Issue 7 Cover

ACM: I think this is the first tape I've ever listened to where all the song titles are one or two, three words.

RAY: Actually, that wasn't a conscious thing, but I had always admired a few bands that had one-word titles. I looked back at the album after it was released and thought, "Wow, we actually did that a little bit!" I don't think Jim did that on purpose, that's just the way it turned out to be.

ACM: Saving everything you have to say for the song itself?

RAY: There you go.

JIM: There have been times I wanted them to be a little longer, and they're like, "No, just cut it down, cut it down!"

ACM: The songs are really rich, very're trying to convey a message even with the style that you're using?

SP: A lot of us can speak on that. We're pulling together a lot of different influences. At times we're pulling those influences into a four-minute song, sometimes we're pulling them into a seven-minute song, but we're just trying to be original, and I guess the sound you hear is what comes from our different influences.

ACM: Not that you're trying to sound like anyone, just doing what comes naturally, and that's what you're getting. Are these songs written from personal experiences, or are they things that you've seen around you? There's a lot of desperation.

JIM: Some is from personal experience, and some of it is from talking with other people that have been through circumstances. So I can bring out the realness, I believe, of the lyrics and what the message is trying to say.

RAY: Mike, our keyboard player, made a comment in a radio interview that we are not a band for Christians nor a band for non-Christians, we're just a band that wants to address everyone that may be hurting or may be victimized. But, in a newspaper article last week, we made it very clear that we are all five born-again Christians. That certainly isn't going to limit us ( I hope ) to playing in churches and church socials.

ACM: Your backgrounds as Christians, then, have influenced the project?

SP: Oh, definitely! I think it's going to be like that forever. I hope you can tell that in the lyrics.

ACM: What led you to print the number for the help line, and why this one?

JIM: I felt that it would be a good idea, should the lyrics stir up anything inside that people might far as feeling or whatever it means in their life...we want to be able to provide something or someone that they could talk to if the need was that great. We're not sure who's going to get our album, but we believe if there was someone out there that was suicidal or going through a time that an emotional injury has taken place in their life, they do need to talk to somebody who is a Christian and a professional...we would refer them to that. So, I think as you go through the lyrics you'll kinda understand, that speaks for itself. The reason for the referral is because of some of the issues we do talk about in the lyrics itself. And, we have their permission.

ACM: Is that something you work into your live shows?

RAY: Definitely. We make ourselves available after every show. And we handle a church show differently than a secular club show. Nevertheless, we certainly don't believe that just because we're playing for Christians, that means they have their life in order. There's no one out there who doesn't need someone that they can relate to that looks and talks and acts the same way that they do...that maybe has felt the same things that they've felt. So we always (always is imperative) try to make ourselves available to give some type of invitation to at least come back and talk to us afterwards. We're interested in what's going on with them. And, of course, we believe Jesus is the one true answer.

ACM: You're playing a variety of venues now?

SP: Definitely! We laugh because just last Saturday night we found ourselves in almost a poolhall, a bar basically, and we were playing with some non-Christian bands. So yeah, we play a variety. We've had response...even before the album came out...and people that have seen us outside the state respond to us through our post office box saying, you know, gosh, the lyrics have really touched me...the lyrics have done this, the music has really...thank you, we really heard what you had to say. And that was before the album was out. So, we know that something is going right. And we feel that God is using it, touching peoples lives where they're at - whether it be someone that's victimized or abused or somebody that, like one of the songs thats on there, might be having a problem with wanting to wait until marriage for sex. Those types of issues. So, we've had good response.

ACM: You want to pursue this full-time?

SP: We don't know. The only thing that we've ever said is wouldn't it be great if we didn't have 40-hour per week jobs, then we could devote 100% of our attention to music for the Lord, through the talents He's given us. If He ever decides to do that, we hope that we can just support ourselves, or families. None of us are married at this time. We hope that one day we can do that. We definitely open ourselves up for a lot more attack or persecution or whatever from more angles, but it wouldn't be any different. If we could learn to lean on God right now in the small places, it'll help us to lean on Him if we ever were to get into a big place.

ACM: What do you have to offer as a band, and as individuals, to listeners that's unique to Sincerely Paul?

