Full Armor
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Full Armor

Band Christian Rock


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"Full Armor:Not your Father's Church Music"

OTISVILLE — The letter arrived in Douglas Hutchings mailbox on a mundane day in February.

But the news inside the envelop changed all that: His band, Full Armor, had been selected to perform for the Pope.

The upbeat folk/rock Christian band will be performing at the Archdiocese of New York's Meeting with Youth and Seminarians. The April 19 youth rally at Saint Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers will be in honor of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York. The papal journey to the U.S. will be Benedict's first since his papacy began in 2005.

Full Armor submitted their music in December, but weren't sure they would get the nod.

"I was optimistic, but I had no idea 150 groups were being considered — I thought no way," said Hutchings, the band's manager.

After reading the letter from the archdiocese he called the band's vocalist, Tara Lakeman.

"We were freaking out on the phone," Lakeman said. "It's probably the most honorable performance I've ever done and probably will ever do in my life."

Full Armor, a six-member band, was formed in 2005 at the request of a former priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown. The priest asked Hutchings, now 19, to form a band that would perform every Sunday for the youth Mass. The band now performs at Mount Carmel and numerous churches throughout the area regardless of denomination.

During the youth rally, the band will have about 15 minutes to put on a show. Kelly Clarkson will also perform at the event as well as the local rock band A Fragile Tomorrow, a group of teenagers from Valley Central High School in Montgomery.

"The significance of the opportunity is being able to meet this great and wonderful man," said 15-year-old drummer Matthew Juliano. "As a musician that scares me because I never thought I'd be doing this."

Gustavo Morales, the band's lead guitarist, said the largest crowd the band has performed for was during the release concert for their first album, "Against the Flow." About 400-500 attended, Morales said. Kyle Hancharick is also a guitarist for the band, which is now recording their second album entitled "This Day."

"There are not a lot of kids these days that can be, like, 'yeah, I'm performing in front of the pope and 20,000 people,'" Morales said.
Ashely Kelly - Times Herald Record (Mar 18, 2008) - The Times Herald Record

"Local Band Picked to Play for Pope"

WARWICK — What greater honor could a Christian rock band, which includes two Warwick residents as members, have than performing at an event where Pope Benedict XVI will appear?

Members of the Full Armor band agree there is no greater privilege. The group is thrilled to be one of four bands selected to play at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where the pope will speak at an event with an expected crowd of 28,000 young people on Saturday, April 19.

Kyle Hancharick, 17, and Mathew Juliano, 15, of Warwick, who are students at John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen, are part of the six-member band formed in 2005 and based out of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Middletown. The band regularly performs there as well as at other area churches.

“It’s really a big honor for all of us,” said Hancharick, who plays rhythm guitar and sings vocals. “It feels really good to be able to do this. This is so much bigger than any of our shows combined. We’re really excited and really nervous.”

Juliano, who plays the drums, voiced similar feelings.

“It’s going to be an awesome day,” he said. “This is out of my wildest dreams. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance and the coolest thing ever. He’s the ‘top dog’ of the Catholic Church.”

‘The message’

The band gets its name from the Bible passage Ephesians 6:12-17, where Paul dares all people to put on the “full armor” of God, to stand their ground and take up the shield of faith, according to its Web site, www.fullarmorband.com. The band considers its Christian music to be joyful, encouraging, thought provoking and inspiring.

The group released its first CD, “Against The Flow,” in January. Its new CD, “This Day,” is being released this month.

Full Armor doesn’t expect the pope will actually hear its music since he’s expected to arrive by helicopter after they perform. But the pontiff will be on stage for 90 minutes, be speaking for 30 minutes and the band will be among thousands who will hear him, according to Kathleen Alonzo, chair of the papal visit entertainment committee for the Archdiocese of New York.

It was her committee that received the materials submitted by Full Armor back in December.

“It was a little harrowing,” said Alonzo. “We were looking for bands that are affiliated with our parishes. We were looking for creativity, presentation and ‘the message.’ There were some very good ones (bands) that we weren’t able to accept. After all this laboring, I’m looking forward to this incredible opportunity for these youths (the selected bands) to present the gifts that God gave them to this large crowd.”

Not your regular gig

As part of the promotional activities leading up to the April 19 event, Full Armor traveled to New York City last week and performed live on Sirius Radio’s Catholic Channel 159, which they described as a great experience.

At the youth rally, the band will perform three songs: “I Stand Secure,” “Free From All Pain” and “You are Holy.” Despite nerves, the band is rehearsing as it normally would.

“The nerves are a cross of playing for a pope and playing for 28,000 people,” said Hancharick. “I’m trying to picture it like a regular gig. But this is once-in-a-lifetime. This is big.”

