Hey! How’re you doing, man?
Good man. Real good.
Good! I’m glad… thanks for doing this interview with me – really, really last minute.
Oh, it’s fine! Thanks so much for thinking of us to do an interview with.
Yeah, absolutely. Are you guys still in Nashville right now?
Yeah, we’ll be here for this month. Pretty much, we’ll be here till the end of the month. We’re writing out new record. So yeah, it’s going good.
Sweet, man. How’s your life been?
My life? It’s been… currently hard, man. It’s been rough. It’s been hard just trying to keep everything together. Making sure we have good communication and trying to encourage one another… Just learning that it’s not an easy process, but… yeah – it’s really hard.
Yeah – for sure. Well I’ve been seeing all of your updates online. It’s cool that you guys are coming out with some new stuff. I’m excited for that.
Yeah man. We’re really excited about it as well. The writing process has been going really, really, really well.
That’s good. It seems, from your blogs, that you guys are all really encouraged, anyway.
Mmhmm. Yeah. Well, we’ve got a lot of awesome doors opening for us. So that’s really encouraging – knowing that the Lord is making a way for us. So, we’re just taking each day as it’s own day and trying not to look too far ahead. Like, it’s been really hard at times, but at the same time, it’s been really good. We’ve worked so much, and we’ve been really pleased to be able to work with Ed [Cash (producer for artists such as Chris Tomlin and Leeland)] on this record. It’s going to be awesome. As far being able to work with him – he’s just a really awesome dude.
That’s good, Jase. I guess I can get into some of the interview stuff, here. I just wanted to see how you guys are doing. I miss hanging out! It was cool at Cornerstone. I didn’t even know you guys were going to be there. Like, when you were working with The Anchor and everything – it was good to see you guys.
Yeah – I love those days, man.
Yeah. Cool. Well, how long did you guys play in New Zealand before making your way over to the US? In your “Vision and Sponsorship” blog, you refer to yourselves as “missionary musicians.” Do you feel this is specific to missions in the US, and do you see yourselves taking the ministry back to New Zealand?
Well, before we came the first time, we played in New Zealand for about a year and a half to two years. So that was before. Then we came over to tour with Showbread for a few months, and then we went home in August and stayed there till April. So, we were home for eight months before we came back over to the states again. As far as being musical missionaries… I suppose the mission field for us isn’t necessarily a particular place as much as it is to a people group. Our mission is to the body of Christ and the kids that we play to and the people we meet. And we do see ourselves as missionaries before musicians. I’d combine the words and call it “musicianaries” – you know? Like, our main goal is to share the love of Jesus with people. And… yeah… that’s pretty much what we try to do with our worship. That’s pretty much it, man. It’s not really about making money because, well, we haven’t made any. It’s totally about sharing the gospel. And if someday we’re able to make some money, that would be awesome. But right now we’re at a point where we’re still trying to make ends meet.
Cool. So, in light of that, how has it been working with Chad and Come&Live! and – if you don’t mind me asking – how exactly does signing to Come&Live! work? What does it mean for you guys as a band? What does it mean for you guys as a ministry?
What it means for us to be working with Chad is, pretty much, just community. That’s what it means to me. There’s a lot of labels out there that don’t really have community with their artists – or accountability. It’s more, like, they might send you a couple of emails a month, if you’re lucky. But with Chad and Come&Live! it’s not just between us and Come&Live! – it’s between us and all of the bands on Come&Live! Chad gets this great community of people that genuinely have hearts after God. It’s just really encouraging in the ministry focus of it. Even in Chattanooga over the weekend there was just awesome ministry happening. Kids were getting healed. This one kid got out of his crutches. Another got delivered from demons. All this cool stuff – and that’s really what Come&Live! is all about, you know? Being missional as an organization. That’s why we’re so passionate about it. As far as what it takes to “sign” to Come&Live! – that’s a little more complicated because you don’t really “sign” to it. There’s no contract. It’s more of a brotherhood – an agreement between us and Come&Live! where we both agree to live a certain lifestyle and support and encourage one another in that. So, as far as a contract – there isn’t one. I guess you could say we’re a part of Come&Live! but we’re not signed to it – because no one “signs” to it.
Right. So, more than an actual label in the typical sense that a label is, Come&Live! is more of a community and a fellowship based more around that, than the business of it.
Okay. Well I know you talk about the label deliberately setting the musicians aside for missions as opposed to profiteering… was it difficult for you guys to decide to join with Come&Live! in light of the fact that it isn’t really a financial decision? Or, at least doesn’t promise financial stability in the sense that “regular” label might?
Ah… well, we didn’t really even have to think twice about it, you know? It was more along the lines of getting to go out, and this is what we feel called to do. So it wasn’t a hard decision for us, at all.
