Things are going very well. We’re very busy right now, with a new Lordchain CD and the re-release of the first Step Cousin album. Jeff and I are also producing some great bands in our studio. Put all that on top of my ‘regular’ job working 40 hours a week… things never get boring.
2. Could you tell us about the rich history of people that have been in Lordchain?
I have to say, I am so proud of the guys who have been in Lordchain and went on to other bands. Cris Brown was in the band from ’91–’98 and he’s had tremendous success with his band ‘One Less Reason’. Cris was 14 years old when he joined Lordchain. He’s only a year younger than me, so we did a lot of growing up together. Our vocal styles are similar, because we learned to sing at the same time. You’ll be able to hear that on the new album. Casey Payne was our lead vocalist in ’94 and he went on to play keyboards in ‘Frost Like Ashes’. Rick Koeshall, who sang on our first CD, went to Subtrain (formerly The Jesus Freaks). Chris Franklin played bass guitar with us and he formed ‘Paris Oroborus’. Dale Bassham released a solo album after leaving Lordchain. Not only did I produce it, but I also played drums and bass guitar on it. Adam has a couple of solo projects out that are really good. I’m working on my first solo album, but my priorities are with Lordchain and SC, so that CD is probably on the shelf right now.
3. Does the name Lordchain have any special meaning?
I remember playing Christian clubs in Memphis in the early to mid 90s and we would sit backstage with the other bands we were playing with and pray together before the show. We didn’t know these guys, but we had this connection, like we were linked together for one common purpose. That’s what the name means to me. A perfect stranger can be your brother or sister in Christ. One of the bands we prayed and played with was called ‘Seraph’. The lead singer was John Cooper who now fronts Skillet.
4. I see you have a new album coming out this summer. Could you tell us about it?
What Is, What Was is the most unique Lordchain album I’ve ever recorded. We have 7 new songs, 4 songs re-recorded from our first 4 CDs, 3 songs that were left off our debut, because we thought they were too ‘dated’ sounding at the time. By the way, Cris Brown makes a guest appearance on these songs playing guitar and singing. Finally there is one song from Finding Balance that we have re-mixed. You’re going to find lots of lead guitar work on this project. There are some places on this record where the Lordchain/Step Cousin line gets blurred a little. I co-wrote a song called “This Callous Heart” with former Deliverance/Vengeance Rising drummer Chris Hyde. He is one of my musical heroes and it’s an honor to have his writing on this new album. This is the first Lordchain song since our debut to have a growl vocal on it.
5. I love the new cover, tell us about it.
We worked very closely with Brant on this one. I had lots of ideas, but nothing was clicking. Then we get an email from Brant with this image of a face bleeding into a skull. Jeff and I saw it at different times, but our reactions were exactly the same when we saw it: ‘THAT’S THE COVER!” It represents death to life.
6. Could you briefly describe the music making process?
Inspiration hits me at weird times. I’ll be playing my PS3 or taking a shower and a song will hit me out of nowhere. I’ll sing it into my little tape player, so I won’t forget it, and then I’ll start putting the pieces together. Sometimes we will be rehearsing and it will just happen. I pour my heart out in my lyric writing. It not only has to sound good, but it needs to feel good. I love a song with a nice vibe. “Dead and Buried’ is one of those songs.
7. What is your definition of Christian music?
Christian music is performed by Christian artists. I’m talking about real Christian music, not a gay guy putting out a Christmas album. A band made up of believers, playing music to glorify God… that seems like Christian music to me. These days it’s tough sometimes to tell if the band or artist is Christian or not. I think that’s a shame. Some artists don’t like the term ‘Christian’ being put on them, because they think it limits their audience. Maybe it does, but the questions I would ask any Christian artist would be “Are you or are you not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Will you stand for God no matter what?” More than just saying the words, but living the life. I wish more bands would grow some guts and boldly stand for Jesus. I know there are different ways to minister, depending on where you are. When we play secular clubs or bars, I can’t go in there and yell ‘PUT DOWN THAT BEER! YOU’RE GOING TO HELL!” You have to use your brain and let the Holy Spirit lead you. But to drop your boldness and start acting like the world just to ‘cross over’ is really lame. Maybe that’s why I’ve always thrown the record contracts in the garbage instead of signing my life away.
8. When you are playing a show what song gets the biggest reaction?
I guess it would have to be a song from the Soulever album called “Jesus We Worship You”. It’s one of those songs you can sing along with, but it still keeps its heavy groove. We’ve played it at secular shows where the only Christians in the building are in the band, and to here all those people sing the words “Jesus we worship You” is a trip. I don’t have to say a word from the stage. When we play that song, everybody in the place knows what we’re all about.
9 What bands did you listen to when you were growing up?
I loved KISS. That might be why I am into the whole marketing thing. When I was 9 years old I heard Petra for the first time. It blew my mind. I didn’t know Christian music could sound like that. I soon discovered Stryper, Rez Band, Saint and Bloodgood. When I heard Tourniquet in 1991, my life changed again. Stop the Bleeding is still one of my favorite albums of all time. Everything about it inspired me. I wouldn’t be the drummer I am today if it wasn’t for Ted Kirkpatrick.
10. How do you share your faith with your fans?
I always want the audience to know what we’re all about. I do that by sharing what’s on my heart or playing a song like “Jesus We Worship You”. I do quite a bit of blogging. I just started a new blog on the Lordchain site called Kelly’s Soapbox. I’m very blunt when it comes to my faith. I think people appreciate that. Straight and to the point.
11. When Lordchain is done what do you want people to say or think about Lordchain?
There are two statements that come to mind. I would love for people to look back on us and say, “Those guys rocked.” More than that, I hope people will think of Lordchain and say, “Those guys loved Jesus”.
12. Thank you very much for your time Kelly, any final words?
I want to thank you Dale for all your support and kindness over the years. I count you as a true friend and such a blessing from God. I also want to ask everyone to pray for us. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. I never know what’s going to happen next. God does and that’s all that matters. I want to stay in his will. To everyone who supports Lordchain and Step Cousin: THANK YOU!
Interviewed by Dale Huffman