I saw you guys at Radio City with MercyMe. One thing that strikes you right away is that you're not really a Christian rocker. Your songs are different--it's more worship music. Your songs come across almost more like hymns--sort of addressing God directly, as opposed to singing about God.
That's a very fair assessment.
Do you see your concerts differently?I don't know that I do. We're really trying to write songs that articulate [faith] for a specific group of people here in Waco, in a way that functions in a corporate worship setting. They're just a little bit outside church culture to begin with, and they usually find their way to us due to their disenchantment with what they've experienced thus far within the church.
It gives us the freedom to explore things that perhaps a really well-established act doesn't have the ability to do, just due to the fact that they've established their sound.
Tell me a little bit about the genesis of the [Waco] church and music for the church.I was still an undergrad when a friend of mine, who was actually the first pastor--we were just chatting on the balcony one night on my apartment about church. He was currently a pastor of a little country church outside of town. He was still an undergrad as well. Somehow the conversation drifts to our peers and Baylor [University] and the environment [at] a Christian university. I had a lot of issues with the establishment of church. I start[ed] talking about ministry and what if ministry came from relationship and was just an extension of life lived? It started stirring things in me and before long, we got our hands on some survey [Baylor] had done with their student population. [They'd] come up with this number that there were about 8,000 students that never set foot in church their entire stay at school, which was very surprising to me, because it's a Christian university. But I knew that you would have people from our apartment complex, they get up on Sunday morning and realize they had woken up late and would dress as if they had gone to church before they would go eat in the cafeteria. That gives us some insight as to the environment.
So before we knew it, we had a band and decided to carve out a space where maybe some of these folks could sort through a lot of the things...
It was probably the front end of the modern worship music. It was these praise choruses, but real simplistic, repetitively-composed lines that didn't really go anywhere.
Like headache music.
Yeah. And there we were rocking it.
Had you been writing your own songs at all before then?
No, not really. Just things you would never let anyone hear.
What was your musical background at that point?I had been playing piano for a really long time, since I was a kid plunking around. My mom thought I needed lessons because all of a sudden, things I was plunking started turning into melodies that she recognized. Then when I came to Baylor, I actually was studying music, and piano was my instrument of emphasis.