I got the chance to sit down with the boys from Ready the Way after they played their welcome home show with Solidarity and Saints Never Surrender at Living Word in Lynchburg, Virginia last weekend. We were all exhausted and I got punched in the face during Solidarity. But, nevertheless, it was an amazing show. After the show we all piled into their van and discussed faith, music, and made a ton of product placements. Here is what the had to say.
*(Note: I put IVM by my name so it wouldn’t be so confusing as to who was talking because of how many people are speaking. That and Lee just likes to call me CoryIVM.)*
CoryIVM: Alright, so the first thing is go around say your name and what you do in the band.
Lee: My name is Lee Campbell, and I play drums in the band.
Brandon: My name is Brandon Whitt. I do vocalization in the band.
Mike: I’m Mike Yearout. I play rhythm guitar.
Toby: I’m Toby Bates. I play bass.
Matt: I’m Matt Turner. I play lead guitar.
Brandon: He’s new.
Matt: I’m new.
CoryIVM: My first real question is how did you guys become a band?
Brandon: Chik Fil-a™.
CoryIVM: [Laughing] Chik Fil-a™?
Mike: Seriously, three of us back when Joe McElroy was still a part of the band; he, Lee and I all worked at Chik Fil-a™. We all became friends through all that, and Brandon went to the same church that Joe and I went to. We all wanted to start a band, and uh…
Lee: And my old band played at their church. I had to play drums because their drummer got into trouble. So I played drums and they were like “hey, do you want to be in our band?” I told them I couldn’t… But I did.
Mike: He cheated on them.
[Whole van erupts in laughter]
Brandon: That was like a year after we had officially been a band. But before that, it took Joe three months to convince me to come and check things out because I was skeptical. And Matt played in another band at our first show called Veil.
Mike: But the long story short is that it was originally me, Joe, and Brandon.
Lee: And Toby is uh… he’s awesome.
Toby: Just came by, dude.
Mike: He materialized.
Brandon: He asked us to join like three times.
Lee: He said, “so you need a bassist?” and I was like, “Uh, yeah.”
Toby: I go to Liberty University with Lee. And I used to go with Mike.
Brandon: How many times did you have to ask before we finally said yes?
Toby: At least like fifty, dude.
Brandon: I think it was more like two wasn’t it.
[They argue about it for a few minutes]
Mike: Yeah, next question.
CoryIVM: Next question! Alright, exactly where does the name Ready the Way come from?
Lee: Mark 1:3 in the NASB version of the Bible.
Brandon: In the New American Standard Bible it says uh… John the Baptist is speaking prophecy from Isaiah. In that translation it says, “Make ready the way of Lord. Make His paths straight.”
Lee: New shirt.
Brandon: And we have a new shirt that says that on it. You should buy one.
Mike: Only twenty five made.
Brandon: There is only eighteen now.
Lee: [Excited] we sold shirts tonight?!
Brandon: But yeah… Should we say what it means to us?
CoryIVM: Yeah, go ahead.
Brandon: We feel that we are taking on the mission that John the Baptist did. So we feel like our job is to prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ. We feel like the way we can do that is by going to shows and playing music and showing people love and respect. Just send them the message of salvation that Jesus Christ has to offer.
CoryIVM: A lot has happened to you guys in the past year or so. Can you give us a quick recap of everything?
Lee: I got this one. We got a new bass player. We started playing a lot more. We did a winter tour without Mike. That tour was with our favorite band, Saravain (RIP), check them out. We did a split EP with them.
Brandon: There is a review of it on Indie Vision Music.
Lee: Cory reviewed it. But Joe felt like God wanted him somewhere else. So he left the band.
Toby: Now he’s in Endeavor the Seas.
Lee: Yeah, now he is in Endeavor the Seas, another sick band. So we went on for a couple of months as a four piece with Mike who was having seizures, brain seizures. They found out it was a brain tumor. He got it taken out this summer. And now he has a sick shark bite scar on his head.
Toby: It’s a brutal scar.
