Steve Taylor - Cornerstone 1994 Press Conference

Source: Shari Lloyd, The Phantom Tollbooth
Cornerstone 1994 Interview, Bushnell, IL
Artrageous Tent, "Squint - The Oral Report" Arthouse Seminar
July 2nd, 1994
Moderated by Charlie Peacock
Thanks to Shari Lloyd

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Charlie Peacock: Let's have a prayer together before we start. Father, I thank you so much for Steve. Lord, I praise you and give you honor and glory for Steve whom you've created, Lord. Thank you for his passion, thank you for his humor, Lord. We thank you that your love, Lord God, and your concern for this world is demonstrated through him and through his art. We praise you and thank you for this time, Lord God. In Jesus' name, amen.

Well, I'm just so excited to be able to interview Steve today in front of you all, and then we're going to be giving you a chance to ask some questions, too. But I've always wanted to torture another artist in this way. [audience laughs]

And it's really exciting for me because Steve's record, Squint, was really my favorite record of last year, and I was so excited when I heard it I thought, "this is great," this wonderful marriage of always-different mediums that Steve is involved in, whether it's language or music or film--graphic art, everything about it, I just thought it was just top notch.

I remember when we first moved to Nashville, we went to the home of a person in the record business, and my son went up to his bedroom to play with him, and later that night when we were driving home, he said, "dad, do you know who Steve Taylor is?" I said, "yes, I do." My son said, "Well, Justin told me that he's the king of music." [audience laughs] Steve Taylor is the king of music. [audience applaudes]

Let's get started here. Steve, I'm going to jump in with a--

Steve Taylor: Did we get all that on tape, by the way? Did we get all that on tape? [audience laughs]

CP: I think we did.

One time you left Christian music to be in a band, a rock and roll band, and it seemed as if some of the comments by your band members at that time echoed some of the things I've read that you, too, had said before. They didn't want to be a Christian band, they just wanted to be the greatest rock and roll band in the world. There were similar comments made by some of the fellows in your group.

Now you're back in Christian music. My question is, did you ever really leave Christian music, or were you simply exchanging one business structure for another?

ST: I think when the band formed, all of us were Christians and all of us had been involved in Christian music in some form or another. We sort of decided corporately, and we planned the whole thing out a lot as far as how we wanted to approach it. We didn't want to have any kind of agenda besides just making a really good record and being a good band. We sort of became a band without an agenda, and anything that was going to happen lyrically was just going to sort of sneak in through the back door or come as the result of who we are.

Interestingly enough--and the people that were into Chagall Guevara, they might have a different perspective on this than maybe the people that heard the record and weren't that crazy about it--I remember when the band had sort of fallen apart and I was meeting with my pastor Scott Smith, and just talking to him about [how] I had the opportunity to do another solo record, [and] was this a good idea or not.

His comment was [that] he really liked the band and really liked what we were doing and what we were about--he said, "it seems to me like you guys probably did a better job of defining what you weren't than what you were." That comment really stuck with me, because I think in some ways just the agenda of being a great rock and roll band wasn't enough for everyone to sink their teeth into for the long haul.

The spiritual element, at least for me, of what is involved in music was so much more important and so much more of the reason to sort of keep pressing on and sort of investing your life and your time. So... did I answer the question very well? [audience laughs] Is that working?

CP: Well, I mean, both of us have been out there and sort of shook hands with the general marketplace on one level or another. What would you say that--what characterizes being involved in what the church would call secular music different than being involved in contemporary Christian music? I guess I want to get your heart on that. I mean, do you--now, in retrospect, where do you see yourself?

ST: If I may quote you from the last time we talked in a forum like this, you find working in a pop label that there are different systems, and each system sort of has its own ground rules. It would be foolish to assume that just because you get into pop music, that it's all a wide-open game. We were sort of on the alternative side of the pop world, and it very definitely had its own ground rules.

