Thursday, April 21, 2011

Doves, Needtobreathe, and The Redeemer

Alright, shoot me. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Can I use the excuse of having two full-time kids and a job that keeps me up late shaking people’s hands and saying cheese almost every night? Or maybe just the fact that life has just been really busy and free time is just plain hard to come by. Anyways... I was feeling inspired to write tonight so here goes.

Although we didn’t win any awards last night at the Dove’s I still had a great time with my bandmates and my fam. We road-tripped it all the way from cold Toledo to eighty degree Atlanta. Some parents even came along for the first time ever in the bus and that was a pretty awesome thing to see happen. We arrived the morning before so that we could make our 10:30am rehearsal time. The Fox theater is right downtown and is an impressive building to stand in. We’ve played in quite a few old theaters, but this one was pretty special. Complete with a dome shaped, star filled, twinkling ceiling and a rad balcony that looked as though it wasn’t supported by anything underneath. The stage was shiny and the best way I can describe the room sounding is ‘right.‘ Mark wasn’t with us for the trip since Susan is due with their third child in only a few days. Anthony, a friend of ours, filled in for the performance of ‘Lead Me’ and did an absolutely amazing job Wednesday night for having only playing the song with us twice before. There’s a lot to be said of a musician who just comes in unrehearsed and gets the job done. We were up for 3 awards and struck out twice during the pre-show awards and finally again for song of the year that was announced at the end of the actual show. I can’t say we weren’t disappointed. We really thought we had a chance at taking one home, maybe if only parents and siblings were allowed to vote we would have.

So just before the time came for us to perform our two minutes and forty seconds of Lead Me they announced the nominees for the group of the year award. This year the award went to the guys in Needtobreathe. So I felt like all was right in the dove world once that happened. I could be at peace losing 3 out of 3 nominations as long as Needtobreathe won something. I’ve written about those guys on my blog before and I just love their music. I can remember early in the summer of ’09 playing a show with them and knocking on the door to their bus, being invited in, and having the chance to sit and listen with them to the final mix of their latest record ‘The Outsiders’ before it was mastered. I can remember them playing me the title track first and then thinking, shoot I hope they don’t think I’m on a spy mission here because that song starts with a banjo and we had just recorded our song Forgiven with a banjo as well. I started to get self conscious and wanted to say something like ‘that sounds awesome, we just did a banjo on a song too!’ But I decided that would be lame all around and I might not get to hear the rest. So I put the brakes on that comment and continued to listen. Just a couple songs in and I think one of the guys, either Seth or Bo asked Bear if he played me Through The Smoke yet. He kinda got a smirk on his face, found the remote, skipped to that song and said check this one out. At this point all the guys from the Needtobreathe camp had made their way in and were in on the listening party. It wasn’t til later when Tom Petty released a DVD talking about his third record that I realized just how cool this moment was. Tom explains how when him and the Heartbreakers were recording Damn The Torpedoes they’d always put on a certain song when their friends would drop by the studio because they knew it would just lay them down flat. I thought that was pretty awesome, because I’d like to think every band has that one song they’re all geeked on - if it becomes a single or not, it’s just their favorite song - period. For Tom he says it was Here Comes My Girl. I’d like to think for the guys in Needtobreathe it was Through The Smoke and that they had invited me in and played me the song they knew would knock me out. And so there we all were listening and absorbing this brand new piece of music, which it still was to them at the time. But Bear was kind of being low key as we listened, almost as though he was unsure if I’d like it or not, and it seemed he was holding back a big old grin the whole time. He was waiting to see what I thought - yeah me, the guy that’s a sucker for everything this song had. The ingredients were all there and mixed just right... accordion, mandolin, gang vocals, a verby tambourine, harmonica, the soulful lyric ‘I was born in a house in a town just like your own / I was raised to believe in the power of the unknown / cause when the answers and the truth take different sides / will you still find me / will you still see me through the smoke.’ I didn’t like the song. I loved it! I mean come on, it laid me down flat and I walked out of that bus knowing they had something special in that record and that it was only a matter of time before everyone would hear it and know the same thing I did.

Let’s say I was stoked they won 2 Dove’s last night. Yay Needtobreathe. Sanctus Real? There’s always next time. But I will say that we do have a song on our record that we all feel that same way about and it just happens to be our new single - The Redeemer. I really love this song and I’m ecstatic that it’s a radio single. If you get the chance check it out, or call your radio station and ask them to kindly play it. The band loves this song for its message and music. It’s all around one of our favorites, if not our favorite song on the album. I hope you like it.

We’ll be on the road a lot this spring. Check out our dates and come hang out with us. I promise to shake your hand and even say cheese with you if it comes down to it ;)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Traveling Salesmen?

