The Apprentice

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Eric Delong is my friend, but more than that an awesome song writer. Eric is the ring leader of a group by the name “The Apprentice”. Before you spit out a Donald Trump joke, check em out, pretty soon you will mistake NBC’s show for FD records band. This interview shows Eric’s heart for music and God, as well interesting comments about Go ahead read it and see what this poet has to say.

Billy IVM: Hey Eric how are you these days?

Eric: I’m doing well. We’re just trying to stay as busy as we can with the band.It’s good to be back home in KY for a little while

Billy IVM: Cool man, if you don’t mind me asking me some generic questions.. I would like to start by asking if you could give me some history of The Apprentice?

Eric: Sure, no problem .Basically The Apprentice started with one member, that member being myself.
At the time I was in a band melodic hardcore band and musically I was moving more towards wanting to play singer/songwriter stuff and indie rock. Pretty soon I was just doing The Apprentice and we put our first CD “The Epic Struggle” on Future Destination Records. I did a couple very small tours playing by myself, and pretty soon the music started to evolve, and that is how the full band and the “An American Portrait” album came about.

Billy IVM: Sweet, So who is in this “full” band of yours, do they take part in the song writing or is that still up to you?

Eric: Right now the band is Matt Jenkins (bass), Matt Helfrich (drums) and myself (guitars, piano, vocals) Unfortunately we all live in different areas so we don’t get to collaborate very much on the writing of songs. However, during the winter of 05 we were all in the same area and we had the chance to write a couple new songs.  To answer your question directly I’m still the primary songwriter and “The Matts” add their own flair to the songs.

Billy IVM: Thats cool man, So “The American Portrait” was an awesome record in my opinion, how did you get hooked up with Matt Goldman and are you happy with the end result of your record and how people have responded?

Eric: The way that we got hooked up with Matt Goldman is pretty interesting. My friend from here in KY, Brandon Atkins, was originally supposed to play drums on the record, but an emergency came up and he was not able to come to Atlanta. We recorded most of the record with Matt Malpass who did a phenomenal job. Malpass is actually good friends with Matt Goldman. Malpass made a call to Goldman, told him the situation and basically agreed to play drums on the record and let us use his studio to record the drums. They are both incredible producers/engineers and I was very pleased with the way the record came together.

Billy IVM: Wow, have you had a good response, as far as old and new fans?

Eric: I was a bit worried that people wouldn’t like “An American Portrait” because most of the songs are more folk oriented than the songs that were on the first record, but people have responded really well to the change. I just wanted to go with my heart b/c I felt that it was the right thing to do. My whole family plays bluegrass and I’ve been brought up on bluegrass, country, and soul music and I feel that this record shows my influences a bit more. I kind of went through a musical adolescence for a time, but now I’m getting comfortable in “my own skin” as some say.

Billy IVM: Always good to find your roots I guess. You signed with Future Destination a while back, how did that come about? Are you happy with your current label home?

Eric: Like I said, I was playing in a band called Samwise and we played at a battle of the bands at Kentucky Christian College. I also played the battle of the bands as The Apprentice. After the show Matt Jenkins (owner of fdrecords) asked me if I thought about doing The Apprentice. I told him no and laughed it off. That was the first time matt approached me. A couple months later I changed my mind about wanting to do The Apprentice and I contacted one of my friends named Casey Parkin about recording some songs. He was in a recording program at Malone college and said he would be more than happy to help me. We recorded 5 songs, and when word got around to Matt Jenkins that I was pursuing The Apprentice he asked me if he could put the record out, to which I gladly obliged. We had lunch in a grimy old Huddle House and that’ when it all started. After that I was officially part of the FDR family.

Billy IVM: Ok a little off subject, besides yourself who is your favorite FD band?

Eric: haha. Current roster or any band that has been featured on FDR?

Billy IVM: Both

Eric: I’m going to go with The Redemption Song. They have really progressed as a band, and you won’t find nicer guys. The guitar player has been an inspiration to me. He has been fighting lukemia and he still manages to have hope and make great music to boot.

Billy IVM: cool what about current bands

Eric: I would have to say The Story Changed is my favorite band currently on the roster. They play punk influenced rock and they put on a great show.

