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Marty Magehee

With a debut album ready for release, sat down with 4Him vocalist Marty Magehee at GMA Music Week 2008 to talk about his record, Open. After several delays, Open was in a sort of limbo during our talk with Magehee, but the album is now finally available, having hit streets on October 28th. In our chat with Marty, we talked about his solo venture, 4Him and its current state, as well as took a couple glances down Memory Lane...
This interview took place on: 4/21/08.

  • Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): Now, I have to start out by sharing a favorite Marty moment with you...
    Marty Magehee: Uh-oh...

  • JFH (John): No, no. It's good!
    Marty: OK, so I can sit back?

  • JFH (John): Ha-ha, yes! I first got into Christian music in the early 90's, and I used to watch Christian music videos... And you were repeatedly on Signal Exchange with Cory Edwards!
    Marty: *Laughs loudly* Hoo-hoo!! Aw, man!! Thank you!

  • JFH (John): Those were some of the best episodes when it was just you and Cory, goofing off
    Marty: Yeah. Going in the arcade... sitting out on a grassy knoll...

  • JFH (John): Oh yeah, there's never been another video show like it. ... And now Cory's directing movies like Hoodwinked. It's crazy.
    Marty Magehee Marty: Do you know the full story of me and being on Signal Exchange? Another artist named Carman was doing those "Time 2" videos. It was kind of like the Christian In Living Color kind of deal where he would take a topic and would have guests and he would do skits. Things like that. Well, I came to star in a couple of his skits. I was a really old man in one about finances, and then I was an Eric Estrada-ish guy. My name was Pedro Guerrera - a washed up soap opera star from Brazil. And I was hosting the Madame Hossenpheffer's Magic 8 Ball Hotline, and it was all Cory's invention. He wrote the bulk of the material. That was back during 4Him's Basics Of Life era, I think. Wow. It was a long time ago.

  • JFH (John): Sorry for the throwback! Haha
    Marty: That's okay! *laughs*

  • JFH (John): I definitely tend to hold the early 90's Christian music era near and dear since a lot of it inspired the very creation of Jesus freak Hideout in 1996...
    Marty: Which is awesome, by the way! My wife and I love it, because you guys are the ones who really have crossed whatever - it's insane to think we actually have "lines" or boundaries where there shouldn't be. Unless you're really blatantly going to be obscene or something. But we tend to be so safe as a Christian market. Even in the most ridiculous ways. Even like song form. And it has to be "this" structure...

  • JFH (John): And it's gotten to the point where there's so much of that structure that it's become the same thing over and over and...
    Marty: Yeah. And if you become a modern-day Mozart and you're introduced in Christian music, you would just *makes splatting sound*. They'd kick you out.

  • JFH (John): And there's definitely good Christian music. As a baby Christian, I was weened on Audio Adrenaline and the Newsboys and dc Talk... PFR.
    Marty: Whew! Man, yeah. What happened to that? Yeah, you want to know the forces behind whatever caused them to depart and stop.

  • JFH (John): And this coming from a guy coming from that with 4Him...
    Marty: Yeah, they were wondering if we were ever going to take a break! If we were just going to go into our retirement together doing this. Which, we're still "together"...

  • JFH (John): Really?!
    Marty: Yeah, we've just been hibernating.

  • JFH (John): I thought there was a big deal with the final 4Him show and such?
    Marty: Yeah, we did the 4Him Farewell, that whole run. The Future Generation CD, the Encore CD... Yeah, honestly? I think I speak for the other guys, at least two of the other guys, that we really should have done this a few years before.

