Kutless : 2005-04-11Randy and Erika spent an enjoyable morning with Kutless at GMA, only a couple of weeks before seeing them again in Denver.
Randy: Obviously, Sea of Faces had to have a pretty major impact on what you guys were doing because... I knew about you since the early days--well, early as in the Kutless CD and DVD that I reviewed, but when Sea of Faces came out it just kind of exploded as far as radio and stuff like that. Then, instead of Kutless being a band my son and I might listen to, all of a sudden my wife knows Sea of Faces and my boss and my boss is listening to it, saying, "Oh, you got to get me a Kutless CD." So, I would imagine you've noticed the change in your demographic in a sense too because with some of those songs you were appealing to a pretty wide range.
James: It's more of an everybody thing. Not as in like "everybody loves Kutless," but every type of person.
Jon Micah: Everybody could love Kutless...
Ryan: It's really cool when a mom comes up to us at the autograph table and says "This is the first time I've been able to take my fourteen-year-old son out and have a good time together." It's really...
Jeff: Especially when she crowd surfs!
Jon Micah: We're your neighborhood-friendly rock band!
James: "Thank you guys for making music that I am comfortable with my kids listening to, and not only just comfortable, but I'm proud of them for listening to." And that's a huge honor to us.
Randy: It was kind of like last year when you did the panel,
Jon Micah:. Was it New River? The southern gal was talking about her son and how she was thrilled he had a Kutless poster.
Ryan: And started bawling.
Jon Micah: Yeah!
Randy: It was cool because obviously she's coming from a very, very different musical place, but yet she's a huge Kutless fan. Maybe not listening to it herself, but at least thrilled that you guys are out there for her son. Daughters have their own kind of music, but with boys, they're going to want something a bit more aggressive typically, and it's nice to know there are bands out there... whether it's Skillet, Pillar, you guys, Day of Fire... as a parent it's great to know there's stuff like that out there. I know one of the criticisms of your first album that somebody had was "They're just a knock-off of Creed" or "Creed for junior high boys" or something like that, and I responded that even if you believe that, I'm the parent of a junior high boy and I'm thrilled there's a band that he likes. Of course, there's been changes and growth and I don't think people would say that now, after Sea of Faces. But back then, even if that was true, I don't see that that's that negative. Junior high boys need a band they can listen to.
Randy: So, as a parent, I just want to thank you guys for the music you've got. But as a reviewer, tell me a little bit--at least you guys that have been in longer--about what the experience of going to the Olympics was like.
James: We didn't actually go.
Jon Micah: Awesome!
Ryan: It was the best ever.
Jon Micah: We were flawless.
James: Yeah, we actually didn't go. Athens airport is relatively small, especially for the amount of traffic--
Ryan: 500,000 people.
James: --yeah, were expected to travel through there at one time. Seeing that that was going to happen, they started canceling a lot of reserved group ticketing stuff, and our tickets were reserved, but not paid for by the Olympic committee at that point, so quite a bit of the entertainment portion got booted.
Randy: So when did you find out?
Ryan: It was about a month before.
James: Yeah, a couple weeks, three or four weeks before. But it was really cool because it was at a time where we got a really appreciated ten days off at home.
Randy: When you're touring a lot, that's welcome.
James: It was golden.
Randy: I was curious about what happened with that, because that was one of the cutting things for a while, but I didn't hear about what happened. So, pretty much all of the bands...
James: I don't know particularly, but I know that was why we weren't able to play.
Randy: Talking about Sea of Faces, you have the video for that, which was getting a lot of airplay last year. Do you have any new videos that you have planned or scheduled to put together?
Ryan: Thursday we're shooting a video for Strong Tower.
Randy: Oh, that's right. They mentioned something about that at the showcase, didn't they? So are you going to have a lot of life footage in it, or is it a conceptual video?
Jon Micah: It's going to be mostly live type shot. Kind of like our Not What You See video and Your Touch video. There'll be a few backdrops, but primarily live shots.
Randy: But you're going to shoot the whole thing that night?
Jon Micah: Yeah. We don't have any actors or actresses coming in for it. Just us.
Randy: You'll have to rely on James for any dramatic parts.
Jon Micah: Yeah.
Ryan: Pretty much.
Jon Micah: James and his Russian counterpart.
Randy: I imagine your biggest crowd was probably one you didn't exactly headline--the Rose Bowl with Billy Graham. Talk a little about that experience.
Ryan: It was crazy there was about 100,000 people there and it was just so...It just gave you chills to walk out there and have everybody scream... I don't know. It's a feeling I'll never forget and hopefully get to experience it again.
