Audio Adrenaline has been going strong since the early nineties and with a new album releasing
August 30th, 2005 entitled Until My Heart Caves In, and a major tour planned for the Fall,
things don't seem to be slowing up for the rock quartet. Jesusfreakhideout.com sat down with frontman
Mark Stuart and guitarist/vocalist Tyler Burkum in the press trailer at Creation East to talk
about the new record, some sound changes, and the band's missionary work in Haiti...
This interview took place on: 7/2/05.
Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): Your new record Until My Heart Caves In
releases next month on August 30. How did the recording process differ this time around?
Well, I think the biggest, obvious difference is we have a different producer than we've ever
worked with. He was a lot more about capturing the raw tracks of Audio Adrenaline. He's not a big
"fix it" producer, like ProTools and Computer Duties. It's like, let's just get great passes and great
energy. That was a big difference I think.
Yeah. It's one of those great studios where you have all that technology there, but he was the kind
of guy, like Mark said, who's like 'We should only use it for little things.' We're not going to
rest on it. Which is really great because a lot of times when you do those kind of records, it
doesn't make you really want to try very hard when you know everything's going to be dehumanized.
He really preserved the "rock" in what we did, kinda brought out the good stuff.
And we're talking about Jay Joyce who's mainly a guitar player who's producing a lot now. I think he
also pushed the instrumentation on the record a lot to new levels - more than any other record [we've done].
Specifically, drums. I think it's the best drum record we've ever had. So he and Ben really connected.
Ben, in the past, just tended to play his thing and take off and go fix his car or something. *laughs*
And with this record, I felt like Ben really wanted to explore more. I think we got the best musical
album we've ever made, which is cool!
Jay just really hit it off with Ben, so I think Ben felt good and felt like Jay wasn't going to sell
him out. He wanted to make the drums so good that it kinda made Ben excited about drums.
JFH: The album was originally titled Undefeated.
Why the title change to Until My Heart Caves In?
I don't know. Tyler had the idea for "Until My Heart Caves In" and then we worked on that
song. We all just thought it was a more interesting title. And it kind of meant the same thing to
us. As far as thematically, it didn't really change. It's about being undefeated or pressing on until
your flesh gives out. So I think they go hand in hand, it's just a little bit more interesting way to
JFH: There's a distinct change in lead vocal roles on this record.
Why the change?
I think, number one, I've had vocal issues. Like there are certain songs I can't sing. Like the pretty
stuff, for sure, I can't sing. *laughs* And Tyler's good at it. I mean he's pretty. *laughs*
And it's kind of like if there's someone in the band who can pull it off, it's a great opportunity for
me to step back and let him shine on some songs. And it's also better for that song for Tyler to sing
it. And there're songs that I sing on that I think fit me more - the more raw, more rocking stuff. So it's kinda
cool to do combinations. I mean, it's difficult for me at times because I take a back seat for a lot of
the record - or a big part of it. But at the same time, we're still making good music and I feel very much
a part of the writing process and what's happening. It's just a different role, and it's cool. And I think
we handle it well.
Oh definitely. I mean, bands are so crazy, that it's really cool that we can even do that without it
being some ego battle. And the cool thing is -- another thing that makes it easier is that -- we're not going
to quit doing other songs we do live. Even if there's a big change on one record, it only changes our
live show about fifteen percent, which is the majority of what we do. Most of our time is spent
doing live shows. So in a weird way we can inject a little bit of something new into our shows, but it's
not a huge radical change live.
JFH: Are you concerned about the fans at all missing
*Knocks water bottle over and stands up* This interview's over! *laughter*
Not necessarily. I think there's enough of what I do...
We've been singing together since Lift like crazy and y'know what? Nobody even
noticed! After the first eight songs, they'd be like "Man I can't believe you got to sing
on one song on this record!" You're like, "OK!" I figured if they didn't notice it, that's a good thing.
(*Amy responds with a genuine "Awww..."*) No, honestly! I would rather have someone not notice than
dislike it. Y'know? On Lift, I sing on like seven of the choruses on the record and no one
really even noticed.
Yeah, at this point, I think people are just as familiar with Ty's voice as mine. Because all of our latest
biggest hits are Tyler singing, or a combination of both of us. So I don't think people are that
freaked out by it.
Y'know, at the place where our band is, you have to do whatever you have to do to make a record.
A friend asked the same question the other day -- in a lot of ways, if they want us to make a record,
period, we gotta do what we can to do in our band to make the record happen. So if we had to do it
all one way, we might not have had a record. Bands have to change. In some ways we're changing
just so we can make records.
JFH: What inspired you to cover "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher?"
Probably Otis Redding's version of it. *laughing* I don't know, I've always liked that song. I thought it had a lot of passion in it. I thought it
would be a good song for Audio to cover. Y'know, something fun.
Isn't it something like fifty people have had number one hits with that song or something like that? I'm serious,
go to iTunes and look it up. My dad was like, "Y'know the cover of that song was a number one hit
about the time that you were born." *The interview is then interrupted when a lost festival worker
JFH: What's your favorite track off the new record?
There are several songs I really like. But I think my favorite is "Until My Heart Caves In." But I think
"Starting Over" is epic and "King" is really beautiful. But I like the energy of "Until My Heart Caves In."
My favorite song is "Melody (Lost Inside The Wonder)." I think it's the first Audio Adrenaline song to have harmonica on it.
That's actually Willie Nelson's harmonica player on that song. We didn't have an F sharp harmonica.
And our producer's like "Aw man, I don't have an F sharp harmonica! Well I know a guy that does..."
So he called up Willie Nelson's harmonica player and was like, "Hello? Yeah, do you have an F sharp?"
And then I heard harmonica sounds coming through the phone and he goes *pauses* "Yeah, yeah! That!"
