Jars Of Clay rose to sudden prominence in May 1995 when their self-titled album became the first debut by a contemporary Christian act to achieve platinum status. The band was formed in 1993 by two friends from Greenville College in Illinois, USA, Dan Haseltine (12 January 1973, Rochester, New York, USA; vocals) and Charlie Lowell (b. 21 October 1973, Rochester, New York, USA; keyboards). With the addition of Stephen Mason (b. 8 July 1975, Decatur, Illinois, USA; guitar), Matt Bronleewe (guitar) and Scott Savage (touring drummer), they began playing the campus circuit. They won a competition for unsigned bands sponsored by the Gospel Music Association, and, with Matt Odmark (b. 25 January 1974, Rochester, New York, USA) replacing Bronleewe, signed a contract with Brentwood Musics Essential label. Buoyed by the success of the debut albums first single, Flood, Jars Of Clay became fixtures on MTV and played a series of support slots to Sting among 300 tour dates completed in 1996.
The bands second album, Much Afraid, was titled after one of the characters in Hannah Hurnards book Hinds Feet On High Places - a Christian allegory in which each of the characters plays a human emotion. The album, which was even more successful than their debut, was completed in London and Nashville and was produced by Steve Lipson (a former collaborator of Sting, Whitney Houston and Simple Minds). Their third album, 1999s If I Left The Zoo, was a challenging, dark-hued alt rock classic that was still a commercial success thanks to the loyalty of the bands Christian fanbase.
After a short hiatus, the band returned to live work with new drummer Joe Porter in tow. They returned to the studio to record their new album The Eleventh Hour, which was followed by a live DVD and a collection of acoustic material and live cuts. The experimentalism of the latter informed their subsequent studio recording, Who We Are Instead.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.