by Tracy Darlington
Grey Holiday Interview
"We want to encourage people to slow down and go at God's pace and see His glory everywhere." --Matt Minor
It’s often been said that work and friendship simply don’t mix. But for members of Texas-based rock band Grey Holiday, their long-standing friendship and tight-knit sense of community makes musical collaboration all the sweeter. After all, the guys were friends first, and band mates second, a distinction that continues to be important as they recently signed with Essential Records and have recently released their much-anticipated debut, The Glorious Revolution.
Unlike many aspiring artists, a record deal was never the ultimate goal for Grey Holiday’s Matt Minor (vocals, keys, guitar), Steven Bedingfield (guitar, electronics, programming), R.T. Bodet (bass) and Josh Fenoglio (drums). In fact, all they really wanted to do was have some fun—playing music, that is. And if really lucky? Maybe they would head to a studio and record a few songs someday.
I caught up with the guys and talked about how they became a band, the meaning behind their name, staying on track spiritually, and much more!
Tracy: Tell us how Grey Holiday came to be?
JOSH: Steven and Matthew have known each other since 4th grade. I came along in 6th grade, in middle school, and we met R.T. in high school. We were friends first. Steve and Matt started playing guitar, and when they got to college they were playing some coffee houses. They were at a school in Georgetown, TX and R.T. and I were in a school in College Station, TX. When they would play their coffee house shows R.T. and I would go and watch them. We thought they were awesome. I really did enjoy their music. They decided they wanted to form a full band and instead of getting good musicians they would get good friends who were bad musicians.(Laughs) They forced R.T. and I to play the drums and bass and to learn it fast so we could all still be hanging out together. We were hanging out anyway, so we figured music would be a good avenue to start spreading our faith around.
How long did it take you two to learn your instruments?
JOSH We were immediately forced into it. Within two weeks or so we were playing shows. We really had to go fast. I think when you’re forced into something you just learn it because you have to.
What was that first show like?
JOSH: It was nerve racking! R.T. and I were very young. We watched each other the whole time to make sure we were safe, because it felt very unsafe. We played a show in College Station, and I wish we had video ‘cause there’s no telling what we were actually like. (Laughs) We’ve blocked the memory!
Is there a story behind the name Grey Holiday?
R.T.: When we were recording our independent album (which was just a few months after that first College Station show) for that process we had to come up with a name. The very last day we decided on Grey Holiday. At first it was just two words we liked together like, “That sounds great. We’ll do that.” The meaning came later as we prayed and sat with it. To us it goes back to Jesus’ last day, and how it was the worst of times but also the best of times. Since we get to see our name written places, and we get to hear people say our name, it constantly reminds us that we were bought with a price. It allows us to grow everyday.
Who are some of your musical influences and how would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
STEVEN: I’d say we are piano/rock. Honest music. Definitely faith filled. Kind of a cross section of where we are as people right now. We definitely run the gamut as far as musical influences. Better Than Ezra was definitely an influence. Coldplay. Matt really likes to listen to Queen. (Laughs.) We listen to a lot of mainstream. One of the Christian stand-outs for us is Jars of Clay. They did a lot of things right.
What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to The Glorious Revolution?
MATT: A lot of these songs are about both struggles and victories within my own life. I hope people take away an encouragement that God is there with us in all our struggles and victories. The main point of this album is about slowing down enough to see God’s glory that’s present all around us. It’s so easy to get distracted by the media. I mean, we’re the MTV generation, and we’re so ADD it’s hard to focus. We want to encourage people to slow down and go at God’s pace and see His glory everywhere.
You guys made two music videos to go with this album. How did that come about?
MATT: We decided early on in our careers to do this, and we made these videos for internet use. They were fun for us to make, and they were a good way for us to communicate with people on the internet. It’s another creative outlet for us. It’s a cool medium. When we were putting together material for this album, it just made sense that we would have homemade music videos. We came up with concepts and ran with them. They’re obviously home made. They were really fun to make. I spent the majority of my time making the Claymation. Although it was very frustrating and time consuming. I felt like I was in elementary school arts and crafts again! But it was fun.
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
MATT: As a songwriter, your songs are your children. They each have a really special place for me. They’re very personal to me. The one that has held on the most for me is “Let Go”, because it was significant in my career as a songwriter. It’s kind of therapy everytime we play it. It reminds me of something I need to be reminded of constantly.
Talk about the story behind that song.
MATT: “Let Go” was written in the beginning stages of our writing for this album. I had met with a bunch of different songwriters, and I was co-writing with some people that the label set up for me. I was really struggling with it, because as a songwriter you want it to be your songs. It’s hard to share at the beginning. I met up with Jason Ingram, our producer, and we started writing together. It wasn’t going anywhere, so we started talking. He saw right off what I was going through. He told me, “This is not your music. It’s for something bigger than you. You have to release this and not hold onto it so tightly.” That’s where the song came from. It’s come to mean a lot. Everytime we play it it’s a reminder. It’s a pretty important song for me.
If you could say one thing to this generation, what would you say?
