Our ability to create music isn’t rooted in our circumstances or our emotions, our gifts or our talents. We worship, not because of how we feel or what we’re going through; we worship because of who God is. He has proven faithful time and time again, and so we continually chose to seek Him—in joy and in pain—in every season. This truth is the guiding vision behind California-based band For All Seasons. Comprised of Emily Hamilton (lead vocals, guitars, keys), Johnny Hamilton (drums), Jeff Luckey (guitars, keys, vocals) and Randy Charlson (bass, guitars), For All Seasons desires to cultivate an atmosphere of hope through their new project Clarity, no matter what season of life listeners may find themselves enduring.
The band is as unique as its moniker. For starters, they have a female lead singer, they’re based in the West Coast, and they each travel with their respective spouses. Emily and Johnny are now married, but three of the four friends met in college and initially formed the group to audition for Biola University’s weekly chapel services.
Music was never supposed to be a “day job” for the group. Each had their own aspirations post-graduation, and none of their chosen vocations included what they do now. “None of us were music majors in college,” Emily explains. “We just came together because we loved playing music and thought it was a really cool outlet on campus. By the time we graduated, we were playing more outside of school than we were in school.”
When For All Seasons received an invitation to play at Hume, a prestigious camp in California that welcomes more than ten thousand students each summer, they found themselves at a crossroads following graduation. They could pursue their safe, practical routes of employment, or they could step through the seemingly divine, yet uncertain, door opened to them.
The group of friends decided to take a leap of faith and ended up at Hume for years, unknowingly honing their craft. “Hume was incredible. It helped us build this fan base we love; more importantly, I think, it helped us focus on ministry,” Emily reflects. “It really trained us that this is not the place to be a diva. You have to be about serving people. People, conversation and relationship have become such a foundation of our ministry, and I know that we owe so much of that to camp.”
For All Seasons spent the months between summer and winter camp sessions accepting nearly every invitation they received to play. Soon, they were writing more original music and releasing independent projects, which eventually led to the group signing a recording contract with Tennessee-based Centricity Music. The band’s first project Clarity is targeted to start releasing this fall.
“In California, making a career out of music is such a foreign thing, especially being in Orange County. It’s not normal,” Jeff observes. Emily echoes his thoughts on West Coast culture. “Sometimes people think we’re trying to say we’re a church choir,” she says. “It has built up some resilience in us to just feel really independent and feel like we’re going against the grain.”
While residing on the West Coast may not be the norm for most artists in the Christian music industry, For All Seasons see their geographical location as an opportunity to not conform to industry standards by default. Having never been fully immersed in Nashville’s creative community, they’ve been able to establish their own methods of touring and a unique approach to the creative process.
“From the beginning, we wanted to make sure everybody felt ownership so that at no point was there a moment where someone felt like they were disposable. The reality of it is, relationally, no one is disposable,” Emily offers. “We all have unique talents, so we’ve really tried to empower one another to bring our best to the table and make it so that if we didn’t have them anymore, it would be a huge piece of us that’s missing.”
“The core of wanting to have ownership in the songs was a strong desire of ours. Having that sense of ownership brings an emotional connection,” adds Jeff. “The fusion of our musical preferences, individually, and the roles that we play create our sound.”
It’s a sound that marries artfully-crafted lyrics with rock and modern pop. With vertically-slanted lyrics, the songs are born out of time spent with the Lord and real-life stories of the places where God has met the For All Seasons members. “In all honesty, writing songs for church worship is not our goal. Getting songs played on the radio is not our goal,” Jeff explains. “We absolutely love the church and we love the purpose of radio, but our goal is a little more simple: to write authentically, passionately, and creatively, from our own stories, in hopes that those who hear our music connect with Jesus on a deeper level and chose to seek Him in every season of life. That’s our focus. However and wherever God wants to use it? That’s His decision.”
For All Seasons wrote more than 60 songs for their ultimately seven-track Centricity Music debut Clarity. The modern-pop and rock sound the group creates is heightened with strong musicianship, while delivering lyrics that will encourage and energize the listener with a constant thread of hope. “Playing live, I hope people can connect to the Lord through lyrical content and truth, but also through musical moments,” Jeff offers, “because there’s something powerful about pouring your heart and passion out through your instrument. The music behind the lyrics is equally important to us as well.”
Their collaborative efforts onstage translate offstage as well. While Emily and Johnny naturally live out their marriage together on the road, Jeff and Randy’s spouses also travel with the group. In fact, Jeff’s wife—whom he met through Emily and Johnny—serves as their tour manager. On and off the road, they’re a tight-knit family. “Emily, Johnny and I have been playing together for 10 years now, and so we just can’t help but become brothers and sisters,” Jeff contends. “Marriage is important, and family is important. I think it’s produced this mentality of trying to do whatever we can to keep the family together on the road because we’ve seen how beautiful it is to be a part of this ministry all together.”
That same sense of community permeates throughout their cohesive EP, including lead single “Higher” which buries a deep topic beneath sunny pop beats. “I started realizing in my relationships that God’s not always calling me to just tell someone they’re wrong. Sometimes He’s just calling me to love people,” Emily says of the song. “A lot of life is very gray, and as Christians we want black and white, but Jesus doesn’t always give us that. He just says, ‘Follow Me.’”
Meanwhile, their song “Bigger Than” unpacks Emily’s struggle with anxiety. “What I started to realize is that my responsible, have-it-all-together mentality was just masking all of this fear that I had underneath. So, it all came out in this panic attack that I had, and it started me on this journey of having to really face the fact that I had been struggling with a lot of fear in my life,” she reveals. “It’s been a huge song for me, personally. It is just this very clear statement of who God is. He’s bigger than anything I’m afraid of. He’s bigger than my dreams. I don’t have to stress and get anxious about my future because if I believe the Word of God—that He says His plans for me are better than what I could imagine or dream up—then I don’t have anything to worry about.”
“Fight Anymore” embodies a conversation Jeff had with his wife as she expressed her exhaustion with battling against the tension of sin and temptation in our daily lives. The track resolves that we can let the Lord wage war on our behalf. “The great thing about being in a relationship with the Lord is that we don’t have to fix our problems on our own,” Jeff concedes. “We just have to fix our eyes on Him because He’s the Perfector of our faith, and He’s the strength we need.”
Clarity is rooted in story, which is a fitting introduction for the band. “The songs have the DNA of all of us in them,” Emily says of the project’s seven tracks. “The message that’s continually coming out of our mouths, whether it’s onstage, or offstage or through all the music we write, is this idea that because of God’s consistent nature, He’s deserving of worship all the time. This is our decision for every season of life.”