NASHVILLE (Billboard) - With the 2006 release of "Sound of
Melodies," Texas-based rock band Leeland became the critical
darling of the Christian music community. Its debut disc earned
the group a Grammy Award nomination for best pop/contemporary
gospel album as well as four Dove Award nominations.
Now Leeland is hoping to deliver big with its sophomore
album, "Opposite Way," released February 26 via Essential. The
first single, "Count Me In," is No. 28 this week on Hot
In addition, the songwriting prowess of the band's
19-year-old frontman, Leeland Mooring, caught the attention of
Christian music titan Michael W. Smith, and the teen co-wrote
several tracks for Smith's 2006 Reunion album "Stand."
Mooring began writing songs about his faith at an early
age. He signed his first publishing deal with EMI's Christian
publishing arm when he was only 15. By the next year, the band
had signed a recording deal with Essential, a label under Sony
BMG's Provident Music Group umbrella.
For the new album, Mooring says the band "wrote some on the
road and finished most of the songs in the studio when we
recorded them. I think it's a good thing. I'd rather be
recording in a fast mode than a slow mode."
It has indeed been a case of life in the fast lane for
Mooring, whose bandmates are elder brother Jack, Mike Smith,
Jake Holtz and Matt Campbell. The band has been on the road
opening for Casting Crowns on the Altar and the Door tour, and
Mooring says that interacting with other young Christians while
touring helped fuel the new material.
"One of the things we've seen is how our generation wants
to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves,"
Mooring says. "There are so many types of pleasures the world
has to offer, but everything in this world ultimately leaves
you empty and alone. Nothing in the world will satisfy that
kind of spiritual void in your life."
Mooring says the band's goal with the new record was to
encourage young people to stand up for their beliefs. "(We want
to) raise up a new generation of worshippers," he says, "who do
whatever it takes to make that 'opposite way' a reality in
their lives. We really hope this will change a lot of kids'