My memory tells me that Inexposed was the more genuine of the projects that I had going on at the time, and would set the stage for how things would develop for me in the future, Joshua Fire was the next necessary step for me to take in discovering the layers beneath the surface of what it would mean to be a professional artist on the U.S. market. Most people in music look at the business end of things with disdain, and we were no exception to this. Joshua Fire, being inspired by the more transcendent issue of the cosmos, in particular salvation through Jesus. We were preaching the Gospel, in our minds, and the music was central to that issue, and needed to be considered with sacred caution. Most of the live performances were free, and involved raising money for missions organizations. Our first performance was an outdoor evangelistic “tent revival” style event, where we performed songs, and John Marr, our lead vocalist would preach a sermon. It was a very heavy handed endeavor, with a very distinct worldview to reinforce our efforts. As such we were moderately successful in keeping our budget above the water. We managed to release our first album, Numatic, after a week of tracking at our friend’s home while his parents were out of town. I couldn’t tell you what our sales were now, but I can say that we ordered a thousand, and I think I have one copy left, and we handed out plenty of them, as you might imagine. Enough momentum had built, and we kept busy, and even made our way in to Canada at one point. I made it there and back with $5 of change in my pocket. I think they let us in because they felt sorry for us or something, because when we came back, apparently there was a bit of a stink at the customs office. We didn’t make any money or anything, we were just performing music for people, for free, the way we always did. I still don’t know exactly what the problem was, exactly, but we had accomplished our mission, and managed to record the whole thing. We lost the tracks, however, since the console we recorded on crashed, and was never backed up. That would be the story for me a number of times throughout the years. After the trip we were pumped, and even came away with a new song I’d written on a little nylon folk string guitar that I had been playing around with in open G tuning (DGDGBD… only tuned a half step down from that. I’ve always tuned one half step down from standard). Once I’d graduated High School, we had become decently by living in a large country home outside city limits. Our rehearsals were regular, and we had accumulated a decent collection of gear. John and I even made a 48 hour drive to go pick up some heavy duty Cerwin Vega speakers. Of course, before endeavoring to dive headlong into the venture, I was advised at the time that I should consider going to school rather than hanging my hat as a musician, but to no avail. I had no interest. I was a firm disbeliever in the educational system, and continue to be so today. I can tell you now, 15 years later, I am perfectly satisfied with my choice. There’s plenty I wish I’d known then that I wish I know now, but that issue never changed for me. So after a year at the house, we had built up tracks for what would become our second album, titled Kariss. We wouldn’t track it there, since the house situation would be dissolved in to new living arrangements, which I believe, if memory serves, was because the owners were hoping to sell the house. So us bachelors of the band (Wes Root-drums, Rob Meyer-bass) all moved in to an apartment together, and John moved in to a house with his wife and kids, which was where we would track the bulk of the album. John built a box to act as an isolation booth where we tracked vocals and guitar parts, and was staged in the garage where spiders of abnormally large size had made their homes, which we suspected was the result of the nearness of a stream to that particular location. There was an odd foggy haze that came over the band at the time, which was remarked by John as being the result of our choice to no longer refer to the band as “Christian”, and thus the “blessing had left the band”. As much as that may have been the case, there came with that choice, another that would leave an equally disquieting feeling in myself, when we asked Rob to leave the band. His performance on the first album left a enough to be desired that we felt that our friend Ryan could solve for us in the next record. As we were making these choices, and sorting this issue out, I went on to fill out some of the bass tracks to keep the ball rolling. By the end of the summer, the album was finished and ready for mastering, and we had them printed by that next spring (I think? The timeline is pretty fuzzy for me these days…. wonder if there’s a way of ever really knowing…), and our CD release was well publicized enough that we managed not only to break even that night, but even bought ourselves some chips and dip with an extra couple bucks we’d managed to rake in. The rest of the summer was filled with random festivals that were booked with the help of a friend of ours. We even had some back door meetings about the idea of starting a record label with the growing number of musicians we had become surrounded by. This would be how I would get involved with my first work acting as an engineer/producer for Liana Bumstead (now Stone), and here album, Things That Rust. She actually appears as a backing vocalist on the song, Beautiful To Me, with my now wife, Teal Davis (at the time). Teal will tell you, I was a real slave driver about tracking that song. Lan (that’s Liana’s nickname), would tell you I wasn’t much different tracking her album either. I tend take my roles pretty seriously, and probably to a fault. With Joshua Fire, that summer was the beginning of the end. We had a great time playing all these festivals. There was Freedom Fest, Mt. Dew Float Fest, Joshua Fest, Son Fest, and Splash Fest, which was at Wild Waves in Washington, and another one at Horning’s Hideout in Oregon. A lot of driving, a lot of fun and a lot of stories. But it was exhausting, and the married guys in the band were definitely feeling the taxing nature of stretching ourselves so thin, and not seeing much return. There was more to that as well. Tensions had grown a bit caustic with there being some idealistic distinctions that were proving to be an issue, which also aggravated the differences in our musical taste as well. We were getting tighter as a band, and our sound was becoming more refined, but our insecurities were catching up with us. Our last performance would be with our friend Dave Barnhart, instead of John on the vocals. While this seemed to leave the others at ease, I felt up a creek without a paddle. I would have to make a new choice, and go in a completely new direction, without these guys that I considered brothers to me. Find out next time, what direction that led me in.