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St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Brewing Sacred With Secular

David McClister

St. Paul & the Broken Bones front man and songwriter Paul Janeway said his reading of "Just Mercy" by "Equal Justice Initiative" founder Bryan Stevenson played a role in the direction of the band's latest album "Sea Of Noise."

"Being from Alabama, and with the Equal Justice Initiative (which was started by Bryan) being from here in Montgomery, I said 'if I'm going to write a record, these are the things that are moving me,'" said Janeway. "So are we trying to seek out love, is there a possibility of that? So it's been an interesting journey and the record kind of navigates through that.

Social justice is one of the "things" that moves Janeway. He struggles witht hte idea that social justice is a political football in that he see all religions as fundamentally about loving and taking care of neighbors.

"And the idea kind of gets lost in the noise," said Janeway. "It's like trying to find the essence of things and trying to find what's real, it becomes more difficult. We're all connected, but we're not really connected. I mean even at concerts, people have to watch a show through a cell-phone and not have a real experience. We're at such a weird place."

Though extremely happy with how the soulful "Sea of Noise" turned out, Janeway said the process itself was heavy.

"But I have to write what I feel, because if I don't I would kind of lose interest," said Janeway. "If I don't, I would probably quit doing this if I quit doing it that way." 

Janeway said songwriting is also cathartic for him, even offering that he's a different having worked though some of the conflicting issues swirling though his thoughts as he was writing for "Sea of Noise." Even the idea of success became contentious.

"You know, I kind of am who I am. I live a very certain kind of lifestyle, where I'm kind of boring. I don't know if that's something that I wanted to define me. I vividly remember thinking about quitting. And my wife said 'you can't do that, you really love doing this, you just need to come back to what you really love about it.' And so writing the second record, I kind of did what I wanted to do and wrote what I wanted to write, instead of being worried about it. That kind of changed me, and that's the way I'm going to approach it from here on out."

St. Paul & the Broken Bones play The Castle Theater June 7 with opening act Durand Jones & the Indications. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Music starts at 8:00 p.m.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.