North of OK

They came out of Jacob’s Generation and even though they have played
with the likes of Roper and toured with Spoken and John Reuben, North
of OK, an independent Wichita, Kansas-based band, is finding change
can be hard.
“The name `Jacob’s Generation’ we picked when we were really young. I
was about 14 when we started the band,” said Brian Dexter, drummer
for North of OK. “It was our youth pastor’s idea to have a band that
was a ministry. The original idea was to be a rock band, but we
started doing both. We were really just in a worship band mode. We
thought we had grown past that and it didn’t represent whom we were.
We had changed our sound quite a bit,” Dexter explained. So they
changed their name to North of OK.
Though the band has been together since 1997, they haven’t been
touring too long.
“We have only been touring full time about a year and a half. It is
frustrating at times to think we are still independent,” Dexter said.

With three albums under their belt (two as Jacob’s
Generation, “Believe” and “Looking to Nowhere,” and one as North of
OK, “Broken Signal”), the band is already changing more than just
their sound.
“Our lead singer is leaving to spend time with his wife and the rest
of us are planning on pursuing this full-time. Our goal is to get
signed by a bigger label, have more stability and make more of a
career out of it,” the now 23-year-old drummer said.
Going through his own change, Dexter juggles band responsibilities
and a night course trying to finish up 24 college hours and get his
Bachelor of Arts degree in music. Dexter also has his own personal
reasons for wanting to stick with North of OK, which also consists of
members Ryan Wallace, lead singer; 24; Tom Jackson, guitar, 21; Ryan
Bebee, 20, bass guitar.
“Doing what we did the past year and a half is living a dream and I
have just felt more alive and most fulfilled doing what I love and
making an impact on kids’ lives. When they buy a CD and take it home
and listen to it, they can connect with it. It is something that
brings me fulfillment,” Dexter said.
Dexter has no regrets and has already seen how the band’s message has
touched lives.
“We get e-mails from people we don’t know. It is not a specific song
necessarily (that they relate to). We have gotten e-mails from kids
that say, `That song, I can really connect with it and it really
changed my life.’ It is pretty humbling to think that something you
scratched down with a pen on paper, while you were sitting in the
back of a van, could mean anything to anyone else. Just reading those
e-mails really makes me want to keep going, keep doing it. Even if we
broke up tomorrow, I would still look back and say we definitely have
an impact on and that is why I want to keep doing it,” he said.
Far more than just a drummer, Dexter also penned one of the songs on
the group’s album.
“The song `Better Things’ is about my cousins that live near
Baltimore, about their life story. They have really gone through some
hard times. They lost their brother and sister to a really rare
disease at young ages and their father passed away of acute leukemia.
It just makes me think… `Man, my life is nothing compared to that.’
Everything is going well for me. It is a song basically saying that,
for people who really have nothing going well in their life, there is
something to look forward to—even if it is not until you die—
and that’s heaven,” he said.
In many ways, the teen/preteen members of Jacob’s Generation have
grown up and almost emerged as a new band with music that is a little
heavier, a little darker. At least, that is what Dexter calls one of
the songs, “Facade” off the band’s three song EP, which they will be
releasing soon.
“We may release it on It is different
from `Broken Signal’ and more the sound we are moving toward,” Dexter
confessed. But even working on `Broken Signal,’ Dexter saw
growth. “We were really challenged by C.R. Pendleton, our producer,
to think outside the box,” he said.
The band isn’t trying to reproduce songs that are copies of secular
bands with Christian lyrics.
“The Christian music industry is really two or three years behind the
secular industry and what was popular in the secular industry is
really just becoming popular in the Christian industry. Creed was a
big band two or three year ago and now it is Kutless, the Jeremy
Camps. I don’t want to say those guys are horrible people or aren’t
good musicians because a lot of them are. But I would tend to agree
that the Christian industry does lack originality a lot of the time.
We have written songs that were kind of copies of secular bands, so
we are guilty of that, too,” he admitted.
The band’s sound and musical focus has changed since Jacob’s
Generation. But that is not the only change Dexter has seen. He also
has seen a big change in his songwriting skills.
“When I was new to songwriting and I wrote a song about a girlfriend
in my life at the time, I would have people come up to me and say `I
really related to that song because it was about this or that.’ It
wasn’t about this or that. Honestly, it bothered me at first and I
thought, `They totally missed the point. They didn’t get what the
song was about,'” he said, laughing. “But as I look back on that, if
there is someone who can relate to it in any way…even if it is not
how I intended, it is fine. It just adds more dimension to the song.”
And as Dexter is anticipating and looking forward to where change may
lead North of OK, he isn’t forgetting his roots.
“Lots of bands don’t last that long and sometimes it is frustrating
to think we are still independent and doing it all on our own, but I
have enjoyed every minute of it.”
–Contributed by Laura Agee, Christian Musc Monthly: June


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