Lee: And all the while Mike was dealing with this stuff. Matt started working at Best Buy™ with Brandon and then he just jumped on board with playing with us. He went out and bought all the CDs that we wanted to sound like.
Toby: It was awesome.
Brandon: Matt didn’t even listen to our kind of music.
Lee: He listened to Keller Williams and Widespread Panic. And now he listens to Oceania.
Toby: Now he only listens to metal.
Matt: I still listen to Widespread Panic. And I listened to North Mississippi Allstars on the way here.
Toby: You better not anymore.
Brandon: But he really, really likes As Cities Burn, Oh Sleeper, and Oceana.
Matt: Oh yeah, I love them.
Lee: And My Epic.
Toby: And My Epic.
CoryIVM: And My Epic. Of course My Epic.
Brandon: Does he like My Epic now?
Matt: I dunno, I like some of it.
Brandon: So Long Forgotten.
Matt: They’re my favorite.
Brandon: Cory is wearing their shirt right now.
Lee: Yup, so that was a recap of the year.
CoryIVM: Alright, well this question is for Matt. We kinda covered this already, but how did you get involved with Ready the Way?
Matt: I met Brandon at Best Buy™ and we talked because I played with them before. Just seeing how each other were doing in ministry and stuff. He said that they had lost a guitarist. I told him that I could play if they needed another guitarist and he came back and said, “Yeah.” And that’s how it happened.
CoryIVM: I got another question for you. What musical experience did you have before Ready the Way? I know you said you were in Veil, but did you do anything else outside of that?
Matt: I played in my church my whole life. And I learned bluegrass from my uncle.
Toby: Wait, what instrument did you learn in bluegrass?
Matt: Acoustic, dude.
Brandon: He was playing some ukulele earlier.
CoryIVM: Yeah, he is a pretty sick ukulele player.
Brandon: Try typing that out.
CoryIVM: Yeah, that’s going to be awesome.
Brandon: It’s going to have red squiggles under it.
(And yes I did have to google “ukulele” to make sure I spelled it right.)
CoryIVM: What’s been the biggest challenge you guys have had to overcome?
Brandon: Being a jerk.
Toby: Yeah, answer that, Mike.
Mike: It’s been rough. One of the last shows we played this past year was with Life in Your Way, For Today, Burden of a Day, In Fear and Faith. It was probably our worst show ever, especially for me. I knew that I had a tumor and things were going kinda funky. Joe had decided to leave. He wanted to go his own way and do his thing. So it was a really rough time. Ultimately, I think God was able to show us that we were missing the point. We really weren’t unified. We weren’t really focused on witnessing and proclaiming the Gospel. I think we got too much into the business of playing shows instead of just playing shows. Then I was in the hospital for little over a month. There was little to no musical getting together. I know the guys got together a few times…
Brandon: Even before Mike was in the hospital we just got to the point where we need to chill out. We had gotten distracted by being a band and we forgot about being brothers. We really didn’t play shows for a long time. We took some time off. We got together and studied the Word. We worshipped together and hung out. [Looks over at Mike] we visited the sick in the hospital. We just really got down to knowing each other again.
Toby: It’s called Bro Down actually.
Brandon: We seriously got unified again.
Mike: But as a P.S. on the end of that. We are still under attack. The enemy is definitely trying to keep us down. Bands in general really need to remember to keep unified. And not just with themselves but with other bands. I think a lot of times we get egotistical and try put ourselves above other bands. We try to get more fans and stuff like that.
CoryIVM: Faith and music mean a lot to us at Indie Vision Music. How does your faith relate to your music?
All: It’s everything.
Brandon: We were talking earlier today just about how we want this to be a way we can show Christ’s love to the kids that come and hang out with us. We’re realizing now that music is only one way in which we are going to be able to affect people and be used by God. I think that the music part is the creative outlet that God has given us. And that is the main outlet. We are a band. That’s the way He has given us to have fun and show people His love. But, there is more to it than that. We have our own separate lives away from this band. He wants us to be worshipping Him and praising Him in everything we do so that people can see His love through what we are doing in our every day lives. Not just when we are on that stage.
