East West Lands On the Map

Erin: Can you tell us the story behind your band such has how you guys got started?
Jon: Mikey and Bobby had been playing together for like ten years or nine years, JJ started four and half years ago.
Bobby: We started off playing clubs and stuff in Hollywood and the rock scene. We didn’t even know that there was a big Christian scene. We were all Christians in the band but we didn’t even know this big Christian thing existed. We got introduced to it late so we kind of did it backwards.

Erin: Has your album been received how you hoped it would be by the public?
Bobby: I would say probably more. We were shocked we had a couple things nominated for a Dove Award. We were up with some stiff competition like these guys, Justifide and Living Sacrifice. We didn’t think we would have a chance to win. We were blown away.
Mikey: We didn’t actually stay for the Dove Awards; we had to get home for a gig anyway. We probably could have stayed but we just left because we didn’t think we would win. We were in an airport on a layover and we got a call saying congratulations that we had won.
Erin: How did you guys decide to go on tour with Justifide?
Bobby: Well we’ve been talking about it for years now. You know, hey it’d be cool if we could do that. Actually their first show they ever played outside of Arizona was with us. We all thought it would be cool to maybe one day get together and it happened. So we are happy. A lot of our fans like them and a lot of their fans like us. Which is good.
Jon: It’s cool too because we are friends and stuff so you know they are one of those bands you look forward to seeing. It will be cool to spend time with them on the road.
JJ: It makes your more comfortable to go to a big city you don’t usually go to when you know you are going to run into people you know. It’s comforting.
Bobby: That’s the fun part about touring in general – making friends all over the country. And then seeing them again once you make the rounds is pretty awesome.
Erin: Do you have any desire to take your music outside of the Christian Music Industry?
Bobby: Absolutely! We always have. Like I told you how we started in that direction. We just play music for people that want to listen. I just think it makes our music different as we share our hope in Christ. We love music and we love people. We hope people love our music. We will play for anyone anywhere.
Mikey: If anyone is willing to give us the respect to come and watch us play then we will give the same respect back to them. I don’t think there has ever been a show when we were like oh there is only five people here let’s only play two songs and then leave. No show we play is ever a joke for us, it’s not a career. It’s just who we are, we go up there and play with 150% or we don’t play at all. Like he said our goal is just to play and inspire people and play for anyone that is willing to listen.
Erin: What artists have inspired you as a band?
Bobby: For me I???d say it ranges from like funk to disco to heavy metal to the Beatles to U2 who is one of my favorite bands of all time.
JJ: Actually one of my favorite artists just passed recently, Johnny Cash. He was a great inspiration to me. He’s been one of my favorites for a long time. In fact, when we found out he had passed away we dedicated our set that night to him and recited some lyrics of some of his songs.
Mikey: This may sound weird but Johnny Cash should be an inspiration to most Christians.
Bobby: Especially if they watched his interview with Larry King, in every other statement he wrapped the Lord into it somehow or someway.
Erin: What would you say is the hardest part to adjusting to life on the road?
Jon: I don’t know near as much about that as these guys do.
Bobby: Three of us are married. Jon is still the single one. The problem is he’ll meet a nice girl in some city and then he has to leave the next day so it’s hard for him to develop a relationship, whereas we have relationships. We all feel in our hearts that this is what God called us to do. We know that he’ll provide and we are seeing fruit out of that so we are really peaceful about what we are doing but it’s difficult as anybody will tell you.
JJ: Another thing is when we start a tour it’s a very far drive just to start the tour. Like our longest drive as been from California to Maryland. It’s worth it though to live in California.
Erin: If you weren’t doing this for a living what do you think you’d be doing?
Mikey: I’d probably be washing dishes for a restaurant. Actually if I wasn’t doing this for a living I would go to school and probably major in like music or something. Maybe get a PHD in composition or something.
Bobby: I’d be a professional game show contestant. Be on like the Price is Right and stuff.
Mikey: Come on down for the 30th time!
Jon: You could go thirty times and never get called.
Bobby: I’m just joking of course, but realistically I think I would be heavily involved in my church into some type of pastoral thing. I’d be a business man. I’m into computers and high tech stuff.
JJ: I’d probably do the same thing as Mikey, he just said it before me. I would go to school in music. To be a teacher or be involved in music.
Jon: I’d be a professional snowboarder.
JJ: You have to practice and be good first.
Jon: I would practice more. I’m better than you guys.
JJ: Who was snowboarding first?
Jon: Well you’ve been out of practice for four years.
Erin: Have you guys had any crazy fan encounters?
Mikey: Me personally, I’ve had someone follow me from the time I got into the door until the time we leave. While I’m sitting up gear. I tried to listen but I have a job to do too. I got to the point where I went to the bathroom and waited in there long enough until I know the person is going to get discouraged.
Bobby: We’ve had some weird things happen but I can’t think of what right now.
Mikey: For the most part people are respectful. If you are respectful to them they are respectful to you.
Bobby: Some crazy fan stories are people driving like sixteen hours or something just to come see us.
Erin: What aspirations do you have for the band?
Mikey: I have one for the band. We just want to play to people who are going to listen. Some people think – man it’d be so awesome to be all over MTV. But I remember thinking to myself as a kid, man it’d be awesome to play music for a living. I joined a band and played with them for awhile but that didn’t work out. Then I started jamming with Bobby. I have found myself thinking man, this would be so much more easier if we had just a little bit more money coming in, I’m just talking an extra hundred dollars a month. Maybe pay some bills or buy some new instruments. I end up just getting this simple reminder that I just wanted to play music for a living. I’ve had kids come up to me and say something like you have influenced me or my band and we totally are similar to you guys in our music or whatever. I don’t think there is any bigger compliment. If you inspire someone to be creative there is nothing you can compare that to.
Bobby: I’ve had a guy tell me that today that because our band he started reading the word and stuff. That’s really cool.
Mikey: Our goal is being met right now. To inspire kids and the next generation of music. If it happens along the way that we blow up then that’d be awesome. It’s not going to change who we are.
JJ: If we ever changed our personalities we would have so many people who would kick our butts and wouldn’t let us change.
Bobby: It’s amazing we started off in a garage and now we just got back from Holland where we played a huge festival, it was televised all over.
JJ: One time I think in Indiana, there was another band there and they said that they cover one of our songs. We were like cool. Then during our show they were right up in front I believe and we were like hey, do you want to come up and play the song? They were like what? They came up right in the middle of the set and they came up and played for us. We scared them but they did a great job.
Mikey: My inspiration for music comes from what God created. I think that all of us are happy to be doing what we are doing and hope it continues on this way.
You can reach Erin at: erin@usmo.com

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