  • JFH (Amy DiBiase): Other bands we've talked to have said the same thing. Well, it's interesting because some members might say that while others wish they hadn't broken up at all.
    Marty: Yeah, I know whatever levels they're coming from, the different aspects of why and why not. But, the "why we should have" completely outweighs the other because I think the reason we stayed together was just because we were so connected to each other and you get settled into this - you don't see it as a rut... well, a rut is actually a good thing to be in in the jungle, when you're in a 4-wheeler, it helps you, but in this case, we were caught in a situation where we felt comfortable and it's a dangerous comfort. And when you have a certain way of conducting your life, generating your schedule, what to expect - when you think about not having that anymore, after it's been there for 17 years, it's a little disturbing. But we were forced to have to look at it because of Andy Chrisman. He got the job of a lifetime opportunity in Tulsa, Oklahoma at Church On The Move. They wanted him to be the worship pastor. I remember getting the call and he said, "Alright, I'm quittin'! I mean, this is it. You guys do what you want to do!" We're like, "Well... OK, well, we're probably going to have to just shut it down because we started out with this 'all for one, one for all' thing and we weren't just going to bring in a substitute and go from there. So we knew that we needed to just do it and do it gracefully. We let Andy go and do his diligence with the church to kind of get the job description up and running and a good understanding with his superiors. All of that worked out for a few months. In the meantime, we did have a sub temporarily, Jason Barton, who was the lead singer for True Vibe and now is the lead guy for 33 Miles. So Jason came in and took Andy's place for just a few months. It was awesome. He's a great guy. And then he left, Andy jumped in, and we started the farewell tour. And we did that up until September of '06.

  • JFH (John): All good things must come to an end...
    Marty: Yeah, I guess so! We are doing some things for the first time since then.

  • JFH (John): The cruise. Kind of a vacation show?
    Marty: Yeah. Sort of. For the artist, it's never truly a vacation. As soon as you step out of the cabin, you've got to be "on." Y'know?

  • JFH (John): Yeeeaah... I was wondering about that. Because you probably don't have your own floor or anything for the artists...
    Marty: *laughs* No!

  • JFH (John): So I was wondering how the bands get time for themselves away from the fans?
    Marty: Yeah, but you know what? Here's the deal - I'm also a worship leader for a church in Bittenville, Arkansas where I fly there two times out of the month. I live here, but I go there as a worship leader. As a worship pastor, I don't understand the difference here, [because] Jesus was very touchable. Very accessible. And as an artist, I know with some people it gets a little crazy, and that's cool, but we still have to be strong enough to be able to deal with each and every person because we're no different than everybody else.

  • JFH (John): They just see you differently because you're on a stage and singing songs.
    Marty: Yeah!! Just because I sing, it makes me no different than the guy who's plumbing bathrooms all day and going from house to house being a servant. We're all there to wash people's feet. And people confuse what we do with having some element of glamour to it. It's because they see our picture on a magazine or they hear this on Jesus freak Hideout or something to where publicity creates this mysterious aura that really doesn't exist. It's just a misconceived type of reality. And when you cross that barrier, the greatest impact you can ever have on people is to be able to sit here and talk with them. To say "Hey, you're having problems with your bills, too?" "Yeah!" "Well, let me tell you, it ain't pretty doing what I'm doing a lot of times. It's very inconsistent, it's feast or famine a lot." In a church situation, depending how large your church is, you get a diversified array, a palate of people - character, personalities, backgrounds, all kinds of stuff, just like Jesus did. Even in a more extreme circumstance. And when you are faced with being personable and letting down whatever that thing is - I don't know why it's such a challenge - when you're on a boat, on the water, and you're pretty much held captive anyway, I mean, why even try to play that game. It doesn't matter. And I'll have my family with me, which is cool, and we will kind of have a vacation, but the reason you are "on" as soon as you walk out of that door, is because you are representing some kind of connected hope for some people. And you're now responsible. That's where you're a servant. Cause you're responsible with that. And they're expecting some level from you that helps them and gives them hope.

  • JFH (John): Right, and as Christians, it's a ministering position. When I was that kid listening to Christian music and being affected greatly by these bands who are on album covers and posters and magazine covers -- they're larger than life and you look up to them. And there's a part of you that aspires to be able to affect others in the same way some day. You want to make an impact like that, too, because you see these people being used by God to do big things for Him in the Kingdom.

