My Interview with Caedmon's Call
In the summer of 1997, I picked up a funny-looking brown album called Caedmon’s Call and thought I’d give it a listen. Ten years later, I’m still listening. Next month, Caedmon’s Call will be releasing Overdressed. I recently had the opportunity to interview a couple of the band members. So here’s the scoop on Caedmon’s Call in 2007.
Trevin Wax: It’s been ten years since the release of your self-titled debut. What have you learned during this past decade and how has that influenced your music?
Garrett Buell: Ten years is a long time to be able to do this thing, make music and record music knowing that people will actually hear it. It’s been even longer since the band actually started with a couple of independent records and lots of touring before self-titled was done. We were kids then. Now, most of us have kids. Life around us is very different; our responsibilities are different. Our music reflects that change in our lives, as it always has. Subject matter is born of the “everyday” and everyday, each of us really just feels like the “every man” or woman. So it’s all about being real, knowing that our lives and our gifts were never meant to become obsessions or stairways to celebrity, but just a part of our daily routine.
Ten years ago, we strived to relate to our college-aged peers and today, we are still striving to relate to our family based and “grown-up” peers. What have we learned from that? Keep true to yourself. Follow those passions that you have no doubt about and don’t bend in order to sell more product. Just bend in order to be as honest and true an artist as possible.
TW: How did Derek Webb’s return to the band come about? Should we continue to expect solo work from Derek?
Todd Bragg: Caedmon’s is now on the INO record label, which is the same label Derek has been on for several years now. We thought it would be fun to get together with Derek and talk about what was happening with Caedmon’s and it just sort of escalated into him being part of this project with both writing and playing. I think we all enjoyed reminiscing as well as reconnecting with an old friend. Derek will definitely continue making solo projects.
TW: Give us a short description of Overdressed.
Todd Bragg: The title is from a lyric in the song “Trouble”. It goes, … when I’m with you, I feel so overdressed. This is referring to our fallen nature. Since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, we have been overdressing ourselves. Because of our sin nature we can’t help but be overdressed before God. We liked the way “Overdressed” sounded as a title, and its one thing we all have in common.
Musically, this album is quite organic and raw. We shied away from too many electric guitars, as well as effects on drums and percussion. We tried to keep the sound warm and honest with more acoustic and folk elements. This is one thing that Caedmon’s used to be very intentional about in our earlier independent days of recording.
TW: If you had to compare Overdressed to one of your previous albums, which one would you choose? Is the musical style a departure from regular Caedmon’s fare, or is it a return to your roots (now that Derek Webb has rejoined the group)?
TB: I don’t know what album I would compare this album to. Maybe 40 Acres with some Share the Well and Back Home stirred up in it. While this album definitely is a return to our roots, it stands alone with a fresh new energy that allows it to boldly be the next Caedmon’s album. I think it is a great combination of what we are now as a band and what we were in the early days. This energy and excitement comes from several things, our new relationship with INO and Derek’s involvement. But more than anything, I think we all realize what a blessing it is to be able to draw from our history as a band, as well as the talents of each member and make good music.
TW: You guys record a lot compared to many other Christian bands. What is the song developmental process like? Do you go into the studio with more ideas and songs than you actually record? Or do you record steadily as songs come to you? In short, how has Overdressed come together as an album?
TB: There is no formula for the way we do songs. Caedmon’s is unique in that we have had several different writers over the years but have somehow maintained a thread of consistency within the songs. With previous albums the writer would bring songs to the table and we would all throw in our ideas on top of that. With Overdressed, we all collaborated from the start, so the songs came from everyone’s ideas and input. We usually, by the end of an album, are franticly looking for one or two more songs. However, with Overdressed we had more than enough songs that we felt were good enough to be on the album. This is a good problem to have, but unfamiliar nonetheless. We were able to pick the best of the best. Hopefully, you will agree. The album flows well, as you listen through each song you anticipate what the next song will be. This makes it easy to listen to the whole album as opposed to jumping around to only a few songs.
TW: Caedmon’s Call has always been known for thought-provoking, creative lyrics. What songs on Overdressed are you most excited about from a lyrical standpoint?
GB: I like “Expectations”.
‘That boy had the highest of expectations
and he heard that Jesus would fill him up
maybe something got lost in the language
if this was full then why bother
this was not the way it looked on the billboard
smiling family beaming down on the interstate’
This is to me the main observation on modern Christianity. It, to me, really sums up in words how that observation looks through the microscope. Failed expectations of a Savior in the light of “Christ gone corporate” modern church. It seems as if the aim of our church in this day is to be better than Six Flags with a bigger IMax screen. With salvation quotas and razzle dazzle services and the well seen perfect poise of a smiling family in a perfect world of a photography studio with no problems in life at all.
The focus is off of the real Jesus and how He works in our hearts, knowing full well what lies beneath the “show” of our finest threads. Christianity has got to become more about loving the unlovable and feeding the hungry than entertaining the kids with video games and multi million dollar gyms.
Churches need to let their members live amongst the real world, be involved in society but not sheltered from it. How else are we to be salt and light if we don’t ever wander into it and don’t know anyone there if we did? Churches should support their members not limit them, realizing we are all fallen and will fall again. But when times are tough the church should hold their members when they are down, truly listen to their cries and above all, have empathy because chances are, they are just like you.
TW: You guys have never really cared about how you fit into the whole “CCM” aspect of the music industry. Do you see the current state of Christian music as having improved since you signed with a major record label ten years ago?
TB: In some ways yes, but mostly no.
GB: I really think CCM could use more thinking, more creativity (not to mention the complete demolition of the name “CCM”) I think Christians in particular have a hard time being unique, and different from then next person. I don’t know why but, who said being born again meant losing your individuality? So with that said, why does everything on the radio sound like the same band with a bunch of singers?
TW: Where do you see Caedmon’s Call ten years from now?
TB: Honestly, I don’t know. I never expected that we would be together this long. We have always taken it one album at time and one tour at a time. The music business is a weird business and just when you think you’ve got it figured out it changes. I am just thankful to be doing something that I love and using the gifts that I have.
It is also quite humbling to be a part of something that has had such a profound impact on so many lives. I think everyone in Caedmon’s would agree that we would not be who we are today but for our involvement in the band. Our lives have been impacted on so many levels, we have wrestled with a lot things that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise thought about. Seeing our culture, specifically Christian culture in America, from a unique perspective has challenged our faith in ways that would be difficult to see otherwise. All this to say, hopefully we will still be using our gifts, making good music, and more importantly realizing our need for the Gospel in the midst of it all.
(Read my review of Overdressed.)
© 2007 Kingdom People blog