With the release of his debut album Greater Things, Mack Brock officially stepped into an exciting new season as a solo artist. During his tenure with Elevation Worship, Mack co-wrote and led worship anthems like “Do It Again”, and while he’s no stranger to worship tours, the upcoming Heaven Tour is the first time he’ll be out on the road supporting his own disc. We caught up with Mack shortly after Greater Things dropped to discuss this release, living in a season of change, as well as the upcoming tour with Mosaic MSC, Cody Carnes, and Local Sound.
[WM] Hey Mack, loved what you shared for “Into Dust” Song Spotlight in the September issue, so thanks for joining us again!
[Mack Brock] Good to be here!
[WM] So your debut solo album “Greater Things” was released on September 14th. Although, there have been pre-release singles, the 14th is kind of like game day! What does this day and release mean to you?
[Mack] It’s a little bit weird because this whole process for the year has been just taking it really slow, you know? We recorded some songs, we released some songs, and even the process of recording this album has been new for me because I didn’t do it all at once. I took my time, wrote a lot of songs, and we’d get in the studio if something inspired us or we felt like we wanted to lay something down. That’s partially why we released singles the way we did – we wanted to get the songs that we were stoked about out into the world.
So now, releasing the album all together, it’s a little bit of a surreal experience for me. It’s been such an interesting year with the way the Lord has worked for me and my family, and this release is kind of like the culmination of that. When you’re in a process of transition and you’re trying new things, I find you’ll have monumental moments. Moments that you need to celebrate, moments where you need to take a step back and be grateful for. Whether it’s that you finish writing a song, let’s be grateful for that, or you got into the studio and recorded a song, let’s celebrate that. So, this is kind of like the culmination of all of those moments and that whole process throughout this year. I’m really excited about it!
[WM] When we did the Song Spotlight for “Into Dust”, you mentioned that Joshua 6 was really speaking to you and your family. Noting that “Do It Again” starts out, “Walking around these walls…” this scripture seems to be one that has really resonated through two key seasons in your life. Stepping into this new season as a solo artist, has your take on this scripture changed, and if so, how? And if not, what about it speaks to you most?
[Mack] I wouldn’t say that it’s changed over time, but maybe it’s just a heightened awareness about it, and a heightened awareness of what it’s like to be doing something that you feel like God told you to do. You have confirmation from the Lord that this is where you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to be doing, but you just don’t really know what it is yet or what the outcome is going to be. That scripture has been like a pillar for our family for several years now. We’re always in a season of being obedient to God. Sometimes that’s a really clear direct path, and sometimes you’re in a season where you’re like, “Man, I feel like God is leading me to this, I just don’t know what is on the other side but I’m going to trust him regardless.” That has been the kind of season that my family has been in this last year.
[WM] Chorus one of “Heart Wide Open”, starts out, “So I’m gonna worship with my heart wide open.” What are your thoughts on staying in the place of being not only open and vulnerable to God, but to the people around you, even in seasons where instinct might call us to clam up?
[Mack] I’m very much somebody who likes to clam up (laughs). I don’t like opening up, I’m an introvert and I like to keep all of my emotions locked up inside naturally. I think one of the things that God has been teaching me over the years is just the truth that God knows us – He created us. He knows everything about me, every depth of my heart and every part of my life. If He already knows it, I’m not going to pretend and I don’t have anything to hide. That’s where that comes from for me, I want to acknowledge that God knows me intimately, and chooses to love me. He knows everything about me and yet He still loves me more than anybody else. So just being in that open place and allowing ourselves when we’re in a worship experience and praising God, there is something powerful that happens when we mentally lower our walls and let God in. We don’t have to lower our walls, God’s already in and doing His thing, but when we acknowledge that we are going to surrender and be vulnerable to Him I think that’s when He can really transform our hearts.
[WM] In the “Greater Things” video on New Song Café, you talk about being under the covering of God’s umbrella. Can you tell us more about this analogy?
[Mack] The biggest thing for me, when you’re in any sort of transition, I think our society is super aware of what anxiety, stress, and depression can cause, and all of these things. I think it’s just a natural thing that we experience a lot, everybody can relate to that. What I’ve learned is that, every once in a while, I will get out from under that umbrella of God’s peace and God’s rest where you have trust and peace in God. I can look out from the umbrella and just get overwhelmed and rained on by stress and anxiety, or inadequacies and insecurities, whatever it might be. Then God has to move the umbrella back over my head. Whether he does it through his scripture and reading His word, or whether He does it through my communion and prayer life with Him. Or, if He does it through my relationships through a wife or friend that is speaking truth over me.
There are those times that rain may be falling on you, and you feel you are getting drenched by the weight of the world, but that’s not based in what God is and what God wants for us. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves of that.
[WM] What are some of the most valuable things you learned as a member of the Elevation Worship team that are serving you in this season?
