1000 Generations – Shining Brightly

I’ve listened to 1000 Generations today and have to give a few thoughts.  My first hearing was a Sunday morning as they led worship in our church.  As I go into work early and can enjoy headphones, I took a rare break from NPR to listen to this shiny music.

“Fail Us Not”

I have come up with some descriptions that the band/fans may or may not appreciate:

  1. Not Your Parent’s Hymnal
  2. Glorifying God in the Messy Stuff of Life
  3. A Stronger Building from Broken Pieces
  4. Rock & Worship for the Thinking Christian

If you join their Email list, you will receive a free unreleased download!


Read the BIO Here:

At first glance, one might think the surprising emergence of Varietal Records artists 1000

Generations is merely another case of “worship leaders make good and sign major label deal.”

True, fresh out of college, Steven and Amanda Potaczek (pronounced “Pō-ta-zik”) turned the

spare bedroom of their home into a makeshift recording studio, made their own custom CD, and

watched in amazement as it was named Worship Leader magazine’s “best worship album of the

year.” That, in turn, sparked a growing national following, further accolades and awards and, yes,

eventually a major record deal with a free-thinking label who doesn’t believe in formulas where

calling and natural talent are concerned. And that’s just the kind of label these artists needed.

Sure the band performs addictive piano-driven pop, but why would you dare position honest

worship born of brokenness as anything typical?

Though some have been tempted to trivialize 1000 Generations with the title “Next Big Thing,”

the band’s emergence has had nothing to do with heavy-handed retail, radio or press positioning.

Nor will the band’s longevity be determined by trends in those markets. Simply put, 1000

Generations has and will continue to make music, not for an industry, but for the church at large.

And while they don’t set out to break the rules, they do ignore much of the prevailing “wisdom”

and could not care less about posturing. Consider the way Steven Potaczek is completely at

ease telling you 1000 Generation‘s music sounds like other specific artists. “I always tell people

that we sound like Coldplay got in a head-on collision with Billy Joel, and they met Jesus,” he


This unassuming nature has been a primary trait throughout the band’s history, perhaps even

despite the band’s history. After Steven and his wife Amada unveiled their eclectic piano pop

debut, Prayers, in 2003, they expanded 1000 Generations into a four-piece band and soon

landed national tour dates with Jars of Clay and Sarah Kelly. By the time their second selfproduced/

self-released album, To Those Who Cry (2006), made the rounds, the seasoned

writers at Christianity Today and hard-to-impress music critics at Relevant and Renown

magazines had joined the praise fest. Hailed for their “superior artistic nature” and the freedom

they show to musically “color outside the lines,” 1000 Generations also found themselves

championed for writing honest, unguarded lyrics — lyrics of a sort most worship acts don’t

attempt. The Gospel Music Association Academy responded the following year by awarding the

band the coveted “Song of the Year” in Estes Park, Colorado.

1000 Generations–which takes its name from the five passages of scripture affirming God’s

“covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands”—

discovered their unusual relational approach quickly defined the band’s live performances as well.

“We really believe that when spiritual leaders are weak, transparent and vulnerable in front of

others that it does nothing but good,” explains Steven.

You can bet major record labels took notice, and before long 1000 Generations inked a deal with

Vineyard Music’s Varietal Records imprint (home to Jeremy Riddle and Chris Lizotte). As the

band looks ahead to their first nationally-distributed album, Turn Off The Lesser Lights, which

hits streets August 4, it’s helpful to look back to better understand how the album’s distinct sound

and thoughtful, intimate lyrics were born.

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Steven Potaczek first began piano when he was eight – the age his

dad taught him to play Ritchie Valens‘ “La Bamba” and multiple Beatles songs on a Casio

keyboard. Though his artistic gifting was nurtured, his home life was extremely complicated and

often difficult. His family was actually monitored by the Department of Children and Family

Services for a period, and then his parents divorced while he was in high school. And though he

had been raised in a Catholic home, attended a Catholic school and then mass each Sunday, it

wasn’t until college—where he started suffering from an anxiety disorder—that Steven eventually

committed his life to Christ.

While his problems didn’t magically disappear, Steven has since seen God restore his family

relationships and help him with his anxiety. “Most importantly, I am growing with God and others

in ways that I never knew were possible,” he says.