SP: Well, I think the song Bear My Soul is basically what were trying to offer. I don't want to convey that every album we're going to come across the same way, because we've had people already think that we're completely like a one-message band. I think that God leads us to write songs of all different types, things just happened to come around this way at this certain season of our life. I think what we have to offer is the fact that we want to be able to steer issues in peoples lives - that they can be able to bear our burdens with one another, talk to one another, and fellowship with one another - in regard to whatever they may be going through in their lives. Because, as far as the music that we do and the people that we see at our shows, this dark music scene its very depressing. It's very hopeless. There's a lot of negative feelings in it. So for a lot of people, who are very secluded, they'll need to be able to talk and open up to someone, and experience God's healing. I think that's probably the biggest theme right now, and what we feel God leading us to do.

ACM: Now, you put out a number of things on your own. Do you feel that you weren't getting the penetration of the market going it alone. And why Blonde Vinyl Records, what led you towards them?

SP: We're going to be really honest with you. We negotiated over the past few years with a few different labels, but we figured as long as no one was willing to sign us, we were going to go ahead and put out material on our own. We were going to make it available as something for fans and something just to give to people to take home with them, with the lyrics on them and our phone number on it. Just before we signed the Blonde Vinyl deal, we negotiated with two or three labels, and Blonde Vinyl simply had the best deal. It's a very comfortable thing being right here in Orange County. We've played with L.S.U. a number of times...Breakfast with Amy. We just know a lot of those people. It was just a very comfortable thing, and it was a great deal.

ACM: So, do you feel that's going to make a difference for you as far as distribution and reaching a much wider audience than going it alone?

MIKE: I don't think there's any question that Spectra's National Distribution is going to help in getting [product] into more kids hands than it would be ever if we tried to a mailing on our own, or anything like that. Also, Blonde Vinyl is doing really well in getting the cd's out to all the radio stations...calling radio stations around the country. He's also getting us distribution in the U.K. and Canada. So, as far as I can tell (and I've worked in a bookstore for ten years now), there's tons of independent stuff there that never reaches a lot of kids. It's just a lot easier for them to get it...more accessible that way.

ACM: What sort of advice do you have for other artists that are in the same place you were two or three years ago?

SP: Work hard to define your craft. Don't compromise spiritually. Don't compromise financially. Don't compromise physically. Once you've done that, you're just another commodity. You'll lose your originality and you'll lose your drive. Even your blessings from God.

ACM: So, all or nothing?

RAY: I might add that in the course of a three or four years, we became discouraged quite a few times. you get a little bit older. Well, none of us are terribly old, but even through the early twenties, getting out of the teen years and things, we got discouraged many times. But I think we allowed ourselves to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit Himself. We let God encourage us. And that's what motivated us to continue, we were always encouraged with something else, to keep on keeping on. On our own strength, we probably would have given up. I don't think that if another band didn't really feel that God was doing something with them...I mean, why fool yourself? You're probably better off to just twang your guitar, and write some songs for your friends and goof around. But, if you take it seriously, you've got to feel that God's behind you, otherwise it seems just unbearable without Him.

ACM: Where do you see yourselves heading from here? You mentioned that you're doing some club shows, and you're getting product out to the college market too. Where do you go from here?

SP: We certainly don't know where our next release will be from. We have a very good relationship with Blonde Vinyl. But, we've been up front with them - and obviously you must be thinking in your head, they have secular management. We've intended this album to definitely put out what we feel God has given us to minister about, and to put it out there. We're just going to continue to keep pushing forward. The secular management is taking the album and shopping it with major labels. We're just as serious about what we're doing as any secular band you'd hear on radio up there. So, we're going to let her continue to push it, and we're going to play and put ourselves in front of a lot of people. We're going to do our thing, and let her do her thing. We really don't know where the next step will be, but we're continuing forward.

ACM: Tell me more about the title of the disc, Grieve.

SP: First of all, grieving is not really a negative thing in how we feel. Because of what we've dealt with...what I've dealt with personally in my life, the healing that God has bought me through, and the people that I've talked to when I wrote these songs...grieving is usually a necessary process to grieve out all those hurts to God. To stop being in denial and let Him be able to heal you from the inside out. Actually, it's a very positive title. Inviting people to stop being in denial, and to come out and let God see the real you. To heal you from the inside out, that's basically what was behind the title of Grieve. We make a point to make ourselves available. We like people to come up and see if we really can relate, you know, just to communicate with us more. Instead of just accepting us just on a stage, and singing to them six feet higher than they are, and then going behind a black curtain to never see them again. I think we'd like for them to see who we really are, by coming up and checking us out for themselves.

ACM: Anything else you'd like to add before we finish?

MIKE: Feel free to write us at any time too. If you include your address in there, we'll personally answer the letter. I mean, we don't have a secret secretary that does that for us. We do that ourselves.

Tom D. Stephenson