In 2003, .HEREtoday. was in the midst of recording our first full-length record, Desert Room. Before the album was even finished recording (and honestly, probably even before it started), I knew the band as we knew it was coming to an end. I had played in a punk band (This Boys Trouble) on and off during my senior year of college, and while that didn’t work out for a few different reasons, it opened my eyes.
Quitting This Boys Trouble was really hard for me. I had so much fun playing with those guys, and I’m super jealous that Mike and Shep had a chance to play together in another band recently (check out Cake and Calculus, they are good). The other players in TBT pushed me. Honestly, at the time, I wasn’t good enough to be in that band, but they stuck with me, and I pressed harder than I ever had before. And I got better. And I was challenged and felt accomplished at every new part I could play.
After long, long practices at Mike’s family’s house in Colonial Beach, I’d come home suffering from ringing ears and with a serious intention to leave .HEREtoday. which was not challenging me and seemed to be mired in tension. I remember sitting with my roommate Rob and telling him I was going to quit and him counseling me not to do it without serious contemplation. The guys in .Ht. probably have no idea how close I got to leaving, and Rob and Becky should be credited with my remaining.
.HEREtoday. practices were a chore and shows only marginally less so (“Let’s just go home”). Strangely, the songwriting process, which mostly consisted of me and Ed and occasionally Chip sitting in my townhouse living room scribbling pages and pages of notes and lyrics before a magical (or so it seemed at the time) combination emerged, was exciting and relaxing.
When we carried the tension in the band into the close confines of the studio and paired it with recording stress, lack of sleep and guests’ unsolicited opinions, we were headed for destruction.
People close to the band know the details of what I’m talking about, but the overarching theme was a lack of unity. What is the band doing? Where is the band going? What is a win? Those three questions would have been answered differently by various members. We were young and stupid and didn’t handle this variance well. Instead, in behind-closed-doors discussions and e-mails, it became apparent that five of us had different viewpoints but a vision that was parallel, while one of us had a different vision; one that opposed and therefore hindered the path the rest of us intended to follow. Hence, tension.
We decided to be cowards and write the opposing person a letter. Before we delivered the letter, that person elected to leave the band on their own. Regardless, the decision not to address a friend face-to-face is one of the most cowardly decisions I’ve ever made/been a part of. Our decision to ask the person to leave was sound and made with intense prayer and contemplation. Face to face should have been the only option.
Other than a bit of embarrassment and heartburn, what I came away with is a passion for shared vision. It is why I love church planting. The people that get involved in church planting need to have a clear mission and it has been easy for me to find synergy in joining on that mission. It is why I love the time I spend with the leaders of Revolution. It is why I loved the next three years of .HEREtoday. so much that I turned away from grad school, turned down a potential job and seriously contemplated moving to Nashville. It is why that to this day, John, Chip, Ed, Bryan, David and Jon are my brothers even with months/years between hang-outs. We came from different places (I grew up on punk, John grew up on Dave Matthews), but we shared a vision and chased it hard.
When outside-the-band life started to push against band-life, Bryan wasn’t as free to pursue the vision of the band, and rather than cheat the most important parts of his life, specifically his family, he made the hard decision to leave the band. He could have cheated his family and also hindered the band’s vision had he stayed, and we probably would have found ourselves in the same ball of tension felt in 2003. A little more than a year later, other things happened that diluted the vision of the band, and rather than returning to the tension of 2003, we reluctantly but determinedly disbanded. Without a shared vision, we couldn’t effectively proceed.
It’s so awesome to be part of something where the differences of viewpoints and histories on a shared vision enhance one another and challenge one another to press harder. I hope to spend the rest of my life cultivating relationships and working in environments where that is the case. I hope that when I am the person in opposition, due to life situation or personal vision, I recognize and accept that as well as Bryan did in 2006 and help cultivate an environment where synergy can exist even if that means it exists without me.
I can’t wait to see what happens at The Foundry. I can’t wait to see what new things Revolution has in store. I know/hope that someday, I’ll be in another band (maybe one that never leaves the basement) and I can’t wait to see who will be beside me on that path.
Thanks to This Boys Trouble for laying the foundation of seeing what healthy challenge and shared mission looked like in a band.
Thanks to Bryan Holt for always being a model of humility.
Are you involved in things where your vision is shared and the combination of workers creates something that is bigger than the efforts of the individuals on their own? Well, why not?