Cool. And I don’t ask that for the sake of being awkward or too personal, because I do understand the mission behind Come&Live! – and Chad talked about it last week when I interviewed him. I just thought about it being an interesting thought, because I do know a decent amount of bands on that label. And I think it’s cool to say: “This is totally missions.” To the point that you’re going to set aside even your work as touring musicians – in reference to album sales and the like – and put it towards people in need rather than towards yourselves, and trust the Lord with the rest of it. I feel like it’s a really cool move, and I could see it being somewhat of a scary move, as well.
Yeah, well it definitely requires faith. So, we’ve really needed to exercise faith in this. The Lord has provided and is continuing to work that out. I mean – we may not have any money, but we do have a lot of amazing friends that are really supporting us in amazing ways. And that means so much more to me.
Totally. Well, switching gears a little bit here: I love the fact that you’re a worship band and that you’ve had such a close tie to the hardcore scene. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of that lately with you guys and The Glorious Unseen and other worship bands that have popped up along the way. And, I feel like seeing the two scenes – if you can call the worship “scene” a scene – seeing them meshed together with bands that truly love the Lord is a huge thing, and something that’s brought somewhat of a revival to the youth. So, in light of that – what do you listen to? Do you feel a connection to that heavier stuff because of the involvement that you have as a band with that type of music?
Well, most of the dudes in the band listen to different bands and have different inspirations. For me, personally, I loved MXPX and Blink 182 when I was a kid. Then, my love for punk rock merged into a love for hardcore and I started really liking Stretch Armstrong and Come Back Kid and Underoath – a lot of those Solid State bands. But I haven’t really been listening to that much hard music lately, just because we play with bands like that all the time. So I kind of get weary of listening to that music just because of that. When I listen to music… like, the last music that I listened to was classical music on the radio just because it was so different than anything else that I’ve been listening to. Like, for the last three years I’ve been listening to Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky. My wife listens to a lot of old jazz singers. She also likes Eisley a lot. I like some rock bands like the Foo Fighters and Coldplay as well. But yeah… that’s what I like. But I don’t actually listen music that much, anymore, honestly.
I guess that makes a lot of sense – just playing music and being around it constantly. I know that The Anchor Venue has been doing a lot of incredible things for musicians. If you would, tell me a little bit about your involvement with them. Would you consider them your “home church” in the US? I feel like you’re decently involved in that church. They’ve done some cool things for you, and then you were working with them at Cornerstone. How did you guys get connected?
Well, The Anchor Church is pretty much our home church here. There’s such a huge sense of community there, and they’ve really shown us so much love and kindness. It’s just been awesome to be able to serve and help with some of the things they’ve been doing. And then, they’ve also been serving us. They’ve let us use their facility for writing this new record and stuff – and it’s just an amazing facility. But yeah, it’s definitely our home church, and we feel so loved and supported by them. They’re amazing.
Did you guys get connected to them through Chad?
No. Through Ben from the Glorious Unseen, actually. He used to lead worship there, and he invited us to come play worship there one time, and the rest is history.
Did you and your wife always want to be touring worshippers? How have you felt your faith stretched since the start of this endeavor?
Well, I had a vision to be in a worship band ever since I was about seventeen. I saw what worship could be. It could be so much more than what I was used to. I was really unsatisfied with what I was hearing. Not only on a sound level – more on a heart level. Anyway, I went to Bible college and the Lord just really put worship on my heart. And then I met Janell, and she’s just so talented, man. So, we got married and pretty much started The Ember Days straight away. As far as seeing our faith – sometimes it gets really hard, man. Sometimes it just feels like you’re at your wit’s end, and the little bit of faith that you have left is just, I don’t know… I feel like the faith that I have now may not be big and glamorous. I feel like the faith I have now is a little quiet faith in me. But that little quiet faith I have left is more pure and more sincere than the faith that I’ve had in the past. I think that my faith is getting smaller and more sincere, but more focused in specific places. It’s easy to say you have faith when everything’s going right. When everything’s really difficult, I feel like it’s really small. Like, well, talking about the mustard seed… the mustard seed is tiny. I feel like my faith is really tiny, but I’m putting it fully into the Lord. I haven’t got anything in myself anymore, I don’t have any faith in me anymore. And that’s completely against common thought. The idea that you’ve got to believe in yourself. I completely disagree with that statement. I think that you have to believe solely in Jesus, and he enables you to do things. So my faith has been stretched and pulled apart, but it’s there and it’s sincere.
Yeah… what would say is the most difficult test or temptation either for you, personally, or for you guys as a whole – in light of being a band and doing what you’re doing even though it is difficult? Yes, it’s what the Lord has asked you to do, but it’s obviously difficult and trying, you know?
