Love it or hate it, I’m a big fan of Owl City and what he’s done in the mainstream.
Love it or hate it, I’m a big fan of Owl City and what he’s done in the mainstream.
In other news this morning, Google launched Google Music Beta at Google IO.
After seeing Brandon Heath in concert this past weekend, I just can’t get over how powerful his music really is.
The album headline track, Leaving Eden (iTunes), is simply an amazing song about God’s love. In fact, the whole album describes God’s love, over and over again.
Here is the three-part series of Leaving Eden, talking about the new album. [Read more...]
I’ve been trying out Apple’s iTunes Ping social network, and for the most part..it’s alright. Nothing special beyond the ability to follow your favorite artists and stay up to date with what they’re doing.
It’s generally a bad experience because of how sluggish iTunes is (both Mac and Windows). That said, I don’t use it very much. If it were on a website instead, I would probably use it more often.
But here’s a bummer. You can’t like tracks that aren’t listed in the iTunes store.
This can both good…and bad. iTunes has a lot of songs for sale, but it doesn’t have all of them.
Last.fm let’s you favorite any track, no matter what, which is awesome. iTunes Ping, not so much.
Looks like I’ll be going back to Last.fm for fav’ing the best tracks I listen to.
Over the weekend, I went to see Brandon Heath in concert with my beautiful wife. She was a little apprhensive at first about his music, but after the concert, she was a fan.
I’ve been following what Brandon Heath has been doing for the past six years, and I’m so happy to see where he is today.
Back in 2009, Brandon won Male Vocalist of the Year, which I’m sure he’s quite proud of – in the most humble way possible.
Shawn McDonald is an upcoming artist that has long past debut time. His acoustic sound rings in the ears across the world today. His soft touch on the guitar with the background bass or electric guitar is something you don’t hear everyday. Shawn is currently on tour with The Olivia Band, No Middle Ground, and Paul Wright. I was able to sit down for a few minutes with Shawn while he was performing at a church in Southern California. Most people will think “big name artist”, but when it comes down to it, Shawn is no different than you or I and he’s really a down-to-earth kind of guy.
Jonathan: Your new album came out when?
Shawn: ummm a couple months ago? Yeah about 3 months ago.
Jonathan: Yeah, couple months ago.
Jonathan: I’m really interested in this: How has God used your past, the drugs, the alcohol, all of that, in your life right now?
Shawn: with others, myself, both?
Jonathan: Both, yeah.
Shawn: With testimonies, life experiences. What you go through, what is real to you. In my experience, I’ve made a lot lame choices. I’ve done a lot of stuff, that I probably shouldn’t have been doing, but I did it anyways. Drugs, alcohol, sex, parties…that whole life style. I think that, I mean….I don’t encourage anybody to go there because it destroyed my life, but at the same time it’s opened up a door that I can speak into. I think that culture right now is experiencing that. I think it’s very prevalent in our culture, especially youth. I don’t mean to call the youth dumb, but the youth is just really inexperienced. You know, they are exploring and trying new things and they think they know, but they really don’t. They go down these roads of drugs and alcohol and it’s fun. It’s deceiving because it’s fun and all that stuff. Anyway, so they go down it and they think it’s a hoax. Few years down the road, all of sudden, their life crumbles. It’s like a mirror that got kicked, it starts falling apart and then just cracks. To answer your question, I feel like I have a voice because I’ve experienced it and I had to pick up the pieces. I’m not speaking from the point of saying “hey, don’t do drugs…but I don’t know why”, because I really know why. Personally it was experience…I did what I did…I went searching and exploring, kind of like Saul…he explored many things. What I learned through all these things were that they are fun for the moment; but for the long run, one of the things I’ve realized is that God is really the ultimate, He’s the only thing that will last. When all that other stuff fades, it’s the one thing that sticks around.
Jonathan: Question about one of your tracks, Rider of the White Horse. What was the inspiration behind that track?
Shawn: Rider of the White Horse was an interlude; just a random…wrote it…wasn’t trying to write it, it just happened. Right at the end of the record…we were wrapping up the record and I just happened to write it. I Really like this, we should try to do something with this.
