Unless you have spent very little time visiting this oh-so-lovely web
site, you are probably aware that Decapolis, which is run by a man named
Conrad, is releasing a CD by a great band called Vroom. If you know
what's good for you, you own or are planning on owning this outstanding
new album, entitled "...Throws Like A Girl." Anyway, I recently had the chance to interview both Conrad and the members of Vroom to talk about the band and their new
album. Here is what I learned.
Andrea: First of all, could we just go around and do a little
introduction? What's your name, what instrument do you play, maybe a
little background information, like how old you are and what you're doing
for work or school or whatever.
Todd: I'm Todd. I'm the roadie. I work at Red Lobster and I'm 20 and
Micah: Todd is the brains behind the operation. And the brawn. We're
just mere servants.
Nate: I'm Nate and I play drums and my job is an armed security officer
and I get paid to carry a gun.
Tim: Didn't you get your first arrest last week?
Nate: Oh yeah, I got my first arrest last week.
Conrad: What'd you do?
Nate: I arrested a guy for trespassing. Pulled him out of his car and
threw him in the back of the car and held him. Took him down to the
magistrate and booked him. It was fun. (Laughter)
Micah: I'm Micah. I play bass and I go to school and I'm a junior. And
if I don't play music, I think I'm gonna be a research scientist.
Conrad: Researching what?
Conrad: Researching scientists?
Micah: Probably something in herpetology.
Conrad: Herpes? (Laughter.)
Micah: No. Herpes is an STD. Herpetology deals with the study of
reptiles and amphibians. (Continued laughter.)
Andrea: Very interesting.
John: I'm John. I'm 20 and I play guitar and sing and I work in a video
tape duplication plant.
Todd: Plant? It's two rooms! (Laughter)
John: It's a very small plant. And I'm a communications major for
Liberty University. Go Flames.
Conrad: I'm Conrad. I'm 27. I do Decapolis. I'm putting out Vroom's
record and I'm an accountant.
Tim: I'm 20. My name is Tim and I'm a communications major and I build
Micah: And you're Annie's boyfriend.
Tim: And I'm Annie's boyfriend. (Laughter.)
Micah: And you play guitar.
Tim: And I play guitar. Better than Jon.
Andrea: I know this is like a really cliché kind of question, but just
to get this out of the way, why are you guys called Vroom? Where did
that come from?
Tim: A place where they don't end their sentences in prepositions.
Todd: All right, that's not funny.
Nate: It's never been funny.
John: We had a friend named Josh and he suggested it
because it was onomatopoeia. And we thought that was kind of cool.
Nate: We were struggling, at the time, for a name.
John: Yeah, we were struggling. So, no big story. Everybody needs a
name. We could have gone by "Jon and Nate and Tim and Jim" but. Vroom
Micah: Well, after Jim left you probably would have had to change the
Andrea: Could you give us a brief history of the band, like how long
you've been together, where you met, that kind of thing?
John: Nathan Foutz, I and another guy named Jim
Kellaris have been going to school together since the third
grade. We would just jam, and then in eleventh grade Tim came and he
invited us to play at a talent show. So we played at the talent show and
then we eventually just started playing with Tim. Then we started doing
shows about the summer of our junior year-
Nate: No. Senior year.
John: Summer of our senior year?
Tim: Going on our senior year.
John: Yeah, going on our senior year, like, after our junior year we
started playing out during the summer and it's been about four years
since then. And Jim left, and then a guy named Jason played with us. He
left, and we have Micah playing with us right now.
Nate: He's gonna leave in a little bit.
John: Hopefully he'll leave soon. (Laughter.)
Micah: That's the impression I get.
Andrea: What are your favorite bands, or music artists, to listen to?
What do you usually enjoy?
Nate: Green Day. We all like Green Day.
John: We all like Green Day; we all like Jawbreaker.
Micah: I don't like Green Day. But I don't really count, I guess.
Nate: You're leaving soon, Micah. (Laughter.)
John: Yeah, Weezer we all like. I like U2. Individually, Tim likes The
Mr. T Experience, Nathan likes-
John: .And Big Pun. (Laughter.)
Nate: Poison. Poison is a good band.
Tim: What do you like, Jon?
John: I like ELO a lot. The Beatles. And Queen, a lot... Micah likes
Nate: Jimmy Eat World.
Micah: Thanks for pigeonholing me. (Laughter.)
Andrea: Lyrically speaking- I guess this question would be directed to
whoever usually writes the lyrics-
John: That's Tim.
