[ exclusive interview | new britain baptist church, new britian, pa | october 5, 2003 ]
Forget Phat Chance. The boys have all grown up into Stereo Motion. We sat down with Justin Morgan (bass player) and Bryan Nance, Jr. (guitar and lead vocals) to talk about the recent changes in their music, to look a bit into the future, and to hear their heart as a band.
cMW: Ok, so many of us know Plus One lost 2 members, and changed their music style from Boy Band to Rock. And you have one less band member, but changed your name from Phat Chance to Stereo Motion along with the musical genre change. Tell us about the transition.
Bryan: More or less it is a totally different band. In a way it is a different transition than some of the other transitions you have seen, like with Plus One. Just because we are not really changing our style, I believe, I think we are simply evolving as musicians and song-writers. From the get-go, we always played our instruments, we always were musicians and we always were song-writers. It's just that this is what it has transitioned [sic] to. And you will also see a lot of song-writers in general who will have a song on a Jennifer Lopez record as well as a music genre of something totally different. And those are typically people who just write songs, they do not generally perform. Wayne Kirkpatrick is a well known song-writer. He'll have something on Amy Grant or Michael W. Smith album and then put out his solo acoustic Jars of Clay-ish kind of record.
So it is not really comparable to those bands, but it is a similar situation. The change happened because Phat Chance was young. We were the clean-cut American boys, so why don't you go out and embrace this in your household and give it to your kids. And that is not something you can always have forever. We can't always be young and have that image about us. So we wanted something that, just for the image aspect, we could really grow with and expand with, and to still be Stereo Motion when we are 30 years old. And we felt that we could not do that with the band we used to be a part of, and we also found out with the now evolving musical style, people who like Rock would never give us a second listen that actually had some drum loops and harmonies that we didn't sing. So it is just something that we let the other thing go and started something new and hopefully people will identify us with this record and grow from there rather than the old Phat Chance.
cMW: I have to admit, I was a little skeptical before I saw you at FCD last month. After hearing your set, I knew it was a different band. What would you say to the skeptics out there?
Justin: We used to be in Kindergarten and we are not anymore, and neither are they.
cMW: Describe your ideal Stereo Motion fan.
Bryan: Ideally it would be, not just a music listener, but someone who appreciates art. I don't want that to sound weird or fruity. But movies are an art form, paintings are an art form, and music is an art form. Sometimes fans of our music will like us but they have this mindset of, "The harder the better." They are Rock fans, they are people who want to jump and mosh at a concert rather than listen to a piece of art. So I think the ideal fan would probably be somebody that I could sit down and talk about a weird movie with them and say, "What did you think about the plot here, and camera work and the cinematography?" And also listen to an album that is anywhere from Johnny Cash to Frank Sinatra to Led Zeppelin, and them being able to appreciate what they do and how their differences make them unique. And to be able to have a conversation about what is good about music and what is wrong about music today. Not just somebody who comes up to us and says, "Man, you guys rock!" That's cool, we enjoy that, but ideally I'd like to have somebody who appreciates a lot of different things. You do not see that a lot in the world these days. You see people get spoon fed whatever is on the top-40 and they don't really think twice about it. But I like a thinker. Somebody who takes what they listen to and does not take it with a grain of salt, but dissects it first.
cMW: I think I fit in there. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Bryan: As a band, we have the potential to either do something really really great, or to get overlooked very severely. Because we don't play music that is popular. Typically we stand out in a tour. Typically we have something different about us. Which, on the one hand is good, but on the other hand is bad. Because we don't sound like everyone else, because we don't blend in with whatever else people are eating right now. People don't want to digest us yet because they have to change their taste buds a little bit. So either we have the potential to be overlooked or pretty much flop. And we are not the kind of band that wants to just play great music and say, "Take it or leave it," to the fans. We want to in a way trick them into what we have to say and to trick them into wanting to take the plunge. So, to be honest, we are playing for either one. We are always going to play great music and we are always going to strive to do what we do with excellence. I don't say, "We play great music because we are the greatest." But we will always strive to play the best.
