JesusfreakHideout's Tincan Caldwell spoke with Rhett Walker of Rhett Walker Band just prior to the release of their first album Come to the River (July 10th). Upon its release, the album peaked on the Billboard Christian chart at #9, and the first single "When Mercy Found Me" currently sits position #15...
This interview took place on: June 2012
JFH (Tincan Caldwell): So what's life like before the release of your first album, Come To The River? How have things changed?
Awww man, well…things are crazy, but it's good. Not much has changed yet for me, I'm still doing weekend gigs with the band and that allows me to be home during the week. The biggest thing that has changed is this thing I'm doing right now. I have done so many interviews lately for radio and what-not that I forget who I'm talking to. A lot of them are in the morning, so it's tough to be up for them sometimes. But the radio people have been great; everyone has been great so far.
JFH (Tincan): Speaking of radio, where were you when you first heard your current single "When Mercy Found Me" on the air?
Rhett: Oh, that's a great story. I was told by some radio folks when it was going to be on and I was able to be with my family out on our back deck when it came on.
JFH (Tincan): That's great!
Rhett: Yeah, it's fantastic that I got to be able to share it with my family.
JFH (Tincan): Any plans to take them on the road with you?
Rhett: Oh yeah. We home school them because I didn't want to have to ask permission to take them out with me for a week at a time. They love it!
JFH (Tincan): And speaking of the road, any big tours on the horizon for you guys?
Rhett: : Well, for right now we're just playing "one off" kinds of gigs and a whole lot of radio shows, you know, "fly in for the weekend, play acoustic" sort of things. But we're heading out with Kutless in the fall."
JFH (Tincan): Kutless? That's a great tour to be on.
Rhett: Yeah, we're pretty excited about that. Those guys are the kind of "muscular" music we like to play with. Being on a real tour for the first time will be cool.
JFH (Tincan): It's a lot of wear and tear on the band I hear.
Rhett: Yeah, you have to take care of yourself and your spiritual life. But I'm looking forward to having a rhythm to shows instead of a one-at-a-time thing that we have been doing.
JFH (Tincan): What's the coolest place you have played so far?
Rhett: San Diego was awesome. And I just love being in Texas anytime. I'm a huge University of Texas Longhorns fan.
JFH (Tincan): Do you feel "locked in" with your band mates musically and spiritually at this point? You guys have only been together a short time now.
Rhett: It was pretty good from the first note we played together. I can't believe how they make my songs come alive. When you write something at home on your acoustic it sounds all right, but it's nothing compared to hearing what the band does with it. I'm blessed to have these guys in my life.
JFH (Tincan): Do they feel like brothers?
Rhett: Oh yeah. It's like an "us against the world" thing...kind of like a "band of brothers" sort of thing.
JFH (Tincan): You seem like a natural storyteller. Have you always had this gift and how does it relate to your own story?
Rhett: I was born into a preacher's family, and things were all going according to my family's plan until we moved the summer before my senior year of high school. I was from a small town, the kind with one stoplight, and I knew everybody. It was a shock to move to another town and go to a school where I didn't know anybody. As a result the kids who I fell into hanging out with were a tough crowd (ironically, the crowd that was the most accepting of the new kid at school) and that year I basically lived any way and did anything that I wanted to do. I got in trouble around town, I got high. You name it and I did it. By the end of the year I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant and that's when it all hit me, how I had been living, what I was doing to my parents, what was in front of me now with a baby on the way. I said to my girlfriend (now wife April) "Baby, we've done nothing right in this whole relationship, but we're going to start doing things right, right now!"
JFH (Tincan): Speaking of stories, my favorite song on the album is "Brother." What's the story behind that?
Rhett: Well after a few years working construction I got a gig leading worship at a growing church and I was having the time of my life, playing music and getting paid the best money I had made up 'til that point. But there were some issues in the leadership of the church that I felt were leaving Jesus at the door and getting away from everything that is important about the body of Christ. When I had a meeting with the head guy in the church and expressed what I felt, he basically said that things were going to go on the way that they were and I had to take the church as it was or leave it. So after talking with April that night I resigned the best job I had ever had the next day. It was against my business sense as I didn't have anything else lined up, but I did it...then I got offered a record deal about a month later and that was that. I still get to do what I love and what God has created me to do and I can call the shots.
JFH (Tincan): So it seems like God honored the tough decision you made.
Rhett: Oh definitely, God's great like that.
JFH (Tincan): Father's Day is in a few days, how is your father doing now and what's it like being a dad yourself?
Rhett: Well my dad is just a great man of God. But he's pretty understated and he hates to text, which is how I communicate mostly these days as I'm on the move so much. So last year on Father's Day I just texted, "Thanks" and he loved it. And my kids, well Rileigh my eight year old is a complete diva and dancer. What I love about her is that she is making up praise songs now and she always wants me to listen to them. The other day she had one that said, "He adores me, He awards me" in a nice little rhyme that stuck in my head. I love that, "He adores me, He awards me." I think I'm going to work that into a song. My son Jett is just a maniac wrestler who just wants to be around dad. It's nice to have a home fan base like mine.
JFH (Tincan): Since you have a growing platform with teenagers today, what would you say to yourself at age 17 or kids that age who are like you?
Rhett: I would say "calm down!" Life is long and not everything you are experiencing is the end of the world. God has a plan and can even use the messed up stuff you have done if you will just give it all to Him. He sure has used all my messed up stuff. Just the other day a woman wrote me about my song "When Mercy Found Me" and said that it started up a great conversation with her co-worker and that the co-worker is now seeking a relationship with the Lord. God uses everything, so just calm down and know that He is in control.
JFH (Tincan): Those sound like wise words.
Rhett: Yeah, I should go write that down!
JFH (Tincan): God bless you guys, and have fun on tour.
Rhett: Thanks brother!
Rhett Walker Band's new album Come To The River is available now!