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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Josh: I love every single song.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Josh: I read a lot of comic books… A loooot of comic books.
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.
Josh: We're working on a plan to escape the world of "scene" music forever… some crazy things have been suggested.
Josh: Thanks so much for the interview.
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