Posted by more or less popular demand: the unpublished, transcribed
interview with Breakfast With Amy that I conducted at C-Stone '90 that
I promised a few people several weeks ago that I'd post. A lot of
the news stuff is out of date, but this should shed some light on some
of the philosophy of this group of very interesting individuals. No apologies
for a lot of the included "meaningless" chit chat (particularly at the end). Although it may be a waste of bandwidth, it shows a little insight into their personalities.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BREAKFAST WITH AMY
ON THURSDAY AFTERNOON JUNE
28, BREAKFAST WITH AMY PERFORMED THEIR FIRST LIVE SHOW EAST OF THE CALIFORNIA
BORDER AT CHICAGO'S CORNERSTONE FESTIVAL. OPENING WITH A POST-PUNK
COVER VERSION OF THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY THEME SONG, "(COME
ON GET) HAPPY," WITH 5 ACTUAL MUSICIANS ON STAGE, 2 GO-GO
DANCERS, 1 "BUBBLE GIRL" TO BLOW BUBBLES AND THROW FLOWERS AND CANDY INTO THE AUDIENCE, AND A COUPLE OTHERS CONTRIBUTING TO THE CHAOS, IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG TO SENSE THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS BAND IN THE TACKY POLYESTER CLOTHING.
LATER DURING THE FESTIVAL I TALKED WITH A FEW MEMBERS OF THE BAND IN THEIR "MERCHANDISE BOOTH" WHERE: T-SHIRTS, TAPES, AND "PHUNDERWEAR," LOUD- PRINT SHORTS WITH "BREAKFAST WITH AMY" PLASTERED ON THE SIDE, COULD BE PURCHASED; THE EDUCATIONAL FILM "WEATHER: THE UNTAMED GODDESS" COULD BE VIEWED WITHOUT THE SOUNDTRACK; AND A SLIDE SHOW, A HODGE-PODGE OF OLD PHOTOS OF BAND MEMBERS, MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AND OLD MOVIE STARS, WAS PRESENTED ON PEOPLE'S SHIRTS AS THEY APPROACHED THE BOOTH.
PRESENT WERE: DAVID KOVAL, LEAD VOCALIST; CHRISTOPHER COLBERT, GUITARIST; CARYN COLBERT, GUITARIST; TRISH THE DISH, GO-GO DANCER; AND CHRIS RUMBAUGH, MANAGER AND PROJECTIONIST.
MICHAEL: How did you get involved in this thing?
CHRIS COLBERT: I was booking concerts for this church and a band cancelled and I had a couple days notice to get a band in, so I called Dave and Bob (Edwin Wohler, bass) and Paul (Paul Pellegrin, drums), and I said "Let's just make up some songs on stage" and so we did. The same thing happened the next month and then I invited Caryn and another girl guitar player to sit in too, and we just made up songs on stage. And we've just sort of kept doing it ever since, just sort of goofing around.
MICHAEL: Seeing the live performance, I was wondering just how much of it was planned. It seems that, to execute chaos so well, you'd almost have to practice it and choreograph it.
photo by Mr. Rhumba
CHRIS COLBERT: Nope. Chaos and stupidity are pretty much easy for us to do. You have to be good at something and we're good at being stupid I guess.
MICHAEL: Where do you want to go with this band? Chris Rumbaugh stated earlier, "This started out as a joke. Now it's a joke with a manager and a record label."
CHRIS COLBERT: Yeah, basically that's it. If nothing else,
I'd like to have some artistic integrity for a change in Christian music;
to do something different and creative without having to copy anybody.
Not to be a Christian version of a secular band, but to be our own band
and have our own identity as a band; and be entertaining and...put
DAVE KOVAL: We all have different views of what we'd like this band to do. For me personally I want to be creative and be able to express things, but I also want to be able to help people and further the gospel in whatever way we can. You know, you can use foolish things; and we're pretty foolish.
MICHAEL: Has there been a lot of resistance to your approach to doing this? What kind of stuff do they say?
DAVE KOVAL: The stuff that I get isn't so much for me. I
don't get anybody saying much of anything, just dirty looks and sorrowful
shakes of the head. I would like it if somebody came up and wanted
to talk about it. As a matter of fact, somebody came up and wanted
to talk to Paul and Bob. They talked about it and it was really cool
and they could
understand it and they walked away agreeing to disagree, which is fine. I mean, we want to learn too. We don't know everything. But it's these ones that do the pitiful kinds of shakes of the head and go "We're so sorry for you" and then don't say anything. How are we supposed to learn from that?
