I am at Cornerstone Festival 2009. I am sorry for not posting like usual this week. I am out early, up late, with the family, meeting old friends, making new friends, selling books, and speaking. It’s a little hectic but lots of fun. If you’re at the fest, come by and see me at the Anchor Stage.
The picture above is when I ran into Sonny from POD. We shared some old memories and laughed. He was showing Brian ‘Head’ Welch (formerly of Korn) around. Believe it or not, POD opened up for Strongarm many years ago while touring. Thank God it didn’t ruin their future career.
But when I get a chance I will get back to normal and start sharing some things on my mind. And I hope this day finds you well…
I have been getting a lot of questions about the band I was in, Strongarm. This post is in the spirit of full disclosure. If you don’t know the band, this will likely bore you to death. Feel free to stop reading now and go ahead and enjoy the rest of your day. Save your energy. No need to see a washed-up-never-was-been talk about stuff that has no bearing on your life. But if you like those behind-the-scenes shows and interviews than you might want to stay with me a bit. Lastly, I have framed this in an interview format, since these are questions I have received and conversations I have recently had.
Is it true you’re going to do a Strongarm show at Cornerstone Festival this year?
Yes. Believe it or not, since quitting Strongarm (in 1996, I think) I have received emails every month from fans with words of gratitude for my efforts in the band and questions of reunions. Honestly, it surprises me every time that people remember. So I have always expressed appreciation for these well-wishes and said I am open to a reunion. Nothing ever came of it…until recently. We’re calling it a Strongarm Tribute because it’s not technically a reunion. At this point, I am the only member that will be playing it. I’ve never heard of anyone reuniting with themselves! It’s also not exactly a Strongarm cover band, since I was actually in the band. So a tribute is a good middle ground.
I know you have a new book out. Are you just doing the show in order to promote it?
Nope. It’s actually pure coincidence. The Strongarm show wasn’t even my idea. Back in November my wife and I decided to go to Cornerstone Fest, way before the idea of a tribute came about. I have been 5-6 times in the past. It was a big part of my life while I was in the band. Now that we have kids that are old enough to appreciate it, we wanted to go. We decided to rent an RV, drive up there, go deaf, not sleep, and not eat right for a week with the kids. And, of course, bring my book to get the word out about what I am doing these days. Since I wrote most of the lyrics in Strongarm, it only seemed fitting to spread the word about what I am doing with words these days–especially since that’s what fans contact be about the most.
Besides, I believe in the vision and message of my book, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone through all the pain and suffering to do it. It is the single most difficult goal I have ever accomplished. My wife, Lisa, has been so inspirational in the process. She puts up with all the stress and tension it has put on her and our children. I have taken many evenings, weekends, and dollars away that should have otherwise been devoted to and for them. My book’s purpose is to bring attention to the teachings and person of Jesus. That’s also why I was in the band. It was our seminal mission as well.
Someone also posed this question in the comments of one the press releases announcing the show. I’m not even sure I understand it. So, if I didn’t have a book it would be okay to do a show? Strongarm will always be part of me and my story. I sacrificed and invested a lot of effort in the band. I can’t help that and I won’t hide it. So if I’m asked to be a part of something that celebrates that part of my life (and my overall mission) then yes, I’m going to do it. The book is also a part of me and my story now. So they are both (and will always be) part of my story. The two will often co-mingle. There’s nothing I can really do about it. It’s actually a physical impossibility to separate the two.
How did the Strongarm tribute come about then?
Back in December I was contacted by a friend. He asked if I would sing some Strongarm songs at Cornerstone if he put a band together. I said sure, why not? I was already going anyway. That ended up falling through, which was fine. It wasn’t my idea or why we were going to Cornerstone. Then in late January, I was contacted by another friend, Joshua Stump, who runs The Anchor Stage at Cornerstone. He asked if I would do a reunion. Again, I said sure. He asked if I would try to get in contact with the guys from the Strongarm. I said I hadn’t talked to them much since leaving the band in an effort to leave them alone and let the past be the past, but I would try to get some contact info for them. He said if any of the members couldn’t make it he would fill any empty spots with other musicians for a show like this. He wanted to make it happen.
I decided to try to talk to just one of the guys from Strongarm first. I didn’t want to disrupt all of their lives more than necessary. So in late January/early February I started trying to get in contact with them. The first member I contacted never returned my efforts. So later in February I connected with another one of them. He said he wouldn’t be able to make the show. I understood that with family, work, no equipment, all the practicing etc. it was not an easy request. He said he would talk to the other guys and let me know. He also communicated that calling it a reunion wouldn’t be appropriate, and that’s when we agreed that “tribute” was a better fit. I hadn’t heard anything for 3 weeks so I continued to go forward with the project. I had to, since June is just around the corner when planning events like this (and rumors were already circulating about a possible show). I told Joshua Stump that at least I can commit to the show (tribute) at this point.
So how are things at this point?
Joshua Stump is working very hard to make it happen. After I gave him the go-ahead, he let me know he had talked to the drummer from the recently broken-up band Life In Your Way about possibly backing me up. I thought this was amazing since I love that band. From what I heard, they were willing to try to make it work so long as none of the guys in Strongarm had a problem with the idea (which I totally understand).
