by Tracy Darlington
Julian Drive Interview
" Our goal is to get the positive message in our music into the hands of those who might benefit from it as well as folks that just want some good music." --Shane Bowers
Shane Bowers (vocals, guitar) and Shaun Bennett (keyboard) formed the nucleus of the band Julian Drive while leading youth worship at church in their small hometown in rural Clarke County, Georgia. Guitar wizard Jesse Triplett came along when he was barely out of his teens and immediately elevated the level of intensity from just another youth group worship band to a full fledged, no-holds-barred, ministry-oriented, Southern alt-rock band. Life got more complicated for the men as local buzz gave way to regional demand. When Julian Drive beat out 2000 contestants to win the 2004 Exalting Him talent search the natural progression to the national stage seemed simply inevitable.
Tracy: Can you give us a little background on how you got started? How did you all meet?
Shane: We started in early 1999. Shane and Shaun were the originals. Shane began helping out with praise and worship for the youth at the local church in Athens, GA and Shaun was a student there. The student band eventually gained recognition and Jesse moved in to the church a few years later. The rest is history. James and Josh were added after JD was full time on the road.
How did you know God was calling you to pursue a career in music?
We had been fielding questions for years about if or when we might go full time. I’d been hearing it even longer than that. I knew God would have to show me clear signs before feeling confident in knowing it was Him versus my own passion and desire. I had a stable job and income, but something inside of me knew that I was called to something else. After years of doing all we could to be obedient, the right platform and doors opened. I ran the numbers and really felt we could do it. I knew the season was finally here to step out on the water, so to speak, in the spring of 2006. That’s when we went full time.
Your bio says that “Julian Drive’s music represents the heartland of America in style, and heart of God in spirit.” Can you explain?
Our style definitely shows our southern roots, as well as a good hint of straight up American rock and roll. That just comes from the many musical backgrounds of the guys in the band. We made a decision long ago that no matter what the songs might come out sounding like, we’d always have a clear direction and theme in the lyrical makeup.
Tell us about when you guys beat out 2000 contestants to win the 2004 Exalting Him Talent Search?
That was a turning point for us. We’d been in the same local circuit for many years and as many of the guys turned from youth to young adults, the desire to branch out had become quite evident. We threw our name in the hat and sent in a demo song as an afterthought. We never expected much from that because it was sponsored by TBN/Daywind. We weren’t sure that they were even looking for a rock/worship band. As it turned out, there was a ton of diversity and we were blessed to come out as the winners of it all. That eventually proved to be the catalyst to going full time.
What was your first concert like?
This is a tough one because we had been doing praise and worship at different events for many years. Eventually folks began asking for our group to come lead for other events. We just sort of segued into taking entire services, so I honestly can’t even remember our first full fledged concert.
What are some of the goals for you as a group?
Obviously, we all have a passion for music, but more importantly for ministry. We’d love for as many folks as possible to support what we’re doing by buying records and such. Our goal is to get the positive message in our music into the hands of those who might benefit from it as well as folks that just want some good music. That leads to more opportunities to share what God has done in our lives to more and more people. So, in a nutshell, we want to grow, whether through radio, live shows, etc.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Doing the same thing we’re doing now. As I said before, we pray that we’ve grown exponentially by then and are reaching more people. That would just be further confirmation that we’re really doing all we can to maximize what God has given us.
What was the inspiration for your album My Coming Day?
As a writer, I just wrote what I was feeling and dealing with during that time. I had a really rough couple of years and just wrote down my prayers and praises to the One getting me through it.
Is there a story behind you single “From Your Hands”?
Yep. Its kind of funny . . . at least now. We were broken down on the side of the road in a bus that we never should have owned! We made the most of it. I heard Jesse playing around with something on the guitar and started singing a melody to it. We talked about what might go with it lyrically. This topic had been on my heart, so the next thing you know he and I had written this song.
What’s your favorite song on the project and why?
“ From Your Hands” without question. The message is powerful and honestly, it’s the closest thing to my personal style on the record. It’s a bit southern rock. It’s totally my taste.
We hear that you have some amazing testimonies to share about restored marriages and growing up in troubled homes. Would you share with our readers how the Lord has worked in your lives in these areas?
It sort of goes back to how the record was written. I have been a Christian since childhood and had gained a lot of respect as a leader in church and such. You can imagine how ashamed and disgusted I felt when I went through a divorce. Many of these songs reflect how and what God did in spite of my mistakes. He loved me through it all and took my wrongs and used it for something good.
If Jesus was coming back in 24 hours, what three things would you do?
1. Mass email and call all everyone I knew to make sure they’re ready. 2. Thank God for keeping his promise. 3. Gather my wife, kids and other immediate family, and spend that day together praising God for the riches I have in my family. We’d usher in His presence together.
What’s the coolest prayers God’s ever answered for you?
Honestly, it has to do with finances. I say this from stage all the time and it’s so true. I’d been slack in tithing and such until my early 20's. I kept hearing sermons on giving and how it would come back to you in a much larger amount that you could ever give. I finally took God up on that and began faithfully giving. When I did my life really grew Spiritually, financially, emotionally, etc. I began understanding things I’d never understood before. I had new insights, new songs, and savings in the bank. Even now as the band plugs away, we’re like most everyone. We have to get creative in order to keep going and doing what God has called us to do. He continues to make a way.
What advice do you have for teenagers who don’t yet know what they want to do with their life?
My advice would be for them not to worry about it right now and to focus more on knowing God more closely. Once we know God more closely, everything else eventually works itself out and falls into place.
Where’s the memorable place you guys have played?
Knoxville, Tennessee three times for Winterfest. There are regularly over 20,000 in attendance. That’s always cool. Also, YEC in Macon GA in December of 2006. We were well received. It was crazy. Extreme Conference in Branson, MO this past December was cool too.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I played football from the time I was 7 until college. I passed over a few small school scholarships to walk on at the University of Georgia; my life long dream. I was redshirted and had a good shot at playing a year or two up the road but I eventually walked away and began taking music more seriously.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my family, working out, fishing, hunting, going to UGA football games.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Eggs, milk, coffee creamer
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Probably nothing. It’s too bitter. I like Dunkin Donuts better. But if I’ve not had at least a cup that day, I’d have to get a cup of regular coffee.
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
Going overseas……to anywhere.
When was the last time you cried?
When I saw my wife crying because we lost our baby.
Three words that best describe you:
This is tough. No one wants too “toot” their own horn. I pray I’m these three though: humble, genuine, loving.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
A little bit of everything. I try to be well rounded in music.
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.