Big Daddy Weave : 2004-04-27I enjoyed interviewing four of the members of Big Daddy Weave during GMA week in Nashville. The interviewees were Mike Weaver, lead vocals; Jeremy Redmon, electric guitar; Jay Weaver, bass; and Jeff Jones, drums.
Randy: Mike--this one's for you. It's very strange. Brought to you by the letter "J." You're surrounded by guys whose names start with "J." You've got engineers whose names start with "J," you've got second engineers whose names start with "J." You've got PR people who start with "J." What's with the "J" thing?
Mike: You know, I don't know. Jesus is Lord, too. So I'm not sure. It is pretty uncanny, though, how it happens. I thought about just adding a "J" on my name and being "Jmike" (Jamica). It's kind of an ethnic thing. I really was sort of wanting to be black anyway, someday, because I think there's more soul there definitely.
Randy: I'm not sure how you'd look with dreds, though.
Mike: Yeah, but we could tie them in somehow and that would be the weave. So it's like a Big Daddy Weave.
Randy: One thing that stood out to me on the first CD was the uniqueness of throwing in the sax and just having a little different sound on there. As far as musically you guys have been together for quite a while as the group is constituted now, or did it kind of evolve with the brothers-you've been together longer than the rest of them. But, talk a little bit about how you came up with the sound that's now Big Daddy Weave.
Mike: Absolutely. I think it just really kind of came from who was there. You know, because this is still the group we really started with. There was one immediate change. We had a different drummer in the beginning and then it was actually just a four-piece. But then, just really shortly after the beginning we swapped drummers and our drummer at the time went back home to Illinois. Jeff took on the position a little after Jeremy had already come on board. So it's been this way for about...5 1/2 years maybe? This lineup has been pretty straight up. And it's cool, because after this long of playing together I think that's what makes the sound kind of gel. I think also, you know, you just have kind of a family thing going on.
Randy: Of course, you've got that in a more literal sense with your brother. Did you did that old singing in church kind of thing when you were eight years old?
Mike: Totally. I think everybody actually did. Everyone was kind of separately doing that thing.
Randy: What was it like being involved musically with your brother from a young age?
Jay: It's been awesome and the thing is, actually he's almost four years older than I am. He started playing music when he was twelve, just like I did, but he started four years earlier obviously because he is four years older. I was playing baseball, sports, all the other little kid things. I used to make fun of him. "My brother's kind of a wimp. He stays inside and just plays music." Then one day, out of the blue he just came up to me and was just like, "Hey, man, you should think about playing the bass." And I was like, "What's bass?"
Randy: Thought second base, third base?
Jay: Yeah, I stand on first base a lot. But it was really awesome. I just starting playing and then it became a passion. Not a hobby as a lot people look at it, but just a passion. We've been singing in church for a long, long, long time. It's been about what? Since we were eight or nine years old?
Mike: Literally after playing bass for two months, he's been in bands with me ever since. He just hopped right in. He was just a natural.
Randy: All right Jeremy, your turn. You've been sitting there patiently. Why don't you tell us who you are, what you play, and how long you've known the Weavers.
Jeremy: Well, I'm Jeremy Redmon and I play electric guitar.
Randy: And you're Matt Redman's little brother, right? You grew up in England and lost the accent somehow?
Jeremy:Yeah, a few years in the South took care of that! We all kind of met at the University of Louisville. Except those guys growing up together. They met before they played. I guess Jeff and I were the first ones that met at the University of Louisville. My first year was his last year in college. He's the grandpa of the group.
Jay: Sometimes we call him Mee-Maw Jones.
Jeremy: This is true. We had played in some bands together whether in school or outside of school. It was actually kind of interesting because one of the bands we were playing, we actually played at a campus event at the school that ironically these guys and a couple other guys were playing at. That's actually about the first time we met that we rehearsed. It was them opening up for us which is kind of funny now. But, it was a cool bond right from the beginning. We just immediately became friends. I would often be Mike's excuse to get out of class sometimes to grab some lunch or something like that. It would be my lunch break, but it would be his class time.
Randy: Smart about that.
Mike: I never really liked music theory that much anyway.
Randy: Had no future in it right?
Jeremy: You can't make money in music. But anyway, that's kind of how we met. We just sort of started coming together. The rest is history.
Randy: I'll get back to you, but I've got to give Grandpa a turn over here.
Jeff: I play the drums. I am the eldest of the group. That's why they call me Grandpa Jones sometimes. I've been paying drums since I was ten years old.
Randy: Matthew started at nine, turned ten Sunday. But he's the drummer (in my) family, so encourage and tell him to work hard, all that good stuff.
Jeff: I started when I was ten in middle school band. I began taking private lessons the summer after my 6th grade year. I really encourage that, but you really need to learn your rudiments. Learn all of those. If you don't know what they are I'm sure you can find them online somewhere. Learn all of your rudiments. I went through marching band in high school, concert band. Entered all these contests and all that kind of stuff and that trained me as a technical player. But at the same time, you need to really listen to music that has a lot of soul and feel and really focus on the feel and groove of the song, and keep it simple. That's some stuff you can use later on. Now, I've been playing for about twenty years. I still need to practice every day. And that's the way with all of us. We have ambitions of being better on our instrument, so I just encourage you to keep practicing.
