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Third Day
[ Interview with Mac Powell ]


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cMusicWeb.com: Several of your recent interviews hinted at the negative backlash from Third Day's last CD, Conspiracy No. 5. Why do you think it was not well received?
Mac Powell: A good question. I think it was well received, 'cause it did just as well as the first record, or almost; but I think perhaps it didn't do as well as we hoped it would—we thought that it would do a lot better than it did. I think a big part of that was because it was a little dark, especially the first two songs, which had a harder edge than our first record. Musically, I think it was a little different from what our first record was—people were wanting our first record, Part II, and that's definitely not what Conspiracy No. 5 was. A lot of the songs were written for unsaved people, songs that hopefully people who weren't Christians could relate to and understand. But at the same time, a lot of it was not simple Christianity, it wasn't 'milk.' The apostle Paul talks about 'milk' being the simple things of God, and the deeper things being the meat. I think Conspiracy No. 5 contained a little bit of meat that you had to chew on a while to digest. It was harder to understand, but once you did, you got a lot more out of it.

cMW: I agree; that's why I liked it so much.
Mac: And, you know, with our first record you could listen to it once and like it. With the second record, you had to listen to it several times to really comprehend it and to really like it. I think maybe that's why it wasn't taken as well as we had hoped it would be. But it was still a success—it got nominated for a Grammy, and won a couple of Dove Awards. So, it still did well.

cMW: In contrast to Conspiracy, Time is a more straight forward album, with fairly common chord progressions, and upfront lyrics. Does this say anything about where 3D is, both creatively and spiritually?
Mac: It's just kind of a back-to-basics for us. We loved Conspiracy No. 5, and what we were trying to do with it, but at the same time, with Conspiracy we weren't exactly trying to be true to ourselves. We were trying to prove to other people that we could rock, and that we weren't a Hootie and the Blowfish rip-off band. In doing that, we did prove that, but we weren't necessarily true to ourselves. With Time, we honestly made this record for ourselves and said, 'This is who we are and this is the kind of music we want to do, the kind of record we want to make,' instead of trying to prove to everybody else what we can do.

cMW: Is the acoustic focus of Time in any way an attempt to make 3D more radio-friendly?
Mac: I guess kinda yes and no. On one hand, we're aware of that and we want our music to be accessible to people. But, at the same time, that's kind of where we were at and what we wanted to do. So, that's where it came from.

cMW: Previously, you've toured with rock bands All Star United, Seven Day Jesus and Switchfoot. Has the Spring 2000 tour been any different?
Mac: Oh, definitely. Those are all bands that we love, as brothers, as friends, and as bands musically also. But whenever we toured with those bands, they were brand new bands that we were proud to introduce to people. But, because they were new, they didn't really draw a lot of new people to our show—you'd see basically all 3D fans at a show, with a handful of people who didn't know us. Now, touring with Jennifer Knapp, she's a more a established artist and has a lot more fans, sold a lot more records than previous artists that we've toured with. So it draws a bigger crowd, and definitely a difference. Which is great—this is the best tour we've been on, as far as numbers are concerned. I've found that it's not just Jennifer Knapp fans plus Third Day fans equals our crowd showing up every night. It's more like people would like to see Jen in concert, and would like to see Third Day, but they would love to see both of us play. People were saying, 'I'll buy a ticket to one of the shows maybe...but to see both of them? Well, definitely I'll buy a ticket.'
cMW: That's how it was for me. I was at the Dallas concert.
Mac: Great, that was a great show.

cMW: What's it like traveling with Jennifer Knapp?
Mac [laughs a bit]: It's great! Her and her band are awesome. They're great people; their music is also very compatible to ours, not only their music, but their personalities and their callings also. We're having a great time—we spend a lot of time with each other, a lot of time playing whiffleball, and all kinds of sports...going out to play golf, and do all sorts of stuff. We're having a good time with those guys.

