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Randy: How long have you been out on the Hearts of the Innocent tour with Kutless?
Jeremy: Five weeks.
Joe: Yeah, five weeks.
Randy: How much do you have left on it?
Joe: Five shows.
Jessy: What does it mean?
Randy: Brought to you by the number five. Hearts of the Innocent was a pretty good show. You guys are probably getting a little more exposure in the sense that it's been selling out. Every time I check online it seems like another show is selling out. When we did the Riverside one, like the next four were already sold out. Do you feel like you've been able to get your music out to a few more people just by being out there with Kutless, and getting your name out there with the new project?
Jessy: Yeah. It's definitely the biggest tour we've been on since our record came out. It's definitely a good tour for us to be on.
Randy: You know the guys, being all from Oregon basically? You know them for quite a while back in the day?
Randy: Did you grow up playing in other bands?
Jeremy: Yeah. Josh, why don't you tell him your little story?
Josh: I played in a band with James Mead (Kutless guitarist), and I was in a jazz choir with their old drummer, Kyle Mitchell and guitar player Ryan Shrout. And I was in a band with their old bass player, Kyle Ziegler.
Randy: So it's pretty much family. Is this going back to high school days, then?
Randy: We've been interviewing some Canadian bands. Ontario guys all knew each other, played together a lot. Pretty much family. It's kind of cool to come from the same area and then get to go out on tour together. Talk a little bit about the songwriting. I noticed that in Dawn Escapes a lot of nature-typed themes: wind, water, these kind of things tend to show up a lot. Did you do most of the lyrics, Jessy?
Jessy: Yeah. I think we're kind of a concept band. Not necessarily just one record but I think everything kind of connects and stuff. We were talking in an interview earlier about how we write; the lyrics or the music first? We were talking about it, and it's actually kind of funny for us because most of the time, we write the song titles first. I don't know about most people, but every time I hear a title of a book or a movie or something, I always think of what I think it would be for that title.
Randy: Would that include a book by Shel Silverstein? (I was thinking of his book "Falling Up.")
Jessy: (Laughs) Maybe. Probably not. I think once you hear something, instead of knowing exactly what you're going to do, then putting a title on it...that kind of leaves the song in a box, you know what I mean? But, if you have a title that sounds cool, it's like, "Now what do I think the music of this sounds like?" Or "what would the lyrics of this be with this title?" And it doesn't even necessarily have to be in a chorus. Just something really interesting. It kind of opens up your imagination. That's what we do a lot of times just to be weird.
Randy: It also gives you a head start on the packaging design if you can get all the titles done early, right?
Jessy: There you go. And I think that that should be the vision from the beginning. I think that with us, we've always had a vision of what our records were going to be. The theme and the layout and stuff...I think that it's more than putting songs together. It's like your project is your baby, so you want to have everything you can do possible with it.
Randy: Are you the main lyricist?
Jessy: We all write together as a band. A lot of the lyrics stem off of what we deal with as a band in a sense, and what out passions are to tell people.
Randy: I assume--not having spent much time in Oregon--but I assume some of you live close to Reedsport. It's something that pops up more than once.
Jessy: I'm glad you asked that. I'm glad you noticed that because, yes, it is a town in Oregon, and yes, we do sing about that town once in a while, but Reedsport--the song Lights of Reedsport on Dawn Escapes--isn't about that town, but actually Reedsport is a brand of medical equipment. It's actually specifically medical lights that they use for surgery, and that song's about surgery. It's kind of a dual meaning to it. Maybe the town has something to do with surgery; maybe the surgery has something to do with the town...
Randy: The town has streetlights.
Jessy: See, there you go. Now you're piecing it together. They could connect--or they couldn't.
Randy: So, what you're saying is if I didn't have five kids, and I did have more time on my hands, I could find many more bits and pieces?
Randy: I'll have to leave that for Michael when he's writing a review or for Erika listening to it, I guess. (My twins are) the musical ones. So I just wanted you to talk about how long you've been playing. Joe, why don't you start?
Joe: I was actually twelve when I started playing guitar. My parents bought me an acoustic guitar for Christmas, and I took lessons for a good month and just kind of learned the basics. After that, I would pretty much just put in my favorite records and just figure out how to play the songs. After I'd been playing for a few years I joined jazz band in high school because I wanted to learn more of the actual....sheet music and reading it. Theory and stuff. It was really hard. Like they say, it's a lot easier to learn a foreign language when you're a kid than when you're an adult. So it's kind of hard to go back when I know what it's supposed to sound like and I know how to play it, but I have to force myself to do what I'm reading.
Randy: They both read music already.
Joe: That's good. It's a nice start.
Jeremy: I'm a bass player, so Millie it's cool that you're a bass player, too. I have an interesting musical background. I was forced by my parents to play for a long time and I hated it. I played the piano and I couldn't wait until middle school and I was going to stop, and my parents were like, "If you're going to quit, you have to play the clarinet." Same thing with high school. I got to pick up a guitar finally and it was awesome. Then I moved to the bass when I was a junior, so I've been playing bass for five years. I don't really have much theory knowledge except from when I played the piano. I learned a lot back then, so I kind of have the rough basics of it. You probably have a head start on me.
Randy: Jessy, we know you do some keys as well as the singing.
Jessy: Yeah. I've been playing the piano just for a few years, just kind of experimenting and stuff. But I don't know how to read music, so I don't even play correctly. I just like to experiment. Listening to it and stuff. Singing, just as long as the band lasts. I still learn every day. I try to learn as much as I can. I always try to get advice from singers and people who have been doing it, because I'll lose my voice or whatever. There's good lessons and advice you can take from people. I've never had a vocal coach or anything. I'm always learning new stuff, and I'd love to keep on learning. I think there's so much more than just singing.