Randy: Jeremy, I believe you were involved in some of the production side of things as well, is that accurate? You know, there's so many J's and Jeremys I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting mixed up.
Randy: I thought you were involved in that. So talk a little bit about your interest in that area as well as being in the band itself.
Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely. Since I was in college, some things started putting bugs in my ear for doing studio stuff. I was intrigued by recording and I would take two cassette players and record something on that, then play along with that to the other cassette and it sounded pretty bad. It was actually primitive recording in my state. And the passion just kind of filled there. I started just loving the technology behind it, the cool things you could do and the fact that you could do it from your bedroom was kind of cool also.
Randy: Socially maladjusted child?
Jeremy: Yeah, well you know, I am the quiet one, so I just keep to myself I guess. But, I spent a lot of time just kind of doing small projects here and there like independent stuff and just kind of honing in on some of the craft to it which ultimately lead to Mike and I being able to produce this last album, Fields of Grace. Susan and them, I guess we had fooled them enough into thinking that we could do it and they let us. So actually, it was really cool-the fact that they had put that kind of trust in us because it's a lot bigger scale than sitting in your bedroom. We had a lot of interesting opportunites because the whole time we were recording the album we were pretty much on the road with Rebecca St. James and just touring and doing different stuff. So there's literally times where, having a deadline we would literally be in a hotel room, throw one of the mattresses on its side and throw Mike up there, you know, get Mike to sit there and sing some vocals or whatever as I'm sitting there editing on the computer doing whatever.
Randy: What software do you use?
Randy: All right, back to Mike. It's a little unusual in an album where you write everything except one song and the title track is the one you didn't write. How'd that come about?
Mike: Well, yeah. Fields of Grace is a song written by Darrell Evans. And man, we were a big fan of Darrell Evans' worship music. And we kind of grew up as a band together playing that at events we played at. And there's a specific line in this that just resonated with it. It's, "There's a place where religion finally dies." And, to me, that was just the clincher. There was this college student who had been bothering us and bothering us about "You've gotta hear this song. I know you guys would love it." Because we played some other contempory worship songs in our set as well. And when we finally gave in to his persistence, we were just blown away. It was a natural fit. From the first time we played it, I think after we played it once, we literally played it...I can't remember many sets where we didn't play it after that. And our manager saw it and he's like, "There's just something in this song."
Randy: Well it seems to fit you guys really well, too. I mean it's a song you could've written in the sense of when you hear it, it doesn't sound out of place.
Randy: I was wondering if he'd written it specifically for you guys.
Mike: No, there was a live version of it out in some worship setting. I don't get sick of it at all. I've really enjoyed it since the first time we played it. And every night, when we come upon that line, "There's a place where religion finally dies." There's like a corporate exhale, like this big sigh of relief, 'cause it's not about us trying to make our attempt to get to God. It's about receiving what he's already done. That's really what all of our songs are about too, is just about the relationship aspect...it's just about knowing God. That's what this whole thing comes down to. That's why we were created. That's why Jesus died on the cross. It was to re-connect us with the Father. That's why we exist. I don't think we're ever gonna run out of subject matter because the more we see Him and the more we learn about Him through this relationship songs just keep coming.
Randy: Do you see yourself as primarily a ministry to encourage the body? Obviously your songs aren't written with a lot of crossover intention. It's pretty hard to do the "Is that about Jesus or a girl?" with your songs.
(Brief interruption as Jeff gets a call from his mother-in-law.)
Randy: Oh, yes. The cross-over potential of your compromising unclear lyrics meant to convince people it might be about a girl.
Mike: Right! (Laughing)
Randy: Obviously that doesn't happen accidentally. There's a philosophy behind the songwriting here. Just talk about your intentions here.
Mike: I've seen it done both ways because I know there are incredible writers who just write with this ambiguity to their songs that really could be about anything. It reaches people on all kinds of different levels and it's about art for them a lot. It's never been about art for me. It's been about communication and the message is clear because that's what we're here for. I really feel like the time is too short for us to just be about making art. And it's fun at the same time. We love doing it and we hope that there are artistic parts to the whole process, but at the end of the day, we want someone to clearly be able to understand what it is that's going on with our songs and what they get from that--Jesus. It's Him, it's the person of Jesus Christ--not, "That was a clever line." There could be a couple now and again, I'll accidentally have one.
Randy: For spiritual growth, I know the road is busy, but do you have a chance to read and study?
Mike: Yeah, we do. It's hard to stay disciplined in that way especially when you're being pulled in a million directions. For me, it's about, um... I have a pastor who's my accountability partner. I would call him just about every night. Whether, I get him or not, I'll leave a message on his phone just saying, "Hey, man, I'm still connected. This is where it was cool today. This is where it wasn't cool today." He just kind of helps keep up with me. And challenge me. I think he literally saved my spiritual life because I was just being dragged away by the distractions. Just getting so into what we're doing, you forget why you're doing it. I'm so thankful for him and I'm thankful for those kinds of relationships. And also, because we aren't really home to go to church often, we sort of have church on the road and it could be with us as a band, or it could also be with some individuals that God literally brings into the event. He just connects with these people on a way deeper level than you should be able to when you just shook hands. And I think God puts that there for our protection and to grow us and all those things.
Randy: Great, thanks!