Andrea: Okay, Tim-
John: And Conrad. (Laughter.)
Andrea: What kind of stuff do you usually write about? Like, what
thoughts or experiences go into your lyrics?
Tim: Jon writes about me. All the songs that you think are about girls
are about me.
John: Yeah, all the songs on the album are about a specific person,
except for one.
Tim: Jon really writes the lyrics.
John: So most of them just deal with issues that I have with people. So
are pretty personal. And Conrad actually did quite a bit of editing and
collaboration on the album with lyrics.
Andrea: How does the songwriting process usually work then?
Nate: Beating your head against the wall.
John: I'll come up with basically some melodies and some chords and stuff
and I'll go meet with Tim and we'll arrange and write guitar parts. Then
we'll put it together with the drummer and the bassist last. And then
about four months later we'll write words. (Laughter.)
Andrea: This subject is- I guess it's kind of gotten to the point where
it's a little bit trite, but how do you guys feel about the division
between the quote unquote "Christian" and "secular" music markets?
John: I don't think there should be a division. I don't think it should
exist, and I think the fact that it does hinders Christian culture and
separates us in a way that keeps us from interacting with unsaved people
and that inhibits us reaching unsaved people. So, I'm not a big fan of
the separation between Christian and secular music.
Andrea: So how do you think Vroom fits into that? Or, how would you like
to fit into that?
Tim: We've just ignored it altogether. We play wherever. We put our CD
in any stores. Pretend there's not two markets, just treat it as one.
Andrea: For Conrad, then, if you're going to be putting out CDs and stuff
through Decapolis, how are you going to go about doing that, as far as
being involved in separate markets?
Conrad: I'm not gonna release it in Christian bookstores, because having
the two different cultures is really dumb, and it does a whole lot of
damage to separate ourselves from the world, because we're supposed to be
going into the world and not separating ourselves like the industry has
been doing. And so, to kind of promote that a little bit more, I'm going
to be trying to do as much general market stuff as possible. Even though
there's nothing wrong with me putting stuff in Christian bookstores, it
kind of just adds to that mentality of "Hey, we're a separate culture."
So I'm gonna try to stay away from that as much as possible.
Andrea: How will you [run Decapolis], with it being both a web site and a
Conrad: If any other bands come along that are good enough to put out,
I'll basically sign them and then put out the record, just like with
Vroom. It was not like, I'm gonna try to do this record label thing, it
was, I found a really really good band that can raise the standard, not
just in the so-called Christian market, but just in the general scheme of
music. I'll put it out and if any other bands come along that are good
enough to put out, then I'll put 'em out. And it's not like anything
that I'm looking to make money off of, because I really don't care. Just
trying to raise the level of music, especially with Christians in the
arts. It's just been really poor. We're not uplifting the name of Christ
how we should be by putting out this mediocre music, because as
Christians we should be the best in the arts, and right now, instead of
being the best and being the standard-setters, we're the ones that are
lagging behind and copying what the world does.
Andrea: So what all are you doing for the band, as far as distribution
and that kind of thing?
Conrad: We have a bunch of independent distributors that we're gonna be
looking into, and then just releasing it like that. So, we'll be doing
it- I mean, it'll start slow, but it'll be just like any other
independent label when they start off, like Lookout or whoever else like
Andrea: For the band: A while ago, I heard that you guys were possibly
going to be signing with Tooth and Nail, or that you were talking with
them or whatever. I don't know- if you don't what to talk about that or
whatever- but what happened with that?
John: We talked briefly with Tooth and Nail about the possibility of
doing a contract with them, but the further it got, the less it sounded
like something that we were interested in. And so, it pretty much
fizzled after that. They sent us a rough idea of what the contract would
be, and it wasn't something that appealed to us. And so, it wasn't like
they wanted to sign us, we turned them down or anything like that, it was
just that it just wasn't the kind of thing we wanted.
Tim: We didn't see eye to eye with them about anything, almost.
John: Yeah. And just talking to them on the phone, it didn't seem like
the kind of business we wanted to be doing.
Andrea: What kind of things in the contract weren't you.
John: It seemed like they were running their label like it was a major
label, as far as they would pretty much be withholding everything and
not really doing anything for us, and so I didn't see the advantage of
Tim: Their outlook is: Bands work hard, they see what they can do, and
then if the band breaks through and is successful or whatever, then
they'll start pushing them.
Conrad: How many records did they want to sign you for?
John: They wanted to sign us for six with the option of three- it was
like a cover album.
Tim: It was six full albums with a cover album-
John: A cover album, a live album, and a Christmas album.
