This Beautiful Republic Interview
August 1st, 2008
By Jonathan Andrews
Thanks to Ben Olin for taking the time to sit down and answer these questions and to Brian of EMICMG for setting up this interview.
So for the record please let us know who you are and what you play in the band This Beautiful Republic?
Ben Olin and I sing, scream, and thrash around on stage for This Beautiful Republic
I read that you guys have all known each other since going to Toledo Christian School back in high school? Have you all been friends since then? What were you like back then?
I knew of them, but didn’t really know them. We weren’t really friends in high school, there’s a large age range with the members so we were in different classes and such. Back then, I was an alright kid who was a bit naive and lacking self-confidence. I found in the last few years of high school a couple things I was good at (singing not being one), and that really helped mold me. I had something to be proud of because I was good at it.
Which bands did you listen to growing up?
D.C Talk, Dakota Motor Company, Skillet, Bleach, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Creed, Carman, Snoop Dogg, Live, Toad the Wet Sprocket.
Why did you guys get together and form This Beautiful Republic?
Because God wanted us to. You see, we came from two separate bands; we’d played a few shows together here and there, but never really appreciated each other’s music. So, when they lost their lead singer and my band broke up around the same time, it wasn’t a logical thing for us to get together. He used a few other people to bring us together and when we did, it really just clicked and we saw how it could be successful; not only for ourselves in providing an income to live with, but to bring songs that people can be encouraged by.
For those who aren’t familiar with your name, what is the meaning behind it?
Basically we just wanted something that would extend further than the members of the band. We wanted the live show and the recordings to be a group effort. We felt like the goal when the music was played was that we all be working towards the same goal of glorifying God and that we all be unified on that front.
How do you guys try and represent the kingdom of heaven on earth in your own lives?
I think we take it upon ourselves to be conscious of the way that we conduct ourselves; knowing that people are paying attention. I think we try to extend grace, forgiveness, and patience to people because we would want them to do the same for us.
Why did the band go with the title Perceptions for your new record?
As the name implies, the perception of the title of the album could be different given the person interpreting it. For me, it’s about giving people the benefit of the doubt. To consider that there might be more to the story than what might appear. We all agree though that the title mainly hopes to communicate that there’s a perception that we can’t see. The way that God sees us compared to the way that we see ourselves. We are disgusting and filthy humans with truly nothing good in and of ourselves. But He sees us as beautiful and loves us despite everything in the last sentence. His perception of us is completely and utterly contrary to our own and that’s incredible because we don’t deserve it.
Is the mindset of sitting down to write your second record different then your first? How so?
To us, it feels like we were writing the 1st. I had joined the band late in the process of writing “Even Heroes,” so a lot of those songs I had nothing to do with. So this is the first record that the five members wrote completely ourselves. It’s a great feeling and I really think that we achieved some things that we hadn’t with the last album.
Was there anything specific you guys wanted to let people know in this album that you didn’t get a chance to say in the last?
Oh man, yeah. There’s a lot. The last record was about how much Jesus loves us and how badly He wants to save us. This record is more about the individual, our personal relationships with God and I think that the songs reflect that in a lot of ways. Not only lyrically, but how they’re structured. There’s a lot of opportunity for crowd participation and a lot of group vocals for people to sing back at us. I think it offers a bit of hope, reminds us that we’re not alone, and that we never have been.
Are there any songs on this album that have special personal meaning for yourself?
A lot of them do, but “A Point Between Extremes,” is a song that stands out. We had the verses and choruses written with our producer along with some really great musical parts for a bridge, but hadn’t a clue what to do vocally. I eventually took it down into the vocal recording booth and just, for some reason or another, ended up writing the whole thing out in about 30 minutes. When I brought it upstairs and Allen read it outloud, it almost shocked me. I couldn’ believe I was actually writing down what I wrote because it’s just a really honest part about frustrations within the church system, but also with how I’ve viewed the concepts of sin, grace, and forgiveness. It’s a moment on the record I’m really proud of.
I read that This Beautiful Republic’s recordings are meant to be mere glimpses of its live performance. Does this still hold true for Perceptions?
I think it’s more true than it ever has been. We were limited with the last record. This record was written with the live show in mind, we want it to be a much more interactive experience and I think that once people know the songs, it’s going to end up being that. I’m very excited for that.
Do you do anything differently in the recording process to make it feel more like a live show than a studio recording?
No, I don’t think so, other than the things we’ve already mentioned. I think that we like records that sound pretty polished, but not squeeky clean, so there’s a little bit of the recordings where you can hear the mistakes or know that it’s being performed rather than programmed, but it’s not supposed to sound like a live record.
With it being summer time you guys are probably hitting up festivals and playing shows. What’s one of your favourite memories from the road this summer?
Lifest. We played in this silly, horrible sounding barn there last year and walked away thinking that we blew it and no one enjoyed it at all. When we showed up this year, we were expecting very little. It was the exact opposite. It was like the 100 kids that went last year all loved it, learned all the songs, and brought 5 friends to this years. It was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
I’ve heard you play a cover of the song “Crazy” during a few of your shows. Why did you guys decide to start playing your own cover of that song and is there any process a band goes through in deciding which cover songs it will perform or are those songs just some of their favourites?
Well, some of us like the idea of covers, some of us don’t. We decided to do that one because we knew that everyone would know it, it had endless possibility, and it was about trying to make it in the music industry. The song was never anyone’s favorite (except me), but everyone saw the possibilities and now we have fun with it. I’m hoping we can get a couple of other covers worked up sometime soon.
People talking about the high gas prices these days seem to be everywhere. Do you guys take more consideration now as far as touring and tour schedules with the high gas prices then you did before? Do you think high gas prices if they keep going up could mean the end of anyone but big names groups touring?
I think that gas is an ever-present woe for everyone who uses it. It’s not really affecting our touring plans, but that’s because we’ve had the summer off basically. I don’t think it’s the end of the “small bands,” as we know it. I think they (WE) are just going to have to get a bit more creative as far as lodging, transportation, and hauling. I could easily see bands starting to carpool or share a trailer or hotel/host homes. Hopefully people just start actually GOING to the shows that are in their areas instead of another hour of Guitar Hero. (sorry… end rant)
How do you fill the time when you’re out on the road in between shows?
We like to find some sort of monument or landmark to go visit; but sometimes we just kill it and stay in a hotel room all day. For me, I’m always going to find something to do. I hate being idle. We’ve seen the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, ice storms, gone golfing, visited friends, whatever is around.
What do you find to be the hardest part of being apart of a touring band in 2008?
#1 – Getting people to shows. #2 – Getting shows.
How do you stay connected with your relationship with Christ while out on the road?
It’s certainly a challenge and one that I haven’t really mastered yet. I think having a strong person at home to keep you steady while you’re out is critical. My Mom is kinda that way, she’ll send me emails about what she’s learning and it keeps me motivated. It’s hard because you ARE busy and despite the downtime in the van, you still can’t find that quality quiet time.
What’s your favourite band you just discovered and can’t get enough of?
I’ve been into Oh, Sleeper and As Cities Burn for a very long time. I haven’t found anyone good enough to replace them yet.
Any last words for our readers at Indievisionmusic?
We count our blessings everyday to be in this band, but it’s not an easy gig at all. It takes a financial, emotional, spiritual, and relational toll for all that are involved. So, support music, and allow us to do it for longer than we would if you didn’t. Everyone reading this is awesome and I can’t wait to meet you at some point. Thanks for making a dream come true.