Brian Quincy Newcomb interviewed Mac Powell and Mark Lee of Third Day for the feature article he wrote on the band. He was keen to notice that we’ll often print the Q&A from our features, so he passed us the transcribed interview for your viewing pleasure.
HM: Hey, I have been enjoying the new record. It feels familiar, yet it sounds like you’ve pushed beyond the traditional comfort zones for Third Day. Was it just time to do something different?
MP: Yeah, it was a little bit of a lot of different things. The main thing is that we’ve done this for a number of years now—I forget the count, this is either our ninth or tenth studio record, depending on what you consider a studio record—and there was this sense of urgency in me personally, and I think in the rest of the band, that we didn’t want it to be, ‘okay, there’s another Third Day record.’ I didn’t want that this time. I wanted it to be, ‘wow, look at this Third day record.’ It needed to be a little different, it needed to be bigger and better.
HM: This is a very weird time in the music industry, by and large, and that has implications for the Christian music world. People are buying less CD’s and downloading or sharing more. CCM magazine is now only available online. The technology and the market and the generational shifts have got everyone in a state of flux. As a result, what’s commonly called contemporary Christian music as a whole seems dominated by in-house focused worship product.
Which means, the vision I grew up with, that Christians would make great, relevant and artful rock statements, sharing the word of hope, grace and love of the Christ story with the world, has been pretty much abandoned. Instead of influencing the mainstream markets, we’ve carved out our own little ghetto niche, and are largely disregarded by the larger media forces of radio, etc. Where does all that leave Third Day?
You’ve made your share of worship records, you done some edgier rock records early on, at the fifteen year mark, you’re career artists. Even if you really wanted to quit, you’d probably have to keep doing this just to make a living at this point. So how do you find your way, what does Third Day do or become to make it’s way through that challenging maze?
MP: I was going to ask you that same question.
HM: Well, I have college degree (and two seminary higher ed. degrees) and a day job… starting out did they tell you to finish college and maintain your options for a supportive day job? When Christian music goes away, I know what I’ll be doing with my spare time.
MP: For us, it’s always felt like, on the one hand we’re one of the main bands in Christian music, but on the other hand sometimes you don’t feel like you belong at all. That being said, I’m very positive about our market. I love being a Christian band. To take what you said a step further, even if we went out and tried to be a mainstream band, and tried to not be a Christian band, we couldn’t pull that off. There’s too much music out there now, too much that’s been said, we can’t hide who Third Day is.
HM: Anybody with google and some spare time can learn way too much about all of us. There’s no hiding or pretending to be something different than you are anymore.
MP: But that doesn’t frustrate us, that actually makes us feel comfortable. To do something to sound cool, or be different than that would finally sound silly. After 15 years, we know who we are. And in that, you’re still striving to do more and be better. Even musically there’s that balance – how do we play the music that’s who we are, and what we’re good at, and what our fans want to hear, and at the same time push it in a little different direction. There’s this constant balancing act, where hopefully you’re morphing a little bit, not too much but enough to keep it interesting.
And then, there’s the seasonal things, too. I can’t wait until we get to do another worship record, I’m very excited about that. However, on the flip side of that, we’re constantly trying to make music that’s going to go outside of our market as well.
HM: Do you even think that’s possible these days?
MP: Yeah, absolutely. I think you make a quality product, and a great song is a great song. There are many examples from friends like P.O.D., Sixpence and Jars, that prove that if you have a great song it can go beyond… but that’s not automatic. So many other things have to line up, there are many variables, but it is possible. So, that’s our hope. I don’t think we’ll by any means have a number one hit on mainstream radio, or anything like that, but there’s mainstream stations today that are playing our music. We’re getting a song in a video game, and people are getting songs in movie soundtracks, so you can still have some mainstream accessibility without even having to go to radio.
HM: Radio seems pretty dead and repetitive, it’s probably over.
MP: I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s not what it was.
HM: I know very few people who are listening to radio, who depend on it to supply their musical fix or to introduce them to new music. Those that are tuned in are listening to satellite, where the plethora of channel options mean you’ll be very unlikely to hear music or programming that doesn’t fit your established values, tastes and politics—which makes it more niche-y.
