We kicked off January recording some acoustic sessions for our friends at UCB Unsigned, followed by events in Leeds and Salford. We also spent some time animating the visuals and filming our music video for the song "Fall Down" in Islington Mill. A combined effort between Jonathan, David and our friend Bruce Marshall who came and did the camera work. We also rounded off the month with a cosy living room worship night!
February saw the release of our Fall Down music video, along with a trip down to Devon where we made friends with the guys in Seaton who invited us for a youth event. We also had a Gather event with our friends from David's Tent as part of their DT tour. And finally a slightly crazy trip to Lindfield - a 6 hour drive there, and then another 6 hour drive straight back so we could be back in Manchester for church on Sunday morning! Although the long drives were worth it for a great night, and also for the fact that in our late night journey we had the "aha!" moment and came up with the name "Set Sail" for the new organisation we were planning on starting.
In March we played an acoustic session for The Message Trust's "Thursday Night Live" event, as well as took our living room worship sets on the road as we headed over to Wales for the weekend, and led 2 different living room nights there. It was also a great time of dreaming about what "Set Sail" could look like, as we spent time in a house by the sea, and going for walks as we spoke together about the vision for the organisation. We commemorated the occasion by buying a little wooden boat, which we've called 'Maureen'. She's become our Set Sail mascot, and still sits in the office.
In April we took a trip back to Ashburnham Place for a worship weekend, an extra special place for us because it's also where we recorded our last album "All Things New", so it was great to revisit the place and play the songs we recorded there. We also made our first trip to Spring Harvest, to play 2 after hours sets over two weekends. And towards the end of the month we set up in an old Manchester mill for the day to record our "Live at the Mill" sessions, with Nathan's brother Dan recording the audio for us, and our friend Duncan and his wife coming to film the sessions for us.
May was a big month for us. It was the month that Jonathan finished his job at The Message Trust to pursue doing Rivers & Robots and Set Sail full time, along with Nathan. At the same time, we released our Live at the Mill project, led worship at the first Pursuit event, and led worship at a worship and intercession event, Prayer Storm. It was an amazing month for hearing God's voice as well, not only in going full time, but also on our Philippines missions trip. It was a difficult time as God spoke some challenging words that seemed confusing at first as we each heard different things, but in the end it ended up opening even more doors to minister in the Philippines than originally planned and we each grew so much in learning how to follow God's leadership and take steps of faith, and that God always has a plan and a reason even if we don't understand it at the time.
June was the first time we've ever done 2 international trips in one month! We had an amazing time in the Philippines ministering in prisons, orphanages and churches around the country. There's too much to tell in one round-up but we did write a full post on that trip here. Less than a week later we also took a trip to Switzerland for a garden party event in the beautiful town of Steffisburg. It was a real blessing to be able to play there at a 24/7 prayer location that was opened up to the whole community, both christians and non-christians. It was also the official launch of Set Sail, as we started to do presentations at our churches about the vision and how we were going about it.
In July we played some more great UK events. Starting with Tuesday Night Live at the Message Trust, The Shift Weekend Away and All Saints church in Marple. We also did a little surprise set for our friend Matt's birthday. Matt and his wife Bethan have been a big friends of ours for the past few years, and Matt has also done some illustration work that you can see inside the All Things New CD artwork, and on the cover. We also released our "Intricately Woven" t-shirts which have been one of our fastest selling merch items yet!
Always a big month for us, August is festival season. We kicked off with CreationFest, and had a great week there leading worship for their youth tent, The Tube, plus a set on the mainstage. It was also the month of our favourite Gather event yet. We had our friends United Pursuit play at one of our favourite Manchester venues, The Deaf Institute. Then we headed off for a weekend at Rivercamp and one of our highlights every year, David's Tent.
September was a quieter month for us after all the travelling. We did an event at UCCF Forum which was a great opportunity to play for lots of the guys that run or attend christian unions in universities across the country, and also played at the first Sunday Club event in Poynton. It was a time of mostly writing and rehearsing our new songs, and Jonathan also spent some time investing in the Message Trust's first worship album, Message In A Bottle, which featured a couple of Rivers & Robots songs on it alongside some great songs from the writers at The Message. If you've not heard it yet, you can get it here.
We started off this month with our first band weekend away in a log cabin in Scotland. It was a great time to hang out, reflect and pray about the future. We really enjoyed having the time to pray and prophesy over one another, as well as exploring the stunning scenery! We also put plans in place for our next album, and ended the month with another living room Gather event with our friends from America who were visiting the UK as part of their 'Musicians for Missions' project.
It was all about Kickstarter in November. We launched the fundraising project on the 1st, announcing the album title and artwork at the same time. We wanted to raise the funds to produce this album on Vinyl, as well as to go the extra mile with recording and increase the budget for equipment and recording time. It was a nerve-wracking time watching the funds creep up throughout the month but we're glad to say that we made it, thanks to our fans and supporters that got behind the project. We also kicked off our first tour at the end of the month, starting with a David's Tent worship night in the centre of London which we loved being a part of!
In December we continued our tour across Germany, visiting Hannover, Münster, Dresden, Berlin and Cologne to play sets. We made loads of new friends and had the chance to play in lots of different churches. It was our first time putting a string of dates together like that and driving the whole thing, so it was a fun, but tiring experience! And a great way to round off a crazy year. We're now settling down for Christmas and gearing up for January when we start work on recording The Eternal Son, and starting the next chapter of the Rivers & Robots story.