cMW: Being a rock band, and having written songs like "Take My Life" and "Praise Song," Third Day is considered a pioneer in modern worship. Do you believe the enthusiasm and energy of today's worshipers is real, or only a fad?
Mac: I appreciate you calling us that...I don't know if we're definitely 'pioneers in modern worship,' but we'd like to say that we're a little part of it. But back to the question, I think it's a little bit of both. Generally, there is a move of God through His people to reflect back to Him His glory, but, at the same time, just like with anything else, it can easily turn into something where it becomes a fad, and where people become more emotional than they should or emotional rather than reflecting worship back to God. It is a little bit of both, but hopefully more on the side of a true movement of God through His people.

cMW: Conversely, do you see mainstream audiences "turned off" or disengaged by Third Day's worship set?
Mac: Not that I've seen. That may happen, but I haven't heard anything about that. For example, the other night a guy who worked at the venue we were playing at came up to me—you could tell he wasn't a Christian—and said, "I was blown away by what you guys said..." He really had a genuine Jesus experience at the concert, and that came from the 'worship' kind of stuff, and the things we'd say about the songs. I'm sure some people are 'turned off' by it, but I've heard definitely more positive feedback from it than negative.

cMW: On to the more pressing questions. Tell me about the new worship/live album releasing on July 11.
Mac: It's really cool, because we've had a lot of fans ask us, 'When are you guys going to do a live record?' and others would ask, 'When are you guys going to do a praise and worship record?' This is a little bit of both; almost like a greatest hits/praise and worship/live record all wrapped into one, a three in one. Half of it is live, songs that our fans will know like 'My Hope is You,' 'Agnus Dei,' and 'Your Love, Oh Lord'—songs from all three of our first records, the more praise and worship oriented stuff. But the other half of it is some songs that we've written in the past couple of months, and a couple of cover tunes. One is a great song by Bob Dylan he wrote back in the late seventies/early eighties called 'Saved'; and a tune from a band called Jacob's Trouble, which is an Atlanta band that we all grew up listening to, and were inspired by. It's a great record for our fans, and it'll be interesting to see how people other than our fans take it. We're really excited we've gotten the chance to do it, and it came together really well, and a lot better than we expected.

cMW: Will the new songs be similar in style to 3D's remix of Michael W. Smith's "Agnus Dei"?
Mac: Not really. That's kind of the quintessential Third Day worship sound in 'Agnus Dei'—we've done several things like that. But on this one, there's quite a few different sounding things, everything from a 70s rock feel with the Bob Dylan 'Saved' song to a hymn that Mark Lee wrote called 'All the Heavens' to an R.E.M.-esque kind of praise song called 'You're Everywhere.' There's quite a few things on there that are way different from what we've done before. It's going to be fun to see what people think.

cMW: And are we looking at a 10, 12 or 14 song project here?
Mac: I think it is going to be ten or eleven songs, if I'm not mistaken.

cMW: Is a title set for it yet?
Mac: Yeah, it's called Offerings.

cMW: Some media sources, particularly online, have raised questions about overpriced merchandise, and expensive concert tickets, not concerning just 3D, but the entire CCM industry.
Mac: Sure.
cMW: What is your response to people who believe the CCM industry is out to "sell God"?
Mac: That's a great question. Being someone who once was on the outside of the industry, and now on the inside, I know that there's a lot of genuine people in the industry who really love the Lord and who are genuinely trying to follow what God is calling them to do. It's just a dangerous thing, building this Christian subculture with music and books and all kinds of different things; but, there is an audience for it. I know there are people who want to be encouraged in their faith by Christian music, so therefore there's a market for it. With us there's such a balance, because it's something that we're called to do, yet it's our jobs also. We must make money through it to support our families and ourselves, almost like a pastor or a speaker who get paid by a church to be pastor, and they're in the ministry, yet they get paid. There's such a fine line we walk between being ministers and being called to do that, yet making our living off that as well.

cMW: Any closing comments?
Mac: No, I appreciate though.

cMW: Ok. Thank you so much for your time, Mac. I'm a big fan of Third Day.
Mac: Thanks a lot, man.
- Josh M. Shepherd
June 2000
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