By Andrea Saylor

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 that's all.

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?

Tim: Salamanders.

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 houses.

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 sounds better.

Micah: Well, after Jim left you probably would have had to change the name. (Laughter)

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.

Nate: Goldfinger.

Micah: I don't like Green Day. But I don't really count, I guess.

Nate: You're leaving soon, Micah. (Laughter.)

Tim: Weezer.

John: Yeah, Weezer we all like. I like U2. Individually, Tim likes The Mr. T Experience, Nathan likes-

Nate: Goldfinger.

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 emo.

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 record label?

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 that.

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 that.

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?

Tim: Yep.

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.

Nate: Interscope.

Tim: Yeah, we joke about really big labels.

John: Geffen.

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 frequently.

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 have before.

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 people.

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 you, Conrad?

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 to discuss.

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.)

2000 Decapolis - All Rights Reserved

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Check out the latest interviews from some of todays top indie labels. The latest interviews are with the owners of Vagrant Records and Crank! Records.

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