Not Far Away
Powerful. Impactful. Life changing. These are just a few words - words directly from the mouths of Rough Draft fans - that describe the band's music, message and ministry. Already generating a buzz in Nashville and beyond, Rough Draft is putting it's mission of 'reaching the lost and encouraging the found' into practice through a hard-hitting alternative rock sound and well-crafted lyrics that both challenge and inspire. 'It's been a crazy ride so far,' says singer/guitarist Andrew Wittenauer, 'and the craziest part is that it feels like this is just the beginning. When I look back at what God has done through this band and the four of us it just blows me away. I don't think anyone - except for God - could have predicted it. We feel truly blessed to be doing what we're doing and we can't wait to see what God has in store.' No stranger to success, in 2008 Rough Draft was the winner of the Gospel Music Association band competition at Music in the Rockies. Following the victory, the band continued to carve out a name for itself with multiple guest appearances on the syndicated radio show Total Axxess, performances at several 2008 summer music festivals - including the Souled Out Stage at LifeLight - and sharing stages with some of Christian music's top acts, including a tour in support of Sanctus Real. Averaging 150 shows per year - all the way from Florida to Alaska - Rough Draft has sold 4,000 plus copies - and counting - of it's demo and debut album as an independent band. But perhaps most impressive, all of this was accomplished just a few short months after Wittenauer and drummer Pedro Quinones graduated high school - something they couldn't have imagined when the two first met back in junior high. Already playing together in the praise band at church, they decided to form a band of their own and Rough Draft was born. Lead guitarist Adam Woodroof and bassist Dave King round out the rest of the group. 'Not Far Away,' Rough Draft's debut album, features 11 songs ranging from the punk-influenced, hard-hitting title track, to the challenging acoustic ballad 'Awaken Me,' to the fun, upbeat 'Yours Forever,' to the intense and powerful 'Alone,' to the fan favorite and band anthem 'I'm Not Ashamed.' The album was recorded at the legendary Fort Collins studio The Blasting Room with engineer Andrew Berlin and mastered by Jason Livermore. 'All of the songs follow the same pattern,' Wittenauer says. 'I'll sit down to try and write a song, but nothing will really come out - until something happens in my life. And in that moment - when the emotion is there - the lyrics start to pour out really fast. The song comes when it's time. If I try to write just for the sake of writing, I find the words are not as powerful as when my heart is really bleeding out onto the paper.' Take for example the song 'Awaken Me,' co-written with Nashville songwriter Erica Harvey and recently featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Total Axxess. The song encourages believers to be weary of complacency in their faith: 'Awaken me/If I ever take for granted/Awaken me/To all that's good and new/Awaken me/To the blessings I've been handed/Awaken me to you.' 'I could not get this melody out of my head,' Wittenauer explains. 'The music was finished, but I didn't have any lyrics. It was at a time in my life when I was really struggling with being ungrateful for a lot of God's blessings. And then Erica sent the lyrics and they just hit me in the face. They fit perfectly with the music and with what was going on in my life at the time.' Rough Draft isn't afraid to take on issues facing today's youth. On the song 'Alone,' Wittenauer sings of an alcoholic and abusive father and a son's struggle with suicide. The final chorus offers hope and the unconditional love of a heavenly Father: 'You're not alone and you've got a home/Where you are loved and you're the pride and joy/You'll live your dreams and as strange as it seems/You'll be daddy's little boy.' The band also has a sincere heart for worship. Rough Draft can often be found leading the next generation in worship at events throughout the country. The band is very passionate about worship, combining it's own unique sound with today's cutting edge worship music. The result is a worship experience that is powerful, dramatic and authentic. The heart behind Rough Draft lies in a simple statement adopted by the band: 'reaching the lost and encouraging the found.' Rough Draft is a band with a mission. That mission is to communicate the Gospel in a way that is real and refreshing. Rough Draft is a band that is above all else, authentic. The band is not afraid to be real, often sharing both struggles and triumphs from behind the microphone. While the band loves being on stage, they are more excited about what happens after the show - the opportunity to connect and build relationships with people. 'We of course want to spread the Gospel to those who don't know Christ,' Wittenauer says, 'but we also don't want to forget about those already in the church. All people need encouragement and just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you're exempt from struggles. And just because we're the ones on the stage doesn't mean we have it all together either. We struggle just the same as everybody else. We don't see any reason to be anything but real about it.' Rough Draft has already begun work on it's sophomore album. Building on the foundation of the first album, the band is aiming for the same signature Rough Draft sound, but with more maturity in the musicianship and the songwriting - a move that mirrors the band's own growth over the past year since the release of 'Not Far Away.' 'We are incredibly excited about the next album,' Wittenauer says. 'I think we'll always maintain a fun, high energy sound, but I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how much our sound is maturing. There is so much growth in the band right now, so much that we've had to overcome. The next batch of songs really reflects that.'