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Sanctus Real

Sanctus Real in 2008
Background information
Origin Toledo, Ohio, USA
Genres Christian alternative rock, Christian rock, power pop
Years active 1996–present
Labels Sparrow Records
Matt Hammitt
Chris Rohman
Pete Prevost
Dan Gartley
Mark Graalman
Former members
Steve Goodrum
Matt Kollar

Sanctus Real is an American Christian rock band formed in Toledo, Ohio, in 1996. The group is composed of Matt Hammitt (lead vocalist, guitar), Chris Rohman (lead guitar), Dan Gartley (bass), Pete Prevost (guitar), and Mark Graalman (drums). The band is best known for their number 1 singles "Beautiful Day" (a U2 cover), "Everything About You", "The Fight Song", "I'm Not Alright", "Don't Give Up" and "We Need Each Other". They have released a total of four albums through Sparrow Records.

Sanctus Real formed in 1996, and the band released three independent albums over five years. After signing with Sparrow Records in 2002, the group released their major label debut, Say It Loud, at the end of the year. In June 2004 it was followed by Fight the Tide, which garnered a GMA Dove Award win in 2005, and two singles that charted at number 1 on Christian radio, according to R&R magazine. The band's third album, The Face of Love, was released in April 2006. The single "I'm Not Alright" received a GMA Dove Award nomination in 2007.

Their fourth album, We Need Each Other (2008), was recorded in late 2007 and released in February. It received a Grammy Award nomination and spawned the single "We Need Each Other". Sanctus Real released their fifth studio album in March 2010, titled Pieces of a Real Heart. The band's music incorporates a modern alternative rock style, and has evolved from power pop to a more melodic and guitar-driven sound.



In 1996, lead singer and guitarist Matt Hammitt met guitarist Chris Rohman while they were tenth graders attending Toledo Christian School in Ohio.[1][2] They led youth worship at their school and church, and began writing their own music that year.[3][4] Drummer Mark Graalman and bassist Matt Kollar soon joined, forming the band's original line-up.[1][5] The group performed their first concert for several friends in the back of a warehouse in December 1996.[4] They released a six-track demo tape in August 1997,[6] and a five-track EP titled All This Talk of Aliens in January 1998.[4][6]

Sanctus Real's full-length studio album Message for the Masses was released on June 18, 1999,[6] and shortly afterward, bassist Matt Kollar was replaced by Steve Goodrum.[1] Following Message for the Masses, which was recorded in a garage, the band made plans to record tracks at a major studio. To earn money for the endeavor, Hammitt and Goodrum took telemarketing jobs for a few months, which were difficult and described by Hammitt as "the most dreadful [jobs] ever".[7] They recorded three songs with producer Skidd Mills in Memphis, Tennessee, and after winning a local radio contest, decided to record an entire independent album with Mills. It was completed in 2000 under the title Nothing to Lose, and the band attended 2001's Gospel Music Week in Nashville to distribute copies of the project.[3][7]

From 1996 to 2001, Sanctus Real toured areas of the United States, and also sent demos to several Christian and mainstream record labels.[3] After they received multiple recording contract offers in 2001, the band decided to sign with Sparrow Records. Matt Hammitt said, "At that point, we really had to do some soul searching and figure out where it was we were supposed to be ... Ultimately, we knew we could relate to kids in the church. We are passionate about our faith ... [and] from our personal experience, we felt this was the place we were supposed to be."[4]


Say It Loud

Toward the end of 2002, before releasing their first non-independent album, Sanctus Real performed as an opening act on the Festival Con Dios tour.[3] The band also guested on Bleach's first headlining tour, the We Are Tomorrow tour, in December 2002.[8] Sanctus Real's major label debut, Say It Loud, was then released in December 2002, through Sparrow Records.[9] The album was produced by former Grammatrain lead vocalist Pete Stewart.[10] Sanctus Real began touring again in February 2003 as a guest band on the See Spot Rock Tour, with Relient K, the O.C. Supertones, Pillar and John Reuben.[11]

Fight the Tide

Lead vocalist Matt Hammitt performing at Taylor University in April 2004

The band recorded a cover of U2's song "Beautiful Day" for the compilation album In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa, which was released at the beginning of 2004.[12] The track reached number 1 on R&R magazine's Christian rock chart in 2004, becoming their first chart-topping single.[13] "Beautiful Day" also received a GMA Dove Award nomination for Modern Rock Song of the Year in 2004.[14]