CARYN COLBERT: I would love it if they came up and talked to me. Because I feel perfectly fine about what we do. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If someone has a question about it, I feel I can answer their question. There are different viewpoints, different cultures, and one is not more right than the other necessarily.
MICHAEL: Why do you think people have problems seeing something that different or off the wall, and accepting it or letting others appreciate it?
CARYN COLBERT: They feel like Christians are supposed to be gentle, soft-spoken and real mellow all of the time. They feel like that's one of the fruits of the spirit or something. We may be loud and obnoxious on stage, but I think when talking to us we're gentle.
MICHAEL: I thought the go-go dancers in the show were great. But I can picture a lot of people that would just go "Oh! Go-go dancers! How lewd!" or whatever. I'm guessing that you've already run into people who have said something to that effect. What's your comment for them when they say, "How dare you go-go dance"?
DAVE KOVAL: You can go to a Christian youth camp or a beach party and the Christian girls are wearing less than what these girls wore. Whatever they want to do, that's fine, but it's a bit of hypocrisy. They're wearing fashions that are regular wear today. It's an individual thing and obviously you have to put some form of limit on it; but they're smart about it.
Sonja (Gogo Yubari dancer)
photo by Mr. Rhumba
CHRIS COLBERT: We found that there were girls in the audience wearing less than our go-go dancers, but no one was complaining about them.
TRISH THE DISH: As for what we wear, normally we wear shirts and pants, but for this show it was different because we knew it was going to be so hot.
CARYN COLBERT: They weren't exposing any vital parts of their body or anything. They were pretty modest about it I think.
MICHAEL: After seeing you for the first time, I'm trying to pinpoint
the things about you guys that are most misunderstood. What are the
other things that you're sick and tired of people not quite getting right?
What kind of questions do you wish you were asked? You know, "I really
wish people would shut up on this particular subject" and/or "I really
people to know this"?
CARYN COLBERT: One thing I'm sick and tired of having people ask, and I may never answer again, is, "Where did you get your name".
CHRIS COLBERT: We'll never give a straight answer on the name
thing. But having to justify why we have the freedom to, like, have
our drummer wear a dress, and why we can dress really stupid and all that.
I mean, we have that right. For them to say it's not Biblical or
we're not Christians because of it is just kind of a stupid thing to say.
If they say that we can't dress in bad polyester because it doesn't edify
God then they're not
reading the Bible right. They're being really selfish because that's the way THEY want things to be, and not the way things really are.
Having to constantly address that is fine, because it will open up peoples' minds. So I really can't say that there's anything that I wish people would leave us alone about except for the name. If we didn't want people to ask questions, we wouldn't be doing this.
The name thing is getting old because we have no answer for it; but anything else I welcome because we want to open some minds, and we can do that by talking about why we do what we do. If we are asking for trouble, we're willing to deal with the trouble as it comes...and we kind of like it. Just don't ask us about the name because we'll lie to you anyway.
DAVE KOVAL: I went to one of the seminars here at the festival
and I asked the guy "Why does it have to be that everyone in a Christian
band is right on, and plugged into a church, and accountable to a pastor?"
Why can't you have a group of individuals that are struggling with their
walks or are just not cohesive on everything? Why does it have to
be this "pep
We've been to Christian concerts, and Chris has done and worked on concerts before, where there's so much cruelty and they treat the kids or the people that come like cattle and then they expect them to be all, you know...churchyized and ready to go the next day. They wonder why there's all this turmoil and stuff.
I feel that there is a need for fellowship. The Bible says it. You need fellowship. We need to lift one another up. We need to take what we have and pray for each other and want to change. And obviously if we don't want to change, we might as well not be doing any of this. We might as well just be staying home.
MICHAEL: Do you guys have a certain something that you want to say, something collective that you want to reach out to people about?
DAVE KOVAL: Wow. We can't even say that collectively, so we'll have to go around on this one.
CHRIS COLBERT: What? What was the question?
MICHAEL: What is it that's burning in your heart that you find you just have to express artistically?
DAVE KOVAL: I think it was what they served us last night...
CHRIS COLBERT: Yeah. Those cheese weenies we had last night.
CHRIS RUMBAUGH: Mmmmmmmm! Those cheese weenies!
