The Prayer Chain was a 1990s alternative rock band.
Early History Edit
The Prayer Chain formed in February 1990 when Campuzano & Prickett's band Laughing Boy broke up at the same time as Taber's band Tapestry broke up. Campuzano knew Taber through a Bible study group and had met Prickett through a "Recycler" ad. Originally, Taber both sang and played drums originally, though drum machines were also used. The band auditioned Everett to play drums later that year at a Prayer Chain show in California.
The band sights 31 October 1990 as being the official beginning of the band, when they played a show at their church opening for band The Altar Boys.
Taber says "We had no clear vision when we started, but as we went on making good music became the focus. We always wanted to have a gripping live show as well."
In another interview, Taber says "we weren't a Christian band at first but shortly after we decided we wanted to be one and serve God".
Campuzano says "we were all Christians, we felt the doors were opening up for us. We made a cognisent decision, we had a band meeting. Do we want to go the secular route and do the clubs or do we wanna go where we were feeling called to which was being a Christian band. We all prayed about it and felt comfortable, we're gonna go in that direction. It just worked out the timing was fantastic. I don't like to say God was opening up doors for us or divine providence, it was just circumstances worked out positively for us. So if that was God that's fantastic. We also did a lot of hard work. We were gonna try to make it. We knew at the time we weren't the best musicians. We always just told ourselves we'd out-work the other bands."
Their first album, released independently, was recorded with Steve Hindalong at Neverland Studios and was entitled The Neverland Sessions. After signing to Reunion Records they put out the Whirlpool EP and started touring, while focusing on their first LP Shawl released in 1993.
Taber recalls "(After the demo tape) we played for another whole year and then released an album by ourselves (The Neverland Sessions). It was six months after that that we got asked to sign a record deal (having) had conversations with Reunion for 10 or 11 months. So, it was something they didn't rush into. They flew down and saw us play a few times and we talked. At one point they told us it just wasn't going to work out, and then after we released our album we charted a top five single, I Believe, on our own, without a record company, and they were impressed by that and I think that led to the record deal."
Prickett says "initially we didn't necessarily want to be a 'Christian' band. But we found our best songs had to do with us being honest about our lives and how Christianity fit into them. From then on, we sort of had this unspoken mission to be as good musically as any secular band we liked, and to write about the real issues that real people who are real Christians face - good, bad and ugly."
Shawl Era Edit
In 1993, The Prayer Chain released there first collection of all new material since 1990. The album showed a more aggressive side of the band compared to the upbeat poppier sound of the Whirlpool EP. The band proudly distanced themselves from their past, announcing in album opener Crawl that "Shine is dead", referring to their hit song Shine. The album produced fan favorites Never Enough, Fifty-Eight (written in 5/8 time) and Worm. Crawl and Like I Was were also released as a 7-inch single, with clips released for both.
In April 1994, the band released their first Live recording, recorded toward the end of the tour for Shawl. It included a couple of bonus tracks from the Shawl era.
Mercury Era Edit
After extensive national and international shows they started working on their final album, Mercury, which was released in 1995. Originally the band wanted to do a worship-based album. Campuzano says "When we were were discussing this record, a lot of people said Shawl was a negative album, so we all kinda wanted to do this real drony 'get lost in the music' type record -- only with praise songs. But we really started just disliking each other, so that didn't allow us to fully praise God, because there's just too much disconnection in the band." Taber says "before Mercury, I wanted to record a more worshipful album. Eric Campuzano did too, but when we came together, the dynamic in the band produced something different."
Their most ambitious project to date, the band says "We purposefully made a record that would get us fired from the job Reunion had planned out for us, which was "the new Petra."". On the change of sound, Campuzano says "All of us made a conscious decision to not make Shawl Part 2, but a record where we tried to not be influenced by any other popular music at the time. For the most part, I think we were very successful." Everett says "It ended up being a lot more emotional than the last one (Shawl), which was a lot more mental, so not only only lyrically but musically, we went for something that was a lot more earthy and emotional rather than something that's got a lot of complicated riffing or a lot of dynamics."
Producer Steve Hindalong is credited by the band as helping bring the project together. Taber says "On this album, there was maybe only two or three fairly finished ideas before we started recording. The rest was 'Well we think we've got a verse, we think we might have a chorus, and we're not sure about the melody, we're not sure about the arrangement, we're not sure about any of the parts.' So Steve's influence helped us even be able to complete the songs and steer us in a certain direction....without Steve on this record, it wouldn't have been ''Mercury'', it wouldn't have been the same record at all."