In February 2004, the band went back in studio to record their second album;[15] almost all of the tracks were written in the previous month.[16][17] It was recorded in six weeks with producer Tedd T,[17] and soon released under the title Fight the Tide in June 2004.[18] The lead single "Everything About You" was released in mid-2004, and by September it had stayed at number 1 on R&R's Christian rock chart for six consecutive weeks.[13] The song was later featured on the X 2006 compilation album in 2005.[19] In September 2004, Sanctus Real launched their first headlining tour, the Fight the Tide Tour.[13] The tour featured guest bands Hawk Nelson, Seven Places and Ever Stays Red, and traveled through more than 25 cities.[13]

After being nominated in late 2004, Fight the Tide won the GMA Dove Award for "Modern Rock Album of the Year" in early 2005.[20] Released near the beginning of the year, "The Fight Song" was Sanctus Real's next single, and in May 2005 it reached the top of R&R's Christian rock chart, becoming the band's third number 1 song.[21] In April 2005, bass player Steve Goodrum left the band and was replaced by Dan Gartley, a previous touring member of Relient K. Gartley played his first concert with Sanctus Real at the Agape Festival in May 2005.[21]

The Face of Love

Bassist Dan Gartley in June 2006

Sanctus Real's third main studio album, The Face of Love, was released in April 2006.[22] The album's first single was "I'm Not Alright" which became a number 1 song on Christian contemporary hit radio (CHR), as reported by R&R magazine.[23] It was also the third most played song of 2006 on Christian radio formats.[23] In early 2007, the band received two GMA Dove Award nominations: "Rock Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year" for "I'm Not Alright" and "Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year" for The Face of Love.[24][25] Following the album's release, Pete Prevost became the fifth member of Sanctus Real as an additional guitarist.[26]

The album's second single, "Don't Give Up", was released in the beginning of 2007, and by May it became the band's fifth number 1 track by placing at the top of R&R's Christian CHR chart.[27] At the end of 2006 they were named the most-played artist of the year on R&R's Christian CHR chart.[28] The title track "The Face of Love" was also a radio single. Sanctus Real launched another headlining tour in April 2007, The Face of Love tour, featuring Needtobreathe and This Beautiful Republic.[29]

We Need Each Other

In August 2007, Sanctus Real returned to the studio to record a fourth album, which was finished by the end of the year.[30] In November 2007, the album was originally slated for release under the title Turn On the Lights, the name of a track on the album.[31] It was later changed to We Need Each Other, and was released in February 2008, through the Sparrow Records label.[32] The title track "We Need Each Other" was released earlier as the album's lead single in November 2007.[33] The song stayed at number 1 on R&R's Christian CHR chart for five consecutive weeks by February 2008,[34][35] and it was 2008's eighth most-played song of the year in the same format.[36]

During early to mid 2008, Sanctus Real guested on Third Day's headlining tour,[37] and that year they also appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Two more singles from We Need Each Other were released: "Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly)" in early 2008, and "Turn On the Lights" in August 2008. Later in the year, the band launched their own two-month We Need Each Other Tour in the United States, passing through 16 states and over 30 cities;[38] the tour featured guest appearances from VOTA, Tenth Avenue North and speaker Sammy Adebiyi.[38] In 2009, We Need Each Other received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album.[39]

Pieces of a Real Heart

In mid November 2009, Matt Hammitt announced on Twitter that Sanctus Real finished recording their fifth album. The first radio single was titled "Forgiven", and peaked at #6 on the Hot Christian Songs chart.[40] On December 2, 2009, the band announced on Twitter and Facebook that they narrowed the final album name down to two options: A Million Hearts and Pieces of a Real Heart, and held a public vote for one hour. Shortly after, it was confirmed that the title Pieces of a Real Heart would be chosen. The album was released on March 9, 2010 via Sparrow Records.[19][41]

Musical style

Sanctus Real's main genre is typically labeled as Christian rock and alternative CCM.[1] Their first three independent albums were described by Allmusic as power pop.[1] Say It Loud was characterized by increased guitars and a powerful modern rock style.[3] Their second release, Fight the Tide, was described as "melodic power rock" with similarities to Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Switchfoot, U2, and PFR.[42] The band's music on The Face of Love blended the styles from their previous two albums, evolving into less of a heavier rock sound.[1] With We Need Each Other, lead singer Matt Hammitt noted that he "just pushed the limits of what I can do vocally" during some songs, "whether it be on a soft, kind of rustic sounding vocal or whether it be this overdriven, rock high-range kind of vocal."[26]


