On the heels of a brand new full-length album, Jesusfreakhideout.com's Timothy Estabrooks caught up with
Showbread front man Josh Dies to talk about the band's record, The Fear Of God, their presence in the
music industry, and much more!
This interview took place on: 9/8/09.
Jesus freak Hideout (Timothy Estabrooks): To begin, what excites you the most about
your newest release, The Fear of God?
Josh Dies: Everything. I think it's the best record we've done so far in the sense
that it's my favorite album as a listener and as a member of the band.
JFH (Timothy): Your approach for this album was certainly a big change from your last project Anorexia Nervosa.
Can you describe the writing process you went through for this album?
Josh: It was terribly simple compared to writing Anorexia Nervosa. I was doing a tour in
January promoting my novel, and when it was my wife's turn to drive I would write songs. I had most of it done when
I got back to Georgia and the plan was to get together as a four-piece and flesh out the record together.
All that changed early on when I started writing songs with guitar solos… I felt like we needed someone better than
myself or Mike (at guitar) to bring the leads to the next level, so I asked Landon (who had been playing as our live guitar
player for a while) to get involved in the writing process. Right after that, our drummer quit the band for very confusing
reasons and we were like "Well, great. How do we write now?" so we were forced back to the method we used for
Anorexia Nervosa, which was me recording demos on my laptop and giving them to the band to learn and adjust
before we all got together. It ended up being a very annoying process of the four of us sitting around a table with our amps
turned down, playing to these demo tracks and having long discussions about how to approach the songs. It was not fun at all.
When we finally got our friend Jordan to play drums for the album, it felt like we were actually doing something. It
wasn't until then that the other guys realized we had great songs. I had the finished product in my head the whole time,
so I knew it was going to be awesome, but the other guys were hearing these lo-fi demos and playing along quietly and
it took the excitement out of the process. It was rough for a while.
JFH (Timothy): How did recording go? Any interesting stories from the recording studio?
Josh: It was great. We went in all wanting to make the same record and went to work. That's never
happened for Showbread before. Usually we have to fight through a lot of opinions. We tracked most of it live and the
whole thing was very exciting. At night, we'd wander around the studio (which is a very old renovated theatre and has many
tales of being haunted). One night we saw a flying "orb" and we all ran away screaming.
JFH (Timothy): How different was it for you to be responsible for all the vocals this time around?
Josh: I didn't really notice a difference since it hasn't been really split up since Age Of Reptiles.
I miss that element but I'm happy to do it this way as well. Sylvia (our producer) is the most amazing vocal producer.
I can't sing good so I suppose I'm a challenge to work with but she really pushes me with specific suggestions to get the best
performance and something I'm really happy with.
JFH (Timothy): Let's look at some of the individual songs. I'm really curious about "Shepherd, No Sheep."
What were your intentions for this song, and was it inspired by any specific circumstances?
Josh: This was the first song I wrote for the record. It's over a year old now. When I was writing lyrics,
almost all of them were coming out sounding like "Shepherd, No Sheep," but they were getting too mean and too cruel.
A couple of rough drafts of songs got cut for this reason… another song called "Rally Of Angry Teetotalers" never got
finished because the lyrics were so mean.
With "Shepherd, No Sheep," I wanted to arm ourselves for the inevitable. When you create something, people who had
nothing to do with the creation think highly enough of themselves to pick it apart and explain why it succeeds and why it
fails. It's called "journalism." Being exposed to this taught me a lot about keeping my mouth shut and realizing if I don't
like something, it doesn't validate or invalidate it whatsoever. We've always made exactly what we've wanted to make
artistically, and no one can say whether or not we did it correctly or incorrectly, they can only say they like it or
dislike it personally. With music being what it is today and the internet enabling every kid with a MySpace page to
become a music journalist, as soon as you do anything, everyone starts to pick it apart. "Shepherd, No Sheep" makes the
point that it doesn't matter to us what anyone thinks and in fact the type of person who wants us to make something
"hardcore" or "scene," we hope they hate it. The song says, if you want to hear crappy music, then write it yourself.