CHRIS COLBERT: I think in Christian music there needs to be a
higher standard of artistic integrity. The most lacking thing in
Christian music is selling the artistic quality out short, because it's
such a small market and everyone's going to buy it anyway because it's
Christian and they don't want to buy secular and all that. The standards
are really low
and I'd like to see those raised. Not just production and quality of the writing, but creativity, in developing new areas in the arts that Christians will get into. Instead of just pop and heavy metal and rock and roll. I mean, Christians seem to be pretty artistically closed-minded and that really needs to be changed.
God created art for a reason, not to be ignored or disliked. Basically, I really want to raise the standards and have a little more acceptance of the arts in Christianity. And to lighten up a little bit more.
MICHAEL: How many of you guys are from any other kind of art background?
CHRIS COLBERT: Just me. I went to art school. I paint and I also write stuff. Next!
Caryn Parker Colbert
photo by Mr. Rhumba
CARYN COLBERT: I'd just like to say to everyone to keep an open mind and be really careful before you start judging someone. And I'd like to say to all those Christians out there that are really worried about us and concerned, and thinking we're really bad, that everyone in the band has a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that if we felt like what we were doing was not pleasing to Christ then we wouldn't do it.
DAVE KOVAL: Wow. How do I follow that up?! I'd just
like to say that this is the most challenging, the most fun band I've ever
been in. But we've had our arguments, we've had our fights, but that's
part of it. I feel that we all know what our main goal is.
But we haven't sat down and talked about it. It's kind of unspoken
and I think it's good that we kind of know, and it's giving that element
of surprise there. I just think it's been really good for me because
I've been in a band where we're so diverse in views, but we're still able
to get along and perform together and have fun. And there are a lot
of common things too.
And don't get hung up on art either. Just let it come out and don't sit there and scratch your head and think, "Oh! I've got to be artistic! I've got to be creative!" Don't even think about it.
CHRIS COLBERT: It's going to be contrived if you do that.
It's fake, and it's getting back to the problem again of trying too hard.
Just accept what you do and who you are and do it and not think about it
Don't get so wrapped up in what you do that you're not doing what's really important.
DAVE KOVAL: And there are some forms of work that I've written
and brought to the band and they go, "That's not us at all." Not
everything that you express as art is going to work. And some things
just aren't going to work for anybody. They're more for yourself,
you know? There maybe more for God to work in you in some way.
You just feel it.
We're just trying to express what's inside and how we feel. And sometimes it's not really that deep. Sometimes it's really stupid. And that's part of life too.
CARYN COLBERT: Not everything has to have some deep meaning. Just having fun...being entertained.
DAVE KOVAL: Sort of like going to the bathroom. That doesn't have a deep meaning, but we do it.
CHRIS COLBERT: That's the way art should be. You have no say in it. It just happens whether you like it or not.
CARYN COLBERT: Exactly. It just comes out.
MICHAEL: What are your future plans? Is there a new album in the near future?
CARYN COLBERT: As soon as we get home we're planning on starting our next album. Hopefully it will be out by January.
MICHAEL: So are you looking at recording the cover version of the Partridge Family theme song that you opened the show with for your new album?
DAVE KOVAL: Yeah. If we can get two members from the Partridge Family to do it with us...
CARYN COLBERT: We want to get Shirley Jones.
DAVE KOVAL: Yeah. If not, we won't do it. It's stupid.
MICHAEL: Are you thinking about using that song to market you guys into the alternative/college radio market?
BREAKFAST WITH AMY: Nah. No. Naw. No.
MICHAEL: It seems like the kind of thing somebody would latch onto.
CARYN COLBERT: As soon as people realize that we play that song, and it's known that we play that song, we'll stop playing it. We'll go to "Juicy Fruit" after that.
DAVE KOVAL: It's great if they like it and all that, but if they latch onto it and it becomes this big identity for us, then we might turn the corner on it. It's a fun song. What I like is the original theme, the very first original theme, and I can't find it anywhere. I was thinking of maybe paying for cable and getting Nickelodeon so I can record it.
MICHAEL: As far as other projects go, right now it seems kind of impossible to tour, but are you looking somewhere down the road to tour the country and do club dates?
CARYN COLBERT: We'd like to if we can get enough set up where we can afford to do that. We'd really like to tour colleges.
CHRIS COLBERT: Like everything else, it comes down to money. And we have none.
CARYN COLBERT: That's why we don't have a mailing list. We can't afford stamps.
DAVE KOVAL: It's up to connections and it's up to what happens,
but in the end, it's just up to God, you know? He got us here.
I know that we're all surprised with the response we've gotten here.
Just that people like us. I'm surprised that the people that go to
DeGarmo & Key and stuff like us. So that's fun. That's
neat. And that's nice.