One of the stories that I like to tell which in some ways sums it up best, and it's a long story, but I guess we have some time here. We were flying out--Lynn and Dave and I had flown out to Los Angeles. The record was done, and, I don't know, we were meeting with the A&R people about something to do with the new album. We got to the airport and there wasn't anyone there to pick us up, and we were waiting for quite a while, I think like an hour and a half or something like that. So, everyone was hungry, so we're standing on the pickup area at LAX, and we called up Domino's Pizza and had a pizza delivered while we were waiting. [audience laughs] You know, it was a nice pizza. [audience laughs]

So anyway we get to MCA, and we're sitting in the A&R offices, you know, talking to everybody, very chummy and everything like that, and one of the guys in the band just casually brought up that we ordered a Domino's Pizza while we were waiting there--you know, a little joke. And--oh no, he said, "we ordered pizza while we were there," and one of A&R people said, "well I hope it wasn't Domino's."

And I said, "what, you don't like Domino's Pizza?" She said, "no no no, it's just those people, you know, give people money to blow up abortion clinics." [audience laughs] So I paused for a minute, and I looked at her and I said, "uhm, sweetheart, they don't give money to blow up abortion clinics. I know a little bit about this." [audience laughs]

She said, "no no no," she said, "those guys, they give money to those Nazis that are out there picketing and blowing up abortion clinics," and all that stuff, and you know, "they're all Nazis."

I said, "listen, uhm, I know a little bit about this, probably even maybe a fair bit more about it than you do, and, trust me, they don't give money to blow up abortion clinics." She was not backing down--and it's like for some reason--I can actually tell you what she did in just a minute.

So the next thing you know, we're involved in a very heated argument as they're trying to get a meeting started. The meeting is supposed to be in the art department or something like that--we're moving down the hall, we're still arguing about this--you know, this group moves down the hall, and finally we get in the art director's office and we're still arguing about it, and Lynn says, "can you guys just call a little truce while we maybe can do a little business here?" [audience laughs]

So after the meeting was done, I went to her and I said, "listen, I understand you have strong feelings, but you need to understand I have strong feelings about this, too." In fact, my mom, this was in the early 90's or something like that, she had just been arrested at one of these sit-ins or something like that, and I was very proud of her because she's not the type of person who would break the law and she hadn't planned on breaking the law. She ended up getting arrested, and it really bothered her that she had been arrested, but she felt so strongly about it that she was willing to do that. I would not advocate anybody getting arrested for doing it, but I really admired my mild-mannered mom for taking such a strong stand.

So here this A&R person in a sense has called my mom a Nazi. You know, it just rang the wrong bell. [audience laughs] So we called the truce, and we get on great, and that's fine. Our other A&R guy a couple minutes later came up to me and sort of took me aside and said, "so, Steve, we're just sort of wondering, because we're just starting our promo and stuff like that, what are you going to do if something like Spin Magazine asks you what you believe about abortion or something like that?" And the look of fear in his eyes was just like, "where did you come from?" I said, "maybe I'll just tell them what I believe, don't you think that'd be a good idea?" He said, "y-y-yeah, I guess so." [audience laughs]

It was just so humorous to me. The whole idea of alternative music is music with no boundaries, music that doesn't fit any molds. The thought of them having a band rushing the alternative charts, that actually believe that maybe abortion wasn't such a good idea really struck terror in his heart. So when we talk about systems, you just have to realize that there are very definite systems wherever you go. I know people that get involved in gospel music sometimes and feel it's very constraining. It honestly can be just as constraining in other areas of music as well.

CP: Hmm. Alright.

ST: I probably didn't answer that question.

CP: No, you did. [audience laughs] That was great. Great story, too.

Eugene Peterson described Jeremiah this way. He said, "to anyone who know him, he obviously was not a bystander criticizing, and not a turncoat propagandizing, but an insider agonizing." I'd say this is true of you. I said that when I listen to your music and listen to your lyrics that you just seem to sit in that role. You seem to have always sat in that role. Why don't you talk a little bit about that?