JFH (Timothy): "I Think I'm Going to See You" is a pretty deep song. Can you tell us about its message?
Josh: The main element of the song lyrically is that the things that make sense in the world don't make
sense spiritually and vice-versa. The narrator of the song is observing all these ideas that most people find acceptable and
he's wondering what in the world is wrong with everyone. The less sense the world makes, the more sense the spiritual world
makes and these ideas begin to invert. He's seeing people pledge their allegiance to a country and thinking "This makes no
sense, shouldn't our allegiance belong to something bigger?" He's seeing people live their lives for themselves and thinking,
"Shouldn't life be about giving up yourself?" The narrator starts to feel like everyone is crazy except him and the world
thinks that he's the crazy one so he embraces it and says that now that he sees things differently he sees the way.
The person he's talking about seeing on the other side is Jesus.
JFH (Timothy): My particular favorite is the title track, "The Fear of God." It's a very intense song lyrically, and yet also pretty mellow musically for you guys. What was your inspiration for it?
Josh: I wanted for us to do something more than just worship. I wanted us to have a song that acknowledges
the secular mindset of "If God is so good, why does the world suck so much?" And take the listener from that state of mind,
through all of the reasons why the world does suck and then experience something that transcends all of that. Rather than
explain things theologically, the song just takes refuge in the unexplainable peace we have in Jesus.
JFH (Timothy): With that said, what tracks are your personal favorites?
Josh: I love every single song.
JFH (Timothy): It seems that with a lot of hard Christian bands, there's a
tendency to be vague about spirituality. You clearly didn't do that on this album. How important is it to you to be
outspoken about Jesus?
Josh: We don't make an effort to be overly symbolic or overly specific. We sing about Jesus so much because
that's where our thoughts are and that's what's in our hearts. Many times we get that point across with parables or analogies
but a lot of times it just means saying the amazing name of Jesus and just worshiping straight up. We make no bones about why
our band exists. We have no interest in the world or art and music and credibility in that sense. We think those things exist
only because of Jesus and we use them to draw attention to that fact. Nothing else matters to us as a band except for what
streams from that one truth.
JFH (Timothy): How would you describe Showbread's relationship to the Christian music industry?
Josh: Confusing. A lot of people within the industry love us because we are bold with our message. A lot of
others resent the fact that we use a lot of dark imagery to get our point across sometimes, which is pretty silly in my opinion.
Christian bookstores refused to carry our album Anorexia Nervosa even though it is the most outright evangelistic
thing we've ever done. The record is basically the story of the process of salvation and the gospel of Christ. Christian
bookstores were like "Well, you talk about a stripper and one of your characters has an abortion" so they refused to carry it.
It doesn't matter what context these things are mentioned, it's just the fact that they are there… I wonder when they'll stop
carrying Bibles because of all the graphic sex and violence.
JFH (Timothy): How do you guys personally maintain your spiritual lives while you're writing and touring?
Josh: The same way we do at home. Spending time every day in the Word and having personal time with Jesus, seeking Him and His kingdom first and foremost. On the road we have band Bible studies every night as well.
JFH (Timothy): till personal, but less serious - who have been some of your favorite bands recently?
Josh: Justin Hawkins, the singer from The Darkness started a new band called Hot Leg that I really like. That's it. If I didn't listen to it in high school, I don't like it.
JFH (Timothy): What are your current hobbies and interests? Anything off-the-wall?
Josh: I read a lot of comic books… A loooot of comic books.
JFH (Timothy): Can you describe a little bit of life with the other band members?
Josh: We're all good friends and we have a great time together on the road. Occasionally there's a
small bicker but the lineup we have right now meshes and gets along better than any other we've had.
JFH (Timothy): What does the future look like for Showbread?
Josh: We're working on a plan to escape the world of "scene" music forever… some crazy things have been suggested.
JFH (Timothy): Thanks again for the interview! And thanks for putting out another excellent album of music. Any final comments for the JFH readers?
Josh: Thanks so much for the interview.
Showbread's latest album, The Fear Of God, is available now everywhere that music is sold.