MP: It’s a great, new format. But all that being said, I know for us, there’s a difference – at this point right now, and things are rapidly changing everyday – if we go to a city that has Christian radio, there’s a difference than in the city which doesn’t have Christian radio, as far as the number of people there, the songs that they know. So, it’s still a viable thing, and I’m sure Jon Bon Jovi and Daughtry could tell you the same thing from their perspectives. It’s rapidly changing and it’s scary, but it’s exciting at the same time. It seems like the music business is dying, and yet music is doing fine.
HM: Music is going to be fine, it’s something people love and will always want in their lives. People will make music, no matter what. It comes down to who one can afford to make and promote a record. And for pinched consumers, can I afford to buy new music every week, or only one disc a month.
MP: Absolutely, and as artists you think, we’ll always have touring. Well, touring is dying too.
HM: Because it’s so competitive, and folk are overwhelmed by choices and ticket prices?
MP: Right. So, we’ve just got to find out where we fit in all of that.
HM: Thus, ‘Revelation.’ How much time and energy went into this recording, this time out?
MP: We worked on it for a year, but we weren’t working on it everyday for a year. We got together in the spring of ’07, and started demoing songs. We went to Charlottesville, Virginia, which is where our management company is based. They manage Dave Matthews, so we got the cool honor of being able to go to his home studio and hang out. It’s built in a house in the middle of nowhere, so it was just us the band. It was almost a little writing retreat, really. We had a great time together coming up with these ideas, and then the rest of the Spring, we wrote while we were on the road and then in the summer we got together and wrote some more. Through the whole process, we’d come up with over 30, close to 40 ideas, and then trying to figure out who was going to be the producer and got in touch with Howard Benson. Once he was on board, we met with him in late summer of last year. He came to Atlanta for about a week, but we didn’t really work—everyday, we listened to songs. Everyday from 9 – 5 we listened to songs, and he basically told us what he didn’t like, and what he did like, but it was really hard.
Working with Howard was interesting. After the first day, we said, ‘man, what have we done, what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Right before we decided to work with him, our management company said we’ll set up a meeting so you guys can sit down with Howard. We said, we don’t need to sit down with him, we don’t need another friend, we need a producer. We’ve heard his stuff, we know he’s great, let’s work with him. But, then the first day, it’s like, oh… man…
HM: Sounds like you came around to thinking ‘we need a friend.’
MP: Absolutely. Howard is very direct, he’s very…
HM: He has a whole team, so you get his process, but you only get him for part of the time, right?
MP: Well, initially, it was just him. When we were talking through these songs, in Atlanta, getting these ideas all together, it was just him. We had him for a week, but actually two days would have done it. Still, we worked for a week. We’d spent a week in the studio before he came out, so the general feeling that we brought into this record was that we never settled. We kept working and working and working.
When we’d get to a song that we felt was great, we’d record it ourselves, and then listen to it for a while, and work on it some more. We’d never really done that before, we were never at that place where we got to work on some of the songs live before the record was out. We haven’t been in a place where we could do that in a long time. It was a different thing for us.
Then we went to L.A. for a month, although some of us were in and out, but that was way different for us than we were used to working in Atlanta. Working with the team that Howard has was just really different, and we were not enjoying the process at the ‘making’ of the record, but we were enjoying what we were getting. At the end of the day, we knew it was great, and liked what we were getting, so it was worth all the junk we had to go through to get there.
HM: Did you go in with a concept of what ‘Revelation’ was going to say, what it was going to sound like? A lot of conventional Christian music seems to suffer from a complete sameness, where you can tell its ccm not so much because of ambiguous pronoun—is she sing to her boyfriend or to God?—but where there this compressed, synthetic, processed sound that is the texture and certain sameness that you hear on the average Christian radio station, or those WOW discs.
MP: Well, we pick on Christian music, and rightfully so, but the same can be said of lots of mainstream music.
HM: Point taken, formula pop is formula pop. I just thought that the whole we are artists serving the Creator would suggest a different approach. How then, does Third Day stand out from that, how do you create music that’s fresh?
