CatholicMom.com is psyched to share the
following great interview with the sensational Catholic music group News At
Eleven. Enjoy the group's insights, and be sure to visit their website
through our link at the right to hear their great album! I know you'll
Could you describe the origins of News at Eleven and how you selected
your group's name? Also, who are the members of the group.
News At Eleven is:
Paola Bonetto - Flute, Vocals
Andrew Clifford - Vocals
Rich Fineza - Vocals
Gina Gatto - Vocals, Auxiliary
Kurt Hanna - Vocals
Carmel Heckel - Vocals
Zach Laney - 6-string Guitar, Vocals
Ann Lyles MacPhail - Keyboards & Piano,
Matt MacPhail - Bass, 12-string Guitar,
Anthony McLin - Vocals
Gabe Monterrubio - Tenor Saxophone
Mark Patti - Drums
MATT MacPHAIL: News At Eleven began in
Los Angeles as a group of USC students
and alumni who sang together at the USC Catholic Center's 11 AM Mass. I
we think of the group as having started in 1999 when we recorded our first
album, but really, most of us had been playing and singing together since
or '96. You know how college music groups are -- things kind of changed
one year to the next, and in our case, really, sometimes one week to the
But about January of 1999 or so, a lot of things started to come together at
the same time, and I think we had a string of 5 or 6 Sundays where we
really great at Mass.
So at the time, I was working at this small
law firm in L.A., absolutely hating
it. This one afternoon, I was daydreaming about how great the group sounded
lately, and how it might be fun to record a few songs. I had a couple of
original songs I really wanted to record, but I also started making a list
all the songs we really liked as a group. So I called Ann (who was then my
girlfriend and is now my wife!) and suggested we do this. I was waiting for
her to tell me I was crazy, but she really liked the idea as well. We
the idea to the rest of the group, and I think that's really when News At
Eleven was born.
ANN MacPHAIL: As for the name of the
group, we kicked around a lot of names --some of them VERY silly ("Fr. Bill's All Star Band" was one rejected idea),
settled on "News At Eleven". The idea was that we were music ministers at
11 AM Mass, and helped deliver the "Good News" of Jesus Christ at Mass each
Sunday. It's kind of subtle but we liked it because it's both a reference
the Gospel and a reference to our origins as the 11 AM music group at the
CM: How is your Catholic faith
integral to your music ministry?
KURT HANNA: I think my faith holds a
unique power in my music. Music is the
most direct connection I can make with the Almighty, whether I'm singing,
playing, or listening. There must be a reason why a group of angels is
to as a "choir." Only in music, can we mere mortals hear what God's voice
GINA GATTO: For me, being involved with
music ministry is a way that I can
serve God by sharing the gifts He has blessed me with. Music is such an
integral part of the Mass...not only do I enjoy being involved with music
ministry, but it is the best way I know how to praise and worship God.
ANN MacPHAIL: God speaks to us all in
different ways, including
music. I tend to feel God's presence most through songs. Music can help
the Word of God to life by adding a happy, reflective or peaceful tone.
Sometimes I hear congregations somberly reciting words like, "Alleluia" and
have such a hard time understanding how anyone can say that without smiling
and shouting! But if you put the words to music, you can't help but feel
joy in the meaning.
CM: Where does the inspiration
for your compositions come from?
KURT HANNA: Almost all of my lyrical
ideas come from my own struggles with
faith versus dogma. I try to turn these internal struggles into meaningful
lyrics. I don't look to Biblical passages very much for words, except to
maybe find a theme or a when I get stuck for a line.
MATT MacPHAIL: This sounds kind of
weird, but many of my musical ideas come to
me in the middle of the night. I'll be half awake and I'll find I have a
going through my head. For years, I'd always say to myself "hey, that's
cool--I'll have to write that down when I get up in the morning!" I'd wake
the next morning, and it would be absolutely GONE. I finally learned my
and bought a small recorder that I keep next to my bed in case something
me. Ann has gotten used to me jumping out of bed in the middle of the night
and running into the other room to record something before I forget it!