ST: We as believers and as Christian artists--I suppose that I would backtrack and say here that the first tour I did was with the Rez Band, and spent some time staying with Jesus People and very much saw that idea of an insider--insiders agonizing--and faith at work. That was a really good role model to sit under during the first tour that I did. I've never been able to live up to that standard, but I think it's really important for those of us that are going to be involved in Christian music, that we not end up being like seminary students that don't go to church. It's very important that if we're going to criticize things within the church that we're an active part of the church and of the body of Christ. [audience applauds]

The other thing I should say is that I have been extremely fortunate and blessed with having parents that were-- [long pause] that were just very godly in the way that they lived there lives. I have no idea, why this is--it just gets me emotional. Just sort of really good examples of godliness and balance.

So I had very good footsteps to follow, and my father was a man who believed very much like my principles, and as a pastor for 30 years was able to set an example of Christianity that was not culturally separated from the rest of the world and yet was always able to maintain a very Biblical and godly perspective.

Those of us that have been fortunate enough to have lived under a household with that kind of thing, I think sometimes we don't realize how rare that is and how fortunate we are and how much those things leak over into our own lives. How much that is the grace of God and certainly not anything that we have deserved or earned, and that's something that becomes fresh to me all the time.

CP: If that's what your father modeled for you, how do you model that for others in your artwork? In filmmaking and in your music, it seems like--I have this quote here from somebody named Samuel Johnson who said that "it's more from carelessness about the truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in this world." You seem to put a pretty high premium on the truth. Does that come from your father? How do you go about--as an artist, what does telling the truth mean for you?

ST: Maybe I should best answer that question with the part of this whole thing that seems most at odds with our Christian faith and with the example that Jesus taught us. That is that as artists and as Christian artists we find ourselves in a sort of circus of self-promotion. That aspect of what we do is the biggest enigma, probably the biggest question mark still in all of this. I don't know how those two elements can be squared away--the example that Jesus taught of dying to self, and yet here I am as a Christian artist and most of what I do is self-promoting.

Maybe I should--that definitely didn't answer your question. [audience laughs]

That is the part of it that I still don't know how to do, so actually I don't necessarily feel in a lot of ways--I dont know if I do a very good job of that.

CP: Of telling the truth?

ST: Yeah. Yeah. [audience laughs] I mean, no, I do a good job. I mean, I want to tell the truth, but you know what, it's always much easier to put it on paper than it is to live it out. You know, this is a good time to talk to me about this, because I just had to do the liner notes for a boxed set that Sparrow's doing. I just am not sure that's such a good idea to do a boxed set based on five or six records or something like that. I mean I guess if you guys are really interested it might be worth listening to once, but I don't think I would spend money on it. [audience laughs]

But the one thing I had to do was--(just kidding of course.) [audience laughs] The one thing I had to do in that was go back and write song-by-song rememberances and liner notes and all that stuff. (This was going somewhere, where was this going? Oh yeah.) So part of the thing was I have to go back and of course listen to the old songs, some of which you get pleasantly surprised, and sometimes you think, "what in the world was I thinking?" Sometimes you just think, "why did I do this thing as a woman? What was the thought behind this?" [audience laughs]

One of the things I discovered in going back to these songs is that sometimes you write a song because you want to mark off the boundaries that you don't want to cross. I think I made the comment in the liner notes that if, like in a song like "On The Fritz," if that was an auto-biographical song, I would be a very messed up cowboy, indeed. [audience laughs]

Sometimes you write these songs because you want to mark off your own boundaries, and more than anything else you couldn't stand the humiliation of having some of these songs out there, and then living the opposite away, having some 12-year-old kid look up to you and then shake his head and walk away or something like that. [audience laughs]

I think telling the truth is probably a little bit easier than living it out, and to be quite frank, to the extent that I do live it out, I want to do it for godly reasons, and sometimes I do it as much as I would be so humiliated if I ever crossed the line and cheated on my wife or whatever.

CP: What can we do as artists to control the circus of self-promotion? What do we do to break down stereotypes of pop star/rock star kind of stereotypes?

ST: A lot of those things come from artists thinking of themselves more highly than we ought to. There was a book--Wade, our bass player, who was in Chagall Guevara, too, gave me a book by Bonhoeffer, which I spent all morning learning how to pronounce his last name. [audience laughs] He gave me the book and showed me some chapters to read. (Oh man, I think I'm going to forget where I'm going with this.) Bonhoeffer said that we all have these thoughts in our minds, but as soon as we start speaking them out, they start becoming more and more real.