MP: Even though for yourself and a lot of people who watch Christian music, to say that we don’t fit in to all of that probably doesn’t make any sense because we’re one of the staples of Christian music. But musically, I don’t think that we fit in to that… Forget what we make, but even the [mainstream] stuff that we like is not very viable right now. We love the Wallflowers and Tom Petty, and [Bruce] Springsteen—that kind of American rock thing. Whether we sound like that or not, that’s what we like and that’s what we’re trying to make, the listener can be the judge.
HM: You could make the argument that Springsteen can still sell records.
MP: Yes, that’s true.
HM: But in an American Idol / pop music world, he’s countercultural. Again.
MP: And, we consider ourselves fitting in that classic rock mold, and because of that, in a way, that’s fresh. You turn on the radio, you’re not hearing Petty and Springsteen. Since that’s what we like, and that’s what we try to make, even though it’s old and classic (sounding), but in a way it’s fresh. In the same way that the Beatles were trying to be Little Richard, we’re trying to be Tom Petty, but it just comes out different.
HM: Well, this sounded like a record where you guys were stepping up with your best chops, your best rock licks. Not knowing what to expect, I admit I was pleasantly surprised by what I was hearing, it felt really authentic and vital again.
MP: For me, personally, it’s all about the song. We’ve never have tried to be the cool band, the most alternative band. We’re just normal guys who play rock music. When I say, we don’t fit in, I think that’s why. We’re not Switchfoot. God bless ‘em, I love ‘em to death and we’re going on tour with them, but they are a cool band.
HM: You know, they are cool. My ten-year-old totally wants to grow up to be Switchfoot.
MP: And, who doesn’t. They are so cool, and same with Jars. We played with Jars the other night, and we love those guys – they are the Beatles of Christian music to me, they come up with such different stuff than anyone else. But we’re not going to be them. So we’re pretty much that ‘three c chords and the truth’ band. [U2 may have popularized that phrase on Rattle & Hum, but it’s a quote from country singer Harlan Howard, oft repeated in references to Woody Guthrie on down to Springsteen and Steve Earle.]
That’s where we’re comfortable. I think we’ve always known that, but we’re at a place where we’re at peace with it. For so many years, we’ve gone, we’re not going to be anybody else so this is who we are. But, you asked how do we keep what we do fresh, and I think working with Howard, bringing in someone like him who’s done some huge mainstream stuff that’s fresh and different, from P.O.D. to Hoobastank to Daughtry, bringing that to us, pulls us in a new direction.
HM: The other thing that stands out in this record, apart from the ccm norm, is that it takes the notion that life and faith is more of a struggle than much of Christian radio wants to admit. We used to joke about the third verse salvation clause, which said you could say life is hard without Jesus, but by the time you get to that last refrain, you have to have found your “Joel Osteen” moment, where you go from “victim of sin” to “victory in Christ.” It seems like you’ve kept the hope of the gospel in your songs without that triumphalistic artificiality. These songs feel more authentic. How do you find that balance?
MP: I think that comes with age.
HM: It’s good to be old, isn’t it? It does beat the alternative.
MP: I was playing cards the other night with a bunch of friends and one of the guys was 26, in a band that I’m working with now. And someone asked me, what I’d do to be 26 again. I said, are you kidding? There’s no way I’d want to be 26 again. I like being in my mid-30’s, and I’ve got some stuff figured out, I wouldn’t want to go back to then.
HM: And I’m in my 50’s and I wouldn’t want to go back to being 40, although I’d like my knees and my waistline back.
MP: I embrace the age, and the – I don’t want to say wisdom, cause that can be debatable – but the things that you come to know with time and age that go with that. I think that comes in the record.
Even in the song ‘Revelation,’ which is probably the most ccm thing we have on there, there’s that message of still seeking, still struggling through this thing of faith. It’s admitting, I don’t have a revelation for everybody else, I’ve got to receive one for myself. One of the thing I love about some of the songs on this record, like this one, and ‘Born Again,’ is that people see the titles and assume they know what it’s going to be about. But then they hear it, and it’s like, wait this is a little different than I expected.