There is a lot of theme to the record…like the song I Want To Be Ready…which is a son about the coming of the Christ…being ready. The song called Home, it’s all about going home to Heaven. So there’s a theme going through the record. When I Wrote that, I felt like it fit to the record and added this new element to the record. At the same time it’s taken out of Revelation. it’s almost like a galloping horse…ya know…I thought it was ironic that in the Bible, that it’s speaking of the coming of the Christ and he’s going to be riding a white horse and…I just thought it was just fit, kind of the old country feel…like Johnny Cash.
Jonathan: On a similar note, who are some of your influences to your music?
Shawn: They’re really all over the map…from, I mean I love soundtracks and orchestra music …and I read a lot. I love experimental stuff, like Cigeros, these weird…like underground stuff…like unless you’re fan, you won’t know of them. But at the same time, I like classic song writers from Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Marley, all these guys….just really root-sy type of stuff. Frou Frou…I wanted to incorporate that old timeless vibe with this new wave of programming, but the same time … but incorporate it all together. On top of it all, lots of strings…I love lots of strings. I wouldn’t say that I try to beat their sound…I just kind of make the music go.
Jonathan: So you grew up in Seattle area…
Shawn: I grew up in Oregon, moved to Seattle.
Jonathan: How has living in Seattle changed your life at all in any major way?
Shawn: I’d say it changed my life a lot. I became a believer when I was 20 years old at the end of my first year of college. Was living in Eugene, so I got plugged in with a church in Eugene. All my friends I built there, the college world, different college ministries, played a lot of coffee house shows…and what not. When I moved to Seattle, I Was at that place where I thought I needed to step up in my faith and go out of my comfort …and go somewhere new. Build from the ground up…when I met the Lord, who was around me was great. I made friends…but I didn’t…they were kinda built in with the church group. There are a couple reasons for moving….one, I just wanted to personally challenge, two, wanted to start over…three, I wanted to pursue music more seriously. I thought being in a bigger city would help with that. Seattle is known for that. It changed me a lot going there. It was a very dark time in my life…didn’t have any friends. Suddenly, starting over is a lot harder than I thought. I was literally broken, it just broke me. Just really lonely…It’s taken a long time to build a really core group of friends. Right when I moved there my music took off…and now I’m never there…and then I had friends, but I would come home to nothing. It was really difficult. I just now am getting a point where I have great friends again…don’t know if I would want to do that again…any time soon.
Jonathan: How has the married life…encouraged your Christian walk?
Shawn: Encouraged…that’s a hard question to answer. It’s hard, you have to work at it, the newness of marriage wears off and you realize you have to put up with this person’s goods and the bads. On top of that you’ve added the element of commitment to her and to God. So it’s not like when you date with someone where when you date someone, you can break up with them whenever you want. Where in marriage, yeah, the world says divorce is an option, but if you really take your faith seriously and believe in scripture and what it says, you can’t walk away, you really can’t. The times, they say the first year is most likely the hardest year. It’s been rough. You ask ‘how has it encourage my Christian walk’, it’s hard to answer because it’s been rough, difficult…I’ve been on the road and she’s been at home. That end of it has been very hard. At the same time, I feel like it has drawn me closer to Christ. I mean in the sense that I’ve realized that I’m just a fool that needs a lot of grace and a lot of help.
Jonathan: Does she ever go on tour with you?
Shawn: She comes out every once in a while, she’s gonna come out in the next tour with us and it should be good. We’ve tried once and it was hard. It’s hard to incorporate love with…I hate to music business, but in a sense it is. It’s what I do for a living…it’s hard to incorporate that because I’m on stage, but I’m working…but at the same time I’m married with a wife…ya know, it’s a weird balance. We’re gonna try it again.
Jonathan: Any encouragements for our readers?
Shawn: Encouragements…it comes down to making choices that matter and thinking eternal…what the outcome is. A lot of the times we’re driven, and a lot of times it’s easy not to make the right choices.