Billy IVM: Yeah I love The Story Changes. Ok here comes the fun question, grit your teeth dust off your theology…Would you consider The Apprentice to be a “Christian” band?

Eric: You know what a lot of bands say “We are Christians that are in a band, but we are not a Christian band”. I’ve held to that philosophy for a while, but I think a lot of bands say that to distance themselves from all the other Christian bands that have marred the term with cheesy music and cheesy lyrics. I will probably catch flak from some people for saying this but the aforementioned phrase seems like a cop out to me. For all intensive purposes we are a “Christian band”. However, all of our songs don’t have the name Jesus in them or anything like that. It is my mission to make the best music I can and improve my craft so that I can portray beauty and truth in all things. Just because someone is a Christian who happens to make films does not mean that director is obligated to make films about Jesus or other accounts in the bible. God’s truth can be displayed in a movie about a murderer just as well as a film about the resurrection of Christ.

Billy IVM: Good answer, what do you think of the christian “scene” or “culture”?

Eric: Wow! That is a loaded question…do you mean the Christian music scene or just the Christian sub-culture in general?

Billy IVM: Kinda both, if you could try to show some positive, I find negativity clouds this question, it seems everyone hates it and doesn’t want to do any thing to change it or find any good in it, wow sorry I just made that bias….Eric answer it how you see fit.

Eric: Well, I think the Christian culture as a whole has made some huge steps forward in the past 5 years. The overall quality of Christian art has improved by leaps and bounds. Magazines such as Relevant have brought more forward thinking Christian ideals to the  public and I think things are getting better in general.

Eric: Churches like Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI and Seattle, WA are doing great things in their communities and are really showing the love of Christ in new and exciting ways.

Billy IVM: What about The Music Scene

Eric: The music scene is very diverse. On one hand I think there a lot of “Christian bands” or “bands made up of Christians”, whichever phrase you want to use, us the name just to sell records, but there are a plethora of good Christian bands that have integrity such as Anathallo, Cool Hand Luke, Watashi Wa. etc.

Billy IVM: I love everyone of those bands, especially Watashi Wa, you know that.

Eric: Yes, of course. When I met them they were really nice, genuine guys.

Billy IVM: Is “The Apprentice” a ministry?

Eric: When someone follows Jesus every facet of life is “ministry”.

Billy IVM: Awesome! What are your plans to tour?

Eric: Right now we are planning a tour 10 day tour though the southeast/midwest starting on April 21st. Beyond that we are planning to do a full U.S. tour this summer. We are playing at Ichthus music festival in June and we are trying to get on Cornerstone Music Festival.

Billy IVM: Sweet, Is there any talk of a new record( as a cross my fingers like a school girl)?

Eric: We have talked about recording a new record, but that is as far as it has gone. We are writing new material. We currently have 15 new songs that are either finished or in the works. I just want to write as many songs as possible and choose 10-14 of the best songs to feature on a record.

Billy IVM: Awesome, so besides this any other future plans for the apprentice, do you plan to do this till your a grandpa, any world tours…we are all dying to know?

Eric: That is the constant plaguing question right now. I would really like to play music for a living. However, I don’t know if that will be financially possible yet? We’re just trying our best to stay genuine, play shows, write good songs, and win some new fans. We are shooting a video in May, touring in through the summer and have talked of releasing another record, but that is as far as we’ve planned for right now.

Billy IVM: The video will be for what song?

Eric: We are still discussing it right now. We don’t want to show all of our cards…haha.

Billy IVM: Ah, well what do you think of Indie Vision Music, any thing we need to change?

Eric: To be honest I don’t check it as much as I used to. When I’m online I pretty much stick to booking shows, and talking on AIM…that about sums up my internet activity.

Billy IVM: Haha, Oh well, any closing remarks for our readers?

Eric: Sure. Girls on, please put some more clothes on, and don’t show me your boobies! In all seriousness, we really appreciate our fans and those who have supported us by buying our records, and coming out to our shows. Be sure to check back at to stay fresh on our new shows and such.

Billy IVM. Thanks so much man, Have a good night and God Bless

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