  • JFH (Amy): On the other hand, you have bands that get wasted or are partiers or you hear even more vile rumors about things that are happening behind the scenes from these bands you look up to. And you don't want to believe it and you usually don't believe it and tell yourself, "I'm not going to believe that! I didn't see it for myself, I wasn't there, they could be lying, you could be trying to spread rumors. I'm not going to believe that."
    Marty: What you just said is truly the fodder, for the most part, of every song I wrote on my album - to help, first of all, serve as a wake-up call to our humanity, to the commonality of our humanity shared with civilian life, because we're in this "CCM military," whatever it is. *laughs* It is. When we were in Truth, we were doing 345 days a year and it was really strenuous. I think back and just get worn out going over the memories, thinking, "Man, I was young! Why did I do that?" But for three and a half years, we did over a thousand concerts together before we were ever 4Him. And in doing that kind of a schedule, with all of that drive of sleeping on this bus, doing host homes with all these strange, different bedrooms and kiddie twin beds and crumbs and pee at the bottom of them. People open their homes, which is great, but then you go to bed and it's like "Ugggh!!" It's all of those really growing experiences in the trenches of that "Christian military" of us going through that kind of a schedule and that kind of rigor to help ground us for what lay ahead. Because when 4Him began, it was just like a slingshot. BAM! And when you got that g-force on ya and your first single and you're still on the Truth bus, and it's number one and it stays number one for eight weeks, which is wild, at a time where things just didn't go like that, God took it and it went ZOOM! And the rest is history! We're just now understanding and getting what happened.

    In light of all that, the first song on [my solo] album, "The Bubble" - I put it there to define the rest of it - is a very challenge-centered message for our culture today. The first line says "It's a paradigm within a parody, a TV version of reality. It's the other side of what we see. Not the way they really are but what they appear to be." And it's us being challenged to break out of that bubble, that thin skin that we think is so all-encompassing and hard to get through that holds this heavily edited version of life together. And we get caught up in it. Everybody's just OK with it. And it was me having a chance to show how incredibly ticked off I was by how it ruled the day. And the next one, "Eyes Wide Open," is directed towards our sophisticated level and our culture, how far we think we've come technologically. You get a little CGI happening. You have a little bit of communication with a lot of invisible RF signals, you get a lot of space travel, you get all of these things happening and we actually feel like we've sort of looked up God's sleeve while He's trying to do tricks. And we think we've got it figured out! And it's so far from the truth. And we we buy into it by our attitude and by the way we conduct our business, the way we view ourselves in that there's a god complex that runs rampant. Which we haven't even begun to breathe true life yet. We have yet to see our lives with eyes wide open. Paul said that eyes haven't seen, ears haven't heard, neither has it entered the heart of man, neither has it begun to become something we can imagine what He's prepared for us. Even if He is going to reveal them, it says He will reveal them through His Spirit! The fleshly mind cannot take that. So when we hear about all this stuff that goes down with other groups and all these other people that we have false hopes in, we gotta realize that that's flesh. We're all made of the same stuff. And what we are to cling to is the message we're singing. And that was the challenge when I approached the album. I want to make sure that, because I could, after seeing all this stuff for years and wondering "OK, God, why have you given me a front row seat to all this stuff?.... Oh! Oh, that's why. You want me to write about it! OK, The names have been changed to protect... *laughs* So I'll start writing it. I'll do it in a way to where it'll be universal for everyone to get. The song called "Secrets" is about secret sin. It's about our closest. Ooo! Touchy subject now. Simply because, in the secular market, it's not only not touchy, it's like a current fad!

  • JFH (John): It's like they're celebrating it!
    Marty: They are!

  • JFH (John): And it frustrates me because I'm ashamed of stupid stuff I struggle with that the world celebrates and promotes. And it's frustrating to see Christians, fellow believers, who don't even fight those kinds of sins and just accept them as "that's the way it is." But it's wrong because we're supposed to be fighting it.
    Marty: Yeah. Our closets are where we have our communion with God. If we're setting up altars of worship in our closet and we don't even realize it, God really can't do what He desires to do for our lives. We reduce it down to a dial-up bandwidth for Him to do anything, and yet we still feel the need to have a right to privacy, which that's where the world has deceived us in thinking "well that's my right to privacy!" As a Christian, now, you don't have that right anymore.

