One Kingdom: Mission through music
Nicholas Rickard’s first ever gig with One Kingdom, in a Melbourne pub, ended in prayer with a disillusioned former worship leader.
The hard rock band’s thumping set had been audible from the adjoining establishment, and the guy had caught their riffs and sensed something different about what he was hearing. Intoxicated but intrigued, he entered the pub where he later approached the One Kingdom boys and shared his story with them. They then had the opportunity to pray with him.
This is the kind of music-as-mission that vocalist Nick hopes to see more of as One Kingdom develops their sound. He never intended to make music for Christians – rather, he’s wary of being pigeonholed in the Christian music genre because his aim is to reach a wider audience.
At the same time, Christ is never far from the songs he performs. “I want to play music for a purpose, to share my faith,” he says.
With little in the way of Christian heavy bands in the Australian music scene, Nick believes One Kingdom have found a niche and now have the line-up to seize the opportunity.
Years earlier, he had been part of a few short-lived bands, but faced a number of obstacles as he chased a career in music. He was never able to fully express his faith in bands where the other members didn’t understand or share his convictions. Meanwhile, his Christian friends weren’t into the same genres.
So at 21, Nick shelved his musical aspirations, got married and started his own landscaping business.
A few years later, personal tragedy put Nick face to face with his own humanity and emotions.
He had long struggled to connect meaningfully with his emotions. Describing his Christian, nuclear family upbringing as “positive”, Nick couldn’t understand why he still experienced negative feelings.
But when his older brother took his own life, things came into relief. He had been a crucial presence in Nick’s life, and Nick owed much of his early musical education to his brother’s Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden records.
The grieving process taught Nick that “God wants us to be emotional.”
This loss liberated him to tap into both the positive and negative sides of the human condition, acknowledging and channeling them through music. Although he had taken keyboard lessons as a kid and later played drums, Nick saw a gap in the industry for hardcore singers, so he studied “screamo” techniques and developed as a vocalist.
He names Faith No More, and their frontman Mark Patton, as his greatest inspiration. The legendary band’s diverse, genre-fusing repertoire and Patton’s vocal capability are elements Nick hopes to see in One Kingdom learn from.
When guitarist Troy Dixon advertised for a vocalist for the band, Nick admits the band’s musical catalogue at the time “wasn’t his cup of tea”. But he loved One Kingdom’s mission: to know Jesus and make Jesus known. It’s a commitment that each member of the band has made to invest in a deep personal relationship with Jesus, so that they can then share him with their audience.
Over time, as the band worked on new songs, the collaboration between the boys began to take One Kingdom’s music in new directions. With Troy and drummer Phil Peters nutting out riffs and licks and sending them to Nick for his lyrical input, One Kingdom were able to launch their second EP, Science of Change, in 2016. The five tracks embody the melodic sensibility of late ‘90s Nu Metal bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, with its edgy and energetic instrumentation. The redemptive narrative of Nick’s lyrics add light and shade, reaching out from the depths of despair and struggle to future hope and trust in a God who is good and able.
Having welcomed a new bassist, Dom Masculo, in 2016, One Kingdom are looking to produce more tracks together, experimenting and incorporating the sound and experience that each band member brings.