From it’s foundation in 2006 by guitarist Justin Peaytt, Drummer Brandon Sather, Bassist Jeff Strader and vocalist Cease Owens, The Pleading has succeeded at creating an emotional mix of powerhouse vocals and intense musicianship with a passionate and personal message of life, love and the pain that it intertwines, creating a musical experience that can stir the hearts and even change the lives of their listeners.
With their relaunch in 2015, the ongoing musical evolution of The Pleading continued building on their original vision of creating deeply personal music that has an impact by delving into the heart of humanity. "I have always wanted our music to take people on a journey," Cease explains. "I want the music to be honest and I want our message to move people emotionally and spiritually."
Now joined by Matt Robinson on Lead, each member has brought years of personal musical experience to the creation of The Pleading, but more importantly each man's journey has provided years of life experience that has enabled them to create soul-felt music with a sound that strongly appeals to disaffected youth, yet whose message has the ability to reach listeners of all ages.
Whether they're performing on stage for a crowd or engaged in conversation with an audience of one, it's obvious from their music that truth is the heart of The Pleading’s purpose and passion. The band’s comfortable, easy-going affability and Cease's introspective vulnerability accurately characterizes their relatability, and since much of their music is created from the exposed truth of their own lives, the guys find that audience members are often moved to share their own stories and experiences with them.
"My favorite part of a performance almost always happens after the performance," says Brandon. "We try to make ourselves available so that we can spend some time with people on a level that they are comfortable with. We want to be seen as real people, not just as performers that play and sing and who can't listen to what you have to say." He adds with a laugh, "It doesn't take long for most people to realize that I'm not afraid to talk with anyone, anytime, about anything! I figure if we talk long enough we'll find something we have in common."
Bold in their music and courageous in their spirituality, the guys are not afraid to face tough, thought-provoking issues in their music. "Our music deals with drug abuse, loneliness, sexuality, depression, child abuse, divorce, suicide...you name it," says Cease. "I've been told that some people find our lyrics to be a little...dark", he says with a sly grin, "but we like to think of them as darkly optimistic. We might take you to a place that's scary but we won't leave you there!"
"The truth is that many of these issues have touched our own lives and we want people who are struggling to find a place where these things can be sung about and talked about openly. We’re not preachers, we don't have all the answers, but we are willing to be an example that within us all lies the ability to overcome anything we are faced with. If we can offer someone some hope through sharing our own experiences then it's all worth it."
Unlike most secular rock bands or gospel artists who are restricted from certain venues because of their faith or their lack of it, The Pleading is open to playing music wherever doors are opened for them. The band’s individual faith experiences have created a narrative that has naturally been welcome in congregations of all faiths and the band says it is very grateful for those opportunities. But the shows that mean the most are the ones played in clubs, coffeehouses and benefit events...some spiritually-based and some not.
It's rare for an artist to be able to effectively balance the secular and the spiritual but The Pleading’s personal and professional experience in both worlds has led them to be comfortable wherever they are asked to play. "We try to discern what type of performance to do in each situation," explains Cease. "Obviously it is important to respect the audience, the venue or the cause of the event. And we always try to be sensitive to the musical tastes of the audience. But one of our goals as songwriters and performers is to challenge the listener, and reach out in some way to every age represented. We don't see any reason why we can't touch every person on some level."
Reaching those in need is obviously one of Cease's greatest passions and nowhere is that better tangibly demonstrated than through his years of volunteer work with The Salvation Army. "I've traveled many miles and seen the effects of suicide and depression, I’ve spent time with and served victims of many natural disasters, forest fires, chemical spills and even a commuter train wreck." he says. "I've witnessed the devastation firsthand and interacted and prayed with families who have lost everything. And I've seen the tears turn to smiles when they realize that they're not going through it alone."
In their lives and in their music, it seems that The Pleading are perfect examples of the ability to unite people in a way that makes them feel connected and less alone. Music is what brought the bandmates together, uniting them with a common purpose and vision, and it's one of the things they hope to accomplish in creating and performing their own music. "We try not to focus on issues that are going to separate people...We find that very few of the faith issues people get hung up on are worth our attention anyway," says Cease. He continues, "We just want to present our lives as they are, with all their flaws, failures and victories, and to unite and touch people with a music and spirituality that are not judgmental, nor shallow, but deep, testimonial and real."
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