With every article in HM Magazine (well, at least with most), there are parts of the interview that just aren’t used for the final “feature-style” article. There’s various reasons for this – most notably of which is space concerns (only having so much space in the print magazine). A great thing about this website is (like a DVD’s capacity to house “bonus material”) we can actually still get some great stuff out there, even if it misses the “final cut” of an article. The sit-down interview I had with Tyler and Veronica of White Collar Sideshow was a good hour and a half long (maybe longer), so we obviously had to cut some. Here are some random excerpts:
DVP: What is going on in 2009 or going on with the movie that could be one in the same?
A lot of the festivals, like Cornerstone. I’m actually doing a workshop on hidden addictions; it has been a weird thing for us. We have gone from nobody really understanding what we were doing to, ‘hey, we want you here.’ And I cant explain it other than that it has been a real blessing to pour your life into this and for somebody to get it and understand it, even though there are people that don’t get it or are offended by it… the movie is a teaser to get people interested in our next live show for 2011. Hopefully we’ll get to tour with this performance for another year and a half or so and then the next time we’ll come out after that will be a whole different show. So we’ll take all the songs away and do a whole ‘nother performance. It is going to be a lot of time and work and money, yes, so we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to make all of that happen, too. I don’t know if label interest would give us what we need. If they would try to change it, not try to change it. We are interested in finding people that believe in what we do, to help people change lives, as opposed to, it’s a great performance and that’s a great gimmick, we can sell that. I like what I said last night. It’s like, we are the ultimate beast because it seems we are more about money and creating fans than helping people change lives and challenge them to do the same thing for somebody else. And that is a lesson for me too, you know? Because it does excite me when someone says, hey (Zorso?) was here and they liked your show. And on the other flip-side we want to inspire that person too, to maybe do something else in their life that they can change and help someone else in their life to go through that situation.
Are people getting it? How does that feel to you? What aspects are people getting, are they getting the whole picture?
I think we scare conservative Christians, and I love that. I really do. I mean, I am a huge Rob Zombie fan and I guess scary Christian stuff, my whole life has been perfect. But now that I am a solid Christian it is more where my life is going and totally focused on God, I love scary Christians, basically. It’s the same message that Jesus taught, and people did that a lot too and people that have addictions or people that feel God has called them to do something, but haven’t given 100% to it, they see it and people use it and I love that. It is very inspiring to us that we are on the right track. Because we can be so focused, challenges are good to stay focused. I feel called to be a youth pastor, but I haven’t really given everything to it. Give 100% to that and you can change people’s lives. I wish somebody would have told me that a long time ago. But that is a whole ‘nother part of doing what we want to do. And it has given 150% back. We get lots of emails, messages and texts and we love it. And also, I love talking about stereotyping as part of our message when we actually get to have a ministry moment and when we pull up in our great big trailer and RV to see these people say what has our pastor brought in or what has our youth pastor brought in? Are they going to have a job tomorrow? I love that. I love being able to challenge people. But we’re all about Christ, we’re all on the same team. Why can’t we act like it? Even though you might not see it that way, I am just as much a part of that body and we have to use teamwork. And that is kind of how I see the Christian music world, you know? When I walk into the place like this, I always talk about sometimes we adapted even the ugly stuff under the thumbnail, it is still the body of Christ. To be able to bring people back to the hand and the heart, and the feet and the mind and the head. And however you do that, as long as you do that for God, as long as you bring them back to the body. Our tattoo artist, I always talk about him because he prays over people before he tattoos them and a lot of people, when we hang his banner up in church, they are like can you please take that down? And I say, yeah I’ll take it down, but I want to explain to you what this person does and how he affected our lives and what he is doing for God.
His name wasn’t Aaron was it? There was a guy named Aaron that got into “…Our mission is to tattoo the Lord’s elect…” (Seal of the Living God Tattoos)
It’s a strange thing and not everybody gets it or does it, but at least he’s bringing people in…but he is actually going back to get a doctorate and is actually a very intelligent person. I love challenging people, when they stereotype us and then come back and watch the performance, and they go, I did not realize that that was going to effect me like it did. I love that because it is even more effective when you judge a book by its cover, because it is convincing and it is challenging the next time you think about stereotyping somebody. And that is a lesson for me too. Because, just as much as I look like this, it is hard for me to not to do the same thing, and I have to think about that before I stereotype somebody and that’s how we should all be; we should all be honest about what our opinions are and that’s going to change the world.
As cheesy and superficial as this might sound, at a couple of U2 concerts recently, like the last one I was at, there were moments, and in a sense it is a worshipful state, because the band has spiritual content and there is a sense that he is rallying the generation and saying, let’s change the world, Africa is our neighbor… and there was a moment where I thought, this changing the world thing, we could be on the brink of it. There’s a few doctrines I have that I don’t really share with people, they are a bit out there, but I am a pretty charismatic guy but I think the faith movement is pretty jacked up, they try to put God in a box and you don’t tell God what to do, he’s the King, you know? The media is telling us over and over again that the economy sucks. And I mean, yeah I’m a Christian magazine and I’m in the media and in a way I’m changing the world with that…the media is the spoken word of communication.