I think for artists, we all have these thoughts that "I am the most important person here" or "this whole thing revolves around me" or "I'm the center of this wheel," as soon as we start speaking those things and acting on those things, then they start becoming reality, and pretty soon the whole thing starts spiraling out of control, you know? So you're just insisting on your rights and your way, and you really start thinking that you're the center of everything.

With artist in particular, we just get this feeling that my comfort and my convenience is more important than anybody else's schedule or what they're about. It starts with little things, then next thing you know you're Barbara Streisand or somebody like that. [audience laughs] A lot of you are imaging something very ugly right now. [audience laughs]

I think it starts with little things. There's other things to where we all have choices that we make as artists. It always amuses me when artists act like they were victims of record labels or victims of managers or all those things. Because you know what? You always had the ability to say yes or no to those things. You can certainly get pointed the wrong direction, and you can certainly get bad advice and all that stuff, but the fact of the matter is you could've said no. In the words of Morrissey, "you could've said no if you wanted to."

We have to learn when things get out of hand to say "no, this isn't what it's about," and also to surround ourselves with a band constantly reminds you you're no big deal.

CP: Great. Well I know you guys have some questions you want to ask Steve, so we're going to open up to that, but before we do I do want to say one thing, I need you to respect the fact that Steve has to leave immediately following this to go to the main stage to do their soundcheck, okay? So please respect that. Having said that, please don't let me find you following him, alright? I will tackle you to the ground-- [audience laughs]

ST: Yeah, I would love to stay around, but you know, my schedule is very important... [audience laughs]

CP: No, he did ask me to say that after the concert tonight, if you want to hang out, you want to talk, you want to ask questions, you want to buy him a lemon shake-up, whatever, you can do that then, okay? But he does have to get over there to do that. Alright, let's open it up. Right there in the back, please speak loudly.

Audience: Steve, who do you use to check the balance on your lyrics? Do you have to--does anyone have to check you if you get too cynical or too witty?

ST: Right!

CP: Let me repeat the question. The question is is there anyone in Steve's life who checks him, whether he gets a little too cynical or a little too witty. I don't know if you can be too witty, but perhaps the cynicism part.

ST: I sort of set up that model with the I Want To Be A Clone record, and I've followed it since then. The actual people have shifted--it's not all the same people that started as do it now--but it was usually a couple of pastor figures and some people, godly men, that I'd known for a few years, sometimes people that were familiar with what I did, and I think on one or two occasions people that weren't necessarily familiar with the music, that just were looking at it more straight from a theological standpoint.

They have in fact been responsible for sometimes lyrics actually being changed. The original version of the song "I Manipulate" on the first record [sic], which was not necessarily one of my best songs, with a very pointed lyric, was originally a lot more pointed, and in retrospect, much too pointed. I was just really, really grateful for this one guy in particular saying, "man, you shouldn't be saying this, you need to back down a little bit."

Those things sometimes are hard for us to take, because we like to think of our songwriting as sort of our own sacred province, and at the same time it goes back to thought of not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to, because as soon as we get the attitude that as songwriters we have a little corner on the truth, or that we're not able to write something that doesn't square with scripture, or that just flat out is not appropriate, then we can get into serious trouble. That is not to say that I have not crossed the line in the past regardless of the checks and balances, but I probably would've crossed them a lot more without them.

CP: Alright, next question. I can see your hand, but I can't see you. Yeah, go ahead.

Audience: The four individuals on "The Lament" on Squint: "Gallahad" I'm assuming is Sir Gallahad from the Arthurian legend, "Freddy" is obviously Freddy Krueger--who are Desi Ray and Underwood?

ST: Right, right, good question! Man, I hate to burst people's bubble on this one, but I guess I have to.

What happened was, there's a song on the Squint record called--I can't even remember the guy's name--"The Lament of Desmond R.G. Underwood-Fredrick IV." If you'll run with me here for a moment, go with me, I'm sitting, I'm writing this, and, uh...

