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Interview with Plus One

by Max Tremblay

Q: What does being in the group "Plus One" mean to you?

A: For each of us, it's taken on a different meaning. It's a
constant reminder to us that no matter what we're doing, no matter what we're going through, good or bad, we know that we have God to turn to.

Q: Who are some of your biggest influences and inspirations?

Jason: Musically, a lot of R&B and gospel, Boyz II Men, Brian
McKnight, Joe. Mentorship-wise, I always looked to my father for guidance and a role model, but I'm not really living underneath his roof anymore. Our managers played a big role in my life, as well as some of the people from our record label and some of the people we've gotten to work with. Seeing their experiences and learning from them was a great opportunity.

Q: Would the other guys mostly tend to agree?

Jeremy: Musically, I've been influenced by the same R&B and gospel, but also, I like Harry Connick Jr., James Taylor, stuff like that.

Nathan: I was heavily influenced by Michael W. Smith growing up, also DC Talk, Michael Jackson, and any Top 40. I was always listening to the radio trying to get ideas, as far as production and songwriting.

Q: You guys obviously have strong religious convictions. Were you brought up this way, or is it something you discovered later on in life?

Nathan: We were definitely brought up in Christian homes, but we all came to this point where we had to think, "What are we really believing in? Do we really think this, or is it just because our parents said it?" For me, it was during my high school years. I could do anything I want, and I was like, "Okay, God, what do I really believe? Are you really here? Can you really hear me?" And I remember, I was having this whole conversation, just between myself and God. I was driving my car for five hours in Florida on a long distance trip, and the whole time I was just talking, asking him questions, like, "If you're real, you need to speak to me." Sometimes I think that's good, you know? You think, "God, you know,
sometimes it doesn't feel like you're there. Prove yourself to me, please, I want to hear from you."

Jeremy: We were all, for the most part, raised in churches, but I think you have to come to a point where you ask yourself, "Okay, is this what I believe in my heart because I believe it? Or is just something that I've been told?" There was a time for me during high school and the first part of college where I was like, "Man, I don't even believe this. I'm not even going to try to be good on Sunday and then do what I want during the week." I was completely convinced that it was my way, my will, that I knew what was best for me and
that's it. I really honestly think that you can only run on your own guidance for so long, you can only go by what you think for so long until you just run empty. I think that's where I got myself, and I realized that I needed to try to turn myself around.

Q: How did Plus One first form?

Jason: We came together through and audition/word-of-mouth process. Our manager and Barry Landis from Atlantic records had the vision for a Christian guy group to be put together, so they held the auditions in San Francisco. Three of the guys were there, and the other two of us found out about the group through word of mouth. One of the guys
who was already in the group's second cousin is an evangelist who travels around and preaches. My dad's a pastor, so he came to my church and spoke that morning. He heard me sing that same morning and told me about the group. That's how I got in. It's pretty interesting how it all came together, and the fact that we all get along so well.

Q: What were you doing before you joined the group?

Nathan: I moved to Nashville, TN, and tried to get into the music business as a songwriter. I got a phone call one day from my manager, who asked me to fly out to California. He said he'd pay my way and fly me out there for a day and audition. I told him no. A week later, I was praying, and I was like, "God? Why did I say no, Lord? (laughs) If this is you, let him call me back." He called me back a week later, and that's how I got in the group. But yeah, I went to college for two years, and left to go up to Nashville. I gave myself a time limit of six months, and if anything wasn't working out, I was going to go back to college, and this worked out.

Jeremy: I was in school, and I was just really trying to figure out what I was going to do. A lot of people are at that age. For the most part, I had no clue that it was going to be this route. If somebody had told me a year and a half ago that this would be the road the I would walk down, I would've been like, "Whatever." It's been a gradual realization of God's hand in my life, and even during all these times when I totally wasn't paying attention to it or recognizing it, He really was always there keeping me safe. There's so many decisions that I made that were so unwise and just stupid, and I could've ended up dead, but through his grace I've been able to get to this point. Not that I've arrived by any means, it's just been a great experience.