I think that we have either the potential to do this for a long time and be successful, and we'll do that if people give their ear to us. Or we will go off and continue to enjoy art and enjoy our lives. I think Justin will become a Record Producer or start another band. I would probably go to school and study ministry. Dallas would go to Film school probably or make some movies. Brent would probably go to college and become a Record Engineer or guitar tech or something like that.
Justin: We all have these different passions other than the band. So if it does not work out, in 5 years from now if we are not together, we all have things that we love doing. Mine is writing music and poetry and songs. And recording music. So, like he said, I'd probably be a Record Producer. But hopefully five years from now we will still be together.
cMW: What is your favorite song on the album and why?
Justin: All the ballads, pretty much. All the slower stuff like, "Slow Dance the Day Away." I am a guy that likes pretty, soft music. I like Rock and Roll, but I am more into the mood music Jazz/Blues laid back stuff.
Bryan: I think I would agree with Justin. I think what sets the album apart from every other trash can garage band is the slow songs. Because you cannot just listen to our album and say, "That is old Rock and Roll that wants to be like Led Zeppelin." I think it stretches and flexes our artistic side as well. Not that there is anything super weird or innovative about it, but it changes it up a little bit from loud guitars and big sounding drums. Anybody can turn up an amp loud and make some noise out of it but it takes more skill to have controlled sound. A meekness of instrumentation. I like those songs a lot because they don't allow you to put us in a box - the Rock and Roll box. It makes you think, "Who is this band that thinks they can play Rock and Roll and on the third song sing like a girl.
cMW: Tell us what it was like to record the album live in the studio.
Bryan: It was very fun.
Justin: It was fast. I think it took 13 days.
Bryan: I think it made a lot of difference in the attitude, especially in my vocals. I was not necessarily trying any harder to be more aggressive between our demos and our record. But when you listen to our demos, I sound like a 10 year old compared when you listen to the album. And I think it does a lot for the attitude and feel. Just hearing the drums and guitars right next to you, you can't help but to just belt it out. So I think that is why you have an energetic feel to our record rather than just the typical perfect lined-up drums and bass with no character. I enjoyed it a lot.
cMW: Would you do it again?
Bryan: I think on our fast songs.
Justin: I think it depends on what the song calls for. If the song requires more precise playing with a textured feel, it will probably be recorded separately. If it is a song that requires the band and the vibe, the "moment" kind of thing, we will record it live. Rock and Roll has to be dangerous and sloppy and in your face. You almost have to play it live. There are also other styles of music that you cannot treat as Rock and Roll. You always want that rawness and that skill. So songs that are not Rock and Roll, we will try to be more skillful rather than bold.
cMW: We keep hearing about low record sales all across the board. So why do you suppose there are so many new bands out there?
Bryan: Because it is easy. The standard of music today is very low. Anybody can tune a guitar down to drop D and tap on it all day long. I think girls like guys who are in bands, so that is another appeal. All you have to do is get on stage and flash a smile and you'll have at least one or two swooning girls by the end of the night. Even for Christian bands, I am sure that is an appeal. We are so surrounded by music and media and everything about MTV and music videos. Everything about music is so fast and flashy and showy. Everybody wants to be a rock star. Most everybody, at least. Which is sort of sad. It saddens me to know that there are so many bands out there where I can tell that they do it because they just want to be a Rock star and not because they want to create or change the way the people think or tell a story. They just want to be rock stars.
cMW: What words of advice do you have for someone wanting to get a record deal?
Justin: Don't try. Don't worry about it because half the bands that aren't signed should be, and half the bands that are signed, shouldn't be. If people just practice, and passionately work at their craft, and don't worry about if it is marketable and all that junk. If you are doing the best you can, then you can't be unnoticed. A word of advice is to be so overly passionate about it, so it is all you want to do. If you do that, then God will reward that and bless the fact that you don't want to do it to make money or to be popular or famous. You do it because you want to glorify God through art. Be as creative as possible. There are no rules.
cMW: What is your opinion about downloading music and ripping CD's without purchasing them?
Bryan: I don't do it.
Justin: It's stealing. If I like an album, I'll buy it.
cMW: What song was most recently a "repeat" song on your CD player and why?
