Georgia rockers Third Day are on the road and loving it. Soul Shine's own Wes Holing sat down with drummer David Carr and guitarist Mark Lee to talk about tourism, Invisible Children, and their favourite bands before they hit the stage with David Crowder Band in Saginaw, Michigan. For exclusive interview outtakes, check back to Soul Shine's new onDemand section coming soon!
Wes Holing: "First of all, how's the tour going?"
David Carr: "It's about half way through, and it's going well. We've found fall is a very tough time to tour. There's all these reasons people give as to why numbers aren't quite as great in the fall as they are in the spring, all sorts of stuff competing. I don't know if any of those are the reason, I think it's just sometimes things work better than others. But you know what, it's been a successful tour because we've had people in the seats and we're out here doing a tour."
WH: "I'm sure the intensity is still there."
DC: "Yeah, it is. Definitely."
WH: "Well, it's easy to peg a band's genre, but how would you guys describe your music style?"
Mark Lee: "I don't know, I just think we're a rock band, you know? We just make the music that we're fans of and we listen to. But as far as the specific sub-labels, I think we just let other people decide what they're going to call it."
DC: "It feels to me like the lines between music styles have really blurred. Back in the early 90s, it was moving from the glam rock which was so defined, by the look, and the hair, and the shape of the guitar, and everything."
WH: "More about the look than the sound?"
DC: "Yeah, and then it moved to this grunge and alternative thing, which had a certain sound. If you really listen to it, though, a lot of it was still derived from that metal sort of thing, but it just wasn't so gimmicky. And then, out of that, that whole pop thing came back in the late 90s, but rock has always just stood on its own and we've always been there with it. I think we're definitely pop in a lot of ways, but we always like to err on the side of being more of a core rock band than anything else."
WH: "You classify yourself as just straight rock. So where does that come from? What sort of bands did you guys grow up listening to?"
ML: "Being from around Atlanta, a lot of us grew up listening to REM. Black Crowes were big when we were first starting out, that rootsy rock kind of sound. You know, Tom Petty, Wallflowers, Toad the Wet Sprocket, they had that rootsy sort of rock thing, and that was all the sort of stuff that really shaped our sound. I think people think about us, we're from the south, we're a rock band, they put it together as a southern rock band. And yes there's a Lynyrd Skynyrd element, we kind of tap into that kind of southern rock type of thing, but I think it would be offensive to fans of that kind of music to call us southern rock."
DC: "I think you're right. That's why we've been very careful not to label ourselves as something. I mean, we could say 'Yeah, we're southern rock, because listen to 'Took my Place'. But then, someone would hear a song like 'Keep on Shining,' which is on our new album. It's not southern rock, it doesn't even fit into that. While we have those elements from time to time, we're not up there with these Fu Manchu staches."
WH: "Who are you guys listening to now?"
DC: "You know what's funny, if I could just sort of add a little bit to that. We were watching a video tape of us from about ten years ago and someone was asking us then what we were listening to and the music we liked."
ML: "I don't think I saw that." [laughing] "What did we say?"
DC: "Well I didn't actually watch us, [bassist Tai Anderson] was telling me about it, but he said we were very defensive because, and especially at that time, I think when a Christian asked us what we listened to, they were expecting us to say Audio Adrenaline and Steven Curtis Chapman and For Him, and just name all the Christian bands we listened to. But we were like, 'Well, we like a lot of secular stuff.' So we got really defensive and like we're trying to defend that position. And I think now a lot of people have softened up a little bit on that. So most of our influences and the things we really dig right now tend to be from the secular market, but I can definitively say right now I have not been more excited about a band in Christian music than I am with Leeland, which is a band that is just coming out. Another band that's touring with us, Hyperstatic Union, is just such a cool thing, because they're doing their own thing. They're not trying to be something else, or sound like something else, so those are two bands that are exciting me right now, in the Christian music world. Outside of that, we were just listening to one of The Killers new songs earlier. Coldplay, U2, we love that stuff, and we just like a lot of different styles and types of music."
WH: "Do you think that having a sort of secular appreciation helps you reach not just Christian audiences, but audiences in general?"
