Lauren Barlow: 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…
Alyssa Barlow: And we were cheap! We were very cheap! *laughs*
Lauren Barlow: Right!
Becca Barlow: We were free, I think.
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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…
Becca Barlow: It's our last name.
Lauren Barlow: Yeah, Barlow's our last name and we're girls so…*laughs*
Alyssa Barlow: It really worked.
Becca Barlow: 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…
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Lauren Barlow: Yeah, I know, we're kinda weird.
Alyssa Barlow: We are kind of weird like that.
Alyssa Barlow: Yeah! I wonder…
Becca Barlow: 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 Barlow: Amazing? *laughs*
Alyssa Barlow: Lauren, you can't say that! Be humble! *laughs*
Lauren Barlow: I'm just kidding!
Becca Barlow: 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.
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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…
Lauren Barlow: That's God!
Alyssa Barlow: 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."
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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…
Becca Barlow: It's supposed to be a secret.
Lauren Barlow: No it's not!
Alyssa Barlow: Yes it is!
Lauren Barlow: No it's not! *laughs*
Becca Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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!
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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!
Becca Barlow: Caleb is two and a half and Emma is… (Lauren: She just turned one.) We missed her birthday.
Lauren Barlow: So she just lays on the phone and listens to us talk to her.
Alyssa Barlow: And she tries to say "I love you." (Lauren: She says "I lo chu"…) "I lo chu, I lo chu"
Lauren Barlow: I just choke!
Becca Barlow: It's like sneezing or something.
Lauren Barlow: It's so cute! I love her. She's amazing!
Alyssa Barlow: We're such saps! Let's face it! *laughs*
Lauren Barlow: We're girls! We like it.
Becca Barlow: They definitely do confuse it, that does happen.
Lauren Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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 still confusing.
Becca Barlow: Oh yeah! Dad was a musician, so we grew up going with him to his gigs and watching him play.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Becca Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Lauren Barlow: I picked up the drums, just picked them up one day. On accident, I guess. Just cause it was fun.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: Once you know piano…
Becca Barlow: You know the fundamentals.
Lauren Barlow: You can read music.
Alyssa Barlow: Even with drums, she [Lauren] was able to teach herself drums because of knowing the piano.
Becca Barlow: No, I mean, of course being girls, I think… *pauses*
Alyssa Barlow: Guys are a little bit hesitant to come to the shows at first.
Lauren Barlow: Well, cause they're like "Girls playing instruments? Oh, gross!" *laughs*
Becca Barlow: Guys are usually like, "I only came on a bet…"
Lauren Barlow: "Because you [girls] are absolutely horrible and you couldn't do anything…"
Becca Barlow: Then they're like "Can you sign my CD?" *laughs*
Lauren Barlow: I don't really feel like we have to cater to guys.
Alyssa Barlow: 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!)
Lauren Barlow: We're like "Where are all the girls?" *laughs*
Alyssa Barlow: 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.
Becca Barlow: 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.
Alyssa Barlow: 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 good.
Alyssa Barlow: 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.)
Lauren Barlow: Plus you were a dancer.
Alyssa Barlow: 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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