MATT: I spent my entire life focused so inwardly. I’ve been really caught up in myself for a long time, maybe forever. But I’ve been maturing as a Christian the last couple years. I want to tell people to look outside of themselves. It’s so, so easy to be selfish about everything. I’m as guilty of that as anybody. There are so many people struggling, so many who need the community. It’s so easy to get caught up in yourself. I would say to look outside of yourself. There are people who need you.
You guys are the first Essential/Provident artist to deliver what they’re calling “New music more often”. Can you share with us about that initiative and what it looks like for you?
JOSH: It’s a concept to adapt to the new consumer market. We’re going back to the old days, where you would sell a single at a time. We’re trying to fit that mold as best we can. We have a message, and we want people to get it. So however we can we’re trying to get it out there. This is cool for us, because we’ll constantly be in a state of creation. We’ll make six or seven songs, and we’ll put them out. We’ll make videos, and we’ll put them out. Then right after that you have to start the process all over again. So for us it’s intriguing because we get to constantly be in the creation state. And I think for the consumer it’ll be great. They’ll constantly be able to get new stuff and an album. It’s always fun to go to the store and buy the latest thing, so hopefully they’ll feel that way.
What’s the #1 thing you do to stay on track spiritually, either individually or as a band?
R.T.: As a band we’ve been trying to hold each other accountable. We dive into the Word together. Lately it’s been really huge for us. I think we were drifting, not drifting apart as friends, but we didn’t have that glue we’ve always had together. Lately we’ve been really trying to get into the Word together, studying things together. It’s been awesome for us, helping us as a band.
JOSH: The last thing we studied was in Galatians. What really stuck out to us then was in Galatians 6:2 it talks about bearing each other’s burdens. We were just going through the motions of being friends. That verse really hit home, because it’s saying, “You need to stick up for each other. You need to carry more weight than just your own. You need to help your friends.” That drove it home for us. It made us realize that there’s way more than just hanging out together or playing music together.
What do you do to stay close together? What can people do when they are drifting away from their friends to not lose those friendships?
MATT: What’s been really helpful for us, especially as guys since it’s really hard to be open with each other, is we force ourselves to be open. We tell each other we’re vulnerable. By doing this we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We share each other’s struggles and we’re there for each other.
JOSH: We’ve integrated a new way for us to start the conversations; we call it High-Low. Each person talks about the high point of their week and the low point of their week. When you get to think of the whole week and what was awesome and what you were down about, and share it, it really opens up the floodgates to talk about anything happening in your life.
What has been your most interesting or embarrassing road story so far?
MATT: We were playing in Jefferson City, MO. I had this piano bench that was in need of repair. It was stupid of me; I should have just bought a new one! I was holding onto it, and I didn’t want to let go. I was too attached to it. The screws were missing. It was dumb. We’re in the middle of a song, and it pretty much broke in half. I fell down on the ground. It was pretty embarassing.
ONE OF THE OTHER GUYS: It was like slow motion. You just saw Matt, his face went white like, “Oh my gosh, where are my feet?” And he just slowly fell backwards. I think he might have kept singing the whole time. (Laughs)
MATT: What was even more embarassing was that I didn’t just fall on my butt on the ground. I fell on my back, and my feet were still up in the air like a turtle. We actually have it on video.
What’s the biggest obstacle God’s helped you overcome?
MATT: Two of us are married. The joy outweighs the hardships there by a lot, but we struggle a little bit with how to have married guys in the band when we travel. We spend a lot of time doing this together. God has been really instrumental in giving us peace about stuff and guiding us through how things have to change in our friendships and how we can love our wives really well while still loving the guys in the band and being committed to that.
Tell us a little about Mocha Club.
MATT: Mocha Club is a really cool organization that we’ve partnered up with. We feel very fortunate to be part of the team. It’s called Mocha Club because you give up two mochas a month, which equals about $7.00, to join. A big call for us as a band is to spread community. This is a really great way for us to do that. Our audience will sign up to be part of our group to do a specific project through Mocha Club. Our project is in the Darfur region of Sudan. So we get to grow our community and we’re doing something together as a band. It’s cool to bring our fans into something that’s outside of us. Seven dollars a month is feasible for a lot of younger people. It fits us, and we feel like we can make a difference. We’re really excited about it. They do a lot of well building and school building, but also bring food and fresh water and medicine. We’re going to be pitching our specific project at our shows.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
R.T.: Collectively, our average height is about 6'2", 6'3". Matt’s like 6'5"; he’s a giant. So, we’re pretty tall. I’m the shortest one at 6'1".
Along with that, we like to play basketball. We’ve been putting out a challenge to any band out there, even a 5 piece! We’ll challenge any band to pickup basketball!
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
R.T.: Steak, cranapple juice, and we like cereal and milk.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
R.T.: I’m gonna have to go ahead and get a grande caramel macchiatto
STEVEN: I would order nothing that had coffee. I’d get an Izzy Clementine in the display case. I like the smell of coffee, but I can’t drink it. I get migraines, bad.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MATT: We feel so, so fortunate to be in the position we are. We didn’t really set out to get on a label and have a national release. We’re really excited that we have a platform to talk about all this stuff that we care about, and we’re excited about sharing our music. We’re giddy! We have a myspace page and a website where people can go to hear it. We’re really active on our myspace page. We’ll comment back and message people back.
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.