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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • 1999 1 Jun

"I think it's a shame how sometimes we (as Christians) know where that hope is, yet we don't offer this hope to people, utilizing the talents God has given us. That is what we are all about; trying to offer the hope that we've found in Christ."
Sunday Drive's Buddy Mullins

To hear "God is Good" from Sunday Drive's new project Doors Open Wide and read more about the guys in the band click here!

by Dan MacIntosh for the Music Channel at

When the time came to merge with the rest of the Christian music scene, {{Sunday Drive}} chose to wheel its way down a back road, instead of parading with the rest of the traffic along Main Street. Whereas most bands beat down the doors of record companies, or hound their musician friends into helping them obtain recording contracts, Sunday Drive mailed a two-song demo tape to an evangelist.

Yep. You read that right: An evangelist.

This tactic may