Want to know a little bit about Shaun Groves? “Shaun Groves defies typical expectations and simple labels. He is an insightful songwriter, one who displays such incredible lyrical prowess that his musical peers nominated him for Songwriter of the Year solely on the strength of his 2001 debut. He’s also a solid on-stage performer as the lanky Texas native can hold his own whether standing solo before a college crowd or fronting his band at a youth event or festival. And to listen to Shaun Groves’ music showcases a complete and talented artist in full bloom, constantly reaching for excellence.” – ShaunGroves.com
We had a chance to sit down with Shaun while he was in California, so just take a look.
Jonathan: You have the new album that came out not too long ago, White Flag, what are your thoughts on it? What’s the meaning behind it?
Shaun: umm Surrender is right in the middle of it. White flag is the central theme of the beatitudes. Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus is basically spelling out for us some core principals to Christian faith so it begins with our sin problem and that we’re poor in spirit dishonor how we feel about that and we give that up; we commit that to God and the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross, we become meek and surrendered. So now, the beatitudes gets us to the place of surrender and meekness and the back half tells us now how we’re supposed to live like. Now we’re supposed to be mercy, mercy showers and peace makers and pure at heart and we are hunger and third for righteousness. We live a life that is so unusual that we couldn’t possibly be persecuted. So right in the middle of that is the idea of surrender and unless we realize our need for God, we won’t surrender. If we’re not living a life of mercy, peace, and purity, then we’re not surrendered. We’re fooling ourselves and we’re just believers in something but we’re not disciples. So it was very central to the theme of what Jesus is teaching the idea of surrender, that’s where White Flag comes from.
Jonathan: Ok…going back to an older release, with the song ‘two cents’, people might get the idea of what you’re giving to the world, but what are your feelings behind that song?
Shaun: I went to a good Christian university down in Texas where I didn’t realize how self-absorbed I was; and since you’re around other people, and that helps you see some flaws in yourself. I think was I was around some pretty religious people there and I felt like I lacked some perspective…when you’re asking for prayer for your car [laughter] you probably lost perspective on the world. I kinda backed into this job at an orphanage near campus where I started working and I got to see some people with some real issues, some real struggles, and hardships in life. So seeing these people with the real problems and being around other people like me who seemed kind of self-absorbed and had no perspective and those things kind of woke me up to how selfish I was. That along with the feeling of inadequacy feeling like I didn’t really have anything to give these orphans because I hadn’t really struggled myself in life and that’s where the whole song came out of. It touches on how we throw pity parties for ourselves and like to draw attention to ourselves. It also touches on how we feel inadequate and unable to fix people’s problems, and what they really need sometimes is just to get beyond and have someone listen.
Jonathan: I’ve seen you now twice on the west, but do you have plans of touring on the West Coast anytime soon?
Shaun: [laughter] Well, we don’t make plans really…we wait for the phone to ring and when the phone rings from California, we answer it. I have no idea, we love coming out here, we just haven’t been out here that much. This is my 5th or 6th time out here.
Jonathan: We tapped on this a little bit last time, but what are your thoughts on the big church…mega church…small church thing…what are your thoughts behind that?
Shaun: It’s just two different ways of doing church. There are hazards of doing it both ways. In some large churches, it can become consumer driven. About people showing up and filling a seat, and solve my problems in four steps that start with p – “God is a commodity – I wanna come”. Does God still speak through that kind of church? Sure, I’ve seen it. But is there some kind of danger in it? Yeah, we leave sometimes leave pages of the bible untouched if we go for 10 steps to better finance or marriage or raising good kids. We can tend to miss out on the character of God and the plan of God which might have nothing to do with me today and the problem I brought in today. So there is danger in that. Same though with the small church, I grew up in a small church and it can tend to have other problems. It’s not really a size issue, it’s a heart issue, a priority issue, just like individual people, churches can get it wrong.
Jonathan: So you just had the release of White Flag, but do you have any plans of getting back in the studio any time soon?
Shaun: I would like to in the next few months…record some new stuff. I started writing here and there, its mellower stuff, kind of like the twilight record. But yeah, I would like to in the new few months.
Jonathan: so you’re married. But do you have any kids? Plans for kids?