Current members
  • Matt Hammitt – lead vocalist
  • Chris Rohman – guitar
  • Pete Prevost – guitar
  • Dan Gartley – bass
  • Mark Graalman – drums
Former members
  • Matt Kollar – bass
  • Steve Goodrum – bass




  1. ^ a b c d e f Steve Leggett. "Sanctus Real > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  2. ^ Blake Garris (December 15, 2001). "Sanctus Real, "Nothing To Lose" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Russ Breimeier. "Sanctus Real – Say It Loud". Christianity Today. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d David Jenison. "Sanctus Real:A League of Its Own [page 2]". CCM Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  5. ^ Yonke, David (December 7, 2006). "Sanctus Real Throws a Party". The Blade (Toledo, Ohio).,1739333. Retrieved August 1, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c " – discography". Archived from the original on October 17, 2000. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b David Jenison. "Sanctus Real: A League of Its Own [page 3]". CCM Magazine. Retrieved June 22, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Music News: December 2002". Jesus Freak Hideout. December 30, 2002. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  9. ^ Blake Garris (December 8, 2002). "Sanctus Real, "Say it Loud" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  10. ^ John DiBiase (June 15, 2004). "Sanctus Real, "Fight the Tide" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Music News: November 2002". Jesus Freak Hideout. November 28, 2002. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  12. ^ "In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d Sparrow Records (September 8, 2004). "Sanctus Real embarks on first headlining Tour Sept. 24, features Seven Places, Hawk Nelson". Press release. Retrieved September 4, 2009. 
  14. ^ David Jenison. "Sanctus Real: A League of Its Own". CCM Magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Music News: February 2004". Jesus Freak Hideout. April 27, 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Getting Real With Sanctus". Christianity Today. August 30, 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b "Sanctus Real – Biography, Interviews, and Music Interviews". Retrieved June 27, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Sanctus Real – Fight the Tide". Billboard. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  19. ^ a b "Sanctus Real Discography". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  20. ^ Kim Jones. "36th Annual GMA Dove Awards Winners". Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b Sparrow Records (May 28, 2005). "Sanctus Real Delivers 3rd Radio Hit, Announces Lineup Change". Press release. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  22. ^ John DiBiase (March 29, 2006). "Sanctus Real, "The Face of Love" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  23. ^ a b Sparrow Records (May 19, 2006). "Alright! Sanctus Real Charts 4th No 1 Radio Single". Press release. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  24. ^ Kim Jones. "38th Annual GMA Dove Awards Album of the Year Nominees & Winners". Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  25. ^ Kim Jones. "38th Annual GMA Music Awards – Songs of the Year Nominees & Winners". Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  26. ^ a b "Sanctus Real Biography". Christianity Today. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  27. ^ Sparrow Records (May 8, 2007). "Sanctus Real No 1 At Radio With 'Don't Give Up'". Press release. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  28. ^ "2006 Year End Chart: Top Christian CHR Artists". R&R. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Sanctus Real Goes No 1 Again". EMI/ May 7, 2007. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Sanctus Real in Studio, Preparing for Tour". August 28, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Sanctus Real Release New Single ‘We Need Each Other’". Soul Shine Magazine. November 1, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Sanctus Real – We Need Each Other". Billboard. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  33. ^ "Sanctus Real Release New Single ‘We Need Each Other’". Soul Shine Magazine. November 1, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  34. ^ "Sanctus Real's We Need Each Other Releases Today!". February 12, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  35. ^ "Sanctus Real Lands Sixth No. 1 Radio Single, 'We Need Each Other'". February 1, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 
  36. ^ "2008 Year End Charts: Top Christian CHR songs". R&R. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  37. ^ Sparrow Records (March 5, 2008). "Sanctus Real Begins Tour with Third Day On March 6, 2008". Press release. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  38. ^ a b "Sanctus Real Headlines Fall 2008 "We Need Each Other" Tour". Jesus Freak Hideout. August 7, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  39. ^ "51st Annual Grammy Awards Nominations List". Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Sanctus Real Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  41. ^ "JFH News Shorts For Wednesday December 2, 2009". Jesus Freak Hideout. December 2, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 
  42. ^ Russ Breimeier. "Sanctus Real – Fight the Tide". Christianity Today. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 

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