[quietly to self] "Desi Ray if I may be so blunt, Gallahad bag your agnostic front..." [audience laughs]

I think what happened is I had to have--I sort of devised the chorus without knowing what this guy's name was, and I just had to have certain names that would have a certain number of syllables. [audience laughs] My question to you is, give me another male name that starts with a "G" with three syllables and I'll gladly go back and re-record it. But I couldn't figure out a "G" word with three syllables, so "Gallahad" is the only thing I could come up with.

Audience: "Gilligan."

ST: Gilligan! [audience laughs] You guys are just a little too smart for your own good. But it also had to rhyme with, sort of, "agnostic." "Had-ag-," you know, a little near rhyme, I don't know. Anyway, unfortunately it was mainly nothing more than a device to try and fit in the right number of syllables, and, I know, it's bad. [audience laughs] Next time I'll try to do better.

CP: Okay, next question. Right there by the pole there, please stand up.

Audience: I wanted to know if you've heard the new Steve Taylor tribute, I Predict A Clone. I wanted to know what your opinion is, of all the CD, do you have any favorites?

ST: Right. Oh, man, when I first got word about a year ago, the rumor came through a friend-of-a-friend that a record label was planning some sort of tribute album. So I immediately called my doctor to see if maybe he knew something that I didn't. [audience laughs] I think word actually came through Wade by R.E.X Records, you know, "we're working on this, do you have any comments?"

My two comments were, "I can't think of anything that would be more fun to listen to than that," and, obviously, "send me a copy when it's done," because obviously that's not something you want to get involved with. I think Kiss maybe did their own tribute album, but, you know... [audience laughs] I could actually see Barbara Streisand doing it. [audience laughs]

I have to tell you, when I got the tape and sat down and listened to the songs, it was just about the most fun I've had in years just sitting down listening to all these different songs, and it was very humbling for a number of reasons--because they've done these songs, and second, because virtually all the covers I thought were better than the originals. [audience laughs]

Actually, I like them all, and I like them all for different reasons. I was really impressed with the way that all the different bands gave a new twist on things. I thought they all managed to breathe new life into some of the songs. The weird thing is we do a couple of these songs live, and those covers--knowing those covers, it sort of starts sneaking into the versions that we do, which is--I don't know what that is called, some sort of plagiarism or something. [audience laughs]

But I can't help it because I've heard these versions and I really like them. I like virtually all of them, even the bluegrass one, but I probably like it for all of the wrong reasons.

CP: Let's see--you, right there in the back, all the way in the back.

Audience: A long, long time ago I heard something by a group called "Upward Bound" and I was wondering if any of that is going to be on the boxed set.

ST: I'm sorry, that doesn't ring a bell. That's, uh, that's not going to be on the boxed set, no! [audience laughs]

If the truth be known--well, actually the name of the boxed set, I can tell you guys this, is Now The Truth Can Be Told. The thing he's referring to is a vinyl tragedy of epic proportions that I was involved in early on in my singing. My idea on the boxed set, when I first set down with Sparrow and they said "we want to do this," and I said, "well, let's talk, let's be reasonable here, you sure this such a good idea?"

So we came up with a plan, maybe we'll call it Now The Truth Can Be Told, and we'll just take everything, all the old demos and songs that have never been recorded. So I went back and got all that stuff together and sat down with Peter York, who Charlie knows well, and we started listening to these tapes in Peter's office. Peter commented later to some of the people at the record company that he'd never seen me that obviously uncomfortable in all the time he's known me. Literally I broke out in a sweat, and I just kept shifting in my chair, and it was just a very, very painful experience, and that was--I think, I don't even know if we ended up--I just looked at the cover on that [Upward Bound] and just thought, "I can't do this."

So we ended up using like one half of one old demo, and I even faded it before the last verse because it was just too hard to listen to. Anyway, those things are back there--way, way back there--and if you have a copy, I would probably pay you ten or twenty bucks just to get it off you. [audience laughs]

CP: Let's see. All the way in the back there, with the hat. Yeah. No, right here. You, yes, green shirt.