Their first draft of the album, titled Humb, was rejected by Reunion, and the band "were instructed to go back into the studio, and write more songs. Something they could sell.". The band then wrote ''Sky High''.
Themes on the album include distance (Mercury, Creole, Shiver, Waterdogs) & disconnection (Grylliade) as well as love (Manta Rae, Bendy Line) & worship (Humb, Sky High, Sun Stoned). Everett says "The record definitely does have that element of disconnection to it, certainly with God and even beyond talking of spiritual things -- it really explores feeling disconnected with other other people around you. With a lover, even within the band -- there's songs on this record about all of us being totally disconnected with each other, and having to make a record at the same time. It also has songs with a lot of hope in them such as Humb and Sky High and Sun Stoned, which really invite a relinquishing to God in order to achieve peace and to become more connected with all these things that you've been separated from." Campuzano says "The whole record basically itself is a manifestation of God telling us exactly what to do. All the lyrics, regardless of who they're written by, seem to be really together. It wasn't like we set out to do a thematic record, but I think the record itself did turn out to be thematic, in that it is a man's walk with God, from the beginning of Humb to the end of Sun Stoned. And that is something that we did not set out to do, or outline."
On the final album, Campuzano says "We always thought God put us in this position so we could break down some walls or notions about Christian music...I think we did that with touring, and with the eventual release of Mercury."
Engineer Chris Colbert wrote, "you can hear the band break up on the record, you can see them extend a warm and heartfelt middle finger to the industry".
Taber says "The Prayer Chain had four guys with different views, philosophies, personalities, and it was that diversity that made it interesting and led to our demise."
Some releases which included rare recordings followed. The band has since done a reunion show in Chicago in 1998, the Gene Eugene tribute show in 2000, some local California shows and 2003 reunion shows at Cornerstone Festival and the Flevo Festival in the Netherlands.
The band has released some of their work & rarities on the Bandcamp website. Most notably, they released the original version of their album Mercury titled Humb, ending years of speculation between fans regarding the original album. The original version was sent to Reunion Records in 1994 and the band were subsequently told to go back into the studio to write more songs, "something they could sell". The most evident differences between Mercury and Humb are the absence of Sky High on Humb, which along with Friend or Foe was written after the record label rejected the original version of the album, and the inclusion of Chalk, Antarctica and Loverboy on Humb, all which eventually appeared on Antarctica. Humb also had a different track order. The somewhat different mixing on the original album is considered to be darker.
In April 2015, the band announced they would be releasing Mercury on double vinyl through Kickstarter to mark the 20th anniversary of the album. Funding for the album was achieved within three hours of the announcement.
In 2018, the band had another successful Kickstarter campaign, this time to release Shawl on vinyl to mark it's 25th anniversary. The band will also perform it's first full live shows in 15 years, performing Shawl in it's entirety. The Kickstarter campaign was so successful that the band will also film the shows and release it digitally.
Campuzano says "I have three great friends who I love dearly, although a bit uncomfortably. I think it's a miracle that we are still friends which is much more important than The Prayer Chain." Prickett adds "being friends is the best part. It is the only part that matters right behind what God did in people's lives through it all."
Tim Taber - vocals. Also the founder of Floodgate Records, Transparent Productions, and Transparent Artists.
Andy Prickett - guitar. Founded Northern Records and does extensive recording/producing/engineering. Prickett has also played with The Violet Burning, My Brother's Mother, OneRepublic, Black Lantern and others.
Eric Campuzano - bass guitar & main lyricist. Campuzano went on to play guitar for The Lassie Foundation & Stranger Kings. He's also released two drone solo projects under the moniker Charity Empressa. Campuzano plays bass with CUSH, and has played with Starflyer 59.
Wayne Everett - drums. Everett went on to sing for The Lassie Foundation, and has played in Starflyer 59 and CUSH. Everett released a solo album titled KingsQueens in 2003 on Northern Records.
Full-Length Albums Edit
The Neverland Sessions (1992)
4-song Demo (1990)
Whirlpool EP (1992)
Live (4-song version) (1994)
Live (8-song version) (1994)
Live at CBGB's (2005)
Singles (7-inch vinyl) Edit
Two-disc sets Edit
Mercury & Mercurios Tin: Limited Edition Collector's Set (1995)
So Close... Yet So Far (Retrospective & B-sides) (1998)
Double Vinyl Edit
Mercury (20th anniversary re-release) (2015)
Shawl (25th anniversary re-release) (2018)
Live at the Strand (1997)
A Live Tribute Recording for Gene Eugene (2000)
Here Comes the Rust (retrospective) (2003)