[Mack] Man, too many things to list! I was a part of that church and ministry for over a decade. Those are formative years of my marriage and formative years as a worship leader. I think the biggest thing that I’m grateful for in that season was just learning how to read scripture and dig deep into God’s word. And then, how to take His word and the things He is teaching us and not only translate that into songs, but also translate it into the way that I lead worship and what that looks like.
[WM] You co-wrote “Christ Is Risen” with Phil Wickham as well as Brian Johnson, and you also toured with Phil on the Singalong tour. What was it like touring and playing songs for a record that had yet to come out?
[Mack] You know it’s always a little bit stressful when you’re in a new environment and just busting out a new song. But I think I’m a little bit used to it because when you’re a worship leader at a church you’re constantly introducing new songs to your church. The only difference is you get to then do it again the next week and again the week after that. I would say that it’s helpful in the sense that I really love getting to lead a song in a worship experience before I get into the studio, because you learn about what works or doesn’t work with the song by just playing it in a live setting. Maybe a chorus sounded awesome when I was singing it by myself but I’ll realize it doesn’t work and no one else wants to sing along with it (laughs). There are a lot of positives that come from doing a song that hasn’t been released yet. And I do love that song. it’s one of my favorites on the album. I think that song in particular has a very simple chorus that’s just a declaration we song over and over together “Hallelujah Christ is risen from the grave…” and so it’s little easier to catch onto than some other songs. So it wasn’t too nerve wracking.
[WM] You’re getting ready to head out on the road again, this time with Mosaic MSC, Cody Carnes, and Local Sound. Noting that this time the album will be out, this must be a pretty exciting tour for you. Can you tell us about your hopes and expectations?
[Mack] Yeah, I’m so excited just to be on tour with all of those people, it’s going to be such a blast and they are all so good at what they do. They’re such great worship leaders and atmosphere shifters. I’m really excited about the nights, I know they are going to be special. I’m also excited about leading some new songs from the record that I haven’t done live in the way that they were recorded. I’m looking forward to just trying new things and experimenting and seeing what works.
[WM] With the exception of the “Heart Wide Open” video, these days you are mostly seen playing a Gibson acoustic. But, in looking at your Instagram feed it would appear that you are a bit of a pedal fanatic – tell us about that?
[Mack] It’s kind of funny, I’ve always led worship with an electric guitar. I’ve always preferred that. I think traveling by myself; it’s a lot harder to lead when you’re on an electric. So, I’ve just had to get more accustomed to playing acoustic these days, which is a little out of my comfort zone but I enjoy it. My preference, if I were just to do everything the way I feel most comfortable, I’d rather stick with electric.
[WM] Will you be leading from electric on this tour?
[WM] What guitars will you be using?
[Mack] Elliott Guitars is a really killer guitar company based in North Carolina and I’ve become very close with them over the years. I have two Elliott guitars. One is the 357 which is the James Duke model, and then I’ve got the Halocaster, which is almost like a Tele with P90s in it. I’ll be bringing those out.
[WM] What else will be in your rig?
[Mack] When I travel I keep things pretty light. I might just have the Boss reverb, and then maybe the Strymon Timeline or something. I’ll keep it pretty simple, I don’t do a lot of crazy things on electric when I’m leading but I also just want to keep it pretty chill when I’m traveling.
[WM] You launched the @MackBrockMusic Facebook account on December 20th, 2017. That must have been exciting and weird at the same time. Can you tell us about that?
[Mack] This whole year has been full of exciting and weird things. A lot of stepping into something I’ve never done before and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Even growing up I was always in bands, and I’ve always done the group thing. Just releasing an album as Mack Brock is a little bit funky to me. But at the same time, I’m super grateful for it and excited about where the Lord has been leading me, and leading my family. We’re taking it one step at a time.
[WM] In one of your posts, you are actually leading worship at Facebook. How did that happen?
[Mack] I got asked at the last minute to come and lead. It was almost like a bible study church leadership summit that they were hosting at Facebook. Facebook had never really done anything like this before where they let people come in and host a Christian event. It was really special. It was with a lot of church leaders but a lot of Facebook employees are believers as well. There is something so interesting about it being the middle of the workday, I think it was eleven o’clock or something like that, and we were in a conference room in the middle of a bunch of offices and cubicles worshiping. I was so blessed to even just be there and be a part of that and see how God can just show up, and to feel like we were planting seeds there. To feel what happens when we worship on a campus, or in a room, and a seed is planted there and we don’t know what the fruit of that seed might look like in the coming months and coming years but it’s special to be a part of. I was just grateful to be there.
[WM] As a songwriter, you write in teams. Do your ideas start on your own, or as part of a collaborative process?
[Mack] I pretty much only write with other songwriters. I’ve always been a team person and I love collaborating. That was the one thing that I was nervous about with doing my solo stuff just because I want to do stuff with other people and I want to collaborate. Songwriting hasn’t really changed though in that respect, I’m still writing with other people.