Josh: I play drums. The funnest instrument.
Jeremy: Don't you mean most fun?
Josh: Most fun. Whatever. I wanted to be in the jazz band in eighth grade really bad. There was a few drummers trying out, and I didn't even know how to play drums. So the band teacher was like, "Well, you guys learn this and I'll pick who the drummer is going to be for the ending half of the year." It was a song called Christopher Columbus, a jazz tune. It's on Ocean's Eleven, I think. I just figured it out really quick. I played to a bunch of my CDs I had laying around. I just tried to figure out the music, figure out drums. I figured it out over Christmas break or something. I came back, and I was able to play it the best I guess, so I got to be in jazz band for the rest of the year and be the main drummer. From there I just kind of learned. During lunch I would go and I would just practice and practice. During the summers I didn't have a drum set, so I would just bang on random things. It was a couple summers before I got a drum set. That's how I learned. Every day I'd wake up, and I'd just want to learn more.
Randy: Matthew kind of got spoiled. Funny story. He got his drum set from David Letterman indirectly. He was on Stupid Human Tricks and got paid.
Joe: What was the stupid human trick?
Randy: He puts an egg on the back of his hand, bends his fingers back and breaks it.
Jeremy: Weird! Can you guys all do stupid human tricks?
Randy: No, just Matt. GMA stands for Gospel Music Association, although there's been some other flippant ideas as to what it stood for. Officially it is Gospel Music Association. I'm always curious to see how bands see their niche and tie in the gospel part with the music part.
Joe: As a band we don't want the gospel to in a sense define our band as far as "Let's make this a Christian thing so people will be into it because it's a Christian thing." You know what I mean? We are who we are and we have our lives walking with the Lord and through that we are musicians and best friends so we make music together and the two kind of live together mutually. We want to give a message of hope, and that's why we do it. To influence people's lives hopefully and make them think. I'm not saying that anyone does, but it can be viewed as "We're trying to sell it and be successful and use Christianity and God to appeal to people." I guess it's true in a certain sense, but we just want to be a band. We feel like we wish that it wasn't Christian bands and secular bands. They're just bands. Because in all honesty, that's what it is. We're just a band. We play music. We try to do new things musically. It's not like the music and the sound is Christian sound. I could talk to someone who's never even heard of God and we can understand music. Even somebody who doesn't even speak English. Music can communicate to anybody. So I think that's what we want to do through...God is in our heart and so through that, that's what we want to do with our life.
Randy: Jeremy, you got something to add to that?
Jeremy: Well, I agree with everything Joe has said. That's kind of our band's focus. It's not so much being the gimmicky band that all the youth groups will love, even though we hope they do, just because we say "Jesus is awesome" or whatever in our lyrics, we're overly blunt about it. We sing about that stuff because that's what we live through every day. That's what we believe, that's what we're passionate about. So, it's in our music and... on stage we just try to show that we're passionate about it. We don't try to force it down anyone's throat because that's what turns people away, when that happens.
Jessy: I think that is the overall goal of our band, being honest and real with people, that's part of our ministry, part of onstage is being real, to not try to be anything. Just be yourself. And that's what our music hopefully reflects. The songs we have in our lives, the passions that we share--what's real to us. We're simply who we are and we love to play music. And I think that anything that should reflect... you know, what you do because if you're an electrician or if you're a carpenter, it's like "Don't try to be anything but what you're doing." Build stuff. And if you're a Christian then that should shine through. That's what we love to do. We love to play music and we're Christians and that's shining through, hopefully. That should be the overall goal of us. Especially at GMA there's so many different bands and ministries and stuff going on, and every band has its own thing. That's kind of where we're at and we don't knock any band for doing anything than what they're trying to do. Just be yourself.
Josh: They've basically said everything, I mean...it's just...I'd repeat what they said. A lot of it I know is like Jessy was saying, we just want our hearts to shine through our music and just be honest. I think of even a lot of secular bands, people will be like, "He sold his soul to have that talent, to be famous, blah blah blah." I don't even agree that that's a correct theology in a sense that I believe their talent is from God. They just decided--they're just using it. Their heart's shining through it. If their heart is full of evil, they'll sing about evil. If their heart's full of pain, they'll sing about pain. If their heart's just focused on the problems of life that's what they'll be singing about. That's just the fruit of their hearts. So I hope the fruit of our hearts will shine through our music.
Randy: Speaking of that, one thing I like to ask bands is to comment on a favorite song as far as just listening to yourself or the message of it or just if it's fun to play on stage. Do you all have a song on Dawn Escapes that sticks out to you as one you particularly enjoy playing or you like the way it turned out?
Joe: I like Meridians. That's for me, the most fun to play.
Jeremy: That's a tough one. I like so many of them.
Randy: You can say two if it'll make you feel better.
Jeremy: I'll try. Exhibitions is pretty cool to me. I love the vibe of it. It makes me feel good when I hear it for some reason.
Jessy: My favorite song to play live is Searchlights. Because usually it's one of the first songs in our set, and it's the most energetic because no one's really tired or anything.
Randy: Especially in the altitude in Denver?
jessy: Yeah, I like playing that song. It's fun. It's an energetic song.
Josh: The song I was most proud of drum-wise was Cascades. I just enjoyed writing the drum parts to that. Little things that I would just jam out and I was just most excited about. Searchlights is really fun to play live, too. I'll agree with that. It's a hard question.
Randy: Still, you've got four different ones, so that's pretty good! Thanks, guys.