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Louisville's "waketheday" (now just one word, lowercase) has been getting attention for a while, opening for national bands and even participating in national band contests. Last month, they opened for Skillet at Headliner's Music Hall. Bassist Tyler Anderson recently took the time to answer some questions about the band.
Louisville Music News:How did you guys meet and form the band?
Tyler Anderson:Waketheday has been around since 2003. Originally a four-piece, Chris Jackson, Andy Meyers and Buv Meyers are the remaining original members. Both Chris and Andy have known each other since birth; and, well, Buv was just the next one to come along. Chris and I both went to high school together at Bullitt Central, where Chris was very active in choir and I in concert and marching band. After starting a small talent show band for our high school, known as Kujo and the Kool-Aid Kids, Chris also fronted respectively Red Handed.
I think at one point in time, the high school talent show project was much more of a success than Red Handed was. Selling t-shirts around the school and eventually convincing the staff and teachers to allow the students to wear Kool-Aid shirts instead of Polos, which were [the] school uniform. It wasn't until Red Handed, renamed Wake The Day, lost their bassist (Mikey Likens) that I jumped in as the temporary bassist and gave up playing guitar in Kujo. After learning old material and filling in for a dozen or more shows - I was the newest addition. After playing churches, shows at bars and run down buildings on the west side of Louisville, we started to create a buzz. We teamed up with two other local bands (consisting of mostly childhood friends) called Not Quite Superheroes and The Bessemer Process. Jeff Armstrong was the lead guitarist in TBP and after that band parted ways for other projects, we made the decision to add another guitarist. Jeff joined up with us in early 2007.
LMN:You participated in Fox television's "America's Top Band" show, right? Tell me about that experience.
TA:Wow, I'm not going to say that wasn't an experience of mixed emotions. I remember submitting a video for the producer's months before we ever got a callback. We almost forgot that we even sent it in. The phone call in itself was very exciting for us; anytime you grab the attention of producers in California, it makes you feel like your accomplishing something. Being one of 60 bands to be flown to Los Angeles to audition for a national television competition is any band's dream. We set out to play music because it's where we feel at home, expressing ourselves through music. We didn't set out to be flown to L.A., all expenses paid. We definitely didn't expect to sign our lives away to FOX and fill out hundreds of pages in paperwork to go - but for us, the risk of carpel tunnel was well worth it.
We met an array of great people from the competition once we arrived. The talent was tremendous and the personalities were just all across the board. It's always great to see such a diverse group of artists come together and share their talents with the world - or at least at this point, the producers and their staff. We were filmed playing two songs, one original and the other a cover of Stevie Wonders "Part Time Lover." We put our own spin on things and went into auditions and gave it our best. You always have that feeling after you come off stage whether or not it was a good set or not. We waltzed out of Studio A with smiles, high spirits and several cameras waiting to interview us. When the air is a cool and comfortable 72 degrees, I suppose it comforted us a bit too much, as we were back on a bus and heading back to our hotel room within a couple hours.
We feel like there was a different direction for the show than what was anticipated. I give all the credit in the world to the bands that made it, we just weren't fit for the show. Looking back on it now, it was a great four-day vacation for us - and we're glad to be back in our hometown and working on our first official EP. It could have been a quick push up the popularity polls, but we feel better working hard at this - we'd like to show people we don't need reality television to make this a success. Look out!
LMN:What are your dreams for this band?
TA:I think all of us in this band would agree that music is what moves us. I recently read a book called Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. He talks a lot about pursuing our heart's dreams rather than having our soul locked up and caged like a lion.
I think exploring the desires of our heart is what we truly want to do.
Every single one of us has God-given talents and ours happen to be musical. We come alive when we're writing new songs, playing shows and meeting the people that support what we're doing. With waketheday, it's not really an art for us, it's a passion to express ourselves - and it grows more and more every day. We've been challenged in so many ways; times where we could have just given up, but we didn't. We don't plan to give up anytime soon either. As long as we are moving forward and God is opening doors for us, we will continue to do what we love and share it with anyone who will listen.
LMN:What is the band's most embarrassing moment?
