Interview with planetboom
Q&A with Andy Harrison, Josh Ham, Noah Walker and Aimee Walker.
Published on 04 August 2020
Pioneering the next generation of Planetshakers music, the planetboom band is passionate about encountering God, seeking His Presence and working to change culture through relevant, cutting-edge music.
Comprised of young musicians, songwriters and vocalists, the planetboom band leads young people in praise and worship every week, championing the Planetshakers mandate of, “Empowering generations to win generations”.
Pastor Andy Harrison, Josh Ham and Noah and Aimee Walker were interviewed to capture the ‘heart’ behind the planetboom band.
How did it all begin for the planetboom band?
Andy HarrisonThe planetboom band is an extension of our church— Planetshakers Church— and its music. Our Senior Pastor, Russell Evans, was the one who first saw the potential of the new sound that was emerging from our planetboom youth ministry.
It really all began when Josh and I wrote the song, New Levels, for our annual planetboom camp in 2017. Stylistically, there was an understanding between us that there would be no limitations to Josh’s creativity to pen new songs. Astoundingly, such collaborations that involved me prompting ideas and Josh bringing the creative direction, birthed many of our planetboom songs.
Unbeknown to us at the time, God was busy growing and building the team He desired to use. At that same camp, He was raising Aimee up in worship leading, and downloading song ideas into her spirit. It was also a significant time in Noah’s life as he came back to the Lord and had an encounter with God that altered his life forever. Approximately 8 months later, Jesus Over Everything was written, with Noah leading the spoken word parts in that song.
The songs that have been coming out of planetboom are loved by many and described as, “edgy, ‘forward’ in style, anointed and powerful”. How do you come up with these songs? What is the creative process?
Josh Ham Intrinsic to the process of writing songs is a strong belief that we must speak the ‘language of the day’ in order to be relevant and captivate the attention of young people. We want to dive into their worlds and be part of their ‘spheres’, creating songs that are anointed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We draw inspiration from hip hop, dubstep, electronic music— but transform it into a new sound that they will listen to, love and enjoy. What sets our songs apart is that they carry the Presence of God.
Andy Harrison Style-wise, convincing young people to change their music taste, whilst teaching them to praise, is a pointless battle. Being a Christian is not about changing the style of music you listen to, but changing your values and beliefs. So we want to invade that world with a similar style of music, but produce a sound that is ‘redeemed’. We believe creativity comes from God and when we take inspiration from these styles, it is not glorifying that which is secular. Our mission is to saturate the air waves with new songs and lyrics that are anointed by Holy Spirit. If our music connects with young people, the message in these songs—Godly declarations and Bible verses— will resonate louder and invoke passionate worship.
Ps Andy, you are a Youth Pastor, band member, songwriter and now, a book author! Was the idea for the book, Jesus Over Everything, birthed out of the song or vice versa?
Andy HarrisonThere was no grand plan to write a book. This idea for the book came from a prayer walk where God told me to speak about the idols of our generation that challenge the place of true worship. At first, I thought it was a great message to share at our planetboom Friday night meeting, but God placed it on my heart to write a book. This book is an augmented version of the song, Jesus Over Everything, breaking down the message in further detail. In fleshing out the writing of this book, I discovered that a huge part of the message was coming from all the planetboom songs that we have written for our youth ministry along the way. Then it dawned on me that the book should go hand- in- hand with the songs; an encouragement to our young people to not just listen to these songs, but live these messages out loud in their worlds.
The planetboom band debuted at a Planetshakers Conference in Manila, 2019. How did it feel to lead 17,000 people in worship?
Aimee Walker The Philippines is a beautiful country with very passionate people, so the atmosphere became electric as soon as we invited them to praise and worship. Their pure, true and passionate worship was undeniable and in response, God moved. When we sang the song, Jesus Over Everything, the anointing of the Holy Spirit was thick and the Presence of God was felt so tangibly. It was an incredible and powerful experience.
Noah Walker Leading up to these Asia conferences, I felt overwhelmed and in awe to be invited to be a part. I was young and unsure of myself, yet God chose me and gave me this honour of being able to reach different countries and cultures. I saw first-hand, the reach and influence of the Planetshakers ministry and songs— far beyond what we do here in Melbourne, Australia.
Andy Harrison Jesus Over Everything was a declaration we made as a youth ministry, over our individual lives and stories, through different seasons. To see that song sung in a different country, such as The Philippines, was so powerful as we echoed this declaration and powerful statement, across nations.
How did it make you feel seeing this next generation of worshippers leading in the Philippines?
