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Addison Road Interview

by Tracy Darlington

"Be real. Be authentic. The world is looking for truth that is lived out. Not a set of beliefs or a list of good deeds, but a collision of faith and action." --Jenny Simmons


Dallas based band Addison Road has just released their debut, self-titled album. They sat down with us and chatted about their band's name, their involvement with the Mocha Club, what they want to say to this generation, and more!

The band consists of:

* Jenny Simmons — lead vocals
* Ryan Gregg — lead guitarist, vocals
* Ryan Simmons — guitar, vocals, piano
* Travis Lawrence — bass, vocals, harmonica
* Jeff Sutton — drums


TRACY: When did you guys know God was calling you to do music for a living?

RYAN S.: I think it is probably different for everyone in the band. For me, I knew God was calling me to something early on in college. I did not know what and how. Music has always been a passion of mine, so I had always hoped that in one way or another I would be able to have music involved in my life. God gives us passions and talents for a reason, and I really believe that if we pursue those, he will give us opportunities to use them for him. So being in a band was nothing I really planned or worked towards, but I just kept following my passions and worked hard with what I had been given.

Tell us about when you were offered $500 to bring your band to a large Disciple Now gathering?

RYAN S.: The infamous story of how the band got started! Jenny and I had been dating for a little while in college and on the side we had written a couple of songs and played at a coffee shop every now and then for fun. After one of those open-mic concerts we had a youth minister come up to us. He said he loved us and asked if we had a band to come and play for his youth event…oh, and then he made the mistake of mentioning that he could pay us $500. So of course, being the broke college kids we were, we assured him that we had a band and that we would love to do it! We had no band. No prospects. Not really any songs! But $500 was great motivation! Jenny knew Ryan Gregg from church, and Ryan Gregg knew Travis from class. So within days the band was formed and we haven’t stopped since.

How did you get involved with The Mocha Club?

RYAN S.: We knew early on we wanted Addison Road to always be about more than just playing and writing some music. We wanted to use what we had been given for something greater than ourselves. So that idea has always been in the back of our mind. We first heard about Mocha Club from a good friend of ours that started working for the ministry. From the beginning it sounded like an idea and a cause that we really identified with. We loved it.

Something that was really important for us since we play for a lot of students was to be involved with a ministry that students (and broke musicians like ourselves) could realistically afford to do. So the idea that we all spend our money on something throughout the month that is really not that important was a very cool concept to us. Something as little as a couple of Mochas throughout the month….about $7 that is expendable for us, but could be used for so much good in Africa. We got that and thought a lot of people could relate to it. It’s an incredible organization and you can find out a lot more about our specific project in Uganda at our website, AddisonRoad.com

Addison RoadWhat is the meaning behind your song “All That Matters”?

JENNY: “All that Matters” is about finding my identity in Christ. It's a thing I have to do everyday. Generally we are tempted to love ourselves and base our worth on the things around us . . . good things. Our family, our kids, our jobs and positions, even what we do at church and for the Lord. We let a lot of people tell us who we are, but the truth is, only God knows that. He created us, our souls and bodies, and only he can define that. He said we were good, made in His image. So yeah, I may never be the best at anything or the prettiest or whatever, but that is okay. Because what I truly am is a creation of God himself and in that there can be nothing but beauty. I forget that a lot. I forget that I have been set free, so everyday I have to wake up and ask God to remind me that I belong to Him and no one else. And I have to ask Him to remind me that that is all that matters.

What is Addison Road’s mission?

JENNY: Our mission as a band has not drastically changed over the last 6 years. It is simply to make creative music that we like. To love God, to love people, and to continue to do music as our career as long as we're allowed to. We love what we do on stage, but it doesn't end there for us. We are just people who crave fellowship, who want to be the hands and feet of Christ in a pretty messed up world. We want to meet people at our shows, we want to develop relationships, we want to love on people, and we want to challenge Christians to be more involved in the world (being a light in the world and actually doing something). We'd also like to inspire people who do not believe in God to ask questions, to explore, to look for something outside of themselves. We'd like to embody a little of what Christ looked like on earth, I mean that is what we as Christ followers are called to do. The fact that we get to do music and use our artistry and creativity in the process is a pretty huge bonus.