With ‘Revelation’ it’s not something from the ‘Book of Revelation’ [the last book of the New Testament, for those playing along at home], and it’s not ‘I have a revelation for all of you.’ It’s man, I’m at crossroads, God, I can’t make it through this without you, I’ve got to hear from you now.
When you talk about the realness that’s in this record, that’s what it’s about, it’s about that process of faith. It’s that three step program. It’s being broken and needing prayer, and coming before God in prayer being the second step, and then moving forward in life.
HM: But the model in a lot of Christian music, and pop theology and psychology, is that you’ve gone through that, so your ‘saved,’ and your done, now go sit in a quiet corner and wait for heaven. It’s a view of life that’s kind of what happens to kids on Sunday morning when they have their good clothes on and there’s an hour until church. Your parents say, what ever you do ‘don’t get those clothes dirty.’ You’ve had that once for all experience, so now you’re all better. But I hear on the record, and I know from my own life, that brokenness and healing are not mutually exclusive experiences, and that we have to get out in life, and sometimes we’re going to get our clothes dirty. We still have brokenness in our lives. Is some of that going on for you?
HM: We’ve polished up the Christian message, and lost the struggles of the saints, the lost the lived in-ness of life.
MP: Well, that’s why we listen to Christian music, we want that hope, we want that good news at the end of the day, and the end of the song. You and I realize that there’s a lot more to it than that. When you’re in your 20’s, most people get out of school, you get married, and everything’s feeling good for a while. But you get further down the road, and you think, ‘crap, I’ve got a mortgage to pay, and my business is dying, how am I going to do this?’ Your kids start to get a little older…
HM: and they don’t like my music…
MP: and they are starting – I haven’t reached this point because my kids are still pretty young – but you get to that place where my kids are starting to hang out with kids I don’t want them to hang out with. Things are not that easy.
HM: Well, that’s my point. I think it’s a disservice to tell a kid to every question Jesus is the answer, when I don’t remember in the Gospels where Jesus held down a job and cared for a wife and raised teenagers. Of course, I believe that the best way to live is to follow in the path of Jesus, to model my life values on his, but when we over simplify we can make folk who are struggling feel unnecessarily guilty, when struggle probably makes sense given the challenges some of us are facing.
MP: You and I know there’s a lot of great stuff out there that has that struggle, that sense of burden, but that’s not what’s going to get played on WAY-FM [or any other contemporary Christian radio station]. That’s not knocking WAY-FM, it’s just that I understand there’s that a limitation. That music is out there, there’s Bruce Cockburn and Adam Again, but it’s few and far between.
HM: One of the things that can ground all of us, is if we’re still listening to what people are experiencing, instead of creating some idealistic scenarios. If we’re honest about our lives and the peoples’ lives around us, that keeps us real and relevant. So, what’s influencing you as you grapple with life and faith these days?
MP: The major influence is just life, in general. I’m a big fan of entertainment, unashamedly. I love T.V., I love film, I love books, I love music. All those things have an impact on my life, and I’m not afraid to admit it. One thing I noticed a while back, is that lots of artists are careful not to tip their hat, or admit their influences, but we’re not. I remember a couple albums ago we did a song that was very Stones-y, and the label said you can’t do that, it’s too much like the Rolling Stones. And, we’re like, that’s the point.
HM: I took one look at your album cover, and it immediately called to mind the Radiohead cover, was that on purpose?
MP: Not necessarily, but I think we recognized that there was a touch of similarity to the ‘Thief’ cover. But, we were going something reminiscent of this place called Salvation Mountain, in fact we wrestled with calling the album that. It’s in this place out in California (Niland—www.salvationmountain.us), where this guy has taken all this rubbish, and garbage and paint, and has made this big folk art piece on this big mountain.
HM: Sounds like a more modern Howard Finster.
MP: Totally. There’s something intriguing about that, and we’ve heard stories about the guy, Leonard Knight, but what was it in this guy’s life where he commits himself to making this weird piece of art, out in the middle of nowhere? It’s really this piece of junk, covered with paint. Which kind of goes with how we are, sometimes, a big piece of junk covered with paint.
But then, a guy did a painting based on the mountain, so it’s a piece of art based on a piece of art. And then we decided to put in the song titles, because he’s painted verses and sayings on the mountain. So, it developed for us.