Andy Harrison As a youth pastor, my favourite moment is when I get an opportunity to pour into these young people and see them fruitful for the Kingdom of God. This is far greater than being used myself— seeing the overflow of my life and ministry. Perhaps this is what it means when a father says to his children, “Stand on my shoulders! Be empowered by God to win your generation”. After all, this is the Planetshakers mandate of, “Empowering Generations to Win Generations”. As a songwriter and pastor, I am in awe of the far-reaching impact of these songs as they minister to people— even those that I have never met.
Josh Ham At first, I was so nervous on their behalf, but as soon as the first song started, I got completely lost in worship. There was no distinction between the bands, or focus on the individual band members themselves, but it was merely a time to join in together and bring our unrestrained worship of our great God. It was just an incredible encounter and I could not be any prouder of the planetboom Band.
How do you discover and develop gifts and talents in young people?
Andy Harrison A big part of this is daring to take risks as you look out for the talents and gifts in them. Ultimately, it is seeing the hand of God upon their life, despite the fact that their talents are still undeveloped. I remember asking Noah (after a prayer meeting) if he could rap, thinking that he would be great to do the spoken word for the song, Jesus Over Everything. Though having never tried it before, and being nervous, Noah said, “yes”, and once he tried it, I could see the anointing of God upon his life. Most of the time, their gifts are undeveloped in them because they are young. It’s important to note that their gifting doesn’t need to be polished and perfect; our goal is finding people that have been picked by God. You soon discover that working with ‘potential’, brings such fun times. How exciting to be part of the development process and journeying them to be all that God has called them to be.
Josh Ham I remember the story of discovering Jarryd Verdan, our guitarist. He shook like a leaf (while smiling non-stop) when it was his first time on stage as part of the band, at one of our planetboom meetings. It was a journey for me of trusting and releasing him into his destiny, and now, it is so rewarding to see him carry God’s anointing and skillfully play to the Lord. I have seen his confidence grow and watched him operate in his gifts as he leads young people into the Presence of God.
Josh, you are a very talented songwriter and DJ, but more well known as the Planetshakers bass player. When did you start playing the bass and how did you become so skillful at it?
Josh Ham When I was very young, my dad bought a bass guitar for himself and went for lessons. He came back after one of those lessons and taught me what he had learnt. I picked it up straight away and in his amazement, he gave me his bass and sent me off to take the lessons instead. I understood that I was entrusted with this gift from God, so I decided to play every Sunday at church and every Friday at youth group. My consistent, “yes”, to God, and constant surrender of this gift to God, has opened up great opportunities. Now I get to be part of the Planetshakers and planetboom bands!
It must be such an honour to tour and worship together with people from different backgrounds and nationalities. With that said, what are some of the challenges you face when touring?
Aimee Walker My desire is for people to encounter God and to open up their hearts to Him. This high expectation is because I know that when each one opens up their heart, they will experience and fully receive from God. My role is to keep focusing on God and inviting them to do the same. It is beautiful to see them journey closer to God and become completely surrendered to Him, but not everyone accepts this invitation.
Noah Walker Different cultures and people have their own expressions of worship. Taking them through the journey of the whole worship set is sometimes challenging, but it is rewarding when you see them opening up their hearts as we carry a ‘breakthrough anointing’. I remember once seeing the crowd fully unaware of what was going on and just talking amongst themselves, even though we were giving our all in praise and worship. However, as soon as the worship leader began to speak, their gaze was affixed in awe of God— focused on God. This is the power of operating in our authority and relying on His anointing.
For any new or aspiring praise and worship leaders, can you share a few tips in building your confidence in leading?
Noah Walker Sometimes young people want to attain success or realise their dreams without any challenges. But we know that there is a process that needs to take place. When we lay everything down and seek God first, then the rest will be added to you, as written in Matthew 6:33. My continual, “yes”, to God, lighted up the path and destiny that God had for me, one step at a time.
Aimee Walker If you are a young person leading praise and worship in any church service, the main key is believing what you are singing. God has given us the authority to sing these powerful songs— declaring the truth— and when we do, atmospheres break open. Take your eyes off your own abilities and talents, and turn them towards the One that is worthy of all of your affection.
What is next for the planetboom band?
Andy HarrisonA brand new planetboom album is coming out, hopefully in early 2021. During this challenging season that is plaguing the world, God is still continually downloading new songs. We are excited to release these songs to bring hope and light as we lift up the Name of Jesus. Our desire is to travel around Australia, bringing an awakening of praise in a generation of young people attending youth ministries around our own nation. But make no mistake, when restrictions lift, we very much look forward to returning to international touring!