Tuesday Tune-Up: Out on the Radio

I was out on the radio,
Just starting to change
Somewhere out in America
It’s starting to rain
Could you tell me
One thing you remember about me?

Have You Seen Me Lately – Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)

It’s Been a Long Haul and a Lot of Rodeos…

I was on the radio last week. Friday night, Buffalo Jones played live at the KYRS Thin-Air Community Radio station here in Spokane. I had a blast, as did the rest of the guys. There was just the briefest of moments, however, when I was fully aware of what I was doing, and my mind had a flash of reflection.

The Christian Years

I remember the first time I heard my music on the radio. I don’t remember the exact day or even exactly what year it was. I do know which band it was, and which song, though. It was sometime in the late nineties, probably 1998, but I honestly don’t remember. I was in a Christian band at the time called Fishers of Men (for those unfamiliar with the phrase, it comes from the book of Matthew and refers to evangelism, not the gays, but who knows? Maybe Jesus was gay.)

We had made a small name for ourselves around town playing at dozens of churches around the area for youth-group functions, special revival events, festivals, and all kinds of other shows. Honestly, that era is where I really cut my teeth as a guitarist and professional musician – even though I never made a dime from any of those shows.

We made friends with one of the local Christian radio D.J.s from that era, and one stormy summer night I got a phone call from one of my band mates saying that the station was playing one of our songs on the air! I turned it on and rushed over to his house. I don’t remember whether or not they played another song, but it seems like they did. We stayed up through the rest of the show listening just in case, though. We were young and could barely contain ourselves. The excitement in my band mate’s house was as palpable as the lightning striking outside. Soon other members of the band started showing up, until all or most of us were there (this was twenty years ago, so memories fade). We talked about all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

The song on the “Power Hour,” a late night show where the station played just Christian rock in stead of the more soft Michael W. Smith stuff they played during peak hours. Over the next few years, we were invited to be on his show multiple times, and he would play our music every so often, but I’ll never forget that feeling the first time I heard my guitar and voice screaming across the airwaves.

There was a magic to it all. The internet was still in its infancy, in fact, I don’t even think Napster had broke yet at that point. If you wanted your music heard, you had to get it onto the radio. The weight of the event seemed like a gigantic milestone — like we’d passed some threshold.

Indeed, that was the case. That stormy summer night when I heard “Temptations” on the radio was early in our run. After that, we went on two tours around the Pacific Northwest, playing hundreds of shows (sometimes two and three a day) over the course of our three-year stint. We also recorded another album and played in front of thousands of people at festival shows.

I quit the band in August of 2000 because I was starting to see the cracks in Christianity, and it was only a few more years before I cast off that yoke altogether. Now I mostly refer to that period of my life as “The Dark Times.” Not because they were unhappy, necessarily, but because I was in the dark.

Matthew Lindley Mistake

I took a few years off from playing in bands while I was doing all of that soul-searching throughout my early twenties. It’s a long story and there were times in those years where I would play a show here and there, but mostly the next piece of the story starts in 2005 when I started playing with my oldest friend, Matthew Lindley, whom I’ve known since Kindergarten. Matt and I have a very brotherly relationship, and we had a great time for those couple of years that we played together in Matthew Lindley Mistake.

Matt worked in radio at the time, so there were plenty of opportunities for us to do big shows and radio interviews.

Something had happened by that time, though. A lot of the magic had left it. It wasn’t the same as that first time. There wasn’t the same sense of possibility and dreams-coming-true that there was in the beginning. I’d grown older, and a little more callous to the process. It was becoming routine.

Plastic Saints

Matt decided to move to Portland in 2006, and I joined Buffalo Jones just prior to his departure. The rest of the members of MLM and I stuck together, though, and made a run as Plastic Saints. We recorded an album that I’m still proud of, and we got to play some great shows for about seven years.

During that time, we were on local radio at least three times. You can see video of some of those appearances here:

“So Long”
“Fat Cat Grin”

Those are just a few. We did more.

Plastic Saints never officially broke up, but we don’t play but maybe once or twice a year anymore.

Buffalo Jones

I’ve been in Buffalo Jones for thirteen years now. We’ve done our share of radio appearances — not just in Spokane, but while on tour as well. With Buffalo Jones, I’ve had the biggest experiences of my musical career. We’ve opened for national acts that we love in cities across the West and played festivals in front of thousands. We’ve recorded two full-length albums and one E.P., and in a couple of weeks, we’ll be headed to Athens, GA, for probably the biggest step in my musical career yet. We get to record an album with David Lowery of Cracker.

I know I’ve been harping on it, but if you can help support us on our Indiegogo campaign, there are some really great perks in it for you.