Relient K. Different generations will see different things in that name. Those who were teens or adults in the 80’s will say, “Oh, cute little car” or something to that effect, followed closely by, “But they spelled it wrong.” Some will say, “Huh?” Others (mostly Gen Y-ers) will exclaim, “I love that band!” or perhaps “Sadie Hawkins Dance!”
Relient K is a band that has been around almost ten years now. A punk rock band with a happy feel somewhat uncharacteristic of the genre, they were named after the Plymouth Reliant K, which was the guitarist’s car. Yes, it was intentionally misspelled; no one wanted copyright infringement. They started out humbly in Canton, Ohio, 5 teens who had known each other for years. Lead singer Matthew Thiessen, who also plays guitar and keyboard in the band, along with several other instruments, is definitely the life of the group. Wacky, fun, and charismatic, the blonde 27 year old’s personality is reflected in the band’s songs, of which he is the primary writer. Songs such as “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, the humorous tale of a guy getting a date to the dance, have become legendary classics among the fans, played at most if not every concert. Even Christmas gets their comical attention, as evidenced by their 2 Christmas albums, Deck the Halls and Bruise Your Hand and Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer.
The band does not classify themselves as Christian, rather as Christians in a rock band, much akin to the Jonas Brothers. Despite that, many of their songs, mixed into fun and thoughtful mainstream music, are direct worship songs or challenges against a complacent and sinful life. “What Have You Been Doing Lately”, a heavy, loud rock melody, rebukes fallen away believers with the words, “What happened to the salvation you claimed? It breaks my heart to see how much you’ve changed. “Down in Flames” lashes out at the selfish and arrogant feuding between Christian denominations with the view that it will bring about our destruction. “Give”, “These Words Are Not Enough”, and the acoustic “Getting Into You” are a few of their wonderful worship songs whose lyrics give me chills.
Relient K is a fantastic influence on the teen and young adult crowd that makes up its fan base. Many of their fans are not Christians, yet they get ehat could be a soul-saving dose of Christ thrown into their fun, as well as challenges to live well no matter their religion. “Marilyn Manson Ate my Girlfriend” is a whimsical look at girls caught up in today’s raunchy patterns of behavior. “Forgiven” talks about bitterness and holding grudges.
For girls (and guys, I guess), Relient K is not without romance. “Best Thing” tells how precious his girl is to him (“we should get jerseys cause we make a good team. Yours would look better than mine because you’re out of my league.”). “My Girl’s Ex Boyfriend” sings how grateful he is to his girlfriend’s ex, because all of his happiness is owed to how blind the ex was to the girl’s value.
Relient K is spinning a very positive message. They have come along way from their humble beginnings and “K Car”, their ode to their namesake. Six albums from the start, they have only two original members remaining. The others have been skillfully replaced by others who can also rock it and haven’t modified the group’s sound. It tells you something about the strength of a band when their makeup can change so much without affecting their fan base. Undoubtedly, Matt Thiessen is the backbone of the group, but a backbone is pretty useless without a body.
Bottom line: Try out Relient K! Even if you don’t become a fan, you’ll be amused. Who knows? You may find yourself knowing the significance of the squirrel, Youtube and Woodland Forest, the 80’s, and Sadie Hawkins’ “Oh, oh, oh!”, in which case you could be considered a loyal fan.