Shaun: I have three kids. A 5-year old daughter, a 3-year old son, and a 10-month old daughter.
Jonathan: How have they helped shape you?
Shaun: I didn’t realize, I started realizing in college how selfish I was [laughter], but I hadn’t really grasped it until I got married and you kind of realize you want to have things your way. How you want it and when you want it…and you can’t do that in a partnership, you can’t always have your way. So you realize a little bit how much I didn’t like giving up my way and then you have kids and it takes that realization to a whole new level. Because now you can’t ever do what you want when you want how you want it. That doesn’t mean it’s not offset by a huge amount of joy and fun, but it requires sacrifice, to be a parent, to do it will requires that you don’t think about yourself all the time – and I think that’s the true meaning. It’s been hard, but there’s definitely a pay off there that keeps you mature and you want to be a better person for these people. You don’t want to lead these people wrong. I guess it’s a lot like being a pastor in a way you feel like you need to yourself together and the kids do that to me too.
Jonathan: For our readers, do you have a challenge for them?
Shaun: Just a thing that I ponder…ponder more and more lately…it’s hard to believe in a Christ when the people who that believe in this Christ don’t really look any different than the people that don’t. That’s a constant struggle for me too, everyone has their time of doubt in life and mine sometimes is because it’s some new thing I learned or some new question I don’t have an answer to, but it’s usually that plus me being around myself or being around Christians that aren’t really that different and it really makes you wonder, is this faith real? Is this story true? If it is, why are we any different than we are? If we believe that he has come and lives inside of us, and has given us this super natural ability to love and care, why aren’t we doing it? If it’s more than just getting out hell, then why aren’t we different right now? That’s a tough question and I Would like people to be their answer to that. Jonathan: with their actions, voices, or what? Shaun: With their actions, priorities, values, with everyone we do. We should some how be different, shouldn’t it? The center of us has been changed then everything we do should be different. So the challenge is that do you really believe this? If so, how does it affect you right now? ‘Cause the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus, isn’t just something that is just one day, it’s something right now. It’s the has come, is coming, and will come, so how are we different because of that? So it’s just a challenge to examine yourself and just like I do, figure out if I really believe this, how should it impact me and why isn’t it?
You may have seen them on MTV, you may have seen them on VH1, or you may have seen around town. But now they’re coming to a radio near you! The Afters have been making record progress and have started showing up all over the nation. After spending many weeks on the Top10 TRL list on MTV, they made their way out to California and all of the West Coast. This is where they Wish We All Could Win.
The Afters: Ok, let’s get out there – stop that puck, stop that puck! Ok, so what’s the first question?
Jonathan: I want to talk about what it feels like going from a Starbucks band then going to mainstream?
[guys talking together] What exactly is a Starbuck’s band? A Starbuck’s band is being hockey super-stars. [Josh] It all went from coffee to rinks. IT was definitely a change of temperature. It was a natural progression. We just happened — it was actually an accident how it happened; it didn’t all happen over night. We’ve been together – 7 years – Matt and I (Josh), knew each other in high school, just acquaintances really – he was a couple years ahead of me; so we weren’t really friends. But when he came to the Starbucks I was working at, the manager hired him and we became friends. We would bring out guitars to work and during the slow times we would pull them out and write songs. So the customers loved it and heard a lot of feedback about people wanting to hear us play in a concert setting and if we were recording music. Dallas Seminary invited us to come do some music for their missions conference. So we together a little set, got a cello, borrowed some real instruments. Actually, good story — I borrowed your cousins (Marc) — it’s like a $1200 guitar – is that one you backed over with a car?? – totally on accident and I’m still waking up in cold sweats about it. So after that, it was for a pretty good sized crowed and there were a lot of people wanting to know about our CD and where we were playing next. We hadn’t thought about that, but we thought maybe God has something more in store for us. We start playing at The Door in Dallas. Just by word of mouth we had about 300 people at our first show. It just kinda grew from there. Brad was working at that same Starbucks and he was fronting his own band and we knew we didn’t want to be an acoustic duo forever. So we booked a show with the 77s, I knew he liked the 77s. So I said brad, we’re playing with the 77s in a week. Can you borrow a bass and learn our songs? He said yes – he’s been playing with us ever since. The 77s CANCELLED, but we’ve had a bass player ever since. Since then, we put him back at guitar.