Nate: 17 years they would have had us.
John: Yeah, it could have been like 12 years. And it wasn't that good of
a deal, so we didn't feel like it was something we wanted.
Andrea: Had any other labels talked to you or expressed interest?
Tim: Yeah, a few of them.
John: A couple. Nothing substantial.
Andrea: What do you think the future holds for you guys as a band? Or,
maybe what would you like it to hold?
Tim: Arena rock. (Laughter.)
John: With how well this next record does, we would like to go.
Obviously, we'd like to be on MTV or whatever. We'd just like to take it
as far as it can go, and as Conrad was saying, raise the standard of
music in any way possible. But, you know, that's all up to God's plan
and whatever happens. It's not for us to say what the future's gonna
hold, but it would be nice if we could go as far as we can go with this.
Andrea: So, are you guys gonna try and push the album, and just try and
get as many shows, as many connections as you can, that kind of thing?
John: For now, yeah.
Conrad: What label do you guys want to be on?
John: Decapolis.We haven't really talked about all that stuff.
Tim: Yeah, we joke about really big labels.
Micah: AOL. (Laughter.)
Nate: Warner and AOL. AOL bought Time Warner.
John: We once got a letter from Warner. It was exciting.
Tim: For the time being, we're doing really well. We really are.
Andrea: You had mentioned God and how you are depending on Him for
whatever happens with the band. I guess this question can be answered in
a lot of ways and in different aspects, but how are some of the ways you
see your faith coming into play as you're writing the music and you're
going out and performing, and- just anything with the band?
John: As far as writing music, it really just depends on what I'm writing
about, how my faith affects that. There's a couple songs on the album
where I just deal with. Well, one of the songs is about witnessing and
the fact that I have a real tough time doing that. I try not to witness
to anyone in my songs per se, because I don't feel like that's a witness,
when you write something for some one, or when you talk from the stage, I
don't feel like that's witnessing. I feel like witnessing is when you
get to know some one and you establish a relationship with them and show
them through your life and then talk to them, because they've seen it in
your life. As far as songwriting, I incorporate in my songs what I feel
as far as my faith- Just how it interacts with my life is what a lot of
the songs are about.Songwriting and what else?
Andrea: Anything. Maybe going out and interacting with people.
John: When we go out and do shows, we try to keep a positive testimony
and we get to know people at our shows. There's a lot of kids we'll see
several times at the same place, we try to build relationships with them
like I was saying, and get to know them like that. I think that's the
way to witness.
Andrea: This is kind of a vague, general question, along the same lines.
What are- anything that comes to your head first- some of the major,
important spiritual lesson that you've learned in your lives? I don't
know, anything that you find important or that you contemplate
Tim: We learn a lot about faith; faith in what God will do for you.
Things are gonna work out for us, regardless, for the best. So, whatever
path that is, it's fine, I guess. If that means we're gonna break up
next year, that's fine. And I know I trust God a lot more than I ever
John: I think we also have to trust God on the road. Like yesterday, we
broke down and it's interesting to see God work and where he places
Tim: We found a mechanic.
John: We found a mechanic at Sheetz.
Micah: In five minutes.
John: Yeah, within five minutes after we broke down, and we said, "Hey,
do you have a flashlight?" and he's like, "Yeah, what for?" and we're
like, "We just broke down," and he's like, "I'm a mechanic." It's just
interesting to see how God has really provided for us and that's
something we've learned a lot of times.
Andrea: What other stuff do you like to do besides music? We had already
talked about school and jobs.
Tim: I really like my job.
John: I like to play golf. Todd likes to play paint ball.
Todd: I have my own company.
John: He has his own paintball company.What do you like to do, Micah?
Micah: I like to catch salamanders. And newts. And snakes. What about
Conrad: I do Decapolis. That's my whole hobby.
Tim: And you've seen how many movies this year?
Conrad: This year sucks for movies.
Tim: Oh. What was last year? What was the number?
Conrad: I saw 55 movies last year. So that's over one a weekend. But
this is a terrible year for movies.
Andrea: I think that's all we have, unless there's anything else you wish
Conrad: Your thougths, for all the readers to read.
John: Um...Decapolis is one of my favorite web sites. I especially like
the stuff Conrad does. I'm wearing women's pants.
Tim: Jon has a girlfriend now. He misses her.
(What is left of the otherwise interesting and informative interview then
completely disintegrates into a minute or two of insubstantial and nearly
incoherent banter among the band members which is very difficult to
transcribe and doesn't really matter anyway.)