Obviously we live in an RV and TV is something that we don’t have full access to, and it is great. We always talk about when we do some of our ministry stuff, how many people watch reality TV? And everybody says well its the only thing on TV, even the news is reality TV, and we get so focused on our zombie life, we go to work we come home, and we watch reality TV and focus on so many people’s ‘reality’ that we forget about what is happening in our own life. And we let the media control us. And I’ve never felt more free from getting rid of all that. And let me tell you what… from not having that, being able to have a conversation with somebody and looking into somebody’s eyes and actually have a conversation with somebody but not doing this… and this… tell me what’s going on in the world? Feel somebody’s heart. People don’t do that anymore, they don’t even know how to have a conversation with somebody. I’ve never felt more focused on trying to look somebody in the eyes and feel this connection and without media and without this and without that and really share in somebody’s heart. And because we have gotten rid of all that stuff… my gosh it’s a whole new world. I can’t imagine what it was like when you just had the horse and wagon. When all you had was storytellers.
I think we grow up as kids with our parents always being in our head: go to college, you need to do this, you need to do that, get the best paying job, you need to get a house and family and cars to stress out the rest of your life paying bills. And I think that as kids we are born with those hobbies and those gifts that we love to do and we are almost bred to forget about that in order to survive. I loved skateboarding when I was a kid, and Tony Hawk was a big guy and he was making a living skateboarding; I probably skated from third grade until I was a senior in high school. I was passionate about it, I loved it. But without encouragement of it, especially with the “American way”, how are you going to change people’s lives? It is almost like, people want you to grow up to hate your life. That is what the American dream is now. Me, me, me, me, me…
“I feel like I’ve never been happier,” adds Veronica. “I managed a multi-million dollar company… we sold it all, everything. People think we’re crazy and I now look at my happiness in comparison to their happiness and what they are telling me is that I need to live like them. And I need to do what they are doing because they think what they’re doing is the right way. But they aren’t happy. But that’s so mean! Why are you wishing your unhappiness on me when we are living a purpose.”
I’ve never felt more called to do anything and I’ve never felt more thankful to… even driving somewhere for no money. We get there and they say they can’t pay us any money… so? Who cares? There’s a few people that came to see a performance and need to see something positive and maybe they can be inspired, and we can go to the next place. I mean, money isn’t everything. I feel like there is so much focus on that. I love sharing that message with them and challenging them on that, too. Keep your focus. Don’t lose that, because that is where the true blessing lies, you are doing God’s work for him, and not for whatever purpose you are trying to get to for yourself… you can tell people’s true heart through their demeanors. And you know there’s a lot of musicians that we will play with that are struggling spiritually and as a group they are struggling… they have four or five different people that, at one time their agenda was God but now they have different agendas and they can’t keep their focus. And we try to challenge them to come back together, even for young bands, we challenge them to get their focus back, to calm down and be patient. And really start working on it. I mean, what are we doing? Am I just doing this because I’m a Christian in a band, or am I doing this because this is this where God wants me to be? And I think that is a very serious question because how are you really going to show somebody God if your focus isn’t God? We have learned a lot of lessons from bands we have performed with on what not to do, and how not to be. Everything is a lesson. Or, we have to learn from that, we have to share that. Everything is a life lesson. And I have to apologize for my attitude constantly. I had to get that off my chest before I performed the other day. Sometimes driving around in a cooped up RV you can take, you know, your wife for granted or Phillip for granted. That’s something you have to be honest about so that you can become free again and get your focus back.
I was wondering how you guys do it, it is hard enough to get two people to agree to a vision, how did you get Phillip or a third person?
Phillip is… well I played in a band called Uttermost a few years ago and he would always come help me do drum stuff and travel with us, I guess you would call it drum tech-ing, but I would call it more than that. And we just became really good friends. He’s a young guy, he’s 24 and when I first started having dreams about White Collar and writing my dreams down, we were kind of messing around with drum stuff and we would drum things back and forth and started writing a few songs and then when Veronica jumped on board we said hey, you know what, we’ve got everything we have and we had figured out our purpose and I asked Phillip, hey this is what we are going to do, this is what God is calling us to do, I know it is kind of focused on my life, my insanity, but I would love for you to be a part of it and I know that it is kind of based on our agenda and I know that kind of means, I don’t want to say selfish or conceited, but that is how I really wanted to focus it. And he said, man I’m in, I feel called to do that. And he supports what we do and we support what he does, and our parents support what we do and, his parents are also solid Christians too and they see the message behind everything. My parents haven’t even watched us perform. I wish they would, but, you know. That’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Our mass and everything, my Mom’s like, you guys just scare me. We’re just like, well, sorry mom, but maybe I’ll ring the doorbell and kidnap her sometime and see what she does.
Help me kind of explain the whole Vaudvillean visual, the drumming sounds, and the visuals and the tapes and the masks and everything… try to explain the universe that you have created with White Collar Side Show.
Well first of all, I kind of see the performance as kind of a Blue Man Group meets Rob Zombie thing. Not that I saw Blue Man Group when I was putting the group together, but then I watched it and was like, those cheaters! But I’ve always been a horror movie fan and I still am but I’ve always gotten a different message out of it like there was a reason somebody was making this and whether it was their hatred, anger, or just trying to prove a point in some strange way. The pig mask is very symbolic with what we are doing in addiction, not men are pigs but how our heart becomes swine, or dirtiness, like how pigs eat slop. And when we hide those things that is what we become and even that portrays to the outside and I always tell kids when you know someone in grade school or high school and then you saw them get involved with a girlfriend or boyfriend or even with drugs and how they change and you don’t know the same person you used to know, sometimes that’s how our hidden addictions evolve too and we become that creepy figure or that future version of what we used to be and we have to get back to what we were, so that’s what the pig mask kind of represents. Veronica’s character, the faceless woman, is really based on my life as a male, looking at women, no face, always at their asset. Or, never looking in their eyes or at their heart, but always what is in it for me? Lust, I guess would be a great way to portray that. It’s everywhere. Sex sells everything.
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