Hands

<b>So you’re done touring. Are you looking forward to living like a normal human being? Do leave road life with any certain feelings at the end of it all, whether is be peace, or bitterness, or contentment, or frustration, or joy, or sadness, or all of the above?</b>

I don’t know if I have it in me to actually say I’m done touring, but for now I will say I am taking a break for a while. A really long while! I am actually so excited to get back into the swing of things, as far as being with my family and maybe even having a steady job. I never thought I would want a regular 9-5 again, but I can not wait to actually start something. The idea of taking a pay check to the bank, just doesn’t even seem real to me anymore. It’s different for everybody, but being broke all the time and fighting to make my bills each month, is so stressful and has worn me down over the last few years. Especially when my wife is the one providing for us, while I go and goof around in Wal Mart parking lots each night around the country. Yikes! But, besides all of that, being on the road has been amazing. It has sparked so many cool relationships with people, and has daily provided me with life lessons. Any bitter feelings or frustrations I have, I try and leave behind me. In 10 years, none of those things will matter.

<b>I think that Hands is composed of great artists. George Edward Moore said that “a great artist is either before his time or behind it.” Do you agree, and if so, which are you? I’ve heard Hands referenced as “a musician’s band” a lot recently (granted, mostly by you, and your members). What are your thoughts on the art you’ve contributed to the scene – to musicians or no – throughout your time together?</b>

I do agree. I’m not sure where Hands falls into all of that, but I would like to think that years from now people will remember us. Maybe someone who enjoyed “The Sounds Of Earth” album will be able to listen to it 20 years from now and still get that same good feeling. Maybe it will take them back to a certain time in their life. Maybe it will remind them of Jesus. I could care less about record sales, t-shirts, myspace, tour packages, and where we rate among the entire scene of bands. All I want to do, and have ever wanted to do with this project, is be real and honest. To write solid music, and hopefully give people something to take home with them. I feel like we have tried our best to do that, and I think that’s the best thing a band can contribute to a music scene.

<b>What are a few of your favorite memories that you’re taking home with you from the road?</b>

Anything on the West Coast for sure! I had never been out there before this band, and realized I love it out there! Swimming with Leopard Sharks, crazy experience. Standing in awe of the ocean, and how big and mysterious it is. Sounds kind of cheesy, but the ocean takes my mind to a totally different place. Life and all of it’s troubles just seem so small. I could sit out there for days if the other guys in the band would let me! Late night drives with our guitar player Jerik were always so much fun. The memories that I will carry with me the most, will be the friends I have made and the time I was able to spend with them. Nothing can top that.

<b>A favorite song of mine that you wrote is called “Hope” – off of The Sounds Of Earth album. Can you tell me what that song is about?<b/>

We stayed up all night writing that song in the studio, the day before we were set to record! The song “Hope” is listed right after a track called “Despair” on the SOEarth album. “Despair” was written from the perspective of a man in the darkest place he could possibly be. Giving up on everything, feeling dead, I suppose. “Hope” is supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel for this man. The song is about finding something to live for. In this case, this man’s something is Jesus. The song talks about how this man met his wife, and the impact she had on his view of life. In his darkest place, he found something to live for. Through the love and fellowship of another person. There are so many different things that can be taken from this song, and we hope it can serve people in what ever they are looking for.

<b>I want to ask you if there’s anything that you would have changed about the entirety of your experiences throughout all of this, but I’m not sure that question really works, because I think that everything is purposeful, even if for nothing but a learning curve. Respond how you will, but in this 20/20 hindsight you now have, what are you thinking about? Is there reminiscing? What are there things that you’ve learned along the way? How has this band shaped who you are?</b>

I don’t think there is anything I would do differently, other than maybe eat a little less Mc Donalds. This experience has shaped who I am in so many different ways. It would take me pages and pages to try and explain it all. It has taught me to stop taking life so serious all the time. Deciding what is really important and what is not. My priorities over the last few years have totally changed, but that’s just part of growing up I guess. I value the time I spend with my wife more than I ever have. I am able to appreciate her more and more every day. More than anything growing up, all I ever wanted to do was play music. I never had huge dreams of playing sold out shows to thousands of people. I simply wanted to be able to play music, and maybe get lucky enough to travel. To this day, it’s all a dream come true. It blows my mind. I am so thankful for the experiences I have had in this thing, words cannot even begin to describe the joy I feel in my heart.