Band manager Douglas Hutchings, who plays keyboard and sings vocals, said he’s heard people describing the five to six-hour event as “Godstock,” and hoped the band’s appearance would give it some new exposure opportunities.

“We play a lot of gigs,” added Hutchings, adding that if he could find a way to give copies of the band’s CDs directly to the pope via an intermediary, he would. “Two years ago, we would have played for anyone who would have listened to us. Not many people get to say they played at an event of a pope’s. He probably won’t actually hear us play, but then again, you never know.”

‘Inspire us’

These three band members agree if they had the opportunity to actually meet the pope and shake hands, they don’t know what they would say.

“I’d be speechless,” said Hancharick. “Yeah, that would be me.”

Hutchings said he would also be grasping for the right words.

“The Pope is such a significant world leader,” he said. “He leads over a billion people. I feel like anything I would say wouldn’t be good enough.”

This is Benedict’s first U.S. trip as pope, although he has made five previous visits when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. News reports speculate it may be the 81-year-old pontiff’s only visit as pope due to his age and because he has less interest in traveling than his predecessor.

If Juliano could shake the pope’s hand “that would be more than I could ask for, more than any of us could ask for,” he said. “I’m looking forward to him saying something great to inspire us all.”

But Juliano also wanted the pope to know something about Full Armor. “I want him to know we’re trying our best to spread God’s word through a way we know best, through our music.”
Nancy Kriz - Warwick Advertiser (Apr 12, 2008)
- Warwick Advertiser

"Promo Article for Lyons Concert"

LYONS — The contemporary Christian rock band Full Armor will be playing in Lyons on Saturday Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The show will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Lyons.

The band consists of six members between 15 and 19: Douglas Q. Hutchings, Kyle Hancharick, Gus Morales, Angela Cortese, Tara Lakeman and Mathew Lee- Violin. The name Full Armor is from the Bible passage found in Ephesians 6: 12-17, where Paul dares the reader to put on the “full armor” of God.

The band is based in Orange County, about an hour north of New York City.

Music has been a large part of each band member’s life since an early age. Hutchings, 18, who plays keyboards, piano, sings and acts as the group’s manager, said he has always been involved in music.

“I grew up enjoying oldies and a lot of folk rock stuff,” he said. “I used to put on little shows in my living room for my parents when I was 3. I would call is ‘The Amazing Douglas.’ Growing up, my friends and family knew that if they clapped for me I would never shut up.”

When Hutchings was 14 his mother bought him a guitar for his birthday. “I dabbled in that for a while before deciding to teach myself piano. I have been playing piano for about three years now.”

Cortese also has always been involved with music in one way or another. She plays percussion in the band and has been playing instruments for the past four years. She sad she has always gotten great enjoyment from music.

She said Hutchings encouraged her to be more active in music and start playing the drums. “I got involved when my best friend Douglas told me to buy a drum set. I have always had the urge to play but my parents thought it would be just a phase and then the drum set would collect dust in the corner. However, when Douglas had taken up guitar and piano it gave me more of an excuse to start plating.”

When rhythm guitarist Kyle Hancharick was 2 years old, he asked for a guitar and that Christmas he received the gift he requested. “When I was eight I began performing solo at open mics and music festivals. Right now I’m taking a break from my solo stuff to focus on the band and a more prosperous solo career.”

Hancharick said music came naturally to him as a young child. “I used to watch kids’ music programs like Raffi. But when it comes to playing music that came when I was 6. I pulled my guitar out of the closet after not playing for a while and, for some reason, I magically knew how to play it without really receiving any instruction. I haven’t put the instrument down since then.”

Hutchings can’t recall the moment when he decided to play Christian music, he just always remembers doing it. He wrote his first song when he was 13. “I found it funny because I didn’t set out to write a Christian song. My goal was to write a song that expressed my grandmother’s feelings and struggles during her last two years with cancer.”

The result was a song called “Walk with Me.” This song, unlike other early attempts at writing music, is one that Hutchings is still proud of. “This song is actually the fifth song on our album (“Against the Flow”) and it has a ton of history.

“I write songs that express human emotion and my own personal attempts at finding happiness in this life. It is true coincidence that most of them turn out to be Christian,” he said.

Cortese got her start in Christian music accompanying Hutchings in his church choir. “Looking back it’s amazing to see how everything slipped into place,” she said.

She said the goal of Full Armor is to help as many people as they can to see the face of Christ in their own lives and allow people to see him in a way that they might not have before.

Lead guitarist Gustavo Morales said that he was never really interested in Christian music until he joined Full Armor. “I want people to realize that Christian music isn’t always boring. It can be very exciting and inspiring, even to people who don’t necessarily consider themselves religious.”

