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Above the Golden State

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The Advocate



Above the Golden State Interview

by Tracy Darlington

"We want to serve Jesus, and to serve the Church as a whole, through any means, but certainly through this music."
--Michael Watson


Above the Golden State is a band originally from Oregon who’s just recently released their debut album on Sparrow Records. Lead singer and primary songwriter Michael Watson sat down to talk to us about the band, music & faith. Listen in and enjoy!

Tracy: You guys are a new band in Christian music. Can you give us a little background on how you got started and how you met each other?

Michael Watson: We’re all just a bunch of friends. We’ve known each other for about 5 years now. Brook (the drummer) and I helped start a church in Portland called Solid Rock. We met Tim (keys) about a half a year later.

Can you describe how you landed your record deal with Sparrow?

Our church has always had an emphasis on Worship, and music that draws people’s attention towards God. They knew I had been writing songs and wanted to help make an album to give away for free to the church. We made two albums that way. I posted a few of the songs on myspace and eventually got a call from Sparrow. I’m told that my friend Dustin from the band Ruth was the one who told them to check it out.

How did you come up with the name Above the Golden State?

It’s kind of a joke on Oregon (our home state). Not a lot of people know where Oregon is on the map. Oregon is TOO often referred to as “North of California”.

How would you describe your sound?

West Coast Rock.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known a year ago?

That I’d be asked “what our band name means” every night by about 100 different people. But really, I’ve learned that the best thing (eternal life) is to KNOW God, and not just know about Him.

What are some of the goals for you as a group?

We want to serve Jesus, and to serve the Church as a whole, through any means, but certainly through this music.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

Um, I’m not sure any of us are really concerned about where will be in five years. We’re making plans and all, but letting God direct our steps. He has been so good and faithful to us the last five years. We have faith to know that wherever He takes us next will be one step closer to being with Him in eternity. I hope in five years we know God more, that He knows us, and that we become more frequently filled with the joy of Jesus.

Above the Golden StateHow did each of you come to know the Lord?

I first heard about Jesus at a church camp when I was in 8th grade. Tim and Brook’s parents are both pastors, or were at one time or another. I’m sure they have their own stories of Jesus becoming their personal savior, and not just a family routine.

What’s one great thing God has done for you this year?

He’s shown me how to enjoy His goodness in everything, like driving across the nation, or hanging out with friends and just simply having conversations about life. Sometimes it’s just simple things, like the sun shinning through the window, a good cup of coffee, a lovely melody, or perhaps a great story/memory.

For example, yesterday I went surfing out here in Hawaii (vacation with some friends) after going to church that morning, and right before I jumped into the water, a big old sea turtle poked his head up as if to say “hello” or “kawabunga” or whatever turtles say? I replied with the same, gave him a little pat on the back (shell), and then caught some of the best waves of my life.

Stuff like that, as crazy as it seems, reminds me of Jesus’ love for me.

If Jesus was coming back in 24 hours, what three things would you do?

I’d continue to make it a point to love those around me the way Jesus has loved me, and then we’d all go tell everyone, that we heard from a legitimate inside source, “Jesus was coming back in less then 24 hours, and it would be wise to know a little bit about Him before He shows up”.

What’s the coolest prayer God’s ever answered for you?

I usually don’t ask for a lot of stuff from God unless I’m driving and we’re about to run out of gas. I usually ask for His Spirit to lead me through whatever I’m going through, good or bad, and that always seems to get the best results. He’s always faithful, even thought I’m not.

What advice do you have for teenagers who don’t yet know what they want to do with their life?Above the Golden State

First, to be grateful that they even have an option of what they “want to do”, and secondly, to not worry about it. Believe that God created them for a purpose, and more importantly, that God has already revealed His will for their life - 1Th 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning YOU! There’s enough to worry about today, tomorrow will have it’s own worries, so just love God, and love others.

Practically, God often shows us what He’s created us for over time with patience, through others and through trials. There’s no quick/easy answer, and that’s something to be thankful for as well.

Where’s the memorable place you guys have played?

Our home church for the album release show. It was just so rad to give back to them the songs that they’ve inspired us to write.

Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?

Read about Jesus in the Gospels every day, even if it means spending less time listening to our music and hanging out at this cool website.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I’ve never done drugs (for some reason, the people I know think that’s surprising?) and I played Trombone in various ska and punk bands.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love sports, specifically water sports, or pulling a prank on a good friend. Sometimes having awkward conversations with complete strangers makes for good fun as well.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

How do you spell bananana? I never know when to stop writing “na”.
That and coffee. Ah, and some Golden Grahams. Praise the Lord for Golden Grahams.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

I go through seasons, but right now it’s mangos, string cheese, and dried bananana’s (ah there’s that word again), and maybe sparkling water (Perrier?)

You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?

MEDIUM house coffee, no-room for cream, and I make it a point to say “medium” just to spite their ridiculous sizing system.

What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?

Get bit by a shark, slapped by a bear or get shot somewhere non-fatal. Any one of the three will do. They’d all just make for a killer scar, not to mention a gnarly story that I could tell well into my old age.

When was the last time you cried?

Seriously? Whatever, I’ll be honest with you all. Sometimes (I wish more frequently) I just get overwhelmed with God’s goodness, and to be more accurate, His Spirit of peace, love, joy,…etc. I’ve cried more the last few months than in the last five years combined. There’s just been a lot of rad things happening, to name a few - just talking with God every morning and reading about Jesus, touring with Starfield, “Radio” touring with the other new Sparrow artist, and worshiping with our local church in Portland.

Oh, and when the Phillies won the World Series. I won a bet against my older brother.

Three words that best describe you:

1. Attractive
2. Awesome
3. Humble

Ok ok, maybe not ALL those three. :)

I’ll try this again:

1. Conceited
2. Awkward
3. Blonde

…obviously!

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

OK, but these are truly the latest bands I’ve added to my iTunes in the last month.

Joel P West, Pictures and Sound, Coldplay (Prospekt’s March), Gregg Laswell, MGMT, Ruth

The most spins of late have been - Bon Iver, The Weepies, Jon Foreman, Augustana and Tyler Burkum.

Tracy DarlingtonTracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.