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Audio Adrenaline Interviews/Articles

CCM newmusic magazine
August/September 1999 issue

"Gone to the dogs"
by Melissa Riddle

They've sung about the big house. They've bloomed where they were planted. They've been some kind of zombie. And it's been a strange and wonderful trip so far. One new band member - newlywed lead guitarist Tyler Burkum - and two children later (Will McGinniss and Bob Herdman are new dads), Audio Adrenaline gets down to some serious fun with Underdog which includes a cool twist on a classic hymn, a rock opera and a rockabilly revamp of "DC-10" the group's very first song. I say down with the entire gang recently to get the inside scoop on their self-produced fifth studio album, and here's what they had to say:

New Music: Sonically, what sets this album apart from past projects? Specifically, how do you think your music has progressed from bloOm and Zombie?

Mark: The first difference is we produced most of the record ourselves. That's new. Also, it's more accessible. I would compare it to Bloom as far as its pop accessibility. Zombie was a little hard[er] to digest. It was more artistic, more expressive.

Will: It's a lot more heartfelt than the last record. We drew from elements of the last three albums, a lot of loose, driven stuff. Bloom was real raw. Zombie was the art album. We just kind of incorporated all of that stuff.

Mark: Sonically, it's kind of a mixture of all of them. There are a couple suprizes on there. "It is well with my soul" is pretty different for us. It's kind of groove-oriented. We didn't like it at frist, but it turend out to be really cool. Jennifer Knapp sings on it.

New Music: There are several songs that seem to focus on the misfits, the disenfranchised in today's culture. Out of what experiances did these songs come?

Mark: Well, one thing about Audio Adrenaline is we've always perceived ourselves as underdogs. We're not great muscians, we're not excellent singers of performers, but God always seems to put us in places where He can use us. we kinda' consider ourselves the misfits of Christian music. That might be the reason. Different things will happen, and God will poke His head out and say, "This is the theme I want you to sing about."

The song "Good life" comes from a friend of ours in Dallas who was going through a divorce. But at this point in his life, he's never been closer to God. "Good life," "Underdog" and " It is well with my soul"- all those are for people who don't feel quite adequate. God uses those feelings and situations so He can be glorified. Its like that throughout the Bible - from Moses and Gideon to the birth of Christ. God always fixed the broken and weak to do great things. So we thought Underdog was a great theme for the record. For kids out there who might not be able to sing or play music, or aren't that popular, God can use them in so many different ways.

Will: We're all very different guys and God somehow uses our differences. We just all kinda' throw things in, fly by the seat of our pants, and somehow it works. We didn't sit down a year and a half ago and say "Lets write songs about being the underdog."

Bob: "Its over" started with Tyler. He came up with a part where he was singing, "Its over, its over." And we thought it would be a cool song to play at the end of the show. It's basically saying, "We know you're having a good time now, but keep this excitement and this zeal about Christ once you leave the show tonight." It was one of the last songs we did for the record. It seems to be a fitting end.

New Music: What spawned "The Houseplant Song"?

Mark: That would be Bob's brainchild.

Will: It's our rock opera (laughing).

Bob: Actually, I wrote it about five or six years ago. I used to play it for my friends on acoustic guitar. I don't have a really good singing voice, as you can tell, so I kind of mumbled the words. Everyone thought it was kind of funny. Basically, the lyric comes from my experience of growing up in a very conservative family, in a very conservative area, where Christian music - any kind of rock 'n' roll - was looked down upon. The point is basically that we shouldn't be worrying about these silly little things, we should be out spreading the gospel. We should be sharing our love and being friends with non-Christians. It's supposed to be a little live, fun song, like you're in a coffeehouse.

New Music: How did you decide on Pete Townsend's "My Love" for the album?

Bob: It was my wife Jeanette's idea. She's in [the group] Considering Lily, and she wanted to do it, but we kind of, like, took it. She was [also] the one who came up with the "Free Ride" idea, so she's good at picking them.

Mark: After her idea, we read the liner notes. [Townsend] has a couple of paragraphs that basically say, "This song is about God opening the doors to your own heart. It's not a love song at all." That's why we're doing it. We felt comfotable because it was originally him talking to God. I think God can put songs in anybody's heart that can be used to glorify Him. New Music: Is there a "Big House" on Underdog?

Mark: I hope not. That would be torture. When you have a song like that, you have to play it for eight years. The song "Get Down" is getting the most audience attention. We actually moved "Big House" from the closing slot to the opening slot because "Get Down" is bigger live than "Big House." The firs titme people hear it, they love it.

New Music: How do you explain the response?

Mark: It's simple, people can sing along with it, they can dance to it, and it's got something they relate to. I have to give it an 88.

Will: I think they can really connect with the fact that God's preparing this place, and they can all relate to the idea, "Yeag, I've been really down, but I know if I hang on to my faith in Gods, then He'll pick me back up."

Mark: There [are] two real themes to that song. On the surgace, that's what you first get when you hear it, "I get down, He lifts me up," which is fine. but the underlying theme to that song is the idea of becoming a servant, becoming less, which kind of goes along with the whole underdog theme.

New Music: What about "DC-10"? You guys really switched lanes with that one.

Ben: Yeah, it's, uh, different. [It's] all in the spirit of fun, if not in the original Audio Adrenaline format. We were gonna re-do it in a rock style or Beastie Boys style, then we just came up with the whole rockabilly thing. We did it in one day [and] a lot of kids we play it for, it's their favorite song which kind of hurts a little bit.

Will: Disheartening is more like it. It's a 10-year-old cover song - the very first song we ever did. You spend months on other songs, and the one you record in one day is the one where they say, "That's my favorite! Play DC-10!" But hey, whatever. It was fun.

New Music:What was the best part about making this album?

Mark: This is one of the first records I think where [the final result] is real close to the vision we had. This one feels really solid as far as everything's together.

Will: We really got to see out vision through on this one, but time-wise and stress-wise, it was probably at least twice as hard. We might have killed each other if we tried to do [the whole thing by ourselves]. Mark: Another cool thing about this record is, my Mom says it's our best record ever.

New Music: And endorsement from Mom, now that is impressive.

Will: It's a big deal.

Mark: Yeah, she also endorses Burt Bacharach.