Toby: So like every time, 100% of the time that we go out to play a show something bad always happens. Something that sets us back: the van, other people, or whatever. We rely on practice time, our gear, our van etc; when it comes down to it that stuff always fails. We can’t rely on ourselves. We have to rely on God to get us to these places.
CoryIVM: What are some goals you have set for yourselves as a band?
Toby: 10,000 Myspace plays.
Mike: add a couple of zeroes to that.
Brandon: Yeah, we’re at like 92,000 now.
Lee: It doesn’t matter about getting signed. It doesn’t matter about getting money. We’ve reached the understanding that all that matters is what we do for God, what we do for His kingdom right now. If He allows us to signed and get bigger, and gives us a better avenue to do that then that’s all on Him. It’s His will that we are dealing with now.
Toby: I’d say relationships too.
Lee: Yeah, and building as many relationships as possible. So you can enter into conversations a message of salvation with these kids. Another one our goals are when people put in one of our CDs it is like worship. It’s not just another hardcore band.
Brandon: Right along those lines, the biggest thing I’ve learned is from reading Romans 12. No matter what my goals are or where we think our band should be, God got us where He wants us. We should worship Him where we are at. And if He sees that it is fit, He will move us along. It’s just about worshipping Him.
CoryIVM: Moving on to your writing process. How do you guys go about writing your songs?
Brandon: I think ever one has been different.
Lee: Brandon writes lyrics 24/7. Matt and Mike write the guitar parts and send it to us in MIDI format since we are two hours apart. And Toby and I listen to it a bunch and then we get together and practice it in Powhatan.
CoryIVM: That’s Powhatan, Virginia by the way.
Brandon: Don’t ask us how often we practice.
Mike: We’ve only written one song as the current setup. It worked out pretty well. I wrote the guitar parts and sent them to Matt and he learned his parts. Then we sent them to Lee and Toby.
Lee: But now that Matt is an official member of the band he has really been writing a lot.
Brandon: FYI, Matt wrote a really sick song.
Mike: We’re really excited to see the next couple of things are gonna be coming out. It’s going to be awesome.
CoryIVM: Is there any personal meanings behind any of your songs?
Mike: [Points at Brandon] a lot of them are for him though. I mean he writes all the lyrics.
Lee: I get a lot out of it.
Brandon: If you want to see a lot of correlation read the book The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus. The first three songs off our next CD are very inspired by it. It is about living a life that is raw and unexpected, and just barbaric in the sense of…
Toby: And brutal…
Brandon: And brutal. Right on those same lines. I think we as a group take this stance that the church today is way too civilized. In that sense that there are cliques, there’s segregation, and just pushing people away that are different. I feel that’s not what Jesus wants. I feel like Jesus wants to save people. Jesus just wants people to know Him. And we are pushing them away, telling them they don’t fit or they don’t belong.
Matt: We’re here for the sick.
Brandon: Yeah, we are here for the sick. I think there is a war at hand. There is one thing that I don’t where I got it from, but we have our eternal security now. And now, we are taking on the battle for others’ eternal security.
CoryIVM: So you guys were talking about your new record. Have you started recording it yet?
Mike: We’ve got two that we intend to put on there. We never really talked about if we intend to go back and rerecord those songs just because we are a new format. We got new people and we do play the songs a little bit differently then we originally did. So we’ll probably go back and rerecord. And hopefully we’ll have somewhere between six and eight songs.
[Someone whispers seven]
Mike: We can go for seven.
Lee: Seven is between six and eight.
Brandon: Six real songs and an intro.
Mike: We wanted to do something of a full length. We really haven’t had a chance. I just got out of the hospital about a month and a half ago. We really just are now getting back into the swing of things.
Brandon: We haven’t discussed this as a whole, but I’d like to be recording in December.