It's a real good thing what Jesus People are doing here with their Cornerstone festival by opening up. They're really open to things. And this is a good outlet to start something new. And maybe not get so concerned with the marketing part of it. Not get so concerned with all the silly business.
CHRIS COLBERT: (laughs) As we sit here in our merchandise booth...
DAVE KOVAL: That's a part of it, but it's for these people, walking around and stuff. It's more than just passing pens and selling things and saying thank you. It's people. We're people persons.
MICHAEL: Anything else you'd like to say in closing?
CHRIS COLBERT: Eat more cheese weenies.
DAVE KOVAL: Happy trails to you! Until we meet again.
CHRIS COLBERT: Happy Bastille Day!
DAVE KOVAL: This one's for Dale Evans.
CARYN COLBERT: Peace.
CHRIS COLBERT: Grovel in Tinkertoys.
DAVE KOVAL: Paul's not here. Bob's gone. Trish is too quiet.
CARYN COLBERT: Say something, Trish. Anything you want to tell the world.
TRISH THE DISH: Anything I want to tell the world?! Take a nap.
CARYN COLBERT: Oh, our manager needs to say something.
CHRIS RUMBAUGH: What?!? What am I going to say?
CARYN COLBERT: Anything you want to say to the world.
CHRIS RUMBAUGH: Buy our album.
DAVE KOVAL: And we all say...God bless you.
THEN THE GROUP BROKE INTO A ROUSING CHORUS OF "GOD
REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN" AND THE INTERVIEW DREW TO A CLOSE.
-Michael David Toth
From: Michael D Toth (@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
Date: 1991-08-21 15:36:32 PST
Looking through that interview after I posted it, I realized that I really should have liberally sprinkled that thing with smiley faces. Hopefully you can tell in context when they're not being serious and when they aren't. (Uh oh... for some reason I sense an impending messyness stemming from different comments. (If you recall what I posted earlier about their basic stance/ position on stuff, you should have no trouble following it... I hope...))
From: Michael D Toth (@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
Date: 1991-08-19 11:53:39 PST
Mary Ries (@meaddata.com) writes: (about "Dad," the newest Breakfast With Amy):
I just bought that album 2 days ago. I decided to buy it after
seeing good reviews in this news group, but I'd never heard of the band
and never heard any of their songs before, and my local bookstore didn't
have any demos for the band... so I really had no idea what to expect.
Let me start by saying I think the band accomplished what they set out
to accomplish... but honestly, I was very disappointed. I just don't
think I like that style of music at all. I was hoping for something
fun and spunky, with a strong, dancable beat and uplifting lyrics... if
challenging, challenging in a positive, confident way. But what I
got was this fuzzy, continuous kind of buzzing sound with some faint irregular
drum beats in the background, and basically negative, doubtful, depressing,
kind of off-key lyrics. After
listening to the whole album twice, I was honestly wondering if they hated Christianity.
I'm not saying it wasn't "good"... I believe that's totally up to the individual taste of the listener. It was just not what I was expecting after reading the descriptions here on the net, and I didn't want someone else to make the same mistake I did.
You may want to let it settle for a while. A lot of your apprehensions
may be contributed to the fact that you had specific expectations of a
mold for it to fill. In talking with a some of the band members (mainly
at CStone), a sense of where they're coming from can be gathered.
First off, their big crusade is to open the eyes and ears of Christian
audiences and expand tastes in what can be considered music and art.
Second, they'd love to hear that you didn't like it for specific reasons,
because they hate the mentality of "It's
Christian so it's good and I won't buy secular" without discrimination or taste. Third, they LOVE Christianity, as much as that means a personal relationship with God and the salvation and freedom it brings. They utterly DESPISE a lot of the cutesy slogans and merchandising and other weird sub-cultural weirdness in Christendom that is unnecessary, often annoying, and many times clouds the real issues (as in "Mermelstein & The Disappearing Sink.")
Give it a chance later down the road. Without any preconceived expectations you might percieve it in a totally different light.
p.s. Are the other bands I was considering buying tapes by similar to Breakfast with Amy.. like DA (and related), or Steve Taylor, or Sam Phillips?
Hoo boy. You thought Amy was depressing? You probably would be devastated by stuff like Sam Phillips and LSU that has some REAL emotional pain inside it. LSU and Sam get my HIGHEST recommendations as music confronting pain and doubt from a Christocentric perspective. Made ME think, and despite the down-beat content of the lyrics is incredibly touching and uplifting.