A lot of times we’ll just get in a room and me or someone else will bring a theme. For example, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s book and she talks a lot about when your life turns to dust and what you do with that, and so I brought in that theme and we started throwing out ideas as to what that could look like and how could this turn into a song. Eventually it led to this chorus of “You’re the maker of my heart / You’re the healer of my scars / God I’ll trust in who you are / You are good You speak life into dust…” and that came out of us sharing our life experiences and sharing this central theme. A lot of songs come out that way.
[WM] Lysa’s book keeps coming up. I understand your wife works with her. Can you tell us how this book and relationship has impacted your family?
[Mack] Lysa has just been such a good friend to our family for the past several years; we love the TerKeursts and they have been such a blessing to us. My wife works directly with her and works with the Proverbs 31 ministry which Lysa runs. I feel like that whole ministry has made a big impact on our family in general, and being a part of that ministry and seeing what God is doing through that, what God is doing through my wife’s ministry, has encouraged our family so much, And, it’s also challenged me as a songwriter and as a worship leader in new ways. I could go on and on about how much we love that ministry, how much we love Lysa.
Specifically, with the book, there is a really powerful message in that book and I think it releases in October. I’m so excited to see that book get out into the world because it’s got a message for people who are going through seasons that are hard, and going through seasons that they weren’t expecting, that life wasn’t supposed to look like that, but that God will still use it and God is right in the middle of it with you. It’s going to be amazing to see the legs that that book carries and the word that it carries.
[WM] Speaking of your family, there is a photo of your Mom playing banjo. You obviously come from a musical family. Can you tell us about that and how it impacted you as a musician?
[Mack] My mom is awesome! Mary Brock – she’s a drummer, my dad is a pastor and she still plays drums every week at my dad’s church. I grew up playing music with her. She’s a good drummer, she hits the drums hard and aggressively, and she’s awesome. She didn’t want me to become a musician, because she was a musician and she knew how hard it was and how hard the life of a musician can be. But I was persistent and eventually convinced her to teach me some things and kind of started from there.
[WM] Worship leaders don’t just lead worship, they lead teams. What are some of the most important things that teams should do musically, spiritually, and culturally?
[Mack] I would say the biggest thing, if you are part of a worship team serving at your church, the best thing you can do is to remember that you are serving – serving your people, serving your congregation. Sometimes when we get in a crowd, and we get into a room full of people, we see it as a room of people and not as many individuals. To just remind yourself that these are people who each have a story and a history and to get to know them, spend time with the people in your church. Get to know who you are serving. That’s going to change your dynamic when you’re leading them in worship because there is a heart connection. You’re not just going to be playing these songs to a faceless crowd. You’re playing for the person in the second row because you know what their story is and what they are going through. It takes you to a whole other level of experiencing God in those moments.
[WM] When your write, do you tend to write from the ‘me perspective’, the ‘speaking to God perspective’, or the ‘speaking into perspective’ as it relates to the life of someone you know – or a combination of the above?
[Mack] I feel like it’s all of the above. Different themes will come up or different ideas. Sometimes it’s like, “This is what I’m going through and this is what I need to get out.” And sometimes, it’s about what a family member or a friend of mine is going through. Then a lot of times I love the vertical worship. I’ll catch myself sometimes and think I’m writing a lot of songs about the stuff that I’m going through and that I haven’t written any that are just declaring God’s glory and greatness and think I need to get back to that. So it’s all of the above.
[WM] Do you find that you work fast, need time for things to develop, or a combination of the two?
[Mack] Even that is a varied experience. Sometimes I’ll get in a session and we’ll have two hours together so we’ll write a song in two hours and feel great about it. Other times I’ll get into a songwriting session where we’ll throw out ideas and leave with maybe a portion of a chorus and it’ll take months of tweaking and rewriting. It’s kind of all over the place, even on this record. I’ve got some songs that came really fast that we barely tweaked on the back end. Then I’ve got other songs that we started six months ago and sat with forever, shot ideas back and forth forever, and then were even rewriting them while we were in the studio recording them and finalizing things. It’s kind of all over the place.
[WM] On your social feeds I noticed that you like to share what you are listening to. Who is on your playlist now?
[Mack] I listen to a lot of top 40 on Spotify and just see what’s coming out. There’s a songwriter called Benny Blanco that’s awesome who has a song called “East Side”. He’s a songwriter that has been writing for everybody for years and years and now he’s doing his own thing. I love Bon Iver. I love Kid Cudi. There’s a lot of Hip Hop stuff that I listen to. It’s kind of all over the place.
[WM] Thanks again for joining us Mack. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
[Mack] It’s my pleasure. I think the only other thing would be going back to what I said earlier, dig deep in your community. Wherever you are plugged in, plant yourself and get into the messy parts of all of the relationships there because that’s where you’re going to see so much fruit. That’s where you’re going to see God do amazing things. It’s so easy for us to go Sunday to Sunday, weekend to weekend, in and out and not even know what we’re a part of. So, I just want to challenge everybody to dig deep. God’s going to show up and it’ll be amazing.