TA:Wow - outside from the typical calamity that goes on everyday, it would be very tough to pin down just one occurrence. But in my eyes, getting kicked out of a Christian music festival probably sits up there pretty high.
We were really fortunate enough to be booked to play Ichthus festival in Wilmore...last year. That town is roughly a half hour away from Winchester, home of Kentucky's very own soda, Ale8One. We're currently endorsed by Ale8One and love the people at that place!
In arriving at the festival, we brought with us close to 40 cases (440 Bottles) of the soda to sell at our merch table. Last summer it was constantly in the upper 90's with no rain and humidity that made it feel like a sauna. Escaping to the large tents, where the "merch" tables were located, was sometimes the only way to cool down. What gave us the upper hand was having ice-cold bottles of Ale8One for a half a buck, whereas the vendors sole Pepsi products for a couple dollars. After selling out within six hours of the first day, we made several trips to Winchester to grab more, "drinkage," if you will. We were a huge hit and our "merch" table was packed out constantly. Carrying king size bags of ice from the middle of the Ichthus farm to our "merch" table took quite the effort, but how sweet the return was.
It wasn't until we were approached by the event operator that we knew we were doing anything wrong. Apparently, we failed to recognize that Pepsi was the main sponsor for the event and we were breaking terms in their contract. At some point, when the kind gentleman brushed away the crowd around the table, we realized we had a lot of Ale8One left over - and we quote, "could not sell it."
In no way to provoke the festival or the individuals running it, we decided to 'give away' the remaining Ale8One, has we had no room to take it back with us. This was not the best move to make as later, with twice the crowd, we were ordered to tear down and evacuate the "merch" grounds immediately.
We're hoping that festival will bring us back at some point. We really enjoyed it there.
LMN:You guys have played some pretty cool venues in town, like Headliners. There aren't many local Christian groups doing that, how is it working out for you?
TA:The promoters and booking agents that put us in those venues are phenomenal people. Louisville in general is so kind to us. We've made great friends with the people at WDJX, WJIE, (local papers and others). The list goes on - this city is very supportive of the talent that is trying to break out and we owe a lot to the people that help in spreading our name and music.
Headliners is definitely the premiere music venue in Louisville and it's exhilarating to get in there as much as we do and play music for everyone. We definitely have had our battles with the whole "playing in bars" issue, but a venue is a venue and we hope to be a light wherever we go. But in general, its working out great for us and we've been given so much support!
LMN:You've opened for some national artists including Anberlin, The Almost and Skillet. How were those shows? How did the bands treat you guys?
TA:National shows are always a good time and so are the guys and gals we play with. Most of the bands we've opened for we have also grown up listening to. Going back to my junior year in high school, I remember sitting in the car with Chris trying to find a song we could cover for the talent show. Anberlin had just released their "Blueprints for the Black-Market" album and we were all over a song called "Cadence." Who would have known that three years later, we would be playing with those guys! It's always good to network with these bands and try to keep in touch with them. Outside of how busy they stay with touring and writing albums, it's great to get phone numbers and call these guys and see what they're into, when they'll be back, that kind of thing. I talk to some of the guys in The Almost a couple times a month and they're really supportive of what we do. You can't really ask for more. Those types of contacts help us grow, learn and move forward. Their knowledge is priceless and we cherish the opportunities we've been given to meet these individuals and learn from them.
LMN:What are your thoughts on Christian music in Louisville?
TA:It's a broad subject when you get down to classifying a band as a Christian-band or "Christians in a band." Is there a difference? And if so, what is the difference and for what reasons? We've never been ones to stamp waketheday with a label, or some sort of faith-based classification. All of us in the band try very hard to lead a Christian lifestyle and express our love for Christ through our personalities. We feel it speaks more to let our listeners be impacted through who we are as people, rather than the through assumptions of our genre or style.
That aside, we sit currently as one of the few bands in Louisville that are open about our faith. We don't intend to hide behind the Christian title nor magnify it. If we had it our way, we would be "five guys that love music and want to share their songs with the world" band. That sounds poorly inadequate, so we have to go with something more appealing. Waketheday.
Big thanks to Tyler Anderson for taking to time to answer some questions about the band. You can get more info about them at www.waketheday.com and www.myspace.com/waketheday.