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"Local Christian band earns national success and record deal"

While many bands have come out of Manhattan, few have been as successful as Cloverton. As proof, the Christian rock band's members offer the following sign of success: their songs are on the radio.
Timothy Brantl, lead guitarist for the band, said he finds being on the radio very exciting.
"I haven't heard it yet, but ... it's pretty sweet," Brantl said.
Brantl said one mainstream band similar to Cloverton is Coldplay.
"The last couple weeks, we've been rearranging songs, and we'll stop and be like, ‘What Coldplay song does that sound like?'" Brantl said.
Stafford, who is also the songwriter and pianist, describes their music as "piano-driven, progressive rock ... similar to Ben Folds." He also emphasizes the band does not fit stereotypes of Christian music.
Whatever their style, it seems to be working.
Stafford said the band received its first zing of success last spring in Nashville, Tenn. It was Gospel Music Awards Week, and Embassy Music, a national talent discovery company, was in charge of a talent seminar and regional competition.
Stafford went, but kept it a secret, fearful that he would come home empty-handed.
Fortunately for Cloverton, Stafford's contest experience was no failure.
"There's two categories - the writing and the performing categories - and I won both of them," Stafford said. "So, I got connected with some people there that wanted to record us."
When Stafford returned to Manhattan, he shared the opportunity with his four bandmates, and they jumped on it. Over the next few months, Cloverton made several trips back and forth to Nashville, where it met with producers and recorded its debut album.
Emily Sterk, junior in family studies and human services, said she discovered Cloverton at The Well, a gathering the band plays for every Sunday morning.
"There's definitely a connection between what they're singing and the attitudes of the students sitting in the Wareham [where The Well meets]," Sterk said. "Also, you can tell the band connects with each other. They mesh really well and they love what they do."
In addition to loving what they do, the members of Cloverton have specific reasons why they want to share their music with the world.
"I think God gifts people in different ways, and [music] is something he's gifted me in," said Layne Stafford, vocalist and bass guitarist. "I want to use that to do something that will be honoring to what he would have me do."
Kirby LeMoine, Cloverton's drummer and newest addition to the band, quickly points to the group's spiritual inspiration.
"We hope our music - the words, the lyrics, everything - is inspired by God," he said. "I feel like the whole situation, even just getting to play with the guys, is a huge answered prayer."
Layne said he is also thankful simply for the people within the band.
"I think God has really put the right people in this group and he's orchestrated what we're doing here," Layne said. "For people to be so supportive and interested and wanting to know what's going on with it ... I don't think that's anything on our part."
After all of the blessings they have received, the members of Cloverton are determined to never be complacent.
"One of our main things is that, whatever happens with this, we want our music, we want any success than may or may not happen, to point to something that's a lot bigger than just the five of us," Lance said. "That's part of the reason why a lot of the theme of the [CD] is hopefulness."
On Friday at 7:30 p.m., Cloverton will perform at their free CD release party at the Wareham.
"It's a ground-level venture we are ready to embark on wherever it goes, whether we're selling out stadiums or just playing in small churches," said Matt Brown, the band's rhythm guitar player. "It would be really neat to have the community of Manhattan come out and witness it." - K-State Collegian


EP - "Take Me Into the Beautiful"



Lance Stafford possessed unusual qualities for a musical front man. He dealt with stage fright, was informally trained in music and had no desire to follow in his father’s musical footsteps. Still, Lance transformed himself from a small town student to the lead singer of the exciting new Christian band, Cloverton.

Lance grew up in rural northwest Kansas. His father, a music teacher, started Lance with piano lessons. The rest of Lance’s musical abilities came from informal experience. He sang in a local choir and discovered he could play the piano by ear. In college, his music was kept as a hobby, rather than a career ambition. Throughout his studies, he played in a worship band, which ultimately led him to pursue music.

“There are words and melodies that God has written on people’s hearts that connect us to Him and to each other,” says Lance. Thus, upon graduation, Lance poured himself into writing. Joined by his twin brother Layne, Lance formed a band along with Tim Brantl, Matt Brown, and Kirby LeMoine who all met while playing in a worship band for their local church. With Lance on keys, Tim on lead guitar, Matt on rhythm guitar, Kirby on drums, and Layne on bass guitar, Cloverton’s sound is a blend of piano driven rock/pop with influences by Coldplay, Leeland and Third Day.

Nashville offers many musicians opportunities and Lance stumbled upon his own. Early in 2008, Lance signed up to perform in Embassy Music’s Talent Search, which was held during Gospel Music Week. Keeping his entry a secret, Lance performed solo, winning both the regional songwriting and performance categories. The win entitled him to an industry showcase and studio time with Nashville producers.

Lance’s win gave Cloverton a channel for their passion and energy, as their five-song EP is now available. The band’s central theme is simple: pointing people to a right relationship with God. “We hope to connect our listeners with something much bigger than any of us.”