<b>There are a lot of bands out there trying to get something across right now – I know that we’ve had many a discussion about it, and perhaps if it comes across in the next album, we all might get a better insight as to the mind of Shane Ochsner. My question, though, is: is there anything on your heart that you want to leave anyone with? What is your heart for us? For music, for God, for life, for the scene, for whatever you want to write about…?</b>

My feelings on where this music scene is at, and what it has shaped to be over the years, is a subject that I hold close to my heart. I am a jaded, bitter piece of garbage that should probably just continue to share my feelings with my guitar and nobody else. Maybe a poet or two. If I could say anything to anyone who is listening it would be this: Be a good person. Be a kind, and loving person. Respect people for who they are, and what they have chosen for themselves. If your a Christian, give God some room to work. Develop real relationships with people. Be a positive example in some one’s life. If your in a band, be who you are. Don’t be afraid to enjoy playing music! To many bands claim that “The ONLY reason we are up here doing this, is because we believe in Jesus Christ”. Well, it’s also true that you enjoy touring, and you enjoy big amps and cool little head bangs with an extra neck throw on all of the down beats. You can love Jesus, and play Rock N Roll at the same time. Spend less time trying to think of something “amazing and life changing” to say on stage, and spend more time letting your music and your actions speak for themselves.

All of that stuff is just my opinion. Everybody is different, and that’s what makes everything so interesting. Being a part of this music scene, has really done a lot for me as a believer. I have had to search for God in so many different situations. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between something honest, and the next big marketing scheme for the young kids to buy into. It’s all one bold lettered t-shirt after another. I have never felt so disconnected from this music scene, than I do now. However, because of all of this, I have never felt more connected to God and every person He has placed in my life. Interesting how that works.

<b>I’ve talked a lot with each band on this Young & Wreckless run about the depreciation of music and an over-saturated market. I know that there are a million cliche questions that everyone gets asked about how they are or aren’t going to stand out amongst the crowd, but I’d like to shift that into something else: Ryan (ITMOL) said that if he could, he’d want to experience “music amnesia” and go back to what it was like when he was first discovering music, with the joy and appreciation and wonder of a onlooker through child’s eyes. Sometimes, I get really discouraged because I feel like music has simply lost it’s value entirely – a despairing over-exaggeration, but the point being that it’s really hard for me to get excited about what’s happening anymore, like I used to when I started. I feel jaded. So my question is: Are you jaded? Do you look back on the excitement you used to have, say, when you used to save money to buy your favorite artist’s album you wanted, or even when you got signed, and long for that again – or have you been able to hold on to that joy, that sense of innocent excitement, in one way or another? Why, and how?</b>

Music is such an amazing thing. Everyone has their different tastes, and styles. So it’s hard for me to say that an artist is doing something wrong, or a band is writing the wrong material. I do feel like most music today is the same. Especially in this particular music scene. Breakdown after breakdown, the years fly by. Peavy is selling more 5150’s than ever. I will admit though, there’s a few heavy bands that somehow have found a way into my regular play list. This is where I am going to plug A Plea For Purging. I am looking forward to their new album “The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell” coming out this summer! Great dudes.

I do miss the days of everyone lining up at their local music shops on the release date of their favorite bands new album. Buying a physical copy. I am as guilty as any one else, I have downloaded music for free on the Internet. However, I can honestly say that 98% of that music is stuff from many years ago, and all I am looking for is the single. For example: “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. Sorry Coolio, 1995 was a great year, but I am not going to pay for that entire album if I don’t have to. Any of my favorite bands, I buy the physical copies. I think the idea of having an actual case and disc, is so awesome. Your getting the full album, the way it was intended. Versus some mp3 files that you’ll eventually delete anyway.

I do miss the excitement I had as a kid when it came to music. Buying the CD, listening to it over and over. Reading all of the insert content, including the band’s thank yous!  But there’s only two bands in the world right now that I still feel that excitement for. Jimmy Eat World, and HUM. Everything else, gets filed in the “when I get around to it” section of my brain. So I feel fortunate to have at least a few bands that I still get that excited about!

<b>What one or two experiences came out of the last few years of touring together that stick out to you the most? What was the most exciting thing – the thing that kind of held you in awe of the fact that, “Whoa… this is actually happening!”</b>

Going to Europe was pretty crazy for me. That was something I never could of imagined to happen to me. It didn’t even really sink in until we were half way across the Atlantic Ocean, and I realized “Oh man, this plane could seriously plunge into a deep dark ocean, and I would be hundreds of miles away from shore.”. That’s when it hit me, we are going to Europe. Easily one of the best experiences of my life.