Actually, that was the time in The Afters when it really did feel like it was an overnight success because everything was moving so fast – I mean we couldn’t even keep up with it. It seems like we went from our fist show to packing out every place we played at in the North Texas area. In less than a year and it just seemed like everything – that was moving really, really, really fast. For the next 2 years we played at The Door at least once a month and it would be packed out pretty consistently. We grew out fan base there and released an independent CD. We had a different drummer originally but when that drummer had to leave, we went no further than Starbucks. Marc moved from Seattle, if he would move and play drums with us – he said ‘ok, just temporarily’ – just like Brad did. [Marc] How did we get suckered into this?? [Josh] If you really want to quit[…] He happened to play a show a couple years ago with Mercy Me before a time people knew who Mercy Me was and before I Could Only Imagine came out and it just Halloween Alternative night. We all performed and they really loved our music and we’ve kept in touch with them ever since. When Bart, the leader singer, he had the opportunity to sign some bands to his label, he called us and said “I heard you’re talking to some other labels. – but before you sign with anybody, we gotta talk.” So that’s kind of how the whole label-thing started.
Jonathan: So at the time of Starbucks, were you guys The Afters?
Josh: Well, at first we were called; actually, we were called Screaming Mimes, which carried over from another band. When we couldn’t trademark that name, we went with Bliss – which was a name we thought we could keep – but when we couldn’t trademark that name, we went on a year-long search and finally ended up on The Afters. It was like we spun a wheel and it landed on The Afters.
Jonathan: What’s behind the name The Afters, though?
Josh: It has a couple different meanings. We like to think of it as a term for how after, like in this life, for important events – whether it’s birth, death, ya know — life changing things – or things like 911 or the hurricanes we had in the past year. These events in our lives emerge and change people. After all those things, you can see God’s hand how God is always in control no matter what we encounter. And … it’s also a term for desert. There’s another cool meaning, like in parts of England and Ireland, it’s a term for something that happens after a formal wedding or a banquet and if you can’t afford the formal thing, you can go to the afters where everyone is invited.
Jonathan: Interesting concept there behind the name. And where are all of you guys as far as marriage, dating?
[whole band] We’re all happily dating our wives.
Jonathan: How does that affect you though, leaving the home and kids?
[whole band] It’s hard. [Josh] Yeah, it’s hard to be away. We were all blessed with very supportive wives which has been the only thing that has gotten us through. He called them to this life just as much as He called us to this life. That’s the good part of what we do. We work hard during the year and we have a lot of time off around the holidays so we get chunks of time off and we’re home, we’re home. [Brad] I don’t know about you guys, but after this first year of really touring and being gone all the time, it’s easier now for my wife to be without me for a while – like it seems like, she thinks about “oh you’re only going to be gone for 3 weeks?” – so it’s kind of weird how the perception how hard this is going to be, ya know after you’ve already been through some harder times – 3 weeks of being gone isn’t that bad of a deal as it was a year ago. Those special times, you miss those times. But when you’re home, like I said, you’re home; you have time to make special times. You change important dates sometimes, like the birthdays, anniversaries – ok Ethan, your birthday’s not December anymore, it’s in August – just for this year. Next year it will change. He’s 2 and in 6 months he’s turning 8.
Jonathan: Have you guys thought about going back in the studio anytime soon?
Josh: Yeah, we have a lot of plans this year and a lot of cool things in the works. Beautiful Love was just picked up by MTV for a new show that’s coming out called Eighth and Ocean; it’s going to be their theme song. We have a lot of international plans too, going to keep us pretty busy. They’re starting to ask for more songs and we’re going to try to schedule some time in the studio. The plan is to put out a new album February 2007.
Jonathan: Any last comments?
Josh: …….the best condiment to eat is…you said condiments right? Anymore condiments? That’s great….with some horsy-sauce. That’s just awesome man, awesome man.