How did you come up with your name?

RYAN S.: We came up with the name after a friend of ours named their baby Addison. We thought it was a cool name and for whatever reason it just stuck!Addison Road

What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to Addison Road?

JENNY: We would hope that people come away with a lot of different messages. That's how music works, it speaks a different message to each person, and God can use a song differently for every soul that hears that song. My hope is that they would find some hope. People would hear the words of songs like “Start Over Again” and “Hope Now”, and they would get a better picture of Jesus. A real one. Maybe not the condemning or entertainment driven picture of Jesus we have given them here in America, but they would have a taste of that guy in the Bible who goes looking for the one lost sheep, or the lost coins, or stands on the road waiting for the very messed up kid who squandered his money and life away . . . that they would see that Savior who waits on the road for the lost kids with open arms and he throws a huge party for his lost son returning. I want people to see a better God than we have shown them. In that they find true hope.

I would hope that people who believe in God would listen to the album and be inspired to do more in the world. To be more like Christ in the way they view others, in what they do with their time and money. That they would leave feeling like maybe they are called to do so much more with their lives than they are already doing. And we hope people leave with truth. We all mess up. We all have questions about God. We all have a longing to worship . . . something. We all live off of hope. We, the human race, are a big family. We are quite similar whether in America or India or Africa, and we need the truth and saving grace of God to make us whole. I hope people would get a little taste of that.

What was the biggest challenge you had when you recorded this album?

RYAN G.: I think our biggest challenge when recording this album was keeping the big picture in mind and focusing on our goal to make a great album. We have recorded four other albums independently so it was definitely not our first time to make an album, but I think we all felt the pressure, self imposed and otherwise, to make something that we would be really proud of and that would say all the things we wanted it to say. I think the challenge was in the thick of pressures and deadlines and arguments we had to focus and remember why we do what we do and remember that we were all on the same team fighting to make the best possible statement that we collectively could. Our struggles were definitely worth it and we came out with an album we are all very proud of.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?

RYAN G.: My advice would be to remember that your life is an example. Whether we like it or not everything we say and do is an example to someone else. I think for me the best things people can do is live out their relationship with Christ authentically and be real with people. If people can see a difference in the way that you live, that you have real hope and real joy then people are going to want to know where that comes from and what makes you the way you are.

Addison Road LogoAre there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?

RYAN G.: It's tough---for a long time I just kind of thought I was good in a sense that I knew Christ, I knew the Bible and I wasn't really doing bad stuff. But in the past couple of years it's really been important with me to spend some time every day I can reading the Bible and praying. It sounds so basic, but once I started doing those things I felt like I was finally getting what I needed all along.

If you could say one thing to this generation what would you say?

JENNY: Be real. Be authentic. The world is looking for truth that is lived out. Not a set of beliefs or a list of good deeds, but a collision of faith and action. They are looking for Jesus. And I wonder when they look at us, who do we look like? Love your life, but realize your life is not your own. It is much bigger than just you.

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

TRAVIS: I don't really rank the prayers that God has answered for me. I think God answers all prayers in His own way. Sometimes it is hard to see just how he has, but when it comes to light, it all makes perfect sense.

What’s the biggest obstacle in your life God’s helped you overcome?

TRAVIS: I experienced a lot of death growing up as a high schooler and into college. Along with that comes frustration, confusion, anger and so many emotions. God continues to heal those thoughts and feelings to this day so that I can experience freedom.

If Jesus were coming back tomorrow, how would you spend today?

JEFF: I would probably spend the day with family and friends and let them know how much I love them.

If Jesus were NOT coming back in your lifetime, would you do anything differently?

