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Rock of ages - Kitsap Christian rock bands on the rise

Christian rock band, The Exchange, performs at Olympic Evangelical Free Church in Poulsbo last month. The Kitsap band plans to record and release its first album this year.  - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Christian rock band, The Exchange, performs at Olympic Evangelical Free Church in Poulsbo last month. The Kitsap band plans to record and release its first album this year.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

When they rocked out to Classic Crime in 2009, the members of the Christian rock band The Exchange didn’t expect that in about a year they would open for them.

But that’s what happened last summer at the Silverdale Waterfront Park’s Party at the Pier.

“It was kind of weird,” said Mikey Moore of The Exchange. “It was surreal that we opened for a band we saw together.”

Performing in different churches in Kitsap County, as well as other venues including coffee shops and clubs outside of Kitsap, they have a tight local fan base, as well as fans in Oregon. And they are not alone — worship rock bands are on the rise.

Having released its first album in December 2008, Friday at the Lake, a Christian rock band based in East Bremerton, is set to release a second album in April.

“We’re Christ-based, but we’re not prancing around telling people,” said Tom Kessler, of Seabeck, on Friday at the Lake, adding that the band’s message of hope is something most can relate to.

Friday at the Lake has a history before it was a band. It started in the winter of 2007 when a small group met at American Lake near Puyallup every Friday night to read Bible passages, talk and play music, Kessler said. Friendships were formed and those nights became a place of refuge for them and the band’s name came from that, he added.

“Music is our gift and we choose to use it for the greater good and not for ourselves,” Kessler said. “We’re not out there for fame or money.”

Kessler composes the lyrics for all the songs and compared the band’s original sound to that of Christian bands like Switchfoot, but said that in its upcoming album, Friday at the Lake has developed its own sound and style.

A young band, The Exchange includes Moore, 18, of Silverdale, Gregor Uvila, 19, of Hansville, Britt Espinosa, 17, of Kingston and Jack Espinosa, 14 of Kingston. They’ve been together since March 2010 with Uvila joining the group about a month ago when the original bassist had to leave the band because of work.

Switchfoot has also influenced The Exchange. But perhaps the greater influence was Classic Crime. Not only do the guys like their music, the Seattle concert is where Moore met the Espinosa brothers. The message The Exchange sends to its listeners is Christian values including selflessness, loving others and not focusing on themselves but on God, Moore said.

Having a love for playing music, Jack Espinosa said he wants other people to enjoy it with him when the band performs. And after shows, people have talked about how they used to be depressed but that the band’s music gave them inspiration to move forward, Britt Espinosa said.

“We’re inspiring people to love life and to love each other,” Uvila said.

For Jon Manning, 17, who saw The Exchange perform last month in Poulsbo, the band not only hypes him up at concerts, but has been a key factor in turning his life away from drugs and violence.

“I hit 13 and went haywire. I did everything in the books,” Manning, an Olympic College student said. “The last two to three months I’ve turned and they were a huge part in that.”

Most members of Friday at the Lake and The Exchange began playing worship music at their churches.

Friday at the Lake members attend Sylvan Way Baptist Church and are made up of Kessler, 23, Julian Peddle, 24, Brett Angelo, 17, Jacob Gilman, 18, and Kevin Selden 21.

Balancing school or jobs and being in a band is difficult, but both bands work hard to practice at least once a week. Friday at the Lake’s first album was recorded by Ear To Hear Music, an independent record company that Julian Peddle, one of the band member’s father owns. The Exchange is working on releasing an album in the summer. In March, they plan to go to South Carolina to record with producer Neil B. Young who has worked with artists such as Third Day. With the help of fans who have made donations through a www.kickstarter.com account, the group has raised $2,300 of its $3,000 goal to help with costs to record with Young. As for now, they will keep doing what they love, which is playing music for others.

“It’s a dark world and there is hope and there is light,” Moore said. “Hopefully our music sheds a little more hope.”

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