HM: So, when do you guys hit the road.
MP: We’re going out with Jars, Switchfoot and Robert Randolph, the Habitat tour.
HM: Well, I see I’m about out of tape, was there something we haven’t touched on, that you wanted to be sure to say?
MP: The think I mentioned before, but we just kept striving on this record. I think it’s worth noting that this wasn’t just another Third Day album for us. We really worked harder on this record than anything we’ve ever done, we spent more time on it than anything that came before. Howard was a guy we hated for about two weeks, and now I consider him one of my closer friends. He pushed me more vocally than anyone ever has, and the same songwriting wise. I’m not even finished singing a song, and he’s stopping me to work on a line here or there. He just wouldn’t let me give up on stuff, we were reworking, rewriting, and re-recording. Even when most of the record was done, and the company was clamoring for it, we went back in and recorded the songs ‘Revelation’ and ‘Give Love.’ Just examples of ways we kept pushing, and he kept pushing to help us make the best record we could.
The Mark Lee Interview:
HM: Tell me about the making of the new record, because in many ways this feels like a lively, almost a reinvention for you guys.
ML: It really was. It had been a couple years since we’d put a new (studio) release out, and during that time, it’s not like we were killing time and hanging out. We really wanted to take the time, and revision what Third Day is all about – hang on, there’s a huge plane going over my house, that’s crazy. I’m going to step inside, sorry about that.
It was really time for us to figure it all out again. So, we started off, we went up to a little studio in Charlottesville, Va. Basically, it was just a cabin out in the woods, and we were able to lock ourselves away for about a week there. I think that [time out there] was what set the stage for this album. We had plenty of time to work on the record, so we could just throw out all those preconceived notions of what it was needs to be. We just got in a room together and had fun, and that dictated the process. That was in February of ’07, and then we went out and did some touring and other things, and then we reconvened with (producer) Howard Benson. I think that was last October or November.
I don’t know if you know Howard but, what would be a nice way to put it… he’s what you’d call a stern taskmaster.
HM: That may be the politest way I’ve heard people describe working with Howard Benson (laughs).
ML: Monroe Jones is the producer we’ve worked with the most, he’s the nicest guy in the world. He’s the gauge we have as far as producers go. Howard would be the exact opposite. I think we need that, because we’re a band that’s been together – goodness – fifteen years, or more depending on which early line up you’re talking about. So, we’d gotten comfortable with a certain way of working and making records. It’s not like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, but it’s more like ‘dude, we’re Third Day, let’s go in and record.’
Going in with Howard, I think we all felt that we needed to have the process shaken up somehow. We definitely got that, in fact we got the bonus plan as far as that goes.
The first day, and we’d never met the dude, we’re set up in the studio and we play a song for him. We’re all feeling pretty good about it, and he goes, ‘nope, that’s not a hit. What else have you got?’ We’re like ‘whooaah, okay.’ That was really how he was, and at the beginning of the process that was really frustrating. For the first couple of weeks, we were all thinking that we’re never working with this dude again, it felt ridiculous.
But after going through the process, and really seeing how what he was doing, early on, was making us scope everything a lot harder. In places where we would have settled and said this is good, he kept us from settling. He said I’m not with you until it’s totally great.
The phrase he kept using over and over again in the studio was ‘I don’t believe that.’ That was different for us…
HM: You guys are used to being believed, aren’t you?
ML: Yeah, totally. And to have that phrase coming from this brash, Jewish, Yankee guy from Philadelphia, who’s living out in L.A. now, he’s just the opposite of where we’re coming from. But the cool thing about Howard is that he’s not a [Christian] believer – he’s actually a practicing Jew, and I totally respect that, I think it’s cool that he takes [his religion] seriously. But for someone like that, and to have worked with so many artists who are coming from a [Christian] faith background, whether it be Flyleaf or P.O.D. or Relient K and a lot of these kinds of artists – and I even think he said, one day, about working with all these Christian artists, that there’s this passion there and a conviction that you don’t see in a lot of other artists.
So, in the end, working with Howard was great. That and going out to L.A. to work in his studio, those are probably the two factors that shook things up and made [making the record] a different experience for us.
