JVDV: This record is distinctly different than many of your others, stylistically and even in the overall tone of the message. How did you land on this direction?
Shane Everett: Maybe I should start a little further back. We changed record labels and started demoing songs. We were really working through what we wanted to say to our community, which was the first time we’ve ever written from a ‘non-devotional-type’ place. We started asking the question “Lord, what do you want to say to us?” That sounds pretty elementary, but it was kind of a new thing. We’re part of this collective of people (The Oaks Fellowship in Dallas, TX) who are pursuing the Lord together. When you get involved in a local level it’s eye opening, ya know? There are people with a lot of hurt, issues, [you’re] walking with people through stuff. So I think we were just in a different place, asking different questions than we’ve ever asked before.
JVDV: There seems to be a variety of genres represented on the album – was that intentional, or did the songs just seem to take on lives of their own?
Shane E: We said, “Ok, let’s approach this by saying that nothing is off limits.” So any idea that the team had, we said “Let’s try this on one song... Ok, scrap that. Let’s try this on another song.” We just had a blast making this record, and hopefully that comes through. We were invigorated, it was a new season, and we were asking different questions. So if it feels different it’s probably because the approach was completely different. We were just like “Man, let’s seek the Lord, have a good time making a record and say the things that the Lord puts on our heart.”
JVDV: What led to your new role as worship pastors?
Shane E: Well, the college that we’ve been involved with, Southwestern Seminary, had a leadership program that was 90 students. They would work with a local church and study in one of three different tracks: evangelism, pastoral and missions. So they asked us to come be part of a worship track and they would add more students. Now we have 35 worship interns. They do normal curriculum at the school and then come to see us for ‘lab’ time – six hours on Mondays. We do songwriting, and discipleship. So that’s our portion. [The interns] also have a theory class and some other stuff, but our specific role is in the songwriting and recording part of the program.
JVDV: That’s awesome! Not going to guess here but, coffee or Red Bull?
Shane E: Oh, coffee man!
JVDV: So, in this six hour period of time, how many cups of coffee do you and the other Shane consume?
Shane E: (Laughs) Ya know, we actually don’t drink any coffee then!
JVDV: Well, for being in a class 6 hours, you certainly have your job cut out for you, to make sure it’s all interesting and engaging…
Shane E: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you this – we have such a good time. This is how a basic class works: The students don’t go to class, they come to us. We have a new studio in a big, old stone house on 22 acres and there’s recording stuff set up everywhere, so it’s pretty high energy. They get there, and we’ll talk, have some snacks – we have coffee if you want it – and then a student will share his heart about a song and play it. Everyone has a lyric sheet and a chord chart, and we’re just making notes and giving critiques and reviews and then we mess with the song for a little bit. In the first few weeks everyone’s timid and it’s a little awkward, but after that everybody opens up. The students become pretty tight knit. We’ll ask, ‘What’s the message you’re trying to say?’, ‘What are you trying to communicate?’, ‘What’s the Lord telling you through this?’ So, that’s our role – less about the music, more about the heart. Then we collectively pick a song and produce and record that song all together. We’ll have a drum kit set up, so we’ll do a click track and record the drums, we’ll do bass, guitars, and then vocals – so everyone is super engaged. Everybody’s into it, as you can imagine. It’s pretty awesome for them.
JVDV: You and Shane both have families now, and the writing on this record certainly addresses that to some degree. How much did your current family situation influence those songs versus what you’re doing over at the seminary?
Shane E: I would say that four or five of the songs on the record came from class songs. Because we make them write a song every week, either Shane or I will have to write one each week too. So a lot of the songs came from that. But one song specifically is written toward our kids, Shane and I both have little girls. The title of the record is from the song “The One You Need.” It’s like, if we had to stand before our kids or our family and we had one thing to say, what would it be? We just want to let them know that Jesus is the One that they need. In a world where there’s a lot of competing world views and ideologies of how to find peace, ya know, there are a billion and one self-help books or even Disney telling them this is what a happily ever after looks like, we wanted to say at an early age, Jesus is the One you need.