The band has a full-length album, “Against the Flow,” which will be released this month. The focus of the album, according to Hutchings, is to challenge people to think about their beliefs in a new way. “My hope is that it will challenge Christians to consider why they believe certain things and not form their religious opinions based on what they have been told about God from other people.

“Hopefully Against the Flow will help people find God in the moments of their lives. Whether it was through a struggle or a rejoicing moment, we all have moments where God reveals his true nature to us.”

Hutchings said the songs on the album either tell the stories of people who have experienced God in these moments or speak of looking at God in a new way to come to know Him more personally and fully.

Hancharik said the band tries to aim their music towards anyone who is open to it. “Our music is generally soft in sound but we like to think that it is still upbeat enough to appeal to youth. We like our lyrics to be young while still keeping the sense of the adult contemporary Christian music.”

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel of the First Presbyterian Church of Lyons hopes the concert on Feb. 10 has a good turnout.

“It’s not just for teenagers; it’s for families as well. I’m really excited for this. I like the idea that the music appeals to people of all ages,” she said.

Admission to the concert is free but Rev. Hummel will be taking a freewill offering to help pay for financing. Their album “Against the Flow” will also be available for sale.

- Wayne County Star

"Full Armor"

If you build it they will come. That's just what happened when high school student Doug Hutchings responded to his pastor's request to grow their youth ministry.

His Catholic church downstate set aside one service for teens, and Hutchings pulled together his musician friends to create a worship band. Now, every Sunday afternoon, they play upbeat Christian music to a growing parish, filled with more teens, youth and young adults - a demographic that's traditionally hard to reach.

The band, called Full Armor, also has taken its ministry on tour around the state and is promoting their first album, “Against the Flow.”

Although Skaneateles attracts a tantalizing flow of music, it's rare that it plays host to contemporary Christian worship concerts. But earlier this month, in the First Presbyterian Church's hall, the community was invited to a free concert featuring the inspiring and spiritually moving sounds of Hutchings' band.

Eyes closed, you'd never know the group, complete with a soul-piercing violin, consisted of college freshmen and high school sophomores. They were just a friendly, comfortable bunch of kids in T-shirts, jeans and sneaks - but with a message to share.

Besides going to school, Full Armor's members write music, lead Sunday worship and play concerts, all pretty much on their own. They all agree they are dependent on God for strength and energy, their gift of music and for direction in their lives. - Skaneateles Journal


Against the Flow - January 2007
This Day- May 2008



Full Armor lives up to its name
They look pretty much like any other group of kids in a band. They live and breathe their music. They sing of love and angst. But this band is different-the love and angst they sing of doesn’t mimic that of their peers. No, this is a Christian band, Full Armor, and the six young people who make up this band are spreading their love of God and belief in a positive world through their music.
Just over two years ago, Father Jim Hess, associate pastor at Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Middletown, approached Douglas Hutchings with the idea of providing music at the church’s 4:30 p.m. Sunday mass. He wanted the mass, which was not widely attended, to attract a younger group. Hutchings, who had been playing keyboards and singing for several years at another church with his best friend, vocalist Tara Lakeman, decided to put together a Christian band.
He found Kyle Hancharick, a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, at Burke Catholic High School. Their three voices blended into perfect harmonies. Matt Lee brought his soulful violin to the mix. Soon, Gus Morales found Full Armor. He heard the band at mass and loved their sound. He added electric guitar to the group. Matt Juliano, the youngest and newest addition to the group, keeps the beat beautifully on drums. Together, they bring their unique voices and talents together every week at this worship service.
Their sound is upbeat yet thoughtful. Their influences include Casting Crowns, Michael W. Smith, Chris Rice, and Jeremy Camp, but their style is all their own. While they cover many other artists, they have their own voice. The group released its first CD, Against The Flow, in January, 2007. The group’s new CD, This Day, will be released in April, 2008. Both discs are collections of original songs, written from their hearts, always with their eyes upward.
Full Armor has been an opening act for artists including Kelly Clarkson, Third Day, Toby Mac, Salvador, and Matt Maher. The band travels to many churches, providing music at services and concerts for all denominations. They focus on what unites Christians-their beliefs and values. Full Armor has played for many congregations, youth groups, and Christian coffee houses in the Hudson Valley area, as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut, and upstate New York.
The band gets its name from the Bible passage Ephesians 6:12-17. Paul dares us all to put on the full armor of God, to stand our ground and take up the shield of faith. This band of young adults does this every performance, every service, everyday-proud of their beliefs, joyful, and encouraging. Their songs are moving, thought-provoking, and inspiring. They give our youth hope. And they give hope to us.
The band continues to provide music at the 4:30 service at Mt. Carmel and the people have responded. Now, the pews are filled and their positive message of love and worship continues to find its audience.