I was fortunate enough to be home last week when my dad called one night and said he needed a hand with a job he was doing. We’re off the road and not doing any touring for a few weeks so it worked out that I could help. There I was the next morning in the Toyota minivan on the way up to Michigan feeling reminiscent of the last time I was in that seat - probably well over 10 years ago at this point. My dad is a photographer, one of the best in my opinion of course, and he had a routine job lined up to shoot a vip for some automotive corporation near Ann Arbor. The woman he was shooting had apparently been awarded with an industry honor and needed some shots to go with the press release. So they called in Jim, my dad, and they got what they needed. His full-time assistant was on vacation in Europe so when they called for Jim they actually got Chris as well. Ha! I think it’s kind of funny. Anyways, as I was carrying gear and unloading tripods and lights, hanging seamless and running cables I realized a few things all at once. I’m watching as my dad sets up his gear to his liking, and listening as he’s sort of talking himself through the process and it became very clear to me for the first time ever really - that we are the same person. I mean that figuratively of course, but I’ve thought this before and my wife will attest to it. I thought we just sneezed the same incredibly long number of times in a row or that we clear our throats the same way, but no it turns out we travel around from gig to gig setting up and tearing down in random rooms, just getting the job done. Making the light, or the sound in my case, do something special for those who care to observe. And the packing of gear, traveling, untangling dirty cables, shaking hands and saying cheese bit are something we both do to get the picture taken and the song sung. I don’t mean this in a brash or belittling way - I mean I’m way cool with it for once. Because for some time I’ve doubted to some degree the real significance of what I do, or should I say the things I do in order to do what I do - you follow me? I mean it’s just six strings and a beat up piece of wood - and beyond the bright lights and the sixty minutes or so spent on stage it’s a lot of open road and running cables. But I’ve realized that somewhere out there I’ve probably lost some of the wonder and the amazement that just maybe God made me for exactly this. And not only do I mean the traveling gig part, but to raise a family and be a dad too. And of course I can’t forget that He gave me a heart to share and a life experience to encourage others with. So I’m doing my best to understand that every good and perfect gift comes from him above. That these gifts are something I have a responsibility to use for his glory. I mean that’s a pretty big job in itself.

So we packed up all the gear that day, shook hands with the clients and drove the minivan to jimmy john’s for some lunch. Was a fun day - and it reminded me of how I got to a place in my life where I believed I could be the traveling musician in the family. So here’s to my dad - the original traveling snapshot man. The one who makes art out of work - or is it the other way around? Either way, thanks dad for letting me use the Rickenbacker, showing me how to work hard and wrap a mean cable, and last but not least for showing me what it takes to get the job done.

*for more on my dad's work visit

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Way The World Turns

Let's just start this one off big... so Dominique and I are happy to announce that we are expecting a little sibling for Josiah in August. Crazy right? Yeah, so we're unbelievably blessed and can't wait to see if it's going to be a little sister or a little punching bag for Josiah. So that's pretty big news. So big in fact that we decided to finally build a room in our basement for the little guys. Dominique's dad is a builder extraordinaire and has already started building out the downstairs into a playroom/place where dad can crank the stereo a bit ;) The news is bigger yet, so much that when I found out before Christmas I decided the perfect gift for Dominique would be a vacation. She's been pretty much tied down to the house since Josiah was born and hasn't been able to travel hardly anywhere with me. I found a cheap cruise to Mexico, snatched it up an booked the flights. We left last week and had a great time despite some unusually cold temperatures. It was nice being able to fly without a laptop, guitar, pedalboard or drummer. Ok - that last part I exaggerated. But it was a great time to relax and try to recharge. I had been helping my father in law demolish our basement the week prior. Tore out everything - including the basement sink. He had the walls framed and the concrete floor broken into in only 4 days before we left and continued to work while we were gone.

So that's what the past few weeks were like. Things were great, the new record is finished and the year is off to a good start.

I give a little bit of the weeks history to help explain why I was in the Caribbean on Tuesday when the earthquake hit Haiti. As if living on a cruise ship out in the middle of the ocean in a perfectly miniature sized room isn't surreal enough - I happened to turn the tv on to see the sobering news of devastation that was simultaneously occurring in a world not so far away. Being away from home and family had me already feeling disconnected. We left Josiah at home and were definitely missing him. I just couldn't sleep that night at all. Just thinking about how so many in Haiti, already living without the basic daily essentials I had at arms length in this vacation la la land we were living in, were missing their loved ones as well because of a deadly earthquake. Not much makes sense in a situation like this. Here I am safe and sound - able to make phone calls and eat a freaking cheese burger at 1am on the ocean while people in Haiti had lost everything. I guess I prayed my way to sleep that night... praying for those in need and asking God 'why?'