As men we want to be the one to take care of our families and our daughters. I want to give them everything - I don’t want to mess up. I want them to come to me for anything that they have and I want to try to fill that place in their heart. But eventually, Lord willing, this kid’s gonna grow up and move out and be on their own. It’s just a horrible thought for me (laughs), but one day it’s going to happen. I just want them to know that Jesus is the only One who can fulfill the deep places of their heart. The only one that can give them a true hope and a future. I hope this song resonates with my daughters throughout the entirety of their life. We want to point them to Christ as much as we can and this is just one of our attempts to sing and say that over them.
JVDV: Do you think this song is the theme of the record?
Shane E: It’s definitely the theme of the record. The whole record is very Gospel-centric, probably more than any other record we’ve ever done. I think we’ve written out of a devotional spot usually – something really introspective and this has been more of a ‘global’ Gospel record. We did it on purpose because we feel that the more we do this, especially being involved in a local community, man, we just need the Gospel. It’s the renewing power of the Gospel on hearts that is so huge. C.J. Mahaney said something that’s really resonated with me; we feel like in our Christian world we have the Gospel, we get saved and then we move on to bigger and better things, and I thought that was so true. It’s like we think ‘Oh man, I’ve got all this ministry to do,’ and ‘we’ve got the Gospel but that was 10 years ago.’ It’s coming back to that and letting it wash over us daily. It’s changed my life. Remembering what the Lord has done and remembering what He is doing through the renewing power of the Gospel. I keep saying the same thing but it’s become a residual prayer in my heart, daily in my journal “remember the Gospel, remember the Gospel, remember the power of the Gospel.” It’s become the heart beat of the record. It is devotional but it’s been a really good season to remember that.
JVDV: Since you have transitioned from the ‘devotional’ place of writing to this ‘Gospel’ focus, do you think your listeners are ready to transition too? And were you at all scared, or do you think your audience is going to dive right in?
Shane E: Hindsight’s 20/20, ya know (laughs). We HOPE they go with us. As an artist I think there’s already insecurity that comes from wearing your heart on your sleeve, which is what we do in our writing. A lot of the songs come out of our journals. Apprehensive is the nature of our business, for us anyway. Your art is special to you and we try as hard as we possibly can to make it as good as we possibly can. You never know, but the response so far has been really great. We played these songs for a bunch of people before and everyone seemed to be really on-board with the production, the songs, and the themes, so I think so!
JVDV: We’ve really appreciated the direction that you and Shane have taken on this record. It’s really fresh and it’s a fun listen.
Shane E: Oh, thanks for saying that. Honestly, we’ve had fun, we’re getting out there and taking breaths. Our label tells us they appreciate us; what we do. It’s felt like a team, it’s got energy. We’ve been really enjoying the process. I think the last four or five years we’ve been doing it and walking with the Lord, but we just didn’t feel like we were moving forward, if I can be transparent. We were on the road, writing songs, seeking the Lord, but I think that now being involved in the church community has pushed us over a hump – there’s a bunch of cogs in the wheel. A step back has given us a new heart, a new vision for the future. We’re more excited about this than we’ve been since, I think, our first record that we came out with - which is crazy. Don’t know how to say it other than to say that we’re having fun.
JVDV: What is your preference, playing at a church or in a concert setting?
Shane E: We like them all, it just usually depends on a crowd. Leading worship at our church we really enjoy, but just for having fun, we like an old theater or something with people who are the most engaged.
JVDV: If you could choose anybody that you’d love to go on tour with, who would it be?
Shane E: U2, man. That would be so awesome.
JVDV: Ok, what about realistically?
Shane E: The Crowders. They’re not going out anymore, but we did a tour with David Crowder*Band and that was the most fun touring situation. We love those guys so much, we’re great friends. Maybe we could convince David to go with us to do one more?
JVDV: What book are you currently reading?
Shane E: Multiple books, but I started the Chronicles of Narnia over and I’m almost done with that. Also, Justification of God by John Piper, again. It takes me so long, but it kicks me in the teeth everyday.
JVDV: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. We really appreciate what you guys are doing out there. Take care!
To learn more about the program that Shane and Shane are a part of, or to hear the songs created each week by the students, visit oaksleadership.com.