Royal Royal musicians have many influences, one purpose
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
How’s this for growing up in a conservative household?
When Gabriel Finochio and his older brother, Nathan, were pre-teens in rural Canada, the sons of two ex-hippies who had found Jesus, they had to sneak tapes of the Beatles, U2, Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder.
“It was very clandestine, very cloak-and-dagger,” Gabriel says. “(Popular music was) prohibited in the house. But our interest came from a fervent zeal to make Christ our passion.”
That refusal to separate message from method lives on in their music today as the Royal Royal, one of three bands that will perform Sunday as part of Canyon Worship Night at Grand Canyon University Arena. The worship subgenre has become a much bigger part of Christian music in recent years, as evidenced by the popularity of artists and bands such as Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United.
The Royal Royal put out a record in 2011 and has been touring ever since. The Finochios have been on the road with Phil Wickham, David Crowder, Hillsong and others.
“Nathan and I don’t follow the traditional mindset of sacred versus secular,” says Gabriel, 29, now the worship pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. “Worship is our direct communication with God. But it’s not ‘better than.’”
The brothers went to a Bible college in Portland, Ore., and then returned to serve their parents’ church, located in an Ontario town with a population of 2,000 (“including livestock,” Gabriel says). The Finochio family is full of musicians, so it was only a matter of time before the guys began recording original material.
A second album, “The Return of the King,” is due for release on March 4, and Gabriel says the aim is always to introduce Christ “in the freshest way” to listeners.
The Royal Royal’s music “isn’t just for a subculture,” Gabriel says. “It’s also for the man on the street who isn’t a part of the fold. It has virtue, and it has to do with reaching the world for Christ.”
Eventually, he says, his parents — who had been saved in the Jesus Movement of the 1970s — came around and saw the value of what their boys were up to.
“It’s not good in the name of God to become extreme to the point of losing your balance,” Gabriel says. “But it can be easy to do for people who have been radically saved.
“(Our parents) were honestly and sincerely in love with Christ, but through that zeal they lacked wisdom.”
He says message and method are as intertwined as faith and works. In either case, the latter is simply the expression of the former.
“I’m probably going to butcher this, but I think it was C.S. Lewis who said we do not need more Christian writers,” Gabriel says. “We need more Christians who write good literature.”
Canyon Worship Night starts at 6 p.m. Sunday in the Arena (doors open at 5). Desperation Band and Soulfire Revolution also will perform. GCU students, faculty and staff can receive up to two free tickets per person with a valid ID at the door.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.