There's just so many questions I don't know I'll ever have answers to. I've had heartache in my life for sure and I think I'm learning more and more that there will always be a plentiful supply of it.

So where does it lead me? The only place I can really go... that is if I choose to, and that's to God's mercy. If I can somehow be grateful for what I have - and I don't mean a flat panel tv or a cool cellphone but things that really matter - and at the same time mourn for those who have lost then I guess that's what I am left to do. All of this in hope to somehow feel human.

I've read through a bit of Ecclesiastes tonight since I'm still not much for sleep and I can't say I have any explanation still for how to keep things mentally tidy while these things happen, but maybe a bit more understanding of how things play out...

Ecclesiastes 3 verse 10-11
I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I know there's at least some truth in that I don't know the beginning or the end in the sense of tomorrow say, but I do believe I know the 'end' that is made possible through God's grace. Salvation is what I have through Christ and I guess in these times it's what I should be focusing and sharing more of. I suppose we relay this hope through our music - and I'm excited for you all to hear new songs in just over a month - but I think I finally have my new year's resolution... To whole-heartedly try to live in a God fearing way - so much so that I'm completely reliant every day on his Grace.

And that's that for tonight. God please bless Haiti.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Give EPACE a chance

Can't sleep tonight. I think my schedule has been out of whack since the ball dropped. So, thanks to anyone that came to our hometown new year's show by the way. I must say it was a jolly good time ;) Still unbelievable to me how Toledo has been and continues to be so supportive. It was fun playing some new songs for everyone. The band stayed up super late the night before rehearsing the new tunes. I even had a tambourine solo planned, but was foiled by a faulty kickdrum pedal setup.

I must also say thanks to everyone that wrote in response to my last post. Sorry I'm a bit late in giving an update... We managed to get the transmission fixed thanks to some family help ;) Not sure the technical terms, but basically a part had blown causing the leak. My dad and I were able to drive it to the shop instead of getting it towed, just had to make a few stops to fill the transmission fluid. While it was in the shop though they found a few more things that needed replaced. Everything was fixed though and we made our shows in Florida later that week. By the time we got back home it was the 23rd I believe and I had some major Christmas shopping to do. Christmas was great, but wow it went by fast. Got to see some old friends so that was nice. And here I am now finally recovering from it all. Which means I should really be in bed.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


It's been a little while since a post, I'm not really sure anyone checks this thing anyways ;) Well, here goes... I'm home at the moment. Last week we drove halfway across the country - all the way to Montana and Wyoming and back. It was a crazy trip really, exhausting for an old guy like me. The trip really put our bus to the test too. Sub zero temps, running 24+hours straight, and then turning right around to come home. Everything seemed fine all the way to Billings, and even down to Wyoming where the temp got down to zero. But then once the temp settled down near -15 we started to have problems that prevented us from making it home after the last show. Tired and stuck in a small town in Wyoming we weren't really sure what to do. Having stopped at a gas station about 40 minutes into our return trip home we noticed that the front of the bus was sitting super low. Buses like ours have an incredible air system - and by air I don't mean like AC. The air that is required for the air ride suspension, is the same air that is used for the braking system and to park the bus among other things. It's so important in fact, that there are two systems really, one being an auxiliary system just in case the primary goes out. Now you might be saying, "chris, aren't you just a guy in the band, shouldn't you be more worried about guitar-related things and not about the mechanical workings of a bus?" Well yeah that's a good point. And I can't really say I wish that were true because deep down I love this kind of stuff. I enjoy being the guy that has the privilege of getting to the bottom of such problems and then making it all work again. I have some good support from the guys too. So back to Wyoming... We barely had enough clearance between the tires and the wheel wells by the time we were done fueling to even make a mild turn and park the thing over night. Having done so in the nick of time we decided to just let it sit and deal with it in the morning. Well I awoke to the lovely smell of diesel fumes and -15 degree weather at about 6am. The bus was now sitting even lower and the engine was doing its' best to stay alive in the frigid weather. Long story short, some great guys that had helped with the show the night before came by later that morning and brought some portable diesel heaters and a tarp. We aimed the heaters at the frozen air lines and sure enough in no time the bus began to rise to its' normal level. They helped us get it down the road to a shop where they even took care of our bill! Wow - we couldn't believe it. We were back on the road that evening and made it all the way home in about 24 hours thanks to some amazingly generous people in Wright, Wyoming.

