I recently had the opportunity to interview Ernie Haase about Signature Sound’s latest project, Glorious Day. Enjoy!
1. Tell us about this new spin on “Glorious Day,” your new single and the title track.
What do you do when you’re trying to stay true to yourself and yet reach another level of musical art? EHSS has always tried to answer that question with taking a blast from the past and giving it our “Signature Sound.” “Glorious Day” is a great old song that has many different arrangements and melodies attributed to it thru the years. As with “When The Saints Go Marching In” and other classic songs we cover we always try to give our fans a fresh listen and hopefully breathe new life into a song. Plus, the title of the song was perfect for the title of the Project. Short and hopeful.
2. The cover art for your last project of all-new songs was very classic (in fact, it was recently voted favorite SG cover of all time at Southern Gospel Back Row). But the cover art for this new album is edgier/goofier, even though half the songs are standards and the new tracks may be even more “southern” than Here We Are Again. Coincidence? Intentional?
To have a project that says “Glorious Day” and to have a still somber pose for a picture wasn’t something I felt went together. I wanted something that popped off the shelf. My intention was to show our personality. While we have our classical and serious side, EHSS has always been known for joy. So, to all the guys, we felt this cover shot captures who we really are. Ambassadors of JOY!
3. At the end of this project, there’s a bonus track of sorts—a live, acoustic version of “Sometimes I Wonder.” Was this recorded before or after Paul Harkey came on board? Either way, what prompted you to include it on an album of predominantly new material?
This bonus track does indeed have our new bass vocalist Paul Harkey on the recording. We put this song on the project because of the effect it has had on people. We never thought when we wrote the song and recorded it that it would have this effect. Since the original “studio” version was released it has been performed “Acoustic” and at a couple of clicks slower.
We just released this version to radio. The song has such a potential to becoming a classic for EHSS that it needed more time in the public. So, we just felt it was the right thing for us and the listeners of EHSS to have this song in this version. We also released “Sometimes I Wonder” as a musical concept video. This is a first for us. We have recorded many live DVD videos but never a concept video. We are planning on making that concept video available on iTunes.
4. Listening to this album prompted comparisons in my mind to groups like Gold City, Triumphant, or even the old Gaither Vocal Band, more so than some of your other recent projects. This may be partly due to Paul’s extra heft on the lower end. Sonically, does it feel like going back to your roots as a group?
I never thought of it that way. Those are great comparisons and we are fans of all those great groups. I do think you’re correct to say that Paul has given our group a bottom end that has put the “Sound” back in Signature Sound. When it comes to comparisons, fair or not, people are use to hearing me with the late great George Younce. Paul Harkey has not only similar tones on the low end but has the heart and vocal prowess that people walk away saying, “WOW! You guys sound more like The Cathedrals than ever before.” I think in large part it has to do with the addition of Paul Harkey and the material we are now singing. True blue Southern Gospel Quartet Music!
5. Did you cut “Noah Found Grace In the Eyes of the Lord” as a fun track for kids, or is it your way of hat-tipping the Statlers’ contribution to the Cats’ farewell tape? Or both?
You nailed it — Both! I do have a recording of this song by The Blue Ridge Quartet back when George sang with them. I remember George telling me how they caught flak back in the 50′s for saying, “The Lord said hurry up Noah shut the door!” We all know the Lord shut the door. I think we sped the song up so much that no one will notice. :-) I have always loved this song and the kids are gonna love this song too. We have staged it a few times and it is a crowd favorite already.
6. “While I Was a Sinner” is my personal favorite new song on the album (actually, favorite overall). I love the big gospel sound. How did that come together, writing-wise and production-wise?
This was the last song to make the project. The songs were basically done and we were going to go with just 10 songs. Wayne Haun played this new song that he just wrote (“While I Was A Sinner”) for me on the back of the bus and said what do you think? I said, “I think if you can get in the studio in the next week and cut a track that I am going to have a new song to sing!” I love this song. I sang this with more gusto than any other song I’ve sung in awhile. I felt it from note one. The passion and power of this song is undeniable. I’m glad you like it.
7. Do you have a personal favorite off the project?
Yes, besides the effect of “Sometimes I Wonder” I love the new song “That’s Why I Love Him So.”
I cannot tell you all the reasons why I love the Lord. This song comes as close to it as anything I’ve written or performed before. We are all the same when it comes to our common need. We all think we need more money, information, technology and such. But the Lord knows what we really need. Healing, forgiveness, mercy, grace, acceptance and to those needs He gave us what we really needed; A Savior! And as the song says, “That’s Why I Love Him So.”
Many thanks to Ernie for this great interview! Go get the new project!