The Archives

Jon Foreman Discusses The Wonderlands series

Jon Foreman, the Grammy Award-winning artist and lead singer of Switchfoot, has been in quite a whirlwind lately. He’s released four EPs in a series called The Wonderlands, writing a song for each hour of the day. Meanwhile, he concocted a matching concert event, with 25 shows in 24 straight hours, in the midst of a full-on concert tour. I recently caught Foreman’s concert at The Loft in midtown Atlanta, and before the show I asked him about the new music, his approach to writing it, and the chaos he’s created. There’s quite a contrast between Legend of Chin and Fading West and even The Wonderlands work. How would you describe your growth as a songwriter and performer? On the one hand, everything has changed since then. We were still in high school and college. On the other hand, everything is the exact same; I am still writing songs about the questions and the things that are on my mind. Maybe it’s not so much a chemistry class anymore as it is death or faith or doubt. The other thing that has stayed the same is as a musician you hear something that challenges you musically from someone else and that inspires growth. Man, I’ve heard so much music since then, and hopefully that has challenged me to new places as well. The Wonderlands has 24 songs, one for each hour in the day. How much did you stick to that formula in the songwriting? I totally broke the formula.

Tonight: Unlocking the Christianity of The Lord of the Rings

Joseph Pearce is speaking tonight at New College Franklin's free and open-to-the-public collegium. Pearce is a renowned British speaker and author of books on Chesterton, Tolkien, Lewis, Shakespeare, and others. He will speak on The Lord of the Rings and the Christian foundation for the work. This sounds like a great way to spend an otherwise dreary Thursday evening. For more information, visit New College Franklin's website.

In Praise of the House Party

I lifted the idea straight from a Grace Livingston Hill novel: I had read dozens of them in my teens, and I was enchanted with the way those beautiful jazz-age heroines of hers always seemed to be stumbling into winter house parties on grand estates. The literary uses of the form varied, of course: if the heroine was an ingénue, the house party would serve as an excellent illustration of the vanities of the frivolous life and an opportunity to illumine the darkness of worldly pursuits with the sweet influence of her character. If, on the other hand, she was of the glittering beau monde, smoking cigarettes and shamelessly flaunting wide-legged pants (I remember one lovely creature whose inner quality was expressed---rather tastefully, in my opinion---by her arresting gold bangle in the shape of a serpent, wicked-looking emeralds for eyes), then the gathering would be the one place in all the world where she might encounter for the first time the warmth and welcome of a real home---an experience that would unfailingly change her life for the better and generally land her on the front row of the local church at the earliest possible opportunity. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not poking fun at dear Grace, though I’d never deny that her stories were formulaic. I doubt she would deny it herself, written as they were to keep the wolf from the door after she was widowed with young children. But if her books were predictable, they were also reliable, and in more than one sense...

Ron Block @ Music City Roots

On Wednesday, January 20th, Ron Block is playing Music City Roots, Nashville's acclaimed roots and Americana variety show. Can’t attend in person? Watch the free video stream. For tickets or to watch the broadcast visit www.musiccityroots.com. The band: Clay Hess on guitar, Mark Fain on bass, Rob Ickes on Dobro, and the man himself on banjo and guitar.   IMG_3434  

Now Available: Andrew Osenga’s Bone EP

Two and a half years ago, Andrew Osenga set out on his Heart & Soul, Flesh & Bone musical odyssey, and today the project has finally come full circle with the release of Bone, a six-song instrumental EP. The whole project began in July of 2013 with Osenga aiming to make four EPs, each with a different genre of music. Heart was an acoustic singer-songwriter collection. Soul was full of soul and blues tunes. Flesh was straight rock and roll. And Bone is an atmospheric wonderland of electric guitar landscapes. Taken as a whole, Heart & Soul, Flesh & Bone is a collection of Andrew Osenga's finest work. Bone is now available in the Rabbit Room Store, and you can get the full set of EPs for just $16.

RR Interview: Andy Gullahorn on His New Album, Fault Lines

Andy Gullahorn’s stirring new album Fault Lines was born as part of a November Kickstarter campaign, which succeeded in just twenty-four hours. With the goal eventually tripled, Gullahorn sent the project out to eager supporters in December, and it’s set for wide release on January 26th (pre-orders are available here). We asked Andy about the new album and got some fascinating insight into his musical background, his approach to songwriting, and why he might or might not be a mad mathematical scientist secretly manipulating your mind. You produced Fault Lines yourself, but I can hear a broad range of production styles within your well-defined singer/songwriter genre. I like having the limits there and saying “How can I make these songs sound different with this limited palette?” You said in another interview that you have a mathematical bent. Is there a mathematical approach to songwriting? I definitely think there’s a mathematical approach.

Sad Stories Told For Laughs: Eric Peters

Eric Peters is a great songwriter (check out his music here). He is also a bibliophile (check out his Bookmole online bookstore/book-finding service), a visual artist (here's some of his artwork), a history buff, and an amateur ornithologist. He is also a world-class self-deprecator, to the chagrin of the many friends who love him and think he's brilliant.  Welcome, Eric Peters, to Sad Stories Told for Laughs. Thanks for the opportunity to humiliate myself. Your reputation for humiliation precedes you. Yeah, I'm good at going Eeyore.... One of my favorite Eric Peters stage moments was this fall during the release concert for Andrew Peterson's Burning Edge of Dawn Record... Uh oh...I know where this is going.

What Am I Doing? / What I Am Doing.