Obviously, not all of those late-night tunes pan out, but when one of them
does, I'm always struck by how God blesses me with music. It's hard to
-- it's almost a feeling that God is handing me all these musical ideas and
it's up to me to figure out how to put them together. In any case, it's
to share those ideas with others. God speaks through all of us in different
ways, and it's neat to get to share God's word with others that way.
As for lyrics, I tend to almost always write music before lyrics, so in most
cases, I have a melody and chords and absolutely no idea what the song is
to be about! I also really like looking to the Bible for themes. I've
so much that I really like in the Psalms (which are the original songs of
praise and worship, after all!) and Isaiah. Sometimes it's as a starting
point, sometimes there'll be a whole section that I'd like to explore in a
ZACH LANEY: I've been playing liturgical
music for a number of years now, but
actually composing Christian music is a relatively new thing for me. I'm
comfortable and used to writing songs for a secular arena, but the processes
are similar in many ways. Music usually comes first for me and can be
from a number of places--from a progression that comes out of thin air to
something I hear in another song that I'd like to try and incorporate into
whatever I'm working on.
Next come lyrics, which I try to match to the tone or feel the music is
me, and that ranges from phrasing to subject matter. Like Matt, I also get
lyrical inspiration from the Bible and themes that catch my eye. Looking at
relationships and experiences can also inspire me. Because my songwriting is
secularly rooted, my sacred compositions tend to be more subtle and layered
with respect to the religious messages they contain. But like I said, this
process is still very new to me and is something I continue to work at and
ANN MacPHAIL: My inspirations often come
during homilies or other spoken
messages that make me see a familiar Christian theme in a different way. I
really inspired by revelations like that and feel I have to share them with
someone. Other times, I'll come up with a song idea in the car or in the
shower because that's where I have time to think. Unlike most people, I
to come up with lyrics and music at about the same time.
CM: How can Catholic parents find
and support suitable music for their
children and teens?
GINA GATTO: There is so much Catholic
and Christian music out there....all you
have to do is look in the Christian/Gospel section of a music store. You can
also listen to the local Christian radio station to get a feel for various
artists...and of course the Internet is a great resource. Simply poking
around with a search engine will lead you to some great websites. One site I
like is www.independentbands.com
- They have a great selection of mainstream
Christian music! For music that is specifically Catholic, Oregon Catholic
Press (www.ocp.org) is a great resource for
liturgy and other Catholic music.
ANN MacPHAIL: I agree--there's a lot of
great Christian music out there these
days, but it sometimes takes a little digging to find it!
MATT MacPHAIL: The challenging thing for
parents is to not only FIND music
that's suitable for their kids, but also to find suitable music that their
will LISTEN to. That seems to be getting a little easier these days --
Christian music has become amazingly diverse and there are so many great
artists out there writing and performing music that appeals to a younger
audience. The Catholic presence in what's commonly referred to as
"Contemporary Christian Music" is not as great as it should be,
but I do honestly believe that's beginning to change to some degree. One of
the artists I'm really enjoying right now is Matt Maher, a Catholic
singer/songwriter out of Mesa, Arizona. His new CD is available through
Catholic Press and is well worth the money!
CM: What future plans does the
MATT MACPHAIL: We are up to our elbows
in pre-production on our next album!
One of our big goals for this project is to have considerably more original
music than we did on our first CD, and so it's taking us a lot longer to get
through to the time when we can actually start recording.
ANN MacPHAIL: It's a lot more time
consuming, yeah, but we're really excited
about the music and getting to work together on a different level. On the
project, we were really trying to reinterpret well-known songs or put a
spin on them, but we still had to work within the confines of what the
had in mind. This time around, Matt, Zach, Kurt and I are all writing
in various combinations on different songs. You really get to start with a
blank slate, though.
MATT MacPHAIL: It's taking a lot longer,
but it feels a lot more personal this
time around -- and we're very excited to share that with everyone!
CM: Any closing comments you'd
like to make?
GINA GATTO: Thanks for having us! We
hope you enjoy our music! Let us know
what you think!
MATT MacPHAIL: If anyone would like to
get in touch with us, drop us a note
through our website. We'd love to hear from
you. If you're interested in getting updates on how our next album is
drop by our site and join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date by
For more information on News At Eleven, visit them at