This interview took place on: 4/11/05. Thanks to Lauren "The 4th BarlowGirl" Summerford for your help.
We got started when my dad was a youth pastor up at a church in Chicago, Willow Creek, and my dad did
all the kid's music for the kids there, so we were in all these bands. My dad started getting asked
to play his music around the country at different churches, and so we knew a song and we already knew
music so we were the prime candidates of being his back-up band, so, that was our family…
And we were cheap! We were very cheap! *laughs*
We were free, I think.
So we started doing that as our family ministry. We traveled around and did family services and stuff,
and during that time us girls started writing songs just for fun, just for our friends or whatever.
Or different things that we had seen in our journals. I'd read my journal, I'd bring my journal and be
like, "I'm really struggling" (Lauren: Right.) "I'm really going through this issue and I feel like God
is teaching me this." And we would just sit down for fun on a Friday night and just write a song about
it or something.
And so during that time, it was about four years ago, where I had picked up the drums cause I had played
keyboards before. And Alyssa picked up the bass, like, three years ago, and Becca started playing the
guitar and it was just like, I don't know - we just looked at each other one day and went "Oh my gosh!
We're a band." It just happened.
We were like, "Oh what can we call our band?" *laughs* (Lauren: Yeah.) It was something
that God was so doing kind of behind our backs in a way, that we didn't even realize that everything He had
been orchestrating for so many years was coming into line to form this. And we were like "God wouldn't
want us to be in a band!" (Lauren: Girl bands are stupid!) *laughs* So, you know, little
by little we began to go "It's not about a band, it's about a ministry. It's about all these songs we have
been writing over these last few years from our journals, all these things He's been teaching us, it's
like He wanted to use the band to get that message out there. And, so were like "Cool! Alright God have
Your way then, you know, and this is totally not what we wanted to do but this is apparently Your plan."
And He put things together and we brainstormed forever for a band name, literally I think for a year. We
were like, this and this, and everywhere we'd go we never had a name and we were like… (Becca: And we
were always called) by people "the Barlow girls" cause we didn't have a band name. So then one day we were
like "It'll stand forever. It's BarlowGirl and there's nothing we can do about it." So it just…
It's our last name.
Yeah, Barlow's our last name and we're girls so…*laughs*
It really worked.
That's always an interesting question because we don't really study music but we study pastors and
preachers. So that's where our study comes in. We're always picking up the best teaching tapes.
(Alyssa: (chimes in) teaching tapes. *laughs* ) That's what we study and then
the only music we ever listened to was Broadway, jazz…
Worship, oldies music, Beatles, Mamas and Papas. When we were raised, my dad was really into oldies music,
like the Beatles and stuff. So those were our lullabies. So we know all the James Taylor, all the songs.
(Amy: Wow!) We didn't really know '80s music existed. Our mom's
like "'80s music!" and we were like "What?" I can't name you one song from the '80s. *laughs*
Because it was so in our family, it was '50s and '60s. And, yeah, we eventually got into dc Talk and stuff
like that but we don't listen to that much music.
Yeah, I know, we're kinda weird.
We are kind of weird like that.
Yeah! I wonder…
But we love collecting CD's out on the road. Like the bands we tour with (Alyssa/Lauren:
Yeah!) will be "Hey, do you have our CD?" and we'll listen to that for a long time. *laughs*
Lauren, you can't say that! Be humble! *laughs*
I'm just kidding!
I think the one thing we struggled with was what did God teach us in the last year? And what do we need to
sing about that we learned in this past year? So it just meant going back through our journals, going "What did
You show us in the past year? What is on our hearts from this year?" Cause the last record, you have your
whole life to write those songs, your whole life of struggles to write those songs. So it was one year.
But I don't think we felt the pressure to, I don't know... it just happened. Our sound did definitely
mature, but I don't think it was because we tried to mature it. I think it was just… I think in a sense we
have matured since the stuff we wrote last time.
Which was kind of exciting, cause we were nervous. We presented a couple of songs to the label and to our
producer and they were like (Lauren: Oh no!) "Has this gone downhill?"
(Lauren: Probably, so '90s, early'90s. ")
And then it was "You girls have definitely taken a lot. You girls have matured musically as well as
lyrically". And we were like…
It was a sigh of relief, and we were so stressing out about it. But it was another way that God was like
"I told you I'd take care of you. This is your calling. I'm going to take care of you and you're going to
have the tools you need to minister again and again until I say done."
Becca Barlow: Well, we have "Psalm 73."
And that's a huge one for us.
