Can you talk to us more about your latest single “To My Rescue”?
“To My Rescue” is a little history about us as a married couple. We’ve been married for 9 years now, and we are not proud of everything we’ve done. Marriage can be tough, especially when you add so many other life elements in with it. This song talks about some times in our marriage when we’ve been less than lovable. Yet, we got through those times. We persevered. And we came out the other side better for it. It is a song of victory and celebration of the strength of such a bond.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
Yes, there were a couple separate events that inspired this song, which we won’t get into detail about. But the lyrics hint at the circumstances. In particular there were some very low times in our marriage where we weren’t putting in time and heart into it like we should have been. I suppose we were distracted by the pressures of life and the drive for other things. And that can sneak up on you. We’ve realized that we’ve got to be deliberate about how we handle our marriage. Deliberate about how we spend time. Deliberate about our thoughts toward each other. It’s like Kassie always says…” nothing that is worth something ever comes easy”.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Our good friend, Glenn Drennen, filmed and edited this video for “To My Rescue”. This video really captures the feel in the studio, as it was during the actual day of recording the track for this song. Andrija Tokic, our producer, shows up in the video a couple times, and it really captures his vibrance and excitement too. Pretty much, it was like we didn’t even know Glenn was in the room while he was filming, as he was just staying under the radar and sneaking around catching all sorts of cool B-roll and cool closeups during the process. I’m glad that we have this video to look back on to bring us back to the excitement and vibe of that studio process. What a cool experience.
The single comes off your new album The Past Year – what’s the story behind the title?
We chose to call this album “The Past Year” because we really came together as a true duo only a little over a year ago, even though we were involved with music individually for many years before. In the last year, we made it a point to just write song after song and discover ourselves….to figure out who “My One And Only” really was. All the songs on this album have true-to-life lyrics. Some songs delve into issues in our marriage, and others delve into family struggles and spiritual journeys. All of these events may not have actually happened in the past year, but they came to the surface in our discovery and songwriting within the last year. The past year has been such a new direction for us. It has been like a turning point for us. Like a beginning. The past year has been meaningful for us, and it will be meaningful for years to come. We thought it would be a great name for the album, since it puts a time frame on our process of finding ourselves musically.
How was the recording and writing process?
Our writing process for this album started a little over a year ago. It was such a weird thing to have just come together as a duo and realize that we don’t really know who we are yet. We were actually encouraged by some music business friends of ours to join forces as a duo. We had thought about it before, but couldn’t really reconcile it in our minds. But this time, we just jumped in head first. So we dedicated ourselves to just keep on writing, and writing, and writing. Soon, it was like there was a sound coming out. There was a style emerging. And we grabbed ahold of it. After a year of writing, we narrowed our song list down to the ones on this new record. We had a lot of input from publisher friends of ours, and they continued to push us when we didn’t want to go anymore. That meant so much to have their support and time and encouragement.
What was it like to work with Andrija Tokic and how did that relationship develop?
One of my (Ben) favorite bands is Alabama Shakes. I just love their sounds and vibe. When we were thinking of recording this new album, we were kind of just brainstorming about who would produce it. I thought it might be a longshot, but I contacted Andrija, knowing he produced Alabama Shakes’ first album. I emailed him. And he responded and wanted to get together and talk about the idea of making an album with him. We were excited about it. We got together and it was a great fit. Andrija is so excitable and high-energy. When he is making a record, he really injects that energy into it. It’s got to feel good. It’s got to vibe. It was what our songs needed for sure.
How much did he get to influence the album?
I would say that Andrija made our songs come alive. It was like putting a dusty car through the car wash, and then waxing it. Andrija was the car wash, and the wax. He worked with the musicians, adjusting drum parts, and suggesting chord changes. He injected his excitement into the album. Not only that, but he records all analog. At his studio, The Bomb Shelter, there is no Pro Tools during the recording process. It’s all analog tape and an old mixing console he’s used for years. Even those factors greatly influence how the album sounds. It sounds like real music. Not like a grid. It sounds like raw, live music, and I love that.
How your different backgrounds does influence the writing and band as a whole?
Kassie came from a background of country music and soul music. I came from a background of alternative rock. At first, it seemed like a daunting task to put those two backgrounds together into something cohesive. But, we worked to create a sound, and a writing style. You can hear both of our backgrounds in the album. Kassie definitely has a little southern in her voice, especially on some of the songs that throw back to old-school country. And you can hear the alternative rock influence, especially in the arrangement and instrumentation of “Talk Yourself Up Now”. I think we settled into a really cool off-center sound. A sound that is flexible…that can extend anywhere from old-school country to singer-songwriter to raw rock.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
Nashville pushes us musically. We are around so many top-notch musicians here in Nashville all the time. Honestly, we start to feel bad about ourselves after a while (and the good musicians are all getting younger!) But this also pushes us so much. It pushes us to be better, to write better, to perform better. In that way, Nashville is amazing for artists. I think we are influenced by the Nashville-way of songwriting too. Not that we write commercial-country songs, but we have taken parts of the Nashville songwriting “process”, like arrangements and certain chord changes, and lyrical content. I just remember writing songs before I lived here in Nashville, and it seemed all so free-style. But I feel like now we have somewhat of a “process” that we use for songwriting, and Nashville was a big part in shaping that.
What aspect of your lives did you get to explore on this record?
Wow. During the last year of songwriting and discovering ourselves, we ran across nearly every topic in the book it seems. Marriage was big one. Then our faith in Jesus was always coming up too. Also, we processed a lot of things through songwriting…such as family members’ addictions, or coming to terms with aging. Pretty much all these topics are explored in this record. We always loved writing songs that were all true. Songs that would give the listener a peek into our real lives. And maybe the listener would even relate to the lyrics and feel connected to them, or even learn something about themselves or the world around them.
Any plans to hit the road?
We have been traveling a decent amount. In the next couple months we plan to be in about 6 or 7 states playing gigs. We will be promoting our new record for the next year. So we will be hitting the road quite a bit.
What else is happening next in My One And Only’s world?
Well, we just returned from Rwanda, Africa! We have been traveling to Rwanda and Uganda Africa for years now. It started out with us being a part of a missions team, then we began to lead missions teams through an organization called Go Be Love International. Now, Kassie and I travel to Rwanda on our own to spend time with our sponsor daughter, Kevine, and also many other close friends there. For the past couple years, we’ve also travelled to Uganda playing concerts! What an experience. It definitely wasn’t easy to handle a tour there (it’s already just difficult enough being in a foreign country), but it has been purposeful. We work with a ministry there called Benjamin House Ministries, which focuses on child sponsorship and family restoration in Kampala. They partner with us as we perform concerts throughout Kampala (and northern Uganda). Through those, we get to be a part of bringing the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands of Ugandans. What a privilege. The crazy thing is, this year we were supposed to do the same type of concerts, but all our concerts were cancelled due to the political unrest that was happening in Uganda just a few weeks back. There were riots in the streets and violence due to the whole situation with Bobi Wine’s arrest (if you don’t know it, just google it). So, those cancellations were disappointing…. but there’s always next time. We love Africa and miss our friends over in Rwanda. We will get back there soon.