HM: This is a very difficult time to make a living as a recording artist, in an ever challenged corporate climate, which is all the more nuanced and, I imagine, frustrating in the Christian music niche. I don’t have the sales figures in front of me, but I think we’ve watched the whole ccm industry run toward worship product because, ultimately, sadly, that’s what sells. You guys have had a couple successful releases in the ‘worship’ genre. I can’t help but believe that there are lots of pastors and accountants who would tell you to spend the rest of your career making more of the same. So, what’s the case for Third Day to go in and make another singer/songwriter rock record?
ML: We’re in a place where we have to be true to what we were originally called to do. Worship is actually a huge part of that. The very earliest concerts that Mac and I would do at churches around town, we’d do worship as part of it. Worship was always part of what we do, but it was not all that we do.
It’s important, I think, for us to stay true to what God was calling us to do. Originally, we felt God was calling us to make the best music that we could, something as solid as anything else out there. Hopefully, people would get rocked, to the core, and use that music to encourage people. Worship is part of that, but we’ve never felt that we were supposed to be a worship band.
People are always asking us, do you get pressure from your record company, or other people, to make more of a mainstream styled record and water down the lyrics. For a band in our particular circumstance, it’s almost the opposite. The record company wants us to record more worship stuff.
HM: Because in the Christian marketplace, worship is what sells.
ML: Exactly. And you’ve got to be smart, obviously, but it’s really important for us to listen to what God has for us. There are the business reasons for doing something, and then there’s our personal, artistic reasons for wanting to do something, and we feel like there’s that third side, the way that God might want us to do something. A lot of times, that’s hard to discern.
The title of the album is ‘Revelation.’ I think that’s a lot of the story of this record was really us trying to figure out—you know, we’ve done the worship thing, we’ve done the heavier rock thing, and we’ve done more of the Southern whatever thing—it’s like, ‘God, what do you have for us for this season?’ And I don’t know that we necessarily got the exact right answer.
When you see the title of the record is ‘Revelation,’ folk are going to think that either Third Day has read some Hal Lindsay book and have gone all ‘end times’ on us, or they’re going to think ‘hey, Third Day has had this revelation from God and their sharing this word of truth.’ And, it’s neither of those.
The basic premise of the album is ‘God, show us, give us a revelation.’ The lyrics of the title track, asks ‘show me what to do,’ and I think that’s really where the heads of the band are at in this season.
HM: All due respect to worship leaders for whom that music is not only their calling but their greatest joy, I have to wonder how satisfying it would be to play those shapeless worship choruses. It’s got to feel boring when you’re playing seventh chords on an acoustic 12-string.
ML: You know, I don’t even own an acoustic 12-string, but I know exactly what you’re saying. That’s one thing we’ve always avoided. When we did ‘Offerings’ our first worship album, it was never about here’s what worship music is, let’s go do that. Rather we wanted to show people what worship music means to us.
That’s one thing that set us apart early on. We had songs from our first couple of albums, like ‘Consuming Fire’ or “Thief,’ that – when you think about worship you’re expecting this is going to be sung at church by a big congregation of people, but for us it’s been that more personal thing. Once you’ve shown how music can be used as a response to what God has done for you, musically it can be a lot of different things. We do worship songs that are a lot more rock than a lot of things out there. On our second ‘Offerings’ record, it’s a lot more rock than almost anything we’ve ever done, there’s extended guitar solos. But yeah, you’re right with lots of worship music there’s a certain sameness, and our approach works against that.
HM: Well, in most worship music, you can spot when the Spirit arrives because the band takes it up a key… no, I’d never say that that music is rife with emotional manipulation, I’d never say that… never. Ha! I kid… I kid.
Given that songwriters and guitar players can be at odds, even when they are the same person, where are you at with the songs on ‘Revelation.’ How did you know these were songs you were going to enjoy playing for the next 18 months, what excited you about them musically?