JEFF: I would spend more time helping others and letting them know there are people trying to make a difference.

What’s the most memorable place Addison Road has played?

JEFF: We got the chance to play in Austria and Germany a few years ago. It was a lot of fun and we also got to help build playgrounds for some schools.

Is there anything you do to beat stress and keep in shape while on the road?

TRAVIS: I usually get into my own world when we are on trips. Trust me, it's a strange and random world. I love art and creating things. I travel with a sketch pad, journal and books which help me out when I seem to be getting stressed from road life. I also do a lot of graphic design work, so I get can get caught in that for hours. As for keeping in shape . . . I like to think that I watch what foods I eat. I try and stay away from fried foods and places like McDonalds! I get my weight lifting in every time we unpack and pack the trailer!

RYAN GREGG FUN FACTS:Addison Road

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

I am member #54 in the Jars of Clay Fan Club and I watch 'Back to the Future' at least once a month.

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

Reading, listening to music, watching movies, hanging with friends.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Quaker Oat Squares with my wife. We got married almost three years ago and I have that for breakfast every morning we're home and I still love it!

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Dr. Pepper, coffee creamer, M&M's.

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

Well, I worked there so when it was free I always got a triple grande, extra hot, 2 pump cinnamon, 2 pump white mocha. But now that I'm paying full price I get a Venti bold roast.

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

I can't get over how much I love the Beatles. I have always loved them, but I end up going through phases where I discover them all over again so right now I'm rocking out to Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. Oh, and if you're a hardcore fan you should check out the 'Lullaby Renditions of the Beatles' which is awesome to go to sleep to!


TRAVIS LAWRENCE FUN FACTS:

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

1. Poison Ivy and any bug that bites seem to find me anywhere that I am. 2. I can see people’s aura's. I think.

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

I like creating. That can be anything from a painting, a design, a drawing, a song and yes . . . owl pillows. I’m not ashamed! I also love the outdoors. Sometimes I just start walking. Not really knowing where I am going, but it always ends up an adventure.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Granola and yogurt.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Turkey, ranch dressing and cranberry juice

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

A banana nut muffin!

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

Well, I just made a playlist that includes:
1. The Notwist
2. Sunny Day Real Estate
3. The National
4. Kings of Convenience
5. Loney, Dear
6. Greg Laswell
7. Headlights
8. Sufjan Stevens

It's the perfect overcast mix!


JEFF SUTTON FUN FACTS:

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

I am colorblind and I am from Georgia.

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

Watching movies, taking pictures, and playing Wii.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Pop tarts and coffee.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Water, cheese, and . . . that's about it, everything usually goes bad.

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

A tall drip with one pump of vanilla. Add two splendas and some non-fat milk. Stir.

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

Playradioplay! - Texas and Phil Whickham – Cannon


JENNY SIMMONS FUN FACTS:

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

I can eat more food than most guys can, and when I listen to the radio in the car (which is rare, because when I am not making music, I don't listen to a ton of music) I put it on the classical station. Oh, and a third one . . . I am a diehard football fan.

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

I love reading, writing, being active and outside, and being with people. If I can spend a day at Starbucks reading a good book and then go cook dinner with some friends and hang out and play cards all night . . . that's a perfect day.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Nothing. I am starving.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Lemon juice for my husband Ryan. That is totally disgusting. A block of cheddar cheese. And Orange juice.

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

Tall, nonfat, extra hot, with whip, raspberry mocha. And then I sneak over to the barista and beg them to please make it as hot as they can. Some people say OK and are totally cool, then there are the others who glare at me and clearly do not want me giving drink orders . . . then they tell me Starbucks protocol for how hot they can make the drink. Those are the ones who don't like me!

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

Just got a new album by a guy named Justin Nozuka. Think Matt Kearney and Gavin DeGraw in one guy. I love all three of those guys. I listen to the newest Toby Mac to work out with everyday. And I can't stop listening to the Beatles lately . . . the Love album.

 

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.