by Tracy Darlington
Foolish Things Interview
"Music is a gift given by God---He is the giver of the gifts. I encourage anyone to spend more time with the Giver of the gifts than the gift itself." --Nate Phillips
The five all-original members of Foolish Things have been doing music and ministry together for ten years now. Growing up together in the city of Denver, the band took form serving the worship needs of their church and youth group.
Today the ministry of Foolish Things reaches all over the country as they conduct outreach events and lead worship in cities all over the U.S. After the radio success of their songs ‘Spirit Come’ and ‘Who Can Compare,’ the band releases it’s newest offering of honest, passionate, and God-centered songs. Musically striking and spiritually challenging, Even Now will surely make a notable impact on its listeners, old and new alike.
Tracy: What artists or bands have had the most impact on you and your development as a musician?
Nate Phillips: As a band we’ve been very influenced by groups like U2, Switchfoot, Coldplay, DC Talk, and The Killers. We like music that compliments the lyrics. If a song’s music gives the feel of what the words are saying, that is special. We like bands that can capture that in songs.
How has the ministry of Foolish Things changed over the years?
Honestly, the heart of the ministry has never changed. We started as a band over 10 years ago to lead worship for our youth group. Our heart was to serve our youth group with worship, and we’ve always tried to use music as a tool to serve others and bless people. As we started writing music, our ministry changed a little as we were using our concerts as opportunities for outreach. We still lead worship a lot, but we do outreach concerts most of the time.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started in music?
Music is a TOUGH road. We don’t have any regrets in following the Lord with this, but it has been a long, tough journey.
What would you say to someone who wants to get started in music, but doesn’t know where to begin?
That question has been coming up a lot lately, and I always tell people the same thing. Music is a gift given by God—He is the giver of the gifts. I encourage anyone to spend more time with the Giver of the gifts than the gift itself. God will equip you and supernaturally develop your skills if you use the talent to glorify him. Psalm 37:4… “delight yourself in the Lord…”
Tell us about your second album Even Now.
Our new album Even Now is our favorite recording by far. We love all the songs on the album, and had a wonderful time recording it. We got to work with an amazing producer named Tommy Collier at his studio in Nashville.
How does Even Now differ from Let’s Not Forget the Story?
Even Now is different in that we had more time to be creative. On Let’s Not Forget the Story, we went to Nashville and had 2 weeks to track all the instruments. We were just shooting for good performances and good sounds more than really diving into the music and coming up with extra parts. On Even Now, we had 5 weeks to track the album, so we had more time to be creative.
What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to Even Now?
That God loves them. Life can be a struggle, but no matter what, God is for you and is there.
What type of music would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
That is a question for our songwriters! Isaac and Mark write all of our songs. They are amazing writers and are getting better all the time. James writes a lot of music that is very rich and deep. Shaul and I (Nate), don’t write—only our own parts (drums and bass)!
What’s the biggest challenge either you or the band have faced in the last couple of years?
Probably the hardest challenge we’ve dealt with has been the balance of time on the road and time with our families. All of us are married, Shaul has a 6 month old son (Harper), and Mark and his wife are due to have a son in the next few weeks. Being on the road all the time is part of what we do, and it is extremely hard to balance that time on the road with wives and children at home.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
Staying on track spiritually is so important. If we aren’t filled up with Jesus and his love, what do we have to offer to others? On the road, we have a lot of time to read, so we read. We also listen to a lot of podcasts from different pastors and Bible teachers. Prayer is a priority to us in our personal lives as well as a group before shows.
In your opinion, what steps should people take if they want to get closer to God?
Read the Bible. Ask that God would speak to you and obey what He shows you. Talk with God—even if you don’t feel Him, talk with him like a friend. Put yourself in a position to receive from God—surround yourself with people and things that point you to Christ. If you are involved with things you know God isn’t pleased with, it might not be fair to expect much from Him. Serve. Serve the poor, your neighbors, your friends, your wife, etc. Christ is a model servant, and when we strive to look like him, we are changed on the inside. In serving we put to practice that we aren’t #1. Putting others first draws our hearts close to God.
If you were sitting across the table from someone who wasn’t a Christian and you wanted to tell them about God, what would you share?
That they are loved. The God that knit them together in their mother’s womb is so crazy about them that he gave his Son to die so that they could live to the full. I would share the invitation to pull up a seat at the banquet table—a life of submission to Christ. God only wants the best for us, so when we submit to Him, we experience abundant life—a banquet table full of unlimited goods. A Thanksgiving feast vs. egg rolls--in this life and for eternity.
Do you have any advice to someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?
Prayer. Only God can soften a heart, and draw that person to Himself. Pray for their heart and for opportunities to speak Truth and Love. Above all, show that person love and a lifestyle of realness. Nothing destroys a witness to Christ like hypocrisy.
What’s the biggest obstacle in your life God’s helped you overcome?
God is helping me overcome my need for control. I’ve struggled with a lot in life—pornography, alcohol and drugs. For me, at the root of these behaviors is a need for control. I’m surrendering that part of me to the Lord.
In your opinion, what makes an artist or band Christian?
That is a great question. The word Christian means “little Christ.” I suppose anyone that is using music to point people to Christ and God’s love could be considered a Christian artist. I’m sure there are plenty of “Christian” bands out there that aren’t really followers of Christ, and on the flipside, I’m sure there are people in bands that don’t play “Christian” music, but are true followers. I think it boils down to the persons individual life and walk with God more than how that comes out in the music.
If you could say one thing to this generation what would you say?
Go for it with Jesus! The times that I choose Christ—even moment by moment—and sit with Him, and sacrifice things for Him, it is always better. I’ve never regretted spending time with God. Know Him. God is findable. He won’t compete with us for our attention though—we have to choose to seek Him. Turn off the TV and internet. Because of God’s mercy, offer yourself to Him. It’s always better.
Is there anything you do to beat stress and keep in shape while on the road?
I run. It’s hard on the road though. Our schedule is so sporadic, but I try to run several times a week.
What has been your most memorable on-the-road story?
Hands down, the most memorable story was just last week. For the first time in 10 years, we got in our first accident. It was terrifying. We were heading east on I-80 through IA on our way to MI, and we hit some black ice. We started doing donuts with a van and trailer going 60 mph. Luckily, we slid off into the ditch going straight, and nothing happened to us or our gear. God was so gracious to us.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I had a brain tumor when I was 16. I’ve been married for 6 years.
When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love fishing and reading.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A cup of coffee and 2 pieces of toast with crunchy peanut butter.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Apples, carrots, sour cream.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Tall coffee of the day, room for cream! I hate spending more than $1.50 for coffee. Something doesn’t feel right about that for me, so I stick with the simple.
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
Traveling to Greece.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Jon Foreman. Both his Fall and Winter Ep’s.
When was the last time you cried?
4 days ago. We were driving from IA to CO and I was listening to Jon Foreman. His music is hitting me somewhere deep.
Anything else you’d to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
We love you. We hope you enjoy the new album and the new music. Don’t look to us for anything—we are nothing special. Blessings in Christ.
Tracy 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.