A rising rock band is proud to call Oklahoma Christian University its alma mater. The Matt Stansberry Band, composed of all Oklahoma Christian alumni, recently finished its first international tour of Japan.
The band performed six concerts in four cities, including a final performance to a sold-out crowd in Kyoto, capital of Oklahoma's sister-state.
Lead vocalist and lead guitarist Matt Stansberry feels the Japanese tour has helped the band define its purpose.
"We strive to create an experience that is aimed at embracing people and connecting us to them and them to us," Stansberry said. "With our Japan tour, we've now taken that to an entirely new level, and once again, music is proving to be a truly universal language."
Bassist Denver Greene lived in Ibaraki, Japan, for a year following his graduation. He fell in love with the country and hoped to return someday.
"I dreamed up the tour last year in early April, after meeting and becoming friends with a promoter, Takanori Niida," Greene said. "After calling some friends and connections, the whole thing really began to take off once the ball initially began to roll."
Other members of the band include guitarist Chris Verner and Oklahoma Christian admissions counselor and drummer, Ben Tinius.
"We met in school and started with a friendship. We based that friendship around playing music together, but it also involved a lot more than music," Tinius said. "[Music] kept us connected in a way that we would have never had. It shaped the course of our lives, and hopefully, we can continue that."
The band has released three albums and has another set to debut this year. Their 2007 album, "Hall of Giants," was named in honor of a space in the former Enterprise Square where the band recorded their first project.
This album spawned extensive recognition in the Midwest, including positive press and radio play.
"It was neat to see different parts of the Midwest and meet different people," Tinius said. "It was a major inspiration to make us pursue markets outside the Midwest."
Their sold-out album release party in Oklahoma City led to a tour of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri.
They ended the tour with a performance in L.A. where they were nominated for "Best Group with Vocals" for Code Red and the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2007.
While in Japan, the group was featured as the main entertainment for an art show in Tokyo as well headlining at Y2K, a Tokyo live house.
The band also made their international radio debut with the title track to their next album, "We Want Change" on regular rotation for Mito radio.
Stansberry said he is blessed for the opportunity they had to share their music with the country of Japan.
"I feel like, to many of these people, we've left a positive impression on them and them on us," Stansberry said. "We are interacting with many people that I don't think we would have ever met if it wasn't for this situation we've been so blessed with."
Last Friday, The Matt Stansberry Band (MSB) played along with The Non on campus to benefit the Wishing Well Initiative, a student organization raising money and awareness to build fresh water wells in Africa.
Sophomore, Wil Norton, guitarist for The Non, enjoys being able to share a performance with MSB. "The MSB breaks off into wandering improvisational instrumental jams, and I think that it's in these free-floating parts that they really shine," Norton said. "Matt Stansberry is an incredible guitar player, and he has a really distinct soloing style."
Some of the band's greatest musical achievements include: Winner of the 3rd Annual Oklahoma State Fair Battle of the Bands (2004), Showcased at the Heart of Texas Music Festival during South by Southwest in Austin (2007), Showcased at DFest in Tulsa (2006) and Semi-Finalists for the Independent Music World Series (2006).
"As long as I keep hearing songs in my head and I feel that there is an audience that needs to hear them, I'm going to keep making music, because I'm not in this to try to become a rock star. I've been called to do this, at least for now," Stansberry said.