Unfortunately, 2 other members from Strongarm have just expressed that they would rather I not do the show at all. But I am still planning on doing the show with whoever will back me up. I’ve given my word to Joshua and the fans now (since the news has spread very quickly). So I intend to keep it. You can say a lot of things about me and my flaws, but I am not a liar. I just want to have fun and celebrate the memory of the band I was once in. If it’s just me and a dozen other chubby, fat, bald guys battling bad backs and pinched neck nerves piling up and singing along, it’ll be a great time. And if I sell a few books…great!
Hope to see you there!
UPDATE: Since posting this the other guys from Strongarm have put up comments to slander me specifically. I have never slammed or attacked them personally. That statement does all that, with lies. Honestly, I find it shocking and ridiculous, especially at our age. All because someone asked me to sing Strongarm songs at C-stone for the fans? Wow. PS-Spell my name right next time, guys.
It’s strange, but even though I quit in 1996, I still get emails every month from fans of the band regarding the lyrics I wrote. I am always surprised that people remember the band. It’s truly an honor to still have a lasting influence.
So here are 2 songs for your listening pleasure.
And enjoy the Darth Vader sample!
I’ve reached another level in my life. I accidentally discovered that I am in Wikipedia.
That is to say, the band I was once in, Strongarm, has an entry there. I still get floored that there are remnants of the band I helped start. It’s a pretty good feeling knowing that what you did has had lasting affects.
So click the link above and check it out. It’s fairly accurate in what it says.
*On a side note, I am going to a writing conference this week with my friend Bob, so I’ll probably be lite on the posting.
I received an email last week from a guy who got a Strongarm tattoo. That is, he got a tattoo inspired by some lyrics from a song I wrote called Supplication while I was in Strongarm. The lyrics in the phrase pictured here are:
I surrender all
All I am I give
They are lyrics from a song called Supplication. It is what I describe as a martyr’s prayer. I wrote it envisioning what the many people might have been feeling who were put to death in the past for believing that Jesus was actually God’s son and rose from the dead. That was my inspiration.
It is an amazing to imagine that 12 years after I quit Strongarm what I did still lives on.Someone has been moved enough to mark themselves for life with words I wrote. And as I work to finish a new endeavor, my first book, I hope and pray that this new revelation will have a positive legacy too. I hope that it will inspire people’s curiosity about the life and teachings of Jesus.
So thanks Joey for the email! The tat looks great. And you have moved me very deeply by honoring me in this way.
Also, full lyrics Supplication are posted below if you want to read them. They are floating around the web, but here they are in the correct form as I originally wrote them:
There can be no justice
Where there is no truth
A life of self-sacrifice, a new creation
Devotion to purity, in the midst of the light of conviction
Set fire, to the hearts desire, taken by storm
No longer in the dark, dwelling in the shadows nevermore
I surrender all, all I am I give
Give there of ’til end much more, more than this death
I surrender all, all I have I’ve spent
Spent my essence and much more, more than this death
Far be it from me to flee from the den of lions
The truth can be blinding
Cast me forth for stoning
Misunderstanding causes fear
I feel your pain, I feel your emptiness
And on this day blood will touch blood
Because I am an example I will not flee
Waiting for an end as breath fades away, fades away, fades away
Waiting for an end as breath fades away…
I surrender all, all I am I give
Give there of ’til end much more, more than this is death
I surrender all, all I have I’ve spent
Spent my essence and much more, more than this is death
Only love can fill the void
They are lyrics from a song called The Advent of a Miracle. It is a song about how much God loves humanity and how this translated into Jesus even dying for us. Often we’ll seek meaning, purpose, and value in many things in this life and still feel lost. To make matters worse, the things we seek can actually make us feel more empty. But, ultimately, we are complete when we are connected with our Creator and establish a relationship with him.
Even further, I wrote the lyrics envisioning what someone might need to hear who’s been caught up in unhealthy addictive behavior, maybe even making a living in such extremes as prostitution. It describes how I imagined the depths of God’s love for each individual and what they may need to hear from him.
Again, I can’t believe someone has been moved enough to mark themselves for life with words I wrote. I can only dream that my book will have a positive legacy too. I hope that it will inspire people’s curiosity about the life and teachings of Jesus.
So thanks Mauricio! The tat looks awesome. And you have also moved me very deeply by honoring me in this way.
I have posted the full lyrics below again if you want to read them. These are also floating around the web, but here they are in the correct form as I originally wrote them:
You’re my beloved and altogether lovely
As a gift that can’t be bought, as if gold could favor outweigh
Your meaning to me, the secrets of the heart made manifest
Even beauty’s priced beside thee, proportioned by lot the less
Wishes fade, as dreams break, promise made
Takes away your will, takes your whole heart captive
Just for one promise, sell it all for one true word
To hold on to, face the shame of it all
Safer to neglect, than open your calloused heart
Piece by piece, you lost a part of your self
You share to gain but lose at love and learn to hate yourself
More and more each day and all the days thereafter
You labor to put back together and regain what is gone forever
Wishes fade, as dreams break, promise made, tomorrow takes
The most costly mistake is to try to change the past today
The filth and the shame, they all wash away
For you I’ll clean the slate
Only love can fill the void
Where the world has taken its toll
Hand-in-hand, by your side
We’ll walk down this path together
Hand-in-hand, to the place where promises never fade
To the advent of a miracle, for love is a miracle
The bonds we’ve made we’ll keep together
We’ll make the changes to build the confidence
For a promise is a tie between two souls
And this bond is a miracle
True love is to die for and is why I cry, for you
And the pain you feel and feed can heal
If you’d just walk with me toward the light