Becca Barlow: The one song we constantly have on our hearts, the song that's based off
of Psalm 73. Which basically the whole song talks about how good the world looks but the verse turns
around at the end and Asaph then realized this is worth nothing, the world is worth nothing. "Who have
I in Heaven but You?" He's talking to God.
It's really about our journey looking at everybody going, even as artists, looking at everybody else and
begin to envy what they have and you get jealous, and you go," Oh everything looks so good out there and
I need that. God what about me? What about me?" And just how God going "I am enough for You. Who I am
is enough for you girls." That was a huge lesson for us, so we wrote this kind of aggressive song about
how God is enough for us. (Lauren: Todd Agnew is on it.) And Todd Agnew was a guest…
It's supposed to be a secret.
No it's not!
Yes it is!
No it's not! *laughs*
He has a growling voice and this one part he is just like "gggrrr"
*laughs* It's is so cool! (Lauren: It is so good.)
Becca Barlow: Oh yeah, it was! It was cool because we had been praying "Ok God, do
You want anybody to help us out on this record?" and we felt like we needed to add Todd in. At the same
exact time he was studying the same verse. So that's amazing.
God had been teaching him that, and he goes "I'm in! God's teaching me this. It's so weird."
That was cool. Very, very cool.
I think the hardest thing with touring - just touring - is being away. We have a brother and we're really
close to him. We're just as close to our brother as we are. He and his wife have two kids, so we're
aunts! They live back home in Chicago and that part just kills us because we don't see them for months at
a time. That's just murder for us.
Becca Barlow: We try to call every week and we just cry.
The kids will get on the phone and they're always (Becca: "Where are you? Where are you?")
They always say in their words "Can I come rock 'n' roll with you now, please?" It's like, oh, it kills me!
So that's hard, but I think as a family it's almost easier because we're all together. Mom and Dad do come
with us too, so that part is really amazing that we do have that support team. But of course, we will
always get in our little family disputes.
Yeah, but then at the same time you're a lot less homesick cause every single morning I've got my sisters
and my parents with me. They're totally my best friends - my sisters are, so it makes it a lot easier to
be like "We can do another day" cause we're together. I've found it's made it a lot easier.
Becca Barlow: Yeah! He's a mile from our house!
Alyssa Barlow: They bought a house like a mile from ours. We're all so close.
He's like our best friend in the world…
Becca Barlow: Oh yeah! We, like, live at his house!
Alyssa Barlow: We totally do! "Ok we're coming. We're driving into town and we're coming to your house!"
Lauren Barlow: We don't even go home first, we always go to his house. *laughs*
Then we pick up the kids and steal them for like a week! They're amazing! They're so cute!
Caleb is two and a half and Emma is… (Lauren: She just turned one.) We missed her birthday.
So she just lays on the phone and listens to us talk to her.
And she tries to say "I love you." (Lauren: She says "I lo chu"…) "I lo chu, I lo chu"
I just choke!
It's like sneezing or something.
It's so cute! I love her. She's amazing!
We're such saps! Let's face it! *laughs*
We're girls! We like it.
They definitely do confuse it, that does happen.
The girl who started it… (Alyssa: We got to meet her.) She did start it because of the
Superchic[k] song. Then she contacted us, I think before she started the site or while she was starting it.
She found out we existed. She thought the Superchic[k] song was just about pretend girls, kind of what
everybody thought. So when we started to come out more and get signed and stuff, she thought "Oh no! I'm
going to be in such big trouble. These girls exist and I'm using their domain name." So she called us and
we were like "You know what, we've been to your site," and we love what she stands for and we love the
community, so we said "It's fine. Go ahead and use it." So we talk with her a lot. It's cool. Fans do
confuse it though. She tries to post things everywhere like "This is not the BarlowGirl's site," but it's
Oh yeah! Dad was a musician, so we grew up going with him to his gigs and watching him play.
First, they made us all play piano. We didn't have a choice, even if we didn't want to do it. It was good though.
When we were younger, Mom and Dad would go to garage sales. We hardly had any money, but they would buy a
dollar guitar. We had a music room growing up. (Alyssa: Instruments all over.) We didn't
take lessons in these things but they were always like "Try out these instruments." Dad would always pull
out his guitar and just play it and we would sing. As we got older, he would always challenge us and be
like "I want you to do this." I hate being on stage. God's really having to do work in me. When I was 17,
Dad was like, "I need you to play in our band at church" and I was like *gasp* "Nooo!" He was just like
"Stand in the back. You'll be fine. Then after he talked me into it, he would coach me like "You could
stand in the back. You'll be fine." He was huge in me even being on stage. I would never have done it if
it wasn't for him.
