Finding the music with Unspoken

While Unspoken band members may have changed through the years, their musical inspiration has not. Unspoken combines hip-hop, soul, pop and folk to highlight both their struggles and gratitude, with a Christian influence.

The band has had top hits on the American Christian charts. Unspoken will perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Saturday, June 30. Brad Durrell recently spoke to vocalist Chad Mattson, who founded the band in 2012. Mattson, 38, is a Maine native who now lives in Nashville.

Brad Durrell: Were you into music when you were young?

Chad Mattson: I was always into sports and thought I’d be a basketball player while growing up. My mom was a singer and I grew up around music but had little interest in it. In my late teens, I picked up  a guitar I found in my attic that was my dad’s and started fiddling around with it. I never thought in a thousand years I’d do music as a profession or passion.

But the Lord had different plans, and I’m just grateful to be here. It just shows that God’s plans for us are better than the ones we can think of ourselves. My encouragement to people is that where you are now isn’t necessarily where you’re going to be. A lot of times people feel wherever they are at the moment is where they’ll always be. It becomes overwhelming and hopeless. But that’s not the way God works, which gives me a lot of hope.

BD: You went through troubled times?

CM: I was using and selling drugs in my hometown and then went elsewhere in Maine. I lived in a drug house and moved around wherever. My life was hopeless.

It’s funny that we think freedom is the right to choose what we as individuals want to do, but I certainly found the freedom to make my own decisions only made me a slave to things I couldn’t control. After six days of being sober in three years, I went to the Dominican Republic, where lots of consequential things took place. I got sober. I encountered Jesus, and that changed me. I wanted to tell everyone, and the best way to do that was music — it’s the universal language.

I also met a guitar player there, who moved back to Maine with me. We started traveling with two guitars and playing around the Northeast — just kind of going with the wind.

BD: How do you come up with songs?

CM: We write all our own songs and lyrics but also work with producers, friends and writers. I feel a little like a child when writing songs — there is so much that’s undiscovered. Working hard certainly is a huge factor in being a good songwriter.

I’ve heard a quote that goes, “There’s no Christian songs, only Christian lyrics.” The bulk of our lyrics are meant to inspire and bring hope and point to God. Our job has never been to convince anyone of anything, but to just share our story. We do think God touches our music.

Now that we’re older we love to tour and perform. It’s fun. I’m really excited to be coming back in Connecticut. In a roundabout way, it’s where it all began.

When starting out 15 years ago, we played the Naval Academy, the Groton Bible Chapel, Connecticut College, cafes, a church in Uncasville. I have some fond memories of just the two of us in a 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood we bought from my grandparents — it really was a big old boat, and all our gear fit in it. We slept in the back of the car and in people’s houses.

BD: What can people expect at the show?

CM: Our concerts are for everybody. We are super diverse — a guy from Puerto Rico, two guys from New England, and two guys from Florida. If people come to the show, they may cry and they definitely will laugh. Even if you’re not familiar with our genre of music, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself.

I’m excited to be coming back in Connecticut. In a roundabout way, it’s where it all began. When [we] starting out 15 years ago, we played all around the state. We slept in the back of a car and in people’s houses.