He was listening to the song and making sure it was in the right key, and he goes, "Yeah, oh yeah,
we're over at my house. You're coming over? OK, talk to you later!" He said if we'd
buy him a cup of coffee, he'd come over! So he comes walking in the door and he goes, "That latte
better be reeeeally good!" *laughs* He was the nicest guy in the whole world. So first pass, he played
it through and it was like, "well, there ya go!" And we're like, "enjoy your coffee sir!" and he went
home. One of the cool things about Nashville is there are so many great players and nice people where
JFH: Can you tell us a little about the Hands & Feet
Project and where you're at with it right now?
Mark Stuart: Yeah, the Hands & Feet Project is moving forward quickly. We bought
property [in Haiti] last year, our first building is half done. My parents are there as full
time missionaries. They've been living with another missionary and we're going to go back
July 23rd. I think six of us are going over, and we're going to finish out that building so they can
actually move into the first building on campus. We have a couple groups from Bel Air, which is
funny, coming to do mission work. They'll be there in a couple weeks and we're going to build the
second floor and do some painting. The most exciting thing is that in October, we'll start taking in our
first orphans. We're continuing to raise financial support, prayer support, and also physical support
by taking churches going on trips, which is very cool. We're doing a big motorcycle ride across the country,
from August 14th to the 28th, which is a couple weeks before the album comes out. We're going from Ft.
Lauderdale to San Francisco on motorcycles! We're getting sponsored per mile. And there's a contest between
radio stations that we're going to stop at along the way, probably fifteen radio stations. If a listener
supports at least a penny a mile, which is thirty bucks, they get a copy of the new album. We're trying to raise a hundred thousand dollars
in that two week motorcycle ride. Plus the motorcycle is going to be auctioned off on eBay,
we'll get a bunch of different artists to sign it.
JFH (Amy): Who all is going out with you on the ride?
Mark Stuart: Actually, I'm the only one [from Audio Adrenaline] going the whole way.
They might come out at different times, do interviews and stuff like that. But our bus driver, Garth,
is going and a pastor named K.P. Westmoreland. And another friend of mine, Jeff Garner, he does
our merch, might go. So it's pretty cool. We're excited about it! It's gonna be a loooong motorcycle
ride! But it's worth it.
JFH (Amy): How involved with the orphans' lives, will you be getting?
Mark Stuart: We're hoping to not only walk with these kids, but grow up with them, really.
The weight of that is really becoming more real to us. These guys are going to be with us for, y'know,
eighteen years. And we have to not only meet their needs as kids, but help them transition into adulthood.
It's a pretty daunting task, but I think it's cool and we're stepping out in faith. I think the fact
that we're getting a lot of churches involved and we're getting people involved really helps us sleep at
night a little better -- knowing that it's not just about Audio Adrenaline, it's about partnership
and a lot of different people coming together, taking on this big task of helping this country of Haiti.
The whole Hands & Feet Project has two different real goals. Number one is to support and raise up
a Christian generation of orphans, but it's also to allow Christian music fans and Audio Adrenaline
fans the chance to become hands and feet. We're pretty excited about it, it's a lot of fun. It takes the focus
so much off of making records and doing shows and selling t-shirts, whatever, and gives us a chance
to do something a little more -- I guess -- worthwhile, tangible. Because we talk about missions a lot
and we want our fans to join with us and do this together.
JFH (Amy): It definitely makes it real for them. It's a rare
It gives them an opportunity right in their face to do something alongside of us, which is cool.
Even if it's just financially. One guy, because of this concert last year has given nearly
a hundred thousand dollars through just different monthly donations. He heard us talk about
it last year at Creation. A year later, he's given a hundred thousand dollars to the Children's
Village. So it's been great, God's definitely opened doors and He's doing great things. It's kinda
like when we're sitting back at the hotel watching Live8 and seeing the world come together for
debt relief, and other problems in Africa, it really brings so much back to the church to be
at the forefront of that, and make more of a difference than anybody else. Because that's why we're
here. That's what the church is about. But there's all different kinds of things that the church can focus on.
That is the number one thing - to take care of widows and orphans.
JFH: Where do you see the band in five years?
Mark Stuart: *laughs*
A nursing home?
Mark Stuart: I would definitely say it's up in the air. I mean, it kinda depends
on what this record does, depends on where God takes us. Right now, I think it might be a good
idea -- in the near future -- for me to take a break, y'know, maybe a few months off and see
what happens. Take a sabbatical, just because of vocal issues. I think the heart of Audio Adrenaline
would keep going, if that is something God wanted us to do. So I don't think we could sit here and
say 'this is gonna happen.' I think right now we're embracing where we are today and living that
to the fullest.
Five years ago, if you would have asked that... The band's been around for a long time. There's
so many things that are so uncertain, y'know? I mean, even the fact that we're all alive! Ten
years ago, if you had asked Mark, "Hey, do you think you'll be doing this in ten years?" He probably
would have laughed. So, I don't know. There are so many things that are more important than this,
and just finding out what God's will is for all of us.
Mark Stuart: I think we've reached a certain level of maturity as a band to where
we don't even concern ourselves with that right now. It's just like we're doing our band.
God's going to do with us whatever he wants to do. I mean, I don't even know how I got in the band!
That was one of those things where someone was like, "Hey, I know some guys who..." Whoa! I'm in
Tennessee! Y'know? I could have never ever seen any of that coming. So I figure God's going to do
the same thing with whatever our next step is for us.
Mark Stuart: Yeah, you never know what's going to happen. Usually when you say something, it's
totally wrong anyway! *laughs*
For more information about The Hands & Feet Project or the Hands & Feet Across America motorcycle ride,
visit www.handsandfeetproject.org and support the ministry today!