Bryan: Recently it would have to be the Eagles Hotel California, the beginning of side two of the cassette tape. I bought it for 25 cents at a Good Will store in Illinois. It begins with a reprise of a song called "Wasted Time." It starts off with violins and just an orchestra and then goes into a song called "Victim of Love." That album was a "repeat" because on a cassette you cannot press repeat.
Justin: I have been listening to a lot of Beatles lately. The White Album and Sgt. Pepper's. "Within You, Without You" is probably one of my favorite songs right now. I have been listening to it every day for the past few days.
cMW: What do you evaluate when deciding what music to listen to? For example, style, lyrics, the artist?
Bryan: Right now, there are so many timeless artists out there that you just can't deny that I don't have their record. If I see a great Johnny Cash album or a Frank Sinatra or a Rock band from the 60's or 70's that still matters today. There is so much of that timeless stuff, the essentials, that I still do not have. I might as well just buy that hands down because it still matters and people will still love it. I'll take the critics advice and go with what has impacted people. I don't even have to listen to the Beatles to already know that it is going to be a great album. If it has got "Eleanor Rigby" then why not.
Justin: Same with me. I buy old music. I don't really buy anything modern or from this decade, or the 90's. Pretty much 60's/70's. Everything from that era. I like that kind of sound - raw, not perfect, old crappy kind of sound. I was listening to the White Album today and it is just wretched. I mean, the drums are in this ear, and out of tune guitars over here. But I love that stuff. It is so cool.
Bryan: And a plea to the listeners - please do not view that music as just oldies that you can overlook. Because that oldies music that you think does not matter gets ripped off by the top-40 bands you listen to every day. Creed. Linkin Park, Nickelback. They wish they could be as good as Led Zeppelin. We all do.
cMW: That's all I have unless you want to add something.
Justin: We are not Phat Chance that changed our name, we are a totally new band with different songs.
Bryan: I want to say something about the heart of the band. We are a couple different things all thrown into one. Kind of like Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. We are 100% musicians and yet also 100% Christians. Those are totally different things and yet they also enhance each other and go hand in hand. There are a lot of people when they go on stage who are Christian musicians. I have noticed that there are a lot of Christian bands out there that forget that being a musician and being a Christian are two totally different things. But they still go hand in hand. And they still do not know how to balance that out well. It is hard to figure out how to balance that out the best. Because you do not want to sacrifice the quality for the sake of putting in Jesus every three seconds on your song.
I think that people sometimes forget that God is real. That is something that we feel is important. A lot of our fans do not realize that with or without Christian music, with or without the genius of Jon Foreman's lyrics, or the truth of Switchfoot's lyrics, with or without the amazing experience of worshipping God with Worship music. If you take everything that makes your life happy and put it away and you get put in a cardboard box with just you and nothing else, and you feel miserable. You don't have to because God loves you and He cares about you because he is real. And you can talk to Him because he is real. You do not have to talk to him through Jon Foreman or Peter Furler or tobyMac, or anybody like that. You can talk to Him through Jesus Christ, your true intervener.
I think that, yes, purity is important and yes, staying away from drugs is important, and loving God through hard times is important. But the real importance is to take all these sermons away, and to take all these advice columns away, and all the truth that I could give you through my song away, and know that God loves you, and He is real, and you can talk to Him with or without the truth that surrounds you through music or even the church. God just kind of designed all those things to be enhancers and helpers and not substitutes for Him.
I just think that it is a bad thing that people have out of line. They make Christian bands their support. They freak out if something in their lives goes wrong and they get on the bands message board and ask the band. And they get so wrapped up in the politics like Evanescence - questioning, "Are they Christian?" In both Christian and Secular music. People latch onto things. Something I read today in Deuteronomy just says, "If you obey my commands and do the things that please me and cling to me, that is how you will find favor in My eyes." Basically, that is how I will bless you, Your life is not going to be anything worth living in your eyes unless you cling to God and latch on to Him. He created all this beauty. He created all this art. He created the truth found in the sermon given by your Pastor or the great lyrics of Switchfoot's latest single. Go to the source. That's what we want to point people to. We are not an answer band, we just point them to the answer. That is the heart of the band. We get tired of saying cliché Christian lines all the time. Not because we want to be less obedient or less overtly Christian, but because we want to be less fake.
- Kim Flanders
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