<b>So you mentioned another album in the works… with the potential of a Facedown release. To clarify for the fans, Hands isn’t done, you’re just done touring. Tell me a little bit about future plans. I know you’re pretty stoked about who you’re working with… Does the idea of putting out a record that you’re not going to be touring on give you a different feel/more or less freedom to write differently or in a specific direction?</b>

I am so pumped for this new Hands album. We are not breaking up, but we are going to withdraw ourselves from the touring circuit of bands. So things will drastically slow down, which is good for us. We have realized as time passes, that we will never be the next big selling artist on any label. The majority of the tours we are on are geared towards the younger kids, and most of them can’t really find anything appealing about our music. Touring for us has become more of an expensive camping trip than anything. Facedown Records has been amazing, and in my opinion I think the label is run by some of the most genuine, good hearted people I have ever met. They have encouraged us to do whatever we want to do musically with this project, and have decided to help in any way possible.

We are recording our next album in January 2011, with Matt Talbott of the band HUM in Tolono, IL. Matt was also responsible for recording one of our favorite albums, “Satellite Years” by Hopesfall. It’s an all analog studio, everything is recorded on to a reel of tape. We want to make sure that what you get on that album, is Hands the way you would hear it live. No recording tricks, no drum re placers or quantizing, strictly just the vibe of the music being played. We feel like our style of music done this way would make for a better listening experience. I do agree that I feel like the weight we put on ourselves with the last album, has been lifted off our shoulders as far as writing style. This new material we have so far, is really removed from anything we have done before. So it’s actually a typical Hands album, we write whatever we think is cool, and hope that a few people latch on to it.

<b>What does writing look like for you? We talked, on one of the drives, about how, when you start out – writing is your hobby that you love and it is yours to hold onto. Later on down the road, writing looks more and more like your job, and it’s hard to be true to what you want to write about, because you start to feel like you need to make all of your material crystal clean for whoever might hear it. How has this pressure affected your writing, specifically, and the way that you write, generally? Do you think that the decision to stop touring, removing yourself from the seemingly constant public eye, and setting your focus more inward, and homeward, will be good for your creative genius?</b>

I think where we are at right now as a band is the best position we could possibly be in for writing an album. Musically, lyrically, the whole thing. I always get worked up when it comes to writing and recording, because I have always wanted everything to be perfect. Writing “Creator” was a huge, hair pulling project for me personally. The pressure of being the first Facedown release, and hoping that the music is weird enough to satisfy our creative niches, but also hoping that there are just enough sections in a song that the younger kids can connect to. Lyrically was even worse. I went into the studio having no lyrics, because every time I would try and write at home, I would over analyze every single line and never get anything done. So I would end up writing all of my lyrics in the middle of the night, the day before I was supposed to track it. And eventually, had to force myself into settling on something. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy how everything turned out, but that was a crazy few weeks.  Thank God for my band mates, who were able to bring me back to down to Earth every once in a while. “The Sounds Of Earth” was written at farm shed in North Dakota, with absolutely no pressure. We literally started jamming, and stopped at 10 tracks. The track listing of that album, is in the order we wrote those songs. To me, that experience was one of the most enjoyable things I have ever been a part of in music.

So now that the pressure is off, and my thought process has changed so much over the last year, I think writing is going to be better than ever. Lyrically, I have so many things on my heart, and I can’t wait to see how it comes together. I was afraid after “Creator” that I would run out of lyrics, and not have anything new to bring to the next album. But I have a good feeling things are going to be OK.

<b>Where do you find inspiration? I realize that’s the most over-asked question in the friggin universe, but I mean… where do you get that excitement you feel in your chest? Not necessarily specific to music… just anything, anywhere. What touches your heart?</b>

Inspiration for me is found in the most simple things. The fact that I have a home, and good people surrounding me. Or even just picking up a guitar, and being able to play it knowing that music will always be a part of my life. If I’m fortunate enough to have kids, thoughts of singing them songs and telling them stories about all of the great experiences I had in my younger years. The idea that my heart could stop beating at any second, that I am a human being. It sounds dark, but for some reason it always throws a different perspective on things!

<b>There’s this verse in Jeremiah that says something to the extent of: “I know the plans I have for you. they are plans for good and not for disaster – to give you a future and a hope.” As you move on to a different stage in this crazy thing called life, I hope that you can hold onto that promise. I hope all of you guys can. It was beautiful getting to know you, and I hope for a million hangout times in the future. Thanks for everything, Shane.</b>

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