Have you heard of BDA (Better Days Ahead) lately? We had a chance to sit down with them and see what was on their minds…
Well, this isn’t a live interview, so I’ll try to ask some basic questions and then maybe do another reply after we get past this.
Jonathan: Let’s start out with some basics. Your band’s name is Better Days Ahead, also known has BDA. Where did this name come from and what does it mean to you guys?
Better Days Ahead (BDA): Well we sort of stumbled on it really, haha. We were thinking of band names right when we first formed, and just decided that it sounded really cool.
Jonathan: Has the meaning of the band’s name or the direction of the band changed at all since you started playing together?
BDA: Oh definitely, we didn’t realize how much spiritual foundation that BDA had when we decided on it. And more so, we didn’t realize how much our band would hold onto that meaning while we were (and really still are) going through transition times, or hard times.
Jonathan: I know this is a broad question, but what is the focus of the band? State the obvious and also state something that isn’t so obvious so we can get a little better feel about your band.
BDA: We just have a real heart for Christians, and especially Christian kids. A lot of bands want to get into mainstream music and that’s totally awesome. But for us, we just love playing for youth groups and churches. We feel like a lot of CCM bands nowadays loose sight of that and get to caught up in getting into the mainstream.
Jonathan: Let’s go back a bit. Where are you guys from? How did the band, Better Days Ahead, actually form?
BDA: Well, the band started at a small college in Illinois, but we are all from different parts of the country. Dave’s from NJ, Jake and Clint are from IL, Ben’s from PA, and Sean is from FL. We added Sean to the lineup recently, so Dave, Clint, Jake, and Ben are the 4 original members.
Jonathan: Of all the Christian genres out there, what would classify your band as?
BDA: Well it really depends on what your favorite genre is…because that’s basically what we sound like…
BDA: Seriously though, haha, we are a guitar driven rock pop band. Notice the rock before the pop…yeah it’s like that.
Jonathan: Why would you classify it as such?
BDA: Well we definitely hold true to a lot of things pop, such as melody and harmony, but our newer stuff is definitely fairly aggressive.
Jonathan: I know a lot of Christian bands that don’t really start out as Christian or weren’t Christians when they were younger. Maybe this is true for your band, maybe it isn’t. Can each of you or a few of you give some of your backgrounds as far as faith goes and explain where you’re coming from?
BDA: Well Jake and Clint are both from a Baptist background and played in a Christian band in High School called “Rain”. Ben grew up in an Evangelical Free church, and also played in a local Christian band called “New Season”. Dave went to a CMA Church and his band had more names than shows, haha. Sean, used to be in a vocal pop group in Florida called “Covenant.” They were kind of like NYSNC, but better.
Jonathan: Have you guys been in the studio at all lately or have you been touring? What’s been going on lately with your lives?
BDA: Well, we just got Sean on board as our new lead singer, so we are wasting no time at all getting going here for 2006. We are going back in the studio with Scott Williamson again, this November to start work on our next project. So we won’t be touring too much for the rest of 2005. But we are so excited to get our new material into all you guys’ hands and to have all of you meet Sean.
Jonathan: Do you have any plans to start touring the West Coast?
BDA: Hey as soon as y’all have us out! Well we don’t have anything set right now, but we have a few fans out there from when we toured it with Warren Barfield, so we’d love to come back.
Jonathan: While touring, do you play just the older stuff from your debut album or have you starting playing the newer stuff to start spreading the word about your new album?
BDA: We’ve started playing a few new songs. We start our set with a new groove tune called “One in a Million.” But don’t worry we definitely still play all your fav’s from the old record.
Jonathan: What have been some of the major artists in your guys’ lives as far as influences go? Describe that in regards to both music and to just life in general.
BDA: Well we all grew up big fans of CCM, Jars of Clay was the reason Ben even started playing guitar, and the reason a lot of us went to college to study music. But them aside as a band we are very musically diverse so it’s hard to say. Warren Barfield has been a really good friend to us over the past year, but musically we’re not that close to him. We got to know each other when we were on Creative Trust Workshop together and then when we toured with him. He’s really good at telling it like it is, haha.
Jonathan: Is there anything else you want to share in this interview?
