Here are some remnants from the cutting room floor, so to speak. Trimming an interview to make a story fit can be agonizing work. The reader doesn’t know what he or she is missing, but we do. It hurts. There’s a little bit of pain – leaving something out that could possibly benefit or entertain our readers. But with these little tools we call “computers” and a vast network called “the internet,” we can unearth and share these gems. Hope you enjoy.
DVP: Okay. Does one of you guys want to talk about the new album? Are you excited about it? How do you feel about it?
Pat Seals: It is really cool for me – I hope I’m not jinxing anything for us, by the way – we’ve had so many people talking about how hard it is to write a second album… thankfully we had such a good amount of time allotted to us after the first one, you know, after the tour and stuff, we had a lot of time at home to really focus and write. I feel really relieved and good about the songs. I think there are 13 songs on that album, and we were thinking, “Maybe it’s too long” or something. We were like, “No! We want every song on there!” And with that budget there wasn’t one that got thrown away. We’re really… I’m really proud of that. We did our best, and whether it’s successful or not, we gave it the best shot we had.
DVP: So, Pat, let’s talk a little about the launch ramp you built for yourself so you can kind of jump from the monitor wedge and… what inspired that and why are you so energetic on stage…?
Pat: Well, that ramp was actually built by James and Josh and… we had this wooden box – and I don’t know how it lasted two years – but it turned up in this empty barnyard. They hired this welder and he put together some aluminum and it looked cool and it was sturdy and light. I found that when I don’t have it, I don’t know what to do with myself. We played a show, uh… “Rock on the River” with the Franklin Graham in St. Paul (MN) and we flew and we couldn’t take it and just kind of had two left feet. I didn’t know where to be, I guess.
DVP: Why don’t you share with me if you’ve got, like, nicknames for each of the band members – what they are?
Pat: Let’s see… our crew has a lot more nicknames than we do. We call Jared and his wife “Jearbear and Bear Attack.” Joel… I call him “Big ‘ol Bear” and he calls me “Pacoon,” ‘cause my eyeliner runs and I have raccoon eyes. Our newest thing for Rich – our sound engineer – is “RIIICH!” cause that’s what his wife (also our crew manager) – Katie – calls him. We call her “KEvan” sometimes cause she –
Lacey: She tells jokes like a man.
DVP: So we’re talking about the new album. Songs you’re excited about…
Lacey: I think all the songs have an important purpose. It’s hard to pick any out. As they come through… we’re in the middle of approving mixes right now… and our vision is realized, it’s really blown me away. Everybody puts in writing and you can kind of tell, through the writing style, who was the original, like, creator. Like, Pat’s sounds have a really kind of upbeat sound – there’s a little creepiness to it.
Pat: Lacey’s songs are kind of flipped the other way around, you know? They’re very serious and profound sounding. This (one) song crept up on me. I remember when we were first going into pre-production… It was like, “Well, this song’s alright.” You know, maybe someone would’ve been like, “Yeah, I’ll play this song…” But looking back on the record it’s really like… it’s good.
DVP (to Lacey): Your thoughts on being married?
Lacey: I just feel this place of safety that I’ve never felt before. I just feel better about who I am more than I’ve ever felt. I make more sense to the world. It just feels like… A highlight of being married? I honestly don’t think I’d still be doing this if I hadn’t gotten married, because he really balances me out. Kind of like a tether for me. I think the extreme way that we’ve done this was just too much for me. I just put too much weight on myself and he’s really good about balancing out for me. He came on as a guitar tech later on. He’s a graphic designer and he loves building things and construction and stuff like that. He was the guitar player in another band, called Kiros.
DVP (to Pat and James): So, what’s it like having a girl in the band? Are you more or less protective now?
James Culpepper: We have a bigger crew, so it’s made it a little more relaxing, which is weird. It seems like it would be more hectic, but everyone works together really well. We don’t have to worry about it as much. Back when we were in the van it was a lot different.
“There would be times where we’d hear, ‘They’re not letting Lacey in. They don’t believe she’s a member of the band,’ and stuff like that,” recalls Seals. “Or, if there was a really creepy guy that was like, ‘Hey, I really like your singing,’ you know, we’d always go interfere.
DVP: When did you know you had something special going on as a group?
James: I think the first practice. “I just knew we should keep working at it.
Pat: “I think it was one of your first shows. I was playing with my old band and I remember watching ‘em from the crowd. Then we had to go on and I remember the next day at school all the people in high school were going, ‘Hey, did you guys hear that other band?’ And I was like, ‘We played, too!’ he laughs. “They made everyone in the room stop, which was pretty rare.”
DVP: How do you keep your voice going?
Lacey: In the beginning I didn’t do anything. I’d just pray about it.
DVP: I’ve heard the new album and the first thing that jumps out is that there’s less screaming…
Pat: It just kind of came out the way they came out, without much thought about whether we were going to have screaming songs or not.
Lacey: “We didn’t play ‘em live, either. A lot of things come out when you play a song live. We feel it. ‘Oh, this is where a scream belongs.’ There’s still songs that don’t have a scream on the first record that we play live and have screams in them. It’s what happens in a show, you interact with the audience and this is where the tunes go. The interesting thing about this record was, instead of touring first and then recording, like we did with the first one, we recorded first and we haven’t toured on them. We have to go back and figure out how they’re going to come out live.”