Jon Micah: It was such an honor to be a part of the Billy Graham crusade. The thing I was really blown away by was as we traveled around the country, seeing so much division within the church. Everyone pointing fingers at each other about how everyone's just doing it wrong. We've been at the brunt of a lot of that too, with criticism from different groups and different churches and thing like that. It was so cool to see all the churches in the area united and say, "You know what, we're going to stand behind this association and this man and support what he's doing and what God's doing through him." When that happened, the power that happened by the uniting of the church in that area for that one night was unbelievable. Billy Graham got up there and spoke for maybe ten minutes...
Ryan: Seven to ten minutes at the most.
Jon Micah: It was super short and thousands of people came piling out of the stands to get saved. It was so amazing to see the power that as a church body if we unite together and really come as one body and say, "We're going to make a difference in this world." What a difference that can make. God gave Billy Graham a vision and he blessed him with an organization and a platform to speak into people's lives. When everyone came around that and supported that, it was just amazing.
Randy: How'd you guys hook up with the Billy Graham association?
Jon Micah: I think they called us.
Randy: They were looking for someone to play?
Jon Micah: Yeah, they were getting some bands to play. I know our management has been keeping a bug in their ear, if they ever needed someone, hey we'd love to...
Randy: Came together pretty quickly?
Jon Micah: Yeah. We actually did a smaller crusade in Colorado...
Ryan: That was William Graham.
James: No, that was in Canada. Barrie, Canada.
Jon Micah: First we did the Ralph Bell one in Colorado then we did another smaller one with William Graham up in Canada, and then we did the main one with Billy Graham. So we did several events with them and we got to know them a little bit, too. That way, they knew who they were inviting before they sent us off to the Rose Bowl. We've really hit it off great with those guys.
Randy: Test run first?
Jon Micah: Yeah. We've had a great relationship with them.
Randy: So there might be something down the road?
Jon Micah: Possibly. There was talk of them doing another crusade. We know Billy Graham's health has not been so well, but we would love to work with him again.
Randy: Have you had the chance to see most of the states? Have you kept track?
Jon Micah: Yeah. We're missing four of them.
Ryan: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Alaska.
Randy: Hit Hawaii already?
Jon Micah: Yeah. We did a harvest crusade with Greg Laurie.
Randy: He's still at Riverside in California, right?
Jon Micah: Yep. Actually, we're going to hit New Hampshire this summer, so we're going to be down to three after this summer. I don't think we're going to be able to do Vermont. I think we go up to New Hampshire then right back down.
Jon Micah: We might have to drive to Vermont just so we...
Ryan: ...can say that we've been there.
Randy: Well obviously Kutless is about good rock and roll, but also about ministry. That's obviously important just from the lyrics of the songs. Have you had any recent highlights as far as kids who have contacted you and talked about the impact of the music with the new record? Are they any highlights you want to mention from kids' perspectives?
Jon Micah: We've gotten quite a bit of feedback on the new record. The new record's been cool because it's a little bit different than are other stuff because our other stuff has been much more evangelical, so to speak. Just reaching out to people and this worship record's a little bit more for people who are already saved.
The emails we've been getting about this worship record have been a little bit different I guess. It's a little bit different approach, a different focus. Whereas like on Sea of Faces and our first record was a lot more people radically life changing experiences. Strong Tower's been a lot more of a..... probably one of my favorite emails we've been getting a lot of is all the skeptics like, "Aw, I heard you guys were doing a worship record. Oh no, what are you guys thinking?" Then when they actually heard it, they were like "I was so blessed by it, it's been in my CD player non-stop and just daily it's been lifting me up."
Randy: That's funny because I had trouble getting it--it got lost in the mail or something.
James: There's one here; you can get it!
Randy: Well I did get one. I finally did get it. They had to Fed-Ex it I think. I thought "I'm interviewing them at GMA and I'd really like to hear the CD before I go interview them. And I got it and I popped it in my car on the way to work--I have a twenty minute drive, so I get half one way and half the other way--but I play hockey...
Dave: Hockey! (clapping)
Randy: ...so it's that pseudo-macho kind of thing. On the third song "Take Me In" I got choked up on my way to work. I went, "Man, this is awesome." I wasn't a skeptic, but I was thinking, "There's a million modern worship albums out there. Yeah, great, Kutless is going to do a couple covers, add some new stuff, here we go again." I like it because it's Kutless, but that song just... I thought, "Wow. This is something special." I'm not normally the touchy-feely kind of guy. I don't break up crying...
Jon Micah: Throw down the gloves! Jersey over the head!
Randy: In fact I was late to GMA, I was supposed to play the championship hockey game but it got snowed out so it got rescheduled, so I'll play it Thursday.
Jeff: Good luck with that!
Dave: Good luck! That's awesome.
Jon Micah: Are your teeth real?
Randy: Yeah, I wear a full shield. Hockey players aren't the type that cry when they see a butterfly or a pretty flower.
At this point the interview falls apart with much joking and movie lines all around as time runs out. Hopefully the next reviewer didn't try to start off too seriously.