked me to write a worship song for a project he was doing. I wrote one on the guitar and then re-wrote it on piano, because most of the time when I'm playing piano I'm leading worship. I thought he would like the piano song better, but he chose the guitar song. I then sent the piano song to our producer. He liked the music, but wanted new lyrics...I wasn't sure what to write and was coming up empty. I woke up one morning with the first two lines of this song going through my head, so I ran down and wrote the lyrics. We had visited Niagara Falls last summer as part of our family vacation and I just thought about the grandness of God’s creation
“Song of Hope”: My wife and I have both struggled with issues of fear and insecurity. While this is much less a struggle for us now, when we go through dark times it's easy to revisit those old haunts. I always say there's comfort in the familiar even when the familiar isn't comfortable. This is a personal example of how the thief has worked in our lives to rob us of our identity. So I wrote this song for my family to sing during those times when we need to be reminded that we still have hope in the midst of any circumstances.
“You Are God”: This is one of those rare songs for which I wrote the music first. I basically wrote the music and then thought, "How does this make me feel?" I started thinking about the great patriarchs and how God graciously preserved for us, not just the stories of their faith, but also their failings. I sent the music and lyrical ideas to Stephen and then we talked about what I was trying to say and he chimed in to help finish this song. Again, who we are is not contingent upon our success, failure, strengths or weaknesses, but is only found in Christ.
“Broken Places”: We recently watched two couples, with whom we were close, go through divorces. This was heartbreaking, and yet, we saw God's faithfulness in both of these situations. I had written this song and the hook in the chorus was called Beyond the Brokenness. Stephen is a mutual friend with one of the couples and he had written this chorus, but didn't have anything else. He suggested we collaborate and make a more hopeful song focusing on the reality that "God doesn't waste pain." I hope it honors our friends and all those who are going through heartbreak.
“Completely Yours”: This song wasn't originally part of the plan, but we have seen a nice response to it in our concerts so we decided to include it as a bonus track. The lyrics originate from a prayer I was praying while driving down the road, "Lord, I just want to live my life to learn to love you more.” Ultimately, that’s the goal of our identities: to be completely enveloped in His love and grace.
3) Why do you think there are so few family bands/groups anymore?
There seems to be fewer and fewer families working together as a whole. Lisa and I made a conscious decision early on that we wanted to be a family that "did life together" from gardening, to house work, care-giving, supporting each other at various events, youth soccer, etc., so when the music ministry began to grow, the family band just sort of happened. It was not really something we set out to do, just a natural extension of who we are.
Part of what we talk about in our “Family to Family” speaking/concert events is the fact that families are pulled in so many different directions in today’s culture. Although, it is possible escape that trap, it requires deliberate effort. Having families pulled apart by careers, extracurricular activities, or technology seems more common with each passing year. This lifestyle makes any sort of family business or service nearly impossible.
4) How has life changed for the Frye family since two of your kids have left home?
With the season of homeschooling our three kids since grade school almost behind us, Lisa has been able to go back to work on a part-time basis, working as a social work assistant at a local retirement community. That means we now have five family members with five schedules, which is a new thing for us. It makes scheduling practice times and concerts more of a challenge, but as the kids continue to grow in their musicianship and songwriting skills, it also makes it much more fun.
This year, with Maggie studying at Hillsong in Australia, we are now touring with Jonathan, Kaylyn, myself, and a drummer (Eric Reynolds). This has stretched us musically, but no one has been stretched more than Jonathon, who has picked up Maggie's role on the keys and also added ukelele to his arsenal. With only Jonathon at home throughout the year, it makes those times when we are all together much sweeter. These new life experiences also give the kids more to draw from when sharing at our concerts, which is very satisfying as a dad.
5) What should parents know about changes taking place in kids during the high school/college years?
Our job as parents from the very beginning is to prepare our children for a life of purpose. Our parenting life verse has been and continues to be Psalm 127:4 "Children are arrows in the hands of a warrior." A warrior’s arrow is meant to be sent into the heat of the battle and pierce the heart of the enemy. As parents, we are often tempted to provide our children with that which leaves them feeling safe and secure, but raising children of purpose has nothing to do with security or safety and everything to do with genuine calling.
With the girls now in college and Jonathon entering his senior year in high school, our parenting roles have changed, but our purpose remains the same. Parenting is about helping our children transition to the next stage. It just happens to be that this next stage is preparing them for life on their own. This is both exciting and scary, but parenting young adults is really no different than any other time in their lives. It is still about helping them come into their own, and being there for them all the way. To me, this speaks to the importance of "being faithful in the small things." With each stage of parenting, creating an environment of nurture and support is key. So while the stakes get higher as they get older, the focus remains the same.
For more information, visit http://www.fryefamilyband.net.