  • JFH (Amy): God's in the closet with you!
    Marty: The Creator of the universe is right there with you and you gotta clean that thing out and that's like the message on there. It's not for shock value. Nothing on my album is intended for shock value.

  • JFH (John): I appreciate the honesty, definitely. There isn't a lot of that in Christian radio -- it seems either blissful worship or watered-down rock. Not everybody, obviously, but it just seems like the majority is like that, compared to music ten or twelve years ago. You've got bands who are saying "We're Christians, but we don't want to be known as a 'Christian band' because we want to be able to play clubs and secular tours so - "
    Marty: "So we can reach more people."

  • JFH (John): *laughs* Right! "But they'll never know that we're Christians." And then the standard drops and we see them fall and some people are like "But they're supposed to be Christians!" and others say "That's okay because they didn't do anything wrong!" And it's like - whoa, wait a minute...
    Marty: So does that mean Paul had to change his M.O. and become a motivational speaker for these societies that would kick him out, "What are you doing?! Get out of here!!" Y'know? He never changed anything [in his message]. When in Rome, yeah, be as the Romans as far as their culture -- y'know, when they're eating pig eyes, eat the pig eyes. Right. If all they have to drink there is beer, well okay, I guess you can have a beer. He's not talking about his message. His message was NEVER watered down. Ever.

  • JFH (Amy): We wanted to ask you about "Leonardo" and the story behind it. I was wondering if it's about The DaVinci Code?
    Marty: Yes, and not solely. This is why I wrote that song - I knew the whole craze with The DaVinci Code wouldn't last long. Angels & Demons was actually a really good book. It was his best. Everything else *makes splat sound*. The craze over The DaVinci Code and the Knights of Templar and all these cloak and dagger views of the gospels with gnostics coming in... I studied the gnostics in college, so when they started whipping that out, I thought, "Are you kidding me?! People are buying into that?! We already covered that!" The earliest works they found were 170-plus A.D., way after Jesus died, much less lived. And here's this guy who was incredibly gifted in his time and born a thousand years later, yet they find a fresco that they unearth on a wall and then they start scraping away the rest of it and seeing "Oh! Well, we better retouch that!" So they basically redo it but still say this is his original idea and they treat it like a Polaroid!

  • JFH (Amy): Of the Last Supper.
  • JFH (John): With everybody on the same side of the table.
    Marty: As if he was just standing there going, "Y'know, John? Yeah, can you leeeean... Ah! Thank you. Thank you." Y'know? That's ridiculous!! And I thought, "Are we that hungry and thirsty for a controversial new way to see the Gospel?" All these tabloidisms! It blew my mind. That's when I had all this frustration building up and I thought, "y'know, God, I really want to write something that helps me dispell every bit of that, but at the same time, it's not locked into this period of it being a fad." That it'll be "transcultural," if you will. That it'll speak to you long after the last little "Code" novel has left the airport bookstore. So I'm thinking I want to do this but I also don't want to do it in a way to where I don't completely ruin Leonardo's name. Because he was an incredibly gifted human being. Of course, like all of us, he's left with a thing called "free will." He chooses whether or not to truly, with his life, glorify God or not. So as I got into it, I realized God had said, "I want you to write this and I think you need it to be an imaginary conversation with Leonardo." And I thought "that's it!" Because I had a whole day by myself in Albany, Georgia. We were at Sherwood Baptist Church. You know the people that did Facing The Giants? The pastor married my wife and I, so we're closely connected. That's where we did our farewell DVD. They put me in one of the visiting minister's homes. They have all these little parsonages, there's a line of them. So I got there and I was by myself for a day with my Micro Track and I got my guitar and started working on it and it just started to flow. And that's exactly what it talks about. It's first of all establishing the fact: genius. No doubt. Multi-gifted beyond any human of his time, his contemporaries. No doubt. "Surely someone rare as you could see what no one else can view. Capture pure divine. But scanning through the upper room, it's popular to now assume - God's truth has been disguised?" "Well, wait a second? Were you there?" And I'll go through the whole thing of, "Did you watch Him break the bread? Did you hear the words He said? Did you taste the wine He bled, Leonardo? I didn't think so." That whole thing. I had to cap it off at the very end with one more question. "By the way, have you ever captured His heart? I didn't think so." Because we equate all of this incredible gifting - just like we equate all those we put on a pedestal, just like we equate those who hold those hopes - as being so far removed from us as God's pets - His pet students - that we think, "Oh, well, he's got that direct line" --they don't say they're going to worship him, but with their actions, that's what they're saying-- "I'm going to worship him because he is definitely smiled upon by God." And it's just a BIG deception! And I thought I could use that song as a way of pulling you into the whole Leonardo thing and all of that, but leaving you with a bigger message by the time it's done.