BDA: Thank you guys so much for interview us, we did just want to say that in case you haven’t gathered this over the course of this interview, Matt has left band. Definitely on a good note and he is still one of our close friends, but he felt like God was calling him to his original home in South Carolina. So we definitely wish him the best in all. But the good news is we did pick up a new lead singer named Sean Perdue and we are very, very excited about what he is going to mean to this group. This past year has seen a lot of ups and downs for BDA, but ultimately we know that God is in control and that he is faithful. So with that said, we are very excited for the future with Sean and this is all a very big step forward for us. God Bless!
“In the wilderness that is popular Christian music, weighed down by dreams of secular emulation and candy sweet images of the happy-go-lucky Christian life, there are a few who stand strong in the changing winds of contemporary Christian music culture. Brandon Heath, with his soaring voice and unapologetic faith, stands up among these, embracing the shifting and blurring lines that are beginning to create music that appeals to not only believers, but seekers as well.” – BrandonHeath.net
Jonathan: Where are you from and where did you grow up? What is your background?
Brandon Heath: I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. People are usually surprised to hear that I was born there. Nashville’s the town you move to when you want to do the music gig. I think I might have it in my blood. Most people I grew up with couldn’t wait to move.
Jonathan: When did you first accept Christ into your life? How old are you right now?
Brandon: I’m 27 now. I didn’t grow up in the church. I went on occasion with my grandparents, but it was kind of a Christmas and Easter thing back then. I was involved in Young Life in high school and they took me to a camp up in Canada called Malibu. That’s where I started my walk with Jesus.
Jonathan: When did you feel God’s calling to get into the Christian music industry? Have you always felt that God gave you musical talent?
Brandon: Honestly, I’ve been a follower of Christ for 10 years now, but it’s only in the past couple of years that I have listened to Christian music. I have always wanted to make music, even when I was a kid, but I always thought it would either be country music, or pop. I feel a specific calling to do Christian music. There are a bunch of believers that do secular music, which I love, but I felt like my faith needed to be a little more up front in my songwriting.
Jonathan: Has God blessed you with any special lady in your life?
Brandon: Nope. I’ve dated here and there, but it’s hard to tie a guy like me, who’s never home, down.
Jonathan: On your latest release, what is your favorite track? Why would you say it’s your favorite?
Brandon: Well, I think that I was most pleased with Don’t Get Comfortable. It was a song that I wrote about moving into a new neighborhood and ultimately into a new chapter in my life. It’s really the first convicting song that I’ve ever written. I wrote it with a new buddy of mine, Phil LaRue. The production on it ended up sounding really fresh an has the urban flair that I was looking for.
Jonathan: Who do you think some of the strongest influences on your music have been in the past?
Brandon: I’ve always been a big Sting fan. Even when he was with the Police, I was diggin his style. I think that U2 would be another influence of mine as well. I love how up front Bono is about his belief in God. They put on a killer show too. One, surprising influence of mine was Garth Brooks. He was the first guy that I really looked up to. His songs have always been crafted well and he is a heck of a good guy.
Jonathan: Do you plan on starting to tour nationally anytime soon?
Brandon: It looks like that will happen in Spring of 2006. I’m looking into booking agents right now, but it’s about time I got my road legs broken in and get out to the small towns of USA.
Jonathan: Talk about Young Life and your involvement with them a little bit. What has it been like?
Brandon: I had Young Life leaders involved in my life as a high school guy. They went out of their way to love me and show me Christ. I think that is what made an initial impact on me in the ministry, but most of my involvement with Young Life has been through a property in British Columbia called Malibu. I served there for 4 summers on staff and loved being in the background of one of the most amazing camps in the world. It wasn’t until 2001 that I started playing music exclusively for Young Life camps. I’ve been encouraged by so many people and I give Young Life a lot of credit for challenging me to do what I am today.
Jonathan: What school did you graduate from and with what degree?
Brandon: I graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I started out as a Recording Industry Major, but ended up doing this cool, create your own major called, University Studies, Liberal Arts degree. I was doing music in school and on the road quite a bit, so it tool me 6 years, but I got er done.