CoryIVM: Do you know when this new CD is going to come out?
CoryIVM: Do you have a name for it yet?
CoryIVM: Can you explain the meaning behind the name?
Brandon: The CD is going to be a concept album. I know people think of nails on a chalk board when they hear that term a lot of times. The CD is really just about the progress of understanding your faith. From not understanding it at all, to understanding it, to abusing it, to being remorseful, and to realizing that it’s about spreading the Gospel.
CoryIVM: Moving on to a little bit more of a light hearted topic. What are some of your bands that you are listening to right now?
Lee: Mine has always been Life In Your Way. I’ve also been listening to a lot Of Montreal lately. Really digging them, dude. I like Means a lot. I’ve been getting into Saints Never Surrender a lot.
[Someone coughs and says Beloved]
Lee: And Beloved. I like a lot of bands that aren’t together anymore. Oh and For Today is sick. Every day I listen to “Agape” on the way to school. Alright, Brandon it’s your turn. But only do like three because I listed like twenty.
Brandon: As Cities Burn…
Lee: Oh and My Epic!
Brandon: … A constant favorite of mine. Oceana. If I could just do one more…
Lee: Keep going dude.
CoryIVM: Do five.
Brandon: Five? Beloved is the first band I’ve ever listened to. They’re still up there; I’ve been listening to Failure On a lot lately. A lot of people are probably going to get mad at me for this but I really like Ocean is Theory. And another band I’ve gotten into recently is So Long Forgotten.
CoryIVM and Matt: Yes!
Brandon: I know that Matt is probably going to be taking two of mine. Mike’s turn, this is the metal portion of our band.
Mike: This is where we get our brutality. I have to admit that there a couple of bands that I’ve been listening to that I don’t draw any inspiration from them, especially not spiritually. But I definitely like the style of Parkway Drive and Blood Runs Black. Also For Today, Burden of a Day, A Day to Remember, a lot of “day” bands. A lot of the metal that I used to listen to…
CoryIVM: A Chorus of Obliteration!
Mike: It either sucks now or is extremely vulgar so I really can’t say that I’m inspired by them.
Lee: Alright, Toby’s turn. Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros…
Toby: Can I say Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy? Nah dude, not that. But My Epic’s new record is ridiculous.
Lee: Put that for everyone. Except for maybe Matt, he hasn’t heard all of it yet.
Mike: We are undone!
Matt: I like what I’ve heard.
Toby: Put some Impending Doom in there also.
CoryIVM: Go ahead, Matt.
Matt: So Long Forgotten, definitely.
Brandon: Tell him the real stuff Matt.
Matt: I’m not going to leave out my favorite band don’t worry. Also A Kiss for Jersey and String Cheese Incident.
CoryIVM: String Cheese Incident?
Matt: Yeah, they are a jam band. Check them out on Myspace.
CoryIVM: My Final question is how can Indie Vision Music community help you guys out?
Mike: Advertisement. But not in the sense to push us forward. We and other bands like us have a message. Let them know where we are going to be, when we are going to be there. Send them to our Myspace. If putting our CD out for free is what is going to bring the most people to Christ under God’s will then that is what we are going to do.
Brandon: They’ve helped us out so much already. Apparently, we were the IVM pick of the week and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t even know you knew who we were so that was sweet. This guy from Italy or France contacted us on Myspace because he saw us on your site.
Mike: Just telling other people about us and what we are about. And likewise other bands that have the same message because it’s not about the bands it’s about the message.
CoryIVM: Awesome man. Do you guys have any last things to say?
Toby: We love Cory.
All: We love Cory.
Toby: Cory throws it down, that’s what he does. Oh and Bro Down.
All: Bro Down.
CoryIVM: Is Bro Down in loving memory of The Comeback Tour and Saravain? (They named their winter tour with those two bands after this.)
Toby: Yeah. The Comeback Tour, Saravain, and Endeavor the Seas, check them out!
Brandon: Oh and the Comeback Tour only has two more shows coming up so be sure to check them out.