Audience: It seems like a lot of artists in the Christian music industry try to walk on egg shells around certain topics and stuff, and as a brand of artist that doesn't, there's either people such as yourself who are huge commercial successes, or they get dropped into obscurity, or kicked out, or ignored in the industry. What do you attribute your success to, and as you long back, have you always maintained complete artistic integrity with what you wanted to do?

ST: Right--

Audience: And why didn't somebody cover "Jim Morrison's Grave?" [audience laughs]

ST: In our field, the limited success that I've had, I think can be--part of it was just when Sparrow did the first deal, they knew exactly what they were getting, and so it wasn't like if I would have done a different kind of album, and gone more in that direction, that might have been more difficult. They signed me knowing this is what we're going to do, so it's like, "you just keep doing what you're doing." I suppose subsequent relationships with other record labels were built on that same premise.

Probably the difficult thing is when people want to shift courts in their recording career and try something radically different. Sometimes the record label says "great," and sometimes they meet with resistance, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Yeah, it was probably just because they sort of knew what they were getting and said, "this is what we want you to keep doing."

CP: Right there.

Audience: The first time I heard "Cash Cow" I just about fell out my chair when you mentioned Tilton, about the horns. I just wanted to ask you, you covered it earlier about when you write something that's too pointed, which, that was pretty on the mark--

ST: Right.

Audience: How do you deal with criticism? I mean, I'm sure people within the--I don't want to say CCM--but don't people within the church sometimes call you on things like that? Personally, I feel you could add about [unintelligible] you could've rattled off about twenty names in that little space. How do you deal with that? Do these people call you on that?

ST: They do, and sometimes their criticisms are well justified. I talked to a guy in Florida on the phone about a month ago, and he was a really great guy, he was probably in his late-20s, he was real into music and everything like that. Actually, that very thing about naming Robert Tilton really bothered him. His heart was right, he just honestly, it just bugged him, and he wanted to know why I would do that, so I lead him through the reasons.

There are definitely times where I probably crossed the line--I don't regret that one. He asked me if I actually thought Robert Tilton was the devil, and I-- [audience laughs]

Audience: He did pray over the dumpster, though, on all those letters...

ST: Right, that's exactly it, I know, that's right. He's talking about how Tilton takes all these letters, takes the check out, then tosses them.

It's also like, at a certain point, these people--and it has to do with the thing with "Colour Code" and all that stuff, too--at a certain point these people go beyond where they sin and people confront them on it. It then becomes like it's in the public arena, and there can be honest differences of opinion on this, but my opinion on this is their sin is in the public domain, public arena, and it should be addressed publically. I think that people like that have such a profoundly bad effect on how people perceive Christianity that it's important to sometimes go right for the horns. [audience applauds]

Audience: [unintelligible] ...because I've been criticized myself, and there are people like [unintelligible] who have a really open and critical view of the televangelists, and they're really [unintelligible] by other Christians. I appreciated that song because that pretty much summed up my feelings.

ST: Thanks.

CP: Okay, in the back, the woman with the glasses, go ahead and stand.

Audience: [unintelligible]

ST: Thanks very much, that's very nice, thanks.

Audience: I wanted to say thank you for making me think. There's not too many Christians, people, out there that really want people to think. [unintelligible]

ST: Thanks very much. That's very nice. [audience applauds]

CP: Over there with the--yes, that's you. Stand up, go ahead.

Audience: When I heard about the tribute album and the upcoming boxed set, I got confused because when I heard the new album, it sounded very fresh and exciting, it sounds like something [unintelligible], and I just wanted to say I was starting to get worried when I got here and heard about these rumors and stuff that those mark the end of your recording career. I just wanted to say that I hope that wasn't the case.

ST: Oh, right, right. Yeah, it's just all weird timing. I think--

CP: Let's address that. Let's tell them why the timing is so.

ST: Do you know why?

CP: I think you know why.

ST: Why is it?

CP: Take your best guess.

ST: What? What? I don't know.

