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Jeremy Camp: Louder Than Before - Part 1

  • Matt Conner
  • Published Dec 01, 2008
Jeremy Camp:  Louder Than Before - Part 1

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Jeremy Camp believes he’s finding this to be true on his latest album, Speaking Louder Than Before (BEC).

Armed with a new producer in the multi-award winning Brown Bannister (Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, MercyMe) and a new message of evangelism, Camp still finds himself returning to many of the same things that characterized his early years of songwriting—the primary one being his penchant for honesty.

“It's funny because even with the last record, with songs like ‘Beyond Measure’ or ‘I Am Nothing,’ if you read the lyrics, you'll see my honesty come out,” says Camp with a laugh. “I don't separate anything because that's how I'm able to release what God is teaching me. And it's the same thing with this album. It's all stuff that tears at my heart. It's all there. I don't write for themes. I write from personal experiences.”

Considering Camp has a family now, it’s an understandable question. Being so forthright about your life is one thing when you’re single (see Camp’s early years), but the same level of exposure is different when children are involved.

“I think everything is influential,” Camp explains. “All that you experience affects your songwriting. You go to a different part of the country and see other parts of God's creation and you think, ‘Wow, Lord!’ I think, to be honest, it all coincides. What pours out of my heart and into my writing are all the aspects of everyday life. It's the places that I go or my kids or my wife or my friendships—they all coincide… That all influences what I do.”

Still it’s not that Speaking is a repeat of past performances. Camp explains that Bannister was there to guide the process to new places, even if it meant challenging what the songwriter was familiar with.

“You always want to increase artistically. God has given me this gift, so I don't want to just leave it dormant or not use it to the full extent. On this new record, musically, there are some amazing twists and turns that God gave us. I think also that, vocally, I really challenged myself. Brown was awesome in that—to challenge me lyrically, making sure every word had a purpose. I think I've taken every little bit seriously, and I want to use it to the full extent. I also wanted to have a little more drive on this record. On the first single, you can't hear it because it's a little more mellow, but most of the record has a more upbeat drive to it.

“Brown just told me that I should make sure that I have exhausted any possibilities musically and lyrically,” Camp continues. “Exhausted is the key word. We would always try different ideas, and even if they didn't work out, at least we tried. I think that was a cool element. I remember I would sing one thing, and he would ask me to raise it up or sing this word in this way. If it was a desperate word, he would ask me to sing it with desperation, and it brought things to life.”

But even with fresh faces in the studio and a seasoned approach to his musical career, Camp still utilizes the same old technique of songwriting as when he first began.

“Honestly, it's always been about picking up my guitar and just being inspired by what's going on around me. It's writing about what I'm going through,” Camp says. “One thing that has been funny is that on [Beyond Measure], I really tried to make it uber-artistic instead of letting the song be what it is. I think I thought about things too much. It is my favorite record artistically, but on this record I didn't over-think it. If a song only needs four chords, then it only has four chords. I let the song be what it is. With one song in particular, I remember trying to change a chord because it sounded like a typical progression. But when we were in the studio, it really sounded like we were trying to make it different just to be different. I think that we just needed to let it be. Some songs came out with cool elements, but we relied more on production rather than the actual chord structure. We didn't worry about every intricate change, but we just let the songs be.”

But no matter what ebbs or flows in his personal life or his music career, Jeremy Camp is resolutely focused on the one thing that doesn’t change. And that’s what’s most important.

“I've had my ups and downs and wrestled this whole time like crazy since I've been in the industry. You wrestle with distractions yourself; and you wrestle with motives; and you wrestle with competitiveness. You wrestle with all of these stupid things that don't matter,” he says. “Then you realize, ‘Wait a second. I'm not here to build my kingdom. I'm here to build the Kingdom of God, and He's given me an amazing ability to do that!’ It's so wrong to do it for any other reason because then it all becomes glory for your own self, and that's exactly what we're not supposed to do.”

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**This interview first published on December 2, 2008.