Lacey shared a story about a girl they knew…
“This girl had cancer and we tried to help her. We tried to raise money and at the funeral it was the most glorious thing: her parents got up there and said after she had died – a brilliant girl at 23-years old, homecoming queen, all kinds of amazing talent and gifts – they got up there after their daughter had died of cancer and they said, ‘We want to thank Jesus for trusting us enough to put us through this trial so that we would come out this close to Jesus.’ Everybody was just floored. Her sister got up there and said, ‘At the beginning, Esther was like, ‘Why is God doing this to me?’ but at the end she didn’t even recognize her. She was like, ‘Who are you? How can you trust Jesus this much and her whole mantra was like that, Psalms like, ‘Though my flesh may fail, my heart is strengthened by the Lord forever.’ That was her message. That was her verse. You couldn’t walk away from that, thinking, ‘I have to love, I have to live, I have to appreciate life, I have to do the best with where I’m at and what I’ve got… And, if Jesus is worth all that, then I should be closer to Him.’
(and here is the discussion that I was most upset about leaving out of the cover story last November… This is the reason, motivation and impetus for going back and transcribing this tape, so we could share this.) We discussed the role of Christian rock in the world and the benefits or detriments to there being a scene called “Christian rock.”
Have you tried to figure out why God has put you in unique situations? One example is like ACL Fest. How does a bunch of Jesus-loving members of a rock band get put in so many big stages? You find yourself on tour with bands … You didn’t go on the road with Petra or Skillet or something. Have you tried to figure out how and why God is using you and putting you in some unique situations?
Pat: I think God puts us in those situations because what we have to say, His message is for the world and not just locked in with this one…one Christian area. I hate to say it, but whenever people refer to Christian music it’s always to mock it. Usually it’s made by Christians for Christians to buy. I don’t know. I think it’s very important for us to not shove away the Christian title, because it’s our spiritual identity, but to dilute that specific moniker as a Christian band. At least musically or marketing-wise, it’s like… It’s very confusing. Going back to tour with secular bands, that’s a way we use to hold on to that identity that our music and our message is for everybody to hear – for non-Christians to hear, ya know? Jesus said, “If you life Me up, I’ll draw all men unto Me.” All men. I’m not trying to just… WE play the Midwest a lot where Christian music is huge. “Oh yeah, we did Cornerstone and…” Really, the people who hate Christian music, who are burnt out on Christians in general or who it’s just some after-thought, where “Mom made me go to church when I was little, but I don’t know if I believe in God…” I think that those people really have a lot of pain, just like every human being and they need to hear what we’re saying. Not because it’s us saying it, but just what God has given us to say.
Lacey: You know, I would never have gone to a Christian concert when I was little, like when I was from age 10 to age 16. I was very jaded. I was the jaded audience. I was like, “Don’t say the Name of Jesus or we’re going to have an argument.” I think I really, really wanted to know the truth and I had just seen so much false and what had been represented to me – from what I had been presented about Jesus. It just was very double-minded. Everything that I’d seen was like… I never saw a true picture of what it was – of what Jesus was, of Who He was. It’s not that I didn’t believe in miracles, because I’d seen crazy miracles – things happen in my life – but, ya know, to sit down and say, “Oh, there’s this guy. He died for my sins for some reason and that’s supposed to make my sins forgiven by God and then He rose from the dead.” It just sounded real ridiculous to me. It’s like, in the end, and everybody I knew that was associated with it, just seemed to to want to… The whole message seemed to be, you know: “You can be better than other people if you do this. You’ll be a better person above them.” That was something I was so burnt out by, because I grew up really poor and everybody thinks in that way about me. And my whole thing was I like it when the underdog wins. I like it when the people that everyone thinks bad ends up overcoming in the end. And it turns out that that’s a very Christian message, actually. Jesus was a common man that didn’t have a house to live in and walked around and grew up under a carpenter and, you know, had one thing of clothes to wear. And He started a revolution. It was supposed to be that way. Born in a manger. We talk about it and it’s so cliché to say, but we don’t even know what it means anymore. You’re born in a horse stable. The whole thing of Jesus was a suffering servant. That’s something I love. That’s something I get. I’ve seen it in my own life. I would champion that in a minute. But I never heard that. I’d heard of this judgmental, like, “Everything’s happy for us. It sucks for you, because you’re not one of us,” ya know? I would never have gone to a Christian concert, because that’s what I’d seen of it. So, we want to reach those kids that feel like I did. Like I do. That’s my heart. My heart is to reach the kids that listen to rock music because it’s honest and angry and they’re angry and somebody’s explaining how they feel in music and they feel like they’re getting therapy, because they’re not the only ones who are angry over stuff that happens to them. I want to talk to those kids, ya know?
Austin City Limits was … I think it was straight-up a blessing from God. He gives favor to us before men. I don’t know.
Pat: A lot of bands that played at it were either really, really big or super, like cool in style. And we’re kind of neither of those. It was definitely God putting us in there. I was, “Wow!” It was great. It was definitely a blessing to do that. There was so many kids. We were signing autographs. There was a lot of folks there who got into it like the other shows.
Do you have a “rest of the story” or follow-up on some of the stories you tell, like the girl that was all burned up who you shared about in concert or the Columbine shooting or other stories of people that you’ve related to from the stage. Do you have any follow-up or, “this is where this person is now” or fill-in-the-blank resolution kind of…
Pat: We met the kids from the high school at Columbine. We didn’t really know the story first-hand, but they wanted to meet us. Even though it wasn’t the kids from her (Cassie) class. It was just…
Lacey: It was her youth group.
Pat: Yeah, it was her youth group and some of the people in the school that were effected. They came out and we met with them in a meeting room at a hotel or something before a show.
Lacey: That was neat.
Pat: That’s probably the biggest follow-up that I can think of.
Lacey: The one who burned herself. The story… I only met her once and I never met her again after that. But the story was that she lived her life telling people that God was real. That was the point of her life. I’m sure that that’s what she’s still doing. She has to be reminded of it every day. She lost her kids over it. I think she must pretty much be living off the street, but she’s not afraid of it. She’s really strong. She’s a really strong, broken person, who knew that her purpose in life was to tell people that God is real and saved her life.
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