[long pause] [audience laughs]

ST: No, this is the look of honest confusion! [audience laughs]

It has something to do with contractual things. You know, the three things for a recording artist that are inevitable are death, taxes, and repackaging. [audience laughs] I pretty much have to do this. I think they were acutally going to put it out earlier, and I talked them into putting the boxed set out later, but the tribute album I had nothing to do with. That was just a nice happy surprise.

Audience: So we can look forward to future works?

ST: Oh yeah, I plan on doing another record, Lord willing. [audience applauds]

CP: I think that the thing you never want to forget is, just as Steve said earlier, that contemporary Christian music is built upon a system that's known as capitalism. No matter how good or how turned people's hearts are to Jesus Christ, that is the business in which we sit and rest in, either comfortably or uncomfortably.

This happened to me as well, where one company spends a lot of money on an artist and increases their profile, again i.e. Warner Alliance with Steve, and then it makes sense for other companies who own copyrights, who own recordings on that artist, to then bring them back out at that time, and/or to do a tribute, or whatever that might be.

Sometimes we're in favor of these things and we put our endorsement on them, and sometimes they're just simply out of our control and they don't mean our recording careers are over by any means.

Oh, I'm sorry, how about you? Go ahead.

Audience: I saw your videos. I was wondering, when you went overseas, if you already had everything all planned out, what you were going to do with them, or if in fact you just got there and said, "wow, this is a cool looking place, let's shoot here." Did you just travel around and do it that way, or did you have stuff in mind?

ST: Yeah, that's a really good question. It was sort of a combination, probably erring more towards the "wow, this is a really cool place." [audience laughs]

On certain songs I had a rough idea of what to go for, and other ones it was just--we also knew pretty well certain locations that we were going to go for. We had sort of a sophisticated way of finding that out: I'd go through tour books and see a photo and think, "wow, that looks like a cool place!" So we'd go there.

At the end of the "The Finish Line", for those of you who've seen the video, there's these limestone pools, and it's a real amazing-looking place. It was just going through a travel book and seeing a photo, and, "wow, that looks like fun," and so we went there.

It was one of those things that just by the grace of God, it all worked out. We shipped the film home every two or three days from Nepal, or Vietnam, or wherever we were, and what do you know, when we got home and got it developed, it actually looked pretty good.

Audience: Yeah, it was a lot different than your other videos. It was like you went National Geographic on this one. [audience laughs] The other ones were, you know--

ST: Well, a lot of it, too, is when you're in Nepal you don't have to get people to sign release forms. [audience laughs] Point-and-shoot, you know.

CP: Okay, right here, you've had your hand up for a long time.

Audience: What was it like to shoot the first video in Vietnam?

ST: Oh yeah. He's wondering what it was like to shoot the first video in Vietnam. That was, I think, our favorite location to go to. We went to Hanoi, and it almost didn't come together, just at the last minute it came together. As you know, the U.S. government and Vietnam, at least a year ago, had no diplomatic ties. I think they've got some now, economic ties, but not everything's official.

We didn't want to go there--there was no political agenda in shooting it in Vietnam, although sometimes I suppose just hearing "Vietnam," people might read it into that. We just wanted to go to a place where it was like you were honestly stepping back in time. I figured, what location could you get that's more locked away than Hanoi? Essentially nobody has gone there for, I don't know, 30 or 40 years, except for North Vietnamese, now Vietnamese, and the occasional diplomat or something like that.

Sure enough, it really was like stepping back 40 or 50 years, rickshas on the streets. Of course we made a scene wherever we went just because people weren't used to seeing anything filmed there, you know, when we cranked up the playback. It was just a great experience, and again, one of the things where God smiled on us and it all turned out.

CP: Great. Well, we're going to have to wrap it up. I'm going to take the last question. Remember, please, the courtesy that I asked earlier.

Imaginary scenario, Steve: Worldwide Christian persecution. You're in prison. There's a portable cassette player in your cell. You can write or sing one more song to leave to the next prisoner that comes in, or to the guard that comes in to clean the cell. You're facing a firing squad within minutes. [audience laughs]

Steve: I think--

CP: --and! [audience laughs] You can write just one more song. If that song is to have lyrics, what's it going to say?

ST: I'll be home for Christmas. [audience laughs]