James Galloway – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Stewart Fenters – Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jeff Janecek – Drums
This is the latest sound in rock with a mission. Though their roots formed years ago, the boys in Soulstice have only recently dedicated themselves to making the unique blend of rock and praise they're becoming known for.
Soulstice hails from Summerville, SC, a coastal town near Charleston. The band has been around much longer than it's had a name, but their vision has always been the same. Soulstice's first incarnation was as the church band at Summerville Baptist, where the boys met in a youth group. Though their musical backgrounds are all very different, they find great harmony on stage and in their personal lives.
James, 24, has been singing since he was in kindergarten, where though a model student, his vocalizing in class landed him staring at the corner more than once. His passion for singing never died. He has followed it his whole life, receiving classical training and finishing a music degree at Clemson University, upstate from Summerville. Every time James came home from school, the other guys were home waiting for him to practice and sharpen the sound that would become Soulstice. James would begin to write songs for the band while Stewart, 20, and Jeff, 22, would each add their flourishes to the style.
Stewart's free-flowing guitar style is the counterweight to James' polished vocals. Stewart is the self-taught virtuoso of the group. Playing since he was in junior high, Stewart never had the opportunity to undergo formal training. But his strong work ethic ensured he never needed lessons. After playing for several hours each day for several years, his playful style was honed into a formidable sonic weapon.
Jeff got a drum kit from his mom as a birthday present when he was 12. Mrs. Janecek was merely looking for a way to keep him busy and out of trouble, but she also had a gut feeling that told her the drums would become Jeff's great love. A mother's intuition, as it usually happens, was right.
While James grew up in church and Stewart grew up as a preacher’s kid, Jeff had to seek his own path to spiritual enlightenment. Jeff grew up Catholic, but found himself increasingly drawn to search for new answers on his own. The young man's quest brought him to Summerville Baptist, which would give him not only a spiritual home but also an outlet for his musical inclinations.
After more than a year of touring, playing at church summer camps across the South and practicing, their big break came in 2005 when James won a contest to sing on stage with prominent Christian rock outfit Third Day in front of about 30,000 audience members at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte. The "American Idol"-style call-in contest saw James win the honor in a landslide. Originally, he was only supposed to sing the second verse of a song, but Third Day frontman Mac Powell was so impressed that he stood back and let James finish the song. That's where Soulstice was introduced to Third Day's sometime ensemble musician and award-winning producer, Scotty Wilbanks.
Scotty saw the raw talent in these young men and took them into his Atlanta studio to temper their sound. The soaring energy of James' songs is balanced by the clean, crisp production Scotty contributes. Scotty took a slightly different tack with Soulstice than he has with other rock acts, not trying to add more driving energy to the music but instead layering rich electronic textures and deep vocal effects to give the music a postmodern kind of lushness recalling indie mainstays Ester Drang and Starflyer 59. With Scotty's help, the trio self-released a four-song, self-titled EP and even made it available on iTunes Music Store. They plan to continue touring and shop the album to record labels until they find the right deal.
Today, Soulstice combines the rock appeal and excellent musicianship of secular influences like Coldplay and John Mayer with a spiritual bent in the style of Chris Tomlin, Third Day and DecembeRadio. Though the music is the foundation of each of these young men's careers, they say it is only a method to fulfill their true destinies.
"We want to reach as many people as we possibly can," says James, "because we have a message of hope through Jesus. We love our music and love our band, but that's just a vehicle for us to build relationships with people and share Jesus with them."