Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, the duo rotated through multiple drummers and played anywhere it could, earning a following of youth group teens, college students and club goers. After building a fan base through a grassroots effort, Casting Pearls participated in various band tournaments and attracted the attention of record label heads judging the final rounds. After releasing an independent EP in 2002, Rock (Rock), the guys remained on the road tirelessly, generating a buzz from the band’s explosive stage show. Later that year, Casting Pearls was cemented with drummer Scott Rutz’s arrival, as he clicked perfectly with Olesen and Maranville’s musical and spiritual pursuits.
“That’s when the ball started rolling, and we could feel the Lord’s calling in our decision to take this to the next level,” says Olesen. “The three of us matched not only in skill level, but in all areas of fellowship and in our walks with God. We found this new determination to carry on and get our music out there, with or without a label,” he says. An unlikely event the following year led Casting Pearls toward its next major breakthrough. “It seemed like the Lord kept dangling carrots in front of us, and we got to know a lot of people. But none of those initial meetings amounted to anything specific,” Olesen relays.
“The day it all changed was at a show in Minneapolis where, ironically, everything went wrong. We traveled a long distance through the snow to make it to the venue. We ended up sliding off the icy road, and we didn’t even get paid for the gig,” he recalls. Coincidentally, one of the contacts Casting Pearls made at that very show would later hand Rock off to Newsboys’ frontman Peter Furler. Furler, interested by what he heard, called Olesen immediately to learn more about the group.
Just a few months later, the Newsboys and Casting Pearls would play SonShine Festival in Minnesota and meet for the first time face to face. “I was working at my church as a worship leader when, out of the blue, this recognizable Australian voice came on the other end of the line,” recalls Olesen. “Next thing you know, we were meeting Peter and all the Newsboys took time out to watch our set. Jody Davis, the guitarist at the time, even wore one of our T-shirts on stage.” On the Monday following the festival, Olesen found himself on the phone once again with Furler, who called to request that Casting Pearls open the Newsboys’ New Jersey show that weekend. Despite the 22-hour drive, mini-van rental for the trip and obligations at his home church on Sunday, Olesen and Casting Pearls took the leap of faith. “That was by far the biggest show we’d ever played, and we sold about 300 CDs that night,” Olesen says.
“Within the month, Peter called me again and asked me to fill in for Jody because he couldn’t make the Festival Con Dios tour. I was stunned,” he says, “especially since it was only a week before the tour left. I called an emergency meeting with my wife and the band, and they all told me to go for it!” Furler officially asked Olesen to join the Newsboys at the end of 2003 when Davis stepped down from the road. Casting Pearls wouldn’t dissolve by any means, but found a loyal supporter in the Furler-owned Inpop label.
Inpop then offered the up-and-coming band a record deal. Casting Pearls self-titled rock CD is loaded with monstrous riffs, memorable melodies, driving percussion and honest lyrics. The 10 tunes are sure to resonate with Casting Pearls’ existing fan base and will certainly strike a chord with new listeners. The production front included the Grammy Award-winning team of Jason Burkum and Nathan Dantzler (Audio Adrenaline, Tree63, Kids In The Way) along with guest vocalist Phil Joel (newsboys) on “Alright” and “Wastin' Time” (Wastin' Time).
Fellow Grammy winner Mark Heimmerman (dcTalk) also teams with the band for co-writing credit on “All About Love” (All About Love) and “Close Your Eyes” (Close Your Eyes). Such all-encompassing chemistry has already sent Casting Pearls’ lead single “Weighted” up the Radio & Records Christian Rock chart. “Alright,” Casting Pearls current single, recently went for adds at AC, CHR and Rock radio. “Casting Pearls is, at its core, a group of guys that writes good songs around diverse music, and we don’t want to be pigeonholed into a certain style,” Olesen offers. “There’s a lot of variety on this record,” he continues, “from some really rockin’ songs to those with more of an acoustic flair.” But even with such a cross section of influences and appeal, Casting Pearls’ ultimate goal is to connect with its audience at the deepest spiritual level. The song lyrics have been inspired by personal experience and touch on the joys, challenges and growth one can experience and foster in their faith.
“The cool thing about Casting Pearls is that we’re content wherever the Lord wants us,” Olesen confirms. “We’re smart enough to know that getting a record deal is not the ultimate be all, end all. We’re going to continue to do what we do and walk through the door the Lord opens for us. The bottom line is,” he concludes, “it’s His call in terms of where He wants this to go.” For more info, check out their official website, www.castingpearls.com.
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