He was the one who even challenged me to play bass, cause I had only done keyboard, even in the first year
and a half of the band. He's like "I really think you should try the bass thing. It'll be fine."
(Becca: We were a four-piece band.) "You know piano, and you can try it." I was like
"I don't know," but, yeah, it was the same thing.
I picked up the drums, just picked them up one day. On accident, I guess. Just cause it was fun.
Mom and Dad loved it, that we played instruments. They've always encouraged us to do that, and once we
learned piano they said we were allowed to teach ourselves anything else after that. So, everything else
after that is self-taught but piano was the one that they paid for the lessons.
Once you know piano…
You know the fundamentals.
You can read music.
Even with drums, she [Lauren] was able to teach herself drums because of knowing the piano.
No, I mean, of course being girls, I think… *pauses*
Guys are a little bit hesitant to come to the shows at first.
Well, cause they're like "Girls playing instruments? Oh, gross!" *laughs*
Guys are usually like, "I only came on a bet…"
"Because you [girls] are absolutely horrible and you couldn't do anything…"
Then they're like "Can you sign my CD?" *laughs*
I don't really feel like we have to cater to guys.
It's taken them a little bit to want to come to shows. Now that the word kind of spreads amongst the guys,
I think they have been like, "These girls can play their instruments and they know what they're doing." Then
the guys are like "Ok, we'll come!" At first they were a little "It's going to be lame! " (Lauren:
But we do have a lot of guy fans.) Especially over in Europe. There was a show that we did where I think
there was (Becca: 98% guys!)
We're like "Where are all the girls?" *laughs*
There were hardly any girls, we look out into the audience and there were a couple hundred guys. Guys
over there are like with rock music, "A girl band? Yes!" They're more excited, so over in Europe we get
a lot more guys. Here, the guys took a little bit longer, but now I say it's pretty even.
But thematically, like our themes, what we speak on is basically Romans 12:2. So what we try to speak on,
what we talk about is applicable to everyone, I think.
Even with the modesty issue, we still get a lot of guys, even though it's an issue we're aiming at girls,
guys still come and go, "Well, that helps me out that you're writing that song." So it has been pretty
I had fallen down a couple of stairs, three years ago now. I had gone through a lot of different tests,
and I thought my ankle was broken. I got X-rays for about two and a half weeks continuously cause I was
like "I know it's broken." They were like, "It's not broken." The pain started spreading up, my leg was
cold, and I couldn't even put a sheet on it, I was miserable. They put me on medication. Finally after
about a month and a half they diagnosed me with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is when your nerves
are firing constantly and all that stuff. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever gone through. The
doctors were like, "Yeah, it's going to spread throughout your entire body for the rest of your life.
There's no cure for it. We're going to put you on medication right now. We're going to take you in
tomorrow and clip the nerve on the back of your heel. You'll be on crutches for the rest of your life.
You'll never walk normal again." I was like, "Tomorrow? Ok, yeah. Right, I'll be here tomorrow." This had
been already after two months of testing and going to every doctor. So my mom looked me in the eye at
the doctor's office and she goes, "We will not accept that. God has a different plan for your life." And
I was like, "Mom, you just heard what the doctors. My life is ruined." I went home and for about two
months I was the most bitter person in the world. I wouldn't talk to God. I was furious. I found out
there was a lot of humanness inside of Alyssa Barlow, which I had never allowed to come out. I always
tried to be the perfect, Christian girl. Through that time, God was going, "Ok, can I have a hold of your
life now?" because up until that point it was about me and my life, even though I was a Christian. So,
He got a hold of me. It's such a long story in there, but He really got a hold of my heart in that time.
It was kind of when He said, "Are you going to serve Me-yes or no? Do you want Me-yes or no?" So after
awhile I was like "Yeah, alright." Then He said, "Alright, then put your crutches down." And I was like,
"This is too hard." So my dad helped me and after three days I was walking.
It was the most painful thing but every morning I'd wake up and God would say, "I want you to walk and
push through the pain cause on the other side of the pain you'll find healing." After about a year of
waking up every morning, and it was pretty painful, it was gone. And the doctors won't call us back. I can
try to stand on heels now. It's done. You didn't have to clip my nerve. I'm fine. In a nutshell, that's
everything. (Amy: Thank you for sharing that. That's very
personal. That's huge.)
Plus you were a dancer.
Yeah, I was a dancer. I was in theatre. So my life was kind of over at that point.
(Amy: You wanted to do Broadway?) Yes! That was when God said,
"Not Broadway!" *laughs* "I have something else for you." It was I was in bed, laying there,
He said, "It's not Broadway. It's going to be something else." That's what led to this.
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