I think, um… our band doesn’t struggle with, like, drinking too much or smoking weed or whatever. That doesn’t really come into the radar too much. The things we really struggle with are communication and stuff. Serving one another. Trying to keep unity within the band. Trying to keep marriages healthy. Trying to serve one another. It’s on a heart level. Like, even spiritually, it’s been ridiculous – some of the things we’ve had to go through. Some real obtrusive stuff has been happening. Like, we’ve had some really divisive words spoken over us, and we’ve had to stand on the Word and know that that’s not God, you know? And, also, the lack of finances doesn’t make it any easier, either. That really puts a lot of pressure on you as a band.
Okay… this is kind of a long winded question, in light of that. I wrote it out because I really wanted to try to hit the nail on the head. Since I first met you guys whenever you came through with Chad I feel like I’ve tried to stay more aware of God’s practical and physical work in people’s lives – especially in reference to his power to heal, save, and do noticeable, life-changing things in people’s hearts. So, you guys have always stood firm and spoken boldly in the belief that God can work miracles and that he does, and that he does heal hurts. I feel like that’s a huge revelation that has gone down in the worship community, or in the hardcore community, which you guys have both been affiliated with. So, in light of that, what are some ways that you’ve seen God work like that in such a prevalent way, and how has that strengthened and encouraged you?
Well, I’ll use this last weekend as an example. Down in Chattanooga we were at a festival called Livestock. The Glorious Unseen lead worship, and then Sleeping Giant. And at the end, Chad spoke and said, “Okay, this dude over here with the crutches – you’re gonna get healed. Right now I want everyone to get around him and start praying for him.” So by the time Chad got off the stage, everyone was crowded around him. These forty people that were left praying for this dude… and this dude just got healed, man. After like, two or three minutes of prayer, the dude looks up with this almost perplexed look on his face – like he was shocked that he got healed. And that was awesome. So he didn’t need his crutches anymore. And then there was some other prayer for, like, addictions – pornography and nicotine addictions. And then two people got filled with the Holy Spirit and two more got baptized with water bottles. And then another dude… we cast, like, six demons out of him. So, I guess nights like that are just really… beautiful. To see that Christ is operating in a beautiful way. And seeing unity and faith in the body like that. All these people with a genuine heart for worship. And it’s cool to see people get freedom, as well. And it makes you really thankful to be part of the body of Christ. So that’s what happened last weekend. There’s different stories from different places, but that’s definitely a pretty cool one.
Yeah. Well, in light of the last question about tests and trials and things like that – and in light of the questions about finance and struggle – obviously seeing things like that and knowing that the Lord is working through you guys and through other people, and that he is still as prevalent in people’s lives as he was when he physically walked on the earth has to be encouraging to you guys…?
I mean, if feel like, even in my life – you guys have spoken into my life. It may not have been healing a broken arm or some really massive thing, but you’ve definitely made an impact. And in light of the path that you guys have decided to take as a band – that stuff has to be encouraging to you. Knowing that the Lord is working through you guys in that way, and that it’s lasting.
Yeah man. At the end of the day, man, we’re really thankful to be a part of what the Lord has called us to do. And you know what? It’s awesome. It’s really awesome. We’re thankful with the band – it’s a really beautiful thing.
Yeah, well I would throw that out there, too, Jase. You guys are doing a really cool thing, and encouraging thing, and I would encourage you, as well. I’m happy you’re a part of my life.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add? These interviews are kind of just a project that I took on, and I wanted to use it as a means to talk to bands and people about things that are different than a regular music interview about your new album or whatever. So that’s why I asked the questions that I did – got a little more personal or intimate or to the heart, maybe. So hopefully none of it was too forward. But, is there anything else that you would want to throw in?
Um, well… I guess if people feel like they’d like to support us financially, or some way, they can contact our myspace, or even email Come&Live! or us. If people do feel a heart to support this mission, there are some pressing things that we could use finance for, but if not – that’s totally fine, too. But I just wanted to give people the opportunity to give, if they wanted to, you know?
Absolutely. I know that you guys put up that blog about your vision and mission statement and stuff like that. I’ll definitely let people know where they can find out more about you guys and give them the opportunity to be a part of what you’re doing and stuff like that.
That sounds awesome.
Good. Thanks for making this happen, Jase. I always seem to wait till the last minute to make this stuff happen, so I was happy that you were down for it.
That’s great man. It’s awesome, and thank you so much for considering us to be a part of it.
Absolutely, man. Thanks for everything, I’ll talk to you soon, alright?
See you, Levi.
(If any of you would like to support The Ember Days – whether that be through prayer support, finance, or just a word of encouragement, you can find out more about them and their vision at www.myspace.com/theemberdays.)
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