by Reggie Edwards
Former Petra frontman John Schlitt is set to release his fourth solo record, The Greater Cause, an album Schlitt says is a very unusual one.
“From the beginning of it, from the financing of it, everything has been really different,” Schlit says. “I have over 500 partners with me through a program called Kickstarter. They basically financed it for me; we’re working together and I have promised them a Christian rock album that’s current and involves a Christian’s perspective of what’s happening today and what we can do about it.
“I’ve been in the studio off and on for the last six weeks, which is a little longer
than I wanted it to be, probably for another four weeks. But the songs are coming together, the musicians that we have are amazing, so all-in-all, I’m just very pleased with it, very excited about it.”
Though many may say using Kickstarter is an unorthodox approach, Schlitt says that may not be a completely accurate statement.
“I don’t know if it’s unorthodox or if it’s the way of the future,” Schlitt says. “My third CD was The Grafting and I financed that myself because now I’m doing my own label and it was complicated. It was a major investment from my part and I realized I couldn’t do that again but I knew I needed to do another album, it was time to do another one and someone suggested Kickstarter. They said ‘hey, Kickstarter is an amazing way to go, there’s several artists who’ve done it, you might want to check it out.’
Schlitt responded by saying no and that he thought it was begging for money. After his colleague was adamant that it wasn’t, Schlitt says he looked into it and was impressed.
“So I looked to it and was like ‘this is a great option,’” Schlitt says. “So my team and I started working it out, trying to figure out what would be there for anyone who contributed and what would make sense financially. We worked up a program and low-and-behold it worked, there was a great amount that had to be met before anyone was responsible and that was met, plus about another 25%, it was a wonderful thing.
“And now, basically I have 500 people that are concerned about an album that’s not even out yet and word of mouth is getting out there, especially with the internet, it’s a great way to do things.”
For fans of his earlier releases, Schlitt says they will be very happy, as The Greater Cause will more than likely sound like 1995’s Shake.
“I think it’s gonna lean more towards Shake,” Schlitt says. “I think it’s gonna be more of a Shake thing. I went in with the intentions of ‘I’m a rocker.’ It’s where I’m most comfortable, at least at this point. I’ve had too many folks that go ‘John, love your new album, but I’d really love to hear some more rock.’
“And I go ‘You know what? I totally agree. I love rock n roll, I love that exciting music style. There’s a lot to talk about right now that needs to be in a mode that’s in-your-face. It truly is rock.
“I would say it’s going to be Shake with a little more current sounds but definitely that 70’s, 80’s, 90’s rock format. I think there’s going to be a lot of happy people, it’s exciting. I promised Kickstarter contributors an A-class record and it most certainly is.”
Outside of recording the new record, Schlitt had a chance in September to step back in time, when he traveled to Iowa to take the stage with Head East, his band prior to Petra, as they were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was the first time he had shared the stage with Head East in 30 years.
“It had been 30 years and I will say I enjoyed it. I really did,” Schlitt says. “It was great to sing with Steve and Roger again, we were always the main vocal part of that band.
“The Head East they have now, with the guys they have in that band, are real nice guys. It was just pleasant to know the band are good guys and they’re not like I used to be. They seemed like really good guys, not the kind of guy I turned out to be in that genre. All-in-all I enjoyed being on stage with those guys. After 30 years it was quite an experience.
Even though he may have been on the secular stage for the first time in so long, there was some speculation from Petra fans that Schlitt may have been backsliding, a rumor he was very quick to put to bed. In fact, Schlitt says, his spiritual walk is strong as ever and there is no sign of that changing any time soon.
“I had a lot of my Petra supporters saying “is he gonna backslide?” Schlitt says. “No! I’m not that guy, Christ is way too important in my life and singing with a bunch of friends is never gonna be an obstacle.”