Not long after his relationship with Jesus began, Steven and Amanda crossed paths while

attending Anderson University in Indiana. In a foreshadowing encounter, it was in their very first

conversation that they discussed which songs should be performed during worship at a campus

ministry gathering.

Amanda, who started playing guitar when she was in high school, had been raised in a Christian

home and, as a college student, began turning to worship in response to life’s hardship. “In every

tough season I’ve gone through,” she says, “worship has been a profound encouragement to


By the time they were 22 years old, Amanda and Steven were married, members of the worship

team at Vineyard Community Church in Indianapolis, and had recorded their debut CD. Given the

surprising response to the album, Steven and Amanda realized 1000 Generations needed to

expand into a full band so they could tour. They soon enlisted their worship team’s bassist Alain

Picard and drummer Lorin Lemme. Picard, who is a native of France, began playing bass at 16

and moved to the United States six years later as part of a ministry band. After meeting Lemme,

who started drumming in the 5th grade, Picard introduced his talented friend to Steven and

Amanda. Now full members of 1000 Generations, Picard and Lemme handle bass and drums

on the albums as well.

Today, the Potaczeks, who reside in Fishers, Indiana, continue to serve as worship pastors at

their Indianapolis church. “We’re also really committed to raising other people up as musicians

and worship leaders,” explains Steven. “Amanda‘s a guitar instructor and teaches songwriting at

Anderson University. And my main role at the church is to raise up other worship leaders—that’s

why we can leave and do what we do on the road.”

While their first two albums were defined by world-music-influenced piano pop, 1000

Generations sought to reflect the immediacy of their concert performances with the new Turn

Off The Lesser Lights. The result is a pop-rock album that leans heavily on both electric guitar

and piano and features song arrangements which translate naturally to the live setting. Once

again self-produced, their Varietal Records debut showcases Steven on lead vocals and multiple

instruments and Amanda on electric and acoustic guitars and both support and lead vocals.

A year prior to release, forthcoming songs from Turn Off The Lesser Lights had already drawn

major accolades with the social justice anthem “How Big Small Can Be” named the GMA

Academy’s “Song of the Year” and the hook-driven rock gem “Fascinated” cracking the Top 3 of

The John Lennon Songwriting Contest. While it doesn’t take a competition judge to admire 1000

Generations‘ musical creativity, a discerning listener will appreciate the band’s thoughtful, clichéfree

songwriting. “We are passionate about lyrical excellence,” says Amanda. “As Christians we

have the Creator of everything as the source of our inspiration, and there has to be new ways to

express concepts that are unchangeable–like the nature of God.”

Turn Off The Lesser Lights reveals a classic approach to songwriting reminiscent of The

Beatles, Billy Joel and Elton John. A prime example is the album’s hopeful lead single, “Fail

Us Not,which features Steven and Amanda sharing lead vocals and a strong melodic acoustic

guitar/piano-based track. “I had started to think about all the things I’m afraid will happen or that

have happened,” says Amanda of the song’s lyrical theme. “And I was just really moved by the

fact that those things don’t put a damper on God’s power or keep Him from working in our lives,

and to really just accept the knowledge that we have Christ’s Spirit in us. Because of that we

aren’t subject to the defeat that all those things—the worry, loss and doubt—can bring.”

The lyrical themes on Turn Off The Lesser Lights are every bit as layered and diverse as the

band’s musical influences. One profound objective ties all the songs together, however. Above

all, 1000 Generations is intent upon seeing people connect with God—whether followers of

Christ who’ve believed for decades, or pilgrims experiencing worship for the first time. “We’re

really passionate about people having an experience they can walk away with,” concludes

Steven. “We believe that if someone has a real experience with God, that it will change their

lives, and their kids’ lives, and on down the line. Even as we write songs, we’re thinking about that

in the long term.”

And so go their aspirations to live out what Jesus modeled. This band that loves, ministers,

accepts, challenges, teaches, persuades, serves and mentors others who, in turn, go and do

likewise. Yes, this is how the work of the Kingdom gets done. And we’re all the better for it.

~ by castleqwayr on November 9, 2009.

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