Jason: I was in my senior year of high school, halfway through football season, when I found out about the group. Two weeks later I moved, finished up through correspondence and joined the group.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren't in Plus One?

Nathan: I'd probably still be in Nashville, trying to make it and write. I probably would've been a writer. That's really where my heart and passion is. I really love performing, but I think that once this group comes to an end, if it does come to an end, I still want to produce and write. That's where my heart's at.

Jeremy: I'd probably still be in school. Man, if this group hadn't come along, I might not even be in school (laughs).

Nathan: This group changed our lives.

Jeremy: I'd have probably dropped out by now. I was on a one way trip to not doing anything. I wasn't doing very good, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I kind of had an idea of wanting to get into broadcast journalism or journalism because I like to write, but that was just a thought.

Jason: I was thinking about going to bible college, and pursuing music from there.

Q: How do you feel that you differ from some of the other pop-oriented groups?

All: You mean like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC? (laughter)

Nathan: When we first got together, we lived in San Francisco for three months, and we would just walk down the street and people would say, "Hey! It's the Backstreet Boys," and they thought they were all funny. We hear that every day, and when we do we cringe, like, "No, we're not a boy band!" Obviously, now we accept that, you know, we are a boy band, and we can't deny that. We're different though. We definitely have the pop music vibe going through our album, but nine
different producers worked on this album, and I think each song has an identity. Even more than that is our faith. We're singing positive music. Not that the other boys aren't, it's just a different thing. It's about our spirituality and our faith, you
know? Plus, we all play instruments, and sometimes on stage we'll all break out into an acoustic set.

Jeremy: We feel like we've come into our own identity, where we feel like we don't even have to sweat. People make comparisons because they're obviously there, and it's not like they're making some earth-shattering discovery. It's just like, "Dude, it took you that long to figure that out? (laughs)" We feel like we have our own identity as a band, and like Nathan said, our message is definitely something that's going to separate us. We have nine different producers on the album, so there's a lot of different textures. I think we have a lot more gospel influence in our album.

Q: You seem to have more substance than some of the other stuff out there. Do you feel that your faith produces something a little "meatier," so to speak, than what the competition is doing?

Jason: The bible talks about the annointing of God, and we all feel that we're called of God to minister and to touch people's hearts with the gift that he's given us, the gift of voice and music and ministry. There's just something about singing for God and his glory, and lifting up his name. He moves in creative ways, and really can get down deep and touch people's hearts and really move places that other kinds of music [can't go]. I think that Christian music and gospel music can really sink in and touch the heart.

Jeremy: God's hand in this group is apparent to me because of everything that's happenned. If man was just trying to do this [without God], and they were like, "Okay, we're going to prefabricate this group, put them together, and throw them out there," that would fail because that's something that's empty, and like you said, you see the substance there, and I think that that's God, and that's His hand in our lives. Like Jason says, we feel that he's called us to do this, and that's why we're more passionate about it, you know? Everything that we do in our lives we want to commit to lifting his
name up, and to doing good for his kingdom.

Q: How did you go about recording the new album and choosing songs?

Nathan: This album was put together so fast. We're on Atlantic Records and 143 Records, and both were like, "This is the fastest put-together album we've ever seen." We recorded in a little over a month and a half, and we didn't think that we'd have as much say as we did in the process of picking songs, but we definitely had a lot of say. We turned down songs that we didn't feel like singing, and we totally accepted the ones that we wanted to. The process was
pretty much this: everybody sent it a bunch of songs. There was a big buzz before we even started recording our album, people saying, "Hey, they're putting together a Christian boy band." We sang our first song, "The Promise," at a showcase full of a hundred writers.

Before we went in there, David Foster, who set up the showcase, said, "I just want to let you guys know, don't get scared, but there's about a hundred number one hits between all these writers in here. People in the mainstream and Christian music wanted to jump on this bandwagon, so to speak, so we had tons of songs coming in every day.
We had people weed through certain songs that they thought were good, and then they'd bring them to us and we'd listen to them and make decisions there, so that's how that happenned.