Since my forthcoming album, Far Side Of The Sea, was successfully Kickstarted back in August, I have been up to many things, very little of which, unfortunately, have had to do with recording. I managed to crawl across the finish line of another season of mowing lawns (for those who don't know, I started mowing lawns a few years ago in order to supplement my main income as a musician/artist). After five years, I have---with no small trepidation, I might add---decided to shut down this side biz, Good Neighbor Lawncare. RIP, GNL. As of this writing, I don't know how I'm going to supplement my music income, but the thought of enduring another exhausting, strength-sapping season of pushing a lawnmower is something I can't stomach (even though that same labor prevents my gut from bulging into a tire around my middle-aged waist). Belly fat being neither here nor there, let me, instead, tell you what I have been up to.

RR Interview: Arthur Alligood

At Hutchmoot 2014, a lanky, sandy blonde-haired stranger sat down across from my friend Michael and I in the Church of the Redeemer fellowship hall. As fate would have it (or perhaps God’s provision), his name was Arthur and he, like I, had recently changed jobs and, as our conversation revealed, was also walking through a valley. I remember mentally noting that God gave me this conversation as a gift to know there are others in the valley. It's apparent from our conversation, and from Arthur’s lyrics on The Shadow Can’t Have Me, that while the valley is a low place, it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Given our history, I was excited to have the chance to catch up with Arthur this fall for his album release. I wanted to hear how his time in the valley had been since our brief fellowship at Hutchmoot. What I learned was that God had walked with him, like the psalmist David, through the dark valley and... well, read on to find out the rest. So we haven’t heard any new music from you in a while. Your last album came out in 2012, I think. So why the silent musical years? Mainly it has to do with what was going on in my life.

Go Get Your Enemies

For while now I have been wanting to write a number of posts, the Spiritually Sensitive Sinners Series. The snake hiss-like acronym (Ssss) has a hint of thematic onomatopoeia, which seems kind of cool. Unfortunately, for now this is a series of one. Jesus’ encounter with the woman from Samaria has been on my mind. You will recall that as the story goes in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus leaves Judea for Galilee and must travel through Samaria along the way. While in Samaria he stops at Jacob’s well outside the town of Sychar; it is there that he meets a Samaritan woman and asks her to draw water so he can have a drink. The two get to talking and about halfway through their conversation every sermon I have ever heard on this passage throws the Samaritan woman under a bus.

Nick Flora discusses his new EP series

Nick Flora is a storyteller, first and foremost. Whether they’re the engaging perspectives of his songs or the stories he helps to share on his popular podcast, Who Writes This Stuff, Flora uses them as vehicles to connect emotionally with his listeners, often with hefty doses of hilarity. It’s the substance of Flora’s style, a high level of creative output that’s culminated in his latest EP series. Three new EPs are on the way from Flora, beginning with Futureboy this week, and continuing well into next year. We’ll let him tell you about the vision for the future, but you should definitely be tuned into the present with songs on Futureboy that conjure the catchy melodies of Ben Folds or Third Eye Blind while remaining as emotionally resonant as ever. We recently asked the Nashville songwriter about the trio of releases and what he does with his hyper-creativity. Stereo Subversion: We’re looking at three consecutive EPs for you, beginning with Futureboy. What came first: the format and then the songs or did they dictate this format? Nick Flora: The format came first. I like coming up with themes or ideas that interest me and then boxing myself in to write songs that fit that. A lot of times the theme comes from things I’m thinking a lot about currently, so confining them to a record helps me stay on track. I always have at least six or seven ideas for projects in my head at any given time, so doing three EPs over the course of a year was a fun way of exorcising them and scratching these specific itches. You can read the rest of the interview at Stereo Subversion.

Words of Wisdom from Jimmy Dougan

Our family watched A League of Their Own the other night (still a good movie, by the way) and there's this moment where Tom Hanks tells Geena Davis that baseball is "supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great." At the end of every Christmas tour we all sit around and play "Highs and Lows," naming the high points and low points of the month. The highs are easy to come up with; the lows are tricky because the real lows (for me, anyway) aren't the sorts of things you can just blab about in a group of people. But in 2014, everybody had the same low.

One Minute Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This is the One Minute Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It also includes an important announcement about the One Minute Review. So, watch this one.

One Minute Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.

Subjects With Objects Unplugged: Untitled 16

An Explanation for the Uninitiated: Subjects With Objects is an ongoing, collaborative art project forever ordered according to the following rules: A shadowy public spaces painter sets up in pubs and executes spontaneous portraits at the rate of one painting per pint. He then hands off those enigmatic little ocular disturbances to a semi-anonymous poet & novelist who lives with them long enough to solicit their otherworldly mumblings and ephemeral whispers, distilling each of their essences into a line or two of poetic prose. The painter is Jonathan Richter. The poet is UNKNOWN & UNKNOWABLE, so it is best NOT TO EVEN ASK! However, for the sake of convenience we may refer to him as DKM. Untitled-16 Subjects With Objects Unplugged "Untitled 16" (2013) Every so often, we should pause to ask “What would possess (in a bygone era) those plucky Brits of privileged birth to leave the comforts of hearth and home and the promise of their guaranteed (if stodgy) careers to venture more or less unprepared into the polar wastelands in pursuit of the title of ‘First Man At this or that Pole’?” Was it a cultural legacy of historic sacrifice? A desire for personal glory? Was it a sense of nostalgia stoked by the last vestiges of the fading glow of their nation’s once vaunted empire? Or were such fool’s quests the result of something altogether more banal, boring, idiosyncratic or pedestrian? You know me. I’m going to opt for one of those possibilities.

Hello, 2016

There's a lot of exciting stuff happening this year in the Rabbit Room---new books, new music, new website, new Hutchmoot, and a whole lot more. Here's a new video from JJ Heller and a classic from Eric Peters to start the ball rolling.