ML: We have to go through a process, and it’s pretty tedious, where we just weed through a whole lot of songs. On this record, we probably had more raw ideas then we’ve had previously. Mac or I or Brad will bring an idea to the table, and we just kick it around and work on it until at some point – and I’m not sure what it is – it just clicks and it feels like a Third Day song, and everybody embraces it. As a guitar player, as that process is unfolding I’m just digging for jewels, or something. There’s something that happens when we’re in a room together and we’re playing and it comes together and feels like something special.
One song on the new one, ‘I Will Always Be True,’ is one that, when we first started working on it, felt like this stock Third Day, we’d done this before kind of thing. But we kicked it around, and every time we played it would kick a little more, and then there’s that middle section that we came up with somewhere along the way. In the studio, we recorded it like that, and I put this slide guitar over it, and David was doing this thing on the drums where he was lining up with that section, and you get through it and you feel like you’ve been somewhere. Before you know it, you’ve got a song that started out as ‘okay,’ but you get to the point now where, we’ve been playing it live and it’s a really special moment. It’s something about this Third Day thing, that when we get together and everyone puts everything that they have into it, and something happens and it just turns into us. It’s hard to explain in a lot of ways.
HM: What are you listening to these days?
ML: It really runs the gamut, most of the time, but I’m on the tail end of this massive metal kick. When we were in the studio, the engineer, Mike Plotnicoff, he’s produced a lot of things, like Buckcherry. He was in the studio in the 80’s with bands like the Scorpions, all these big metal records done back in the day. Hanging out with him a little bit, it was like ‘do you remember this record,’ or that, and I’d go and put it in. So, from that, I went from metal back in the day to what’s going on now. Actually I’ve been impressed, and amazed to find all these great metal bands that have come around in the last couple years. Demonhunter is one that I really dig, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. And, I didn’t know this record existed, it’s called the Lost Crowes, it’s where the Black Crowes were in the studio in the mid-90’s and started to make a record but for whatever reason pulled out, so there’s two discs one made before ‘Amorica’ and one right after. It’s just unbelievable, I can’t take it out of my player.
HM: I’ve been listening to ‘Warpaint,’ which I love, so I’ll have to check that out.
ML: Yeah, I got ‘Warpaint,’ and it was killer and then I stumbled across this in a store the other day, and I didn’t even know this Lost Crowes record existed, it’s familiar songs but different arrangements. And, I’m really digging the audio version of that Stones concert movie, have you heard that?
HM: Absolutely, and you really need to see the movie in IMAX if it’s anywhere near you.
ML: Well, if it’s anything like the [sound] recording, they just leave it out there on the stage. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t enjoy live albums because they just sound like bad studio recordings with audience noise. A buddy told me about [‘Shine a Light’], and it’s wonderful. That’s how live records are supposed to sound. You want to hear the mistakes. There’s this push-pull thing with the two players (Keith Richards and Ron Wood), that’s just powerful.
HM: Well, you’ll want to see the movie I took my budding guitar playing ten year old, and told him to ignore the wrinkles and watch their hands.
ML: Yeah, I need to see it on the big screen. I missed the ‘U2-3D’ film when it came through.
HM: Oh, that was great too… you should try to see it if you get the chance. Hey, I want to tie this up… I interviewed Mac for a half-hour this morning, so we’ve got more than enough for the length of this piece, but is there some burning issue about Third Day and the new record, that I haven’t asked about, something you want to add?
ML: I don’t know what Mac said about this, but there’s something about the concept of ‘Revelation.’ This always happens for us, it happens late in the game, when we have the album is just about done, before we notice that the songs all fit together. Mac came and played me the ‘Revelation’ song, and I said that’s the title of the record right there. As soon as I heard it, I felt it had the hook that you could hang everything else on, it just makes sense. It fit the season we’d been going through, we’d just done the ‘greatest hits’ album last year, so we’d had this year long celebration of Third Day. There’s two ways you can go with that. There’s, okay, Third Day’s done, get the best of record on the conveyer belt, and the band is over. Or, you can say, this is the end of a chapter and here’s what’s next. And I don’t have any doubts that looking back, this album will be the beginning of the next chapter. I always hesitate, with each new release, to be one of those artists who says this is our best album. But this time, I really think that it is. I think that this is going to be one of those milestone records that marks a turning point in our career. I’m really proud of it.
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