ML: "I think it helps to, and I hate to use the word, but instead just stay relevant. If we say we listen to certain music when we were all getting together, and haven't been exposed to anything else since, we get sort of insulated and we would start sounding really dated. So by us being exposed to all kinds of music, I think it helps us when we're in the studio, and we're writing songs, it's always fresh for us. Hopefully for somebody that has not heard us before but has heard of some of these other artists we're talking about, they've got sort of like a frame of reference. One of the bands I really respect is Ollabelle. We were just at this barbecue place in Surrey last week, and this song came on, and it was one of those moments where we were all talking and doing something else, and we all stopped and were like 'What is that?', because it's like so different than anything else you've ever heard, but it's familiar at the same time. I got so excited, I took the CD to our front of house guy and I've had him play it before we walk on every night."
WH: "Oh, so it's your intro song?"
ML: "Yeah, it's cool stuff, and it kind of comes out like The Band or Sly and the Family Stone, where like every song is different, but there's like this community, it's just real cool thing. And they're a gospel band, but they're not on a Christian label, so it's just really cool stuff."
WH: "Now, you guys mentioned you're from Atlanta, so where's someplace cool that you guys like in Atlanta?"
DC: "That's a good question. I would go to Midtown. Or around there, there's a little area called Virginia Highland, which has a really cool vibe, it's really eclectic. Then there's an area called Buckhead. I kinda love it and I hate it, 'cause it's like I go and everything is so expensive, where you would never buy anything, but it's just sort of for the spectacle."
ML: "Piedmont Park, you can't go wrong with Piedmont Park. It's like Atlanta's sort of Central Park thing, just a big open field in the middle of the city."
WH: "Just a good place to hang out with people and people watch?"
ML: "Georgia Aquarium."
DC: "It's the largest piece of glass, the largest aquarium window."
ML: "Is that what it is?"
DC: "Yeah, it's just massive. You walk into this one room, and it's like, huge."
WH: "Is that part of the zoo?"
ML: "It's its own separate deal."
DC: "It's a very nice aquarium. But don't try and take food in there, 'cause they'll get upset."
ML: (laughs) "You're still bitter about that."
DC: "I'm still bitter."
WH: "Don't feed the whales?"
DC: "Yeah, they don't like the whales to be fed."
WH: "What do you hope your fans take away from your music?"
DC: "I hope that the songs are ringing in their heads, and I hope that they can't get enough of it. [laughs] Because every band I like, that's how it has an effect on me. I just want to hear it over and over and share it with people. But I think our music has to have a sort of serve a deeper purpose than that. I'd like to somehow speak into the hearts of people and minds of people. The message of hope that Christ came to give us hope, it's not something that smoothes everything over sometimes. Much of life is in the valley, it's not always on the mountaintop, but just knowing it doesn't end there, there is an ascent to the mountaintop, that's the message I'd like to give."
WH: "You mentioned the message of hope. You have contributed to working with the children of Uganda. What made you decide to take that up as a cause?"
ML: "We've been working with different charities that work in Africa for a while. We've been working with World Vision for over ten years, we worked with Habitat for Humanity, and a couple of us have taken trips to Africa at different times. But a friend of ours had a DVD, this film, "Invisible Children," and we all watched it. You just see it, and you get moved and you're mad, and you want to do something about it. That was all of our reaction to it, and we were like 'Okay, we don't know how this is going to work, but for our next tour, that's going to be the focus.' World Vision has a relatively new program called 'Children of War.' Specifically in this area of northern Uganda, where there's a civil war that's been going on. There are these kids that have been kidnapped and forced to be soldiers and kill their own family members. It's terrible. But World Vision's on the ground there, and they have a rehabilitation center there for these kids. When they're coming out of that situation, able to be met spiritually, emotionally and physically. The purpose of this tour is a call to action is for people to get involved with this World Vision project. The good news is there's been a truce in that civil war in the last month or so but now these kids are flooding this rehabilitation center so they need our help more than ever. So it's a good time for us to be involved with that group."
For more information on Third Day please visit www.thirdday.com.
Writer: Wes Holing