So here I am at home after all that has transpired and I'm still feeling fairly shocked because now a diesel mechanic friend of ours here in town put a new compressor on the bus for us basically free of charge. I'm thinking wow God is pretty awesome. But low and behold right when the bus is suppose to leave town tonight to do a run with some friends of ours for the weekend - boom! the bus springs a massive transmission leak. Literally transmission fluid everywhere just a few hours before our driver was going to take the bus out tonight. It's cold here in our home town as well, not nearly Wyoming temps, but close enough to not feel the difference. So needless to say I'm bummed, our driver is bummed, the other band is bummed. I'm left trying to figure out how to tow the thing to a 24hr shop, but hear that the other band found a backup bus and we're off the hook for the night. I deserted the bus and came home - which is where I sit now.

So I'm thinking 'why does all this stuff happen?' Even in the midst of God's grace in the other mechanical situations It's still my nature to feel bummed out in the here and now. We've definitely been through somewhat of a tough time lately just as many people have with their finances and trying to figure out how to pay for things like this... you know sanctus real isn't as popular as miley cyrus (sarcasm), and to be honest there has been a lack of shows lately and a lack of income because of it. There have been some serious sacrifices we've made this year to keep this thing going and to be honest a lot of questions being asked as to how to push forward in a way that makes the most sense. I'd be lying if I said we didn't feel insufficient, insecure, or talented enough to continue to make music in an industry that is more competitive than anyone this side of the dial would ever let on. We definitely struggle with feeling 'good enough.' Someone always has a 'better' song or sells more records or has a more successful tour, a better site, a better amp, or cooler merch to sell. I convince myself that that is it - someone always has something better to sell....

So with these thoughts of defeat in my head I sit down now and somehow land on our band website. I start to read stories from our 'Forgiven' page. I guess In the midst of everything else I too easily and all too often forget that after almost 13 years of doing this we actually do have music out there that connects with some people on a heart level. Maybe it connects with them more than me even. And that's when it hits me tonight - reading these stories, that most of these people get 'it' more than I do. By that I mean the grace that comes with Forgiveness. God's desire to cleanse us of everything that separates us from Him is a freedom that these people have found. Though I have not experienced some of the tragedies those that have shared have, I find myself in the same place... desperately needing forgiveness for so many things and ways of thinking. Ways that I have convinced myself I'm not good enough. The habit of overlooking the positive to only see the negative. The lie that I'm suppose to be selling something that's better than what the other guy is selling when all the while I should be pedaling grace.

I'm encouraged by the stories I've read tonight. And I'm not going to worry about the transmission on the bus, or how we're going to pay for it. Or about where our songs sit on the chart, but instead I'm going to be concerned with accepting forgiveness. Most importantly so that I can move on and experience a life more full of grace. A life where I understand that a God that is entirely concerned with our redemption will not let me idle in a state long enough so that I would be unable to accept that redemption.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek God while he's here to be found, pray to him while he's close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

Friday, October 23, 2009

a day in the life?

on the eve of our new single FORGIVEN being released I decided it would be appropriate to start a 'simple' kitchen project. ridiculous? yeah it kind of was. we had an old sink and faucet. the sink was awkwardly shallow and I could never wash many dishes at once. ok enough of the boring reasons why, since we have a week off I figured it would be cake. long story short I bought a sweet black cast iron sink which was super heavy. installed the faucet and mounted in the counter and discovered my counter top was far from level. couldn't keep the sink and had to get a stainless one which was way lighter and flexed enough to make up for the poor countertop. not that any of this is interesting, but today I finished it up all by myself - even installed the disposal. good news is that all my fingers are still intact and I didn't have to buy a new countertop. definitely not in the mood to do any dishes, which is why I'm writing this instead. (awkward face in picture is intentional I'm pretty positive)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October already?

It seems as though fall has come upon me pretty quick this month. Every year now for as long as I can remember we head out on the road for a fall tour when it's still warm and green out and then somewhere in the middle of the tour - between catching colds, eating bbq, and changing guitar strings - the leaves turn and the air gets crisp. This year it is a welcome change for sure though and I'm enjoying the scenery right now on our way home from a long stretch of shows. Matt is working on some lyrics and Mark is working on some cereal. We dropped off the other guys in St. Louis last night to grab the van and head back to Nashville. The next few days will hopefully be the highlight of my Fall in the sense of being home in the heart of the season for more than just two days. I get to see my awesome family and spend some time with the little man.

We finished up the shows with Phil Wickham last month and now we're out with Addison Road. It's been a whirlwind for various reasons but I'm just happy to be out with great people and such great crew. We have 3 crew guys on the bus and they set up a pretty unbelievable show every night. We'll only be out for one more week and then it will all be over. It's been so much fun playing new songs every night and hearing the response. You can check out our newest single 'Forgiven' on our site right now and I'm pretty sure it will be on itunes later this month. We'll be heading back to record the final songs for the record in early November. I'll try to keep things a little more current on here before the year gets away from me.