  • JFH (John): Do you have a favorite song on the record?
    Marty: Marty Magehee It's tough. Because there's one song called "Whole Again" toward the end that is one that I wrote out of a long bout with severe depression. It was me actually coming out of it, where I fell to pieces at the bottom of God's heart and from the depths of His heart, I'm made whole again. That whole idea of where "it's better to fall and be broken than for the rock to fall on you and be ground to powder," the Bible says and that's what happened. I fell to pieces all over the place and God put me back together. That song, but, I don't know, man. It's tough. "Drawing Me" is one about how I can't really see from where I am on the sketch pad and He keeps drawing stuff. But He sees. And that's where I have to just look up and trust. And He's adding things and erasing some of my blunders. Probably "The Bubble," though. It's just a big rant of mine. It's got a rap in it, which I did request Toby to do, but he's just too busy. So I though, "heck with him, I'll do it myself!" I still have a hard time picking one favorite, though.

  • JFH (Amy): Which one, then, do you feel connects with the audience the most?
    Marty: I'd say, "Drawing Me." I don't think it defines the album, that's why I have my little hesitation for "that's my favorite!" which is why it's not the first single, but I think it does define me and most of the listeners in concert. It's the last song in concert that I leave with them.

  • JFH (John): There's more of a rock sound on your album. Is this something you wish 4Him had experimented a bit with?
    Marty: Absolutely. Because some of these songs - there are two, well one in particular. "Runaway Train" I pitched to us, but it was a few albums back. And it just scared everybody because we hadn't gone there. And I understand that. Because you establish the face of 4Him, of what it is, and you really don't want to venture too far outside of that because in our market, it tends to weaken it rather than strengthen it. So you can imagine when Jeff Mosely asked for us to put one of each of our songs from our future [solo] albums on this thing (Future Generation), and then knowing that at the farewell concerts we would itinerate all the material that is on that album, including the ones that are from our individuals. I just started thinking, "OK, wait a second..." Thomas Road Baptist - great church, we've been to since Truth all the way through 4Him. We established a really good relationship with the Falwells and everybody out there. They were christening their new building a couple years ago and it was towards the end of our farewell tour. The place is packed, somewhere between 4 and 6 thousand people, but I'm looking out there and I can tell that eighty percent were elderly and I thought, "Yeah... I'm gonna sing 'Runaway Train,' OK... Let's see how it goes!" When we do our four separate sets - I think it was Mark, then Andy, then Kirk, and then I was the last one. So I thought "This is either going to be cool or incriminating! I don't know." So I just went out and played it and wouldn't you know, at the record table afterwards, most of the people that came through the line were the elderly and hands down every one of them came up and told me how much they loved that "train" song. But as far as the rockiness, it just happened. I mean, yeah, I've got some in me, but I didn't just set out to go, "Y'know, I'm gonna be rocky!" It was really just whatever the message leant itself to.


    Marty Magehee's debut solo album, Open, is in stores now!




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