A Young Person’s Guide to The Choir

I’ve come to realize that a lot of my favorite bands from my college/high school years that were, sadly, confined to the CCM ghetto are quickly fading away. Many of my younger friends have no idea who these bands are or what they sound like, so I’m creating a series of posts to educate the young listener.

Who Are They?
The Choir is a rock band originally based out of California known for atmospheric sounds and quirky lyrics that plumb deeper subjects than many Christian bands wanted to touch. Many times the lyrics were also self-referential, referring back to previous albums or songs on the album. The primary members of The Choir are Derri Daugherty (vocals, guitar), Steve Hindalong (drums, percussion, vocals) and Dan Micheals (saxophone, lyricon). Tim Chandler (bass) appears on many of the albums, though he entered and exited the band several times to tour with other bands and artists and his role was sometimes filled by other bass guitarists. The band has been joined by Marc Byrd (guitars) of Common Children during recent years.

Hindalong and Daugherty collaborated on a series of albums titled “City On A Hill” that is probably their most successful music commercially. Hindalong and Byrd penned “God of Wonders” which is now a popular worship song sung in many churches.

Brief History
The Choir formed in 1983 as the result of a friendship between Hindalong and Chandler. Chandler was playing bass for the pioneering Christian rock band, Daniel Amos, and introduced Hindalong to Daugherty, who would working as a roadie for DA at the time. Originally, the band was titled Youth Choir, but changed their name to The Choir when they released Diamonds and Rain in 1986. Chandler soon left the band to tour with DA and Hindalong and Daugherty produced a couple albums together, hiring Micheals to play saxophone. Micheals also introduced the lyricon into the sound of The Choir, a signature sound of the band, particularly at live concerts.

The Choir’s early albums bear heavy influence from 80’s new wave bands, particularly bands such as The Police and Psychedelic Furs. After recording Diamonds and Rain with producer Charlie Peacock, the band subsequently recorded and produced all the rest of their albums themselves. Self-production and recording proved to be highly beneficial to Daugherty and Hindalong as they have earned a living recording and producing albums for other bands and this allowed them to truly give The Choir its own unique sound.

Chase The Kangaroo was their first self-produced album, released in 1988 and was recorded with Tim Chandler. However, Chandler left after the recording of the album, and the band hired Robin Spurs. The Choir gained some attention as “the band with the female bass player” which may have helped put them on some music magazine covers. Spurs recorded Wide Eyed Wonder and parts of Circle Slide in 1990 with the band before leaving. Circle Slide signaled a bit of a transition bringing Hindalong’s percussion and drums to the forefront and is perhaps the bands’ best album.

During 1991, Hindalong and Daugherty collaborated on a acoustic worship album titled At the Foot of the Cross The album laid the foundation for much of their later work on the City on a Hill series and while it was critically acclaimed, the worship music fad had not emerged yet and it is even today virtually unknown. In 1993, Hindalong, Daugherty, and Micheals all moved to Nashville to be closer to many of the artists they were working with. Some of the struggles with the move are recounted in their independent release Kissers and Killers, much of which was repackaged and sold on a label as Speckled Bird

In 1996, the toils of touring took their toll on Hindalong and Daugherty, both now fathers, and they announced that the tour supporting their newest album Free Flying Soul would be their last one. The band went essentially dormant until 2000 when all four members recorded Flap Your Wings together and then released a boxed set of all their albums titled Never Say Never, a play on their declarations to not tour anymore, not record anymore, etc. which have all proved false. Hindalong and Daugherty then released the City On A Hill series in the following years. In 2005, the band recorded O, How The Mighty Have Fallen with Marc Byrd as the producer and followed with a short tour, their first since 1996.

Where Are They Now?
Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty are now members of Lost Dogs with Micheal Roe and Terry Taylor. They, along with Marc Byrd, still produce and record acts in Nashville, TN. Tim Chandler works as computer consultant while Dan Micheals works in public relations for a label in Nashville. There are no current plans to record or tour again, but as they say, “Never Say Never.”

If You Bought Only One Album…
Circle Slide is the creative peak of the band, in my opinion. It is a short album and there is relatively little filler. The sound is a little dated with heavy doses of reverb, but it seems like everything produced in the late 80’s and early 90’s has a lot of reverb. “Tear For Tear” and “About Love” are a combination of songs that perfectly combine the joy and ache of love that the Choir explored so much in their music. “Restore My Soul” is a fantastic groove, featuring some of Steve Hindalong’s best drumming.

Get Thee to iTunes! Or Make Your Own Mix Tape for 10 bucks
You can buy many of the bands’ albums and songs on iTunes, however I recommend purchasing them from The Choir Downloads where the money goes directly to the band and you can download the songs in DRM-free MP3 format.

1. Consider (Chase The Kangaroo)
2. To Bid Farwell (Wide Eyed Wonder)
3. Restore My Soul (Circle Slide)
4. Yellow Skies (Speckled Bird)
5. Love Your Mind (Speckled Bird)
6. The Ocean (Free Flying Soul)
7. Tear For Tear/About Love (Let It Fly)
8. Flowing Over Me (Flap Your Wings)
9. Beautiful Scandalous Night (Flap Your Wings)
10. To Rescue Me (O How The Mighty Have Fallen)

4 thoughts on “A Young Person’s Guide to The Choir

  1. Good idea, and a nice writeup. Needs an editing pass, especially for various forms of the the word “Michael.” 🙂

    And not that you asked, but…I don’t love the 10 tracks, though – it’s a noble goal to include stuff from the later albums, but the live album and _Free Flying Soul_ are best forgotten, and even the best stuff from the last two don’t measure up to _Chase the Kangaroo_, _Wide Eyed Wonder_, and _Circle Slide_. (Oh, “Love Your Mind” is about as far from a representative Choir track as you can get, I think. Not Hindie’s finest hour.)

    JRjr

  2. I knew Jerry was going to disagree on all of my picked tracks! I’m trying to think of other bands to do…. Whiteheart, the 77’s, Daniel Amos, Mortal/Fold Zandura, maybe The Prayer Chain/Cush. Any others that I’m missing, Jerry? I guess I could do The Violet Burning, but they still seem like an “active band” to me.

  3. I think TVB is worth doing, just because so many people don’t know about them, even though they’re still active.

    Maybe Dakoda Motor Co (always liked those first two albums, even after Peter King yelled at me online). VOL (yeah, a lot of baggage…)?

    JRjr

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