Q: Was there anything specific that you wanted to do with this record?

Jeremy: It's funny. Because it happenned so fast, I don't think we went out there and said, "Okay, this is what we want to say, and this is the message that Plus One wants to deliver," you know? That was the most amazing thing, though. When we got done with it, we looked back and each song had this constant flow. The world deals with so many issues like loneliness, and people don't know who they can turn to. Kids don't even know if they can turn to their parents and friends, and husbands don't know if they can count on their wives, and it's hard to have trust. I think that's the constant theme and idea that's in our album: you can trust God. You can put your trust in Him, and He wants to be someone that you can trust in, and He wants to love on you. The lines are always open. He wants to be able to talk to you, and we do that through prayer and reading the Bible. It's neat to get done with the album, and to have it happen fast, and to have all these songs that we knew we would sing and that
it would come from our hearts. [It's great] to look back and see the continuity and to see everything come together. It even goes along with our name: the reminder that God's always there with you. Every song is saying, "You can turn to Him, and He's here for you."

Q: You wrote a couple songs for this album. Is that something you'd like to do more of in the future?

Nathan: On our next album, we'll probably write all of them.

Jeremy: There are some guys in the group who are working on tracks now and are just writing. That's what's going to be cool about our next album. We've got this whole year to just sit and think and write what's on your heart, what's on your mind.

Nathan: There's a lot of good songs on this first album, but I think the next album will be full of more emotion, even production-wise. It's going to be exciting because I think we'll have more time to put more of our hearts into it. When we were first formed together, things happenned so fast, and now we're kind of finding out where we are musically, and how we write together, and who we are as a band because we're growing together. It's going to be cool, but this first album we just put out, so we've got to work with that first (laughs).

Q: Have you had a chance to tour in support of the album yet?

Jason: Yeah, as soon as the album released, we went on a month long promotional tour, and we were just all over the country, almost in a different state every day. We had a blast. It was so fun, travelling everywhere. We sang at a couple malls, we did a lot of promotion at radio stations and T.V. stations, and all kinds of stuff. It was really cool. This summer we're just doing festivals, a lot of big Christian festivals, and in the fall we're going to be touring with a female Christian artist by the name of Jackie Velasquez. It's going to be a sixty city tour from September through December, so we're really looking forward to that.

Q: Is there anyone who you would really want to collaborate with?

Jason: There are some artists that we'd definitely love to work with again, and some new producers and people that we want to work with. There's some gospel artists like Fred Hammond who I would love to sing with someday. Whenever the opportunity comes to sing with another artists, it's always fun to collaborate.

Nathan: In terms of writing, there's a bunch of new writers that I've met who I'd love to collaborate with. As far as production, I'd like to have Rodney Jerkins do some more stuff on our next album.

Jeremy: I'm hoping that us and *NSYNC and Backstreet and 98 Degrees can all get together and we'll have a big boy choir (laughs). Seriously though, I really don't know.

Q: Have you guys produced or written for any other bands?

Nathan: Yeah, I've got a song that's being looked at by a band right now which I can't say (laughs). That's it as far as writing, no production really.

Q: Is that something you'd like to do though?

Nathan: Yeah, totally.

Jeremy: Ten years from now I hope to be into writing and production and stuff.

Q: Do you have any other plans for the future, or are you just living in the present right now?

Nathan: We're definitely planning ahead, because this group--though we're doing a lot of good things, history shows that you can't put all your eggs in one basket. We definitely should look at what we're going to do in the future. Some of us may do a solo thing down the road. We don't know how long this group is going to be together. We definitely want it to be together for as long as God is providing us with open doors to go through, but for myself I'd like to be producing and writing heavily in the future, that's what I want to do.

Jason: Even as a group, we're looking in the future a lot. It'd be cool if Christian music for once could be on top of things and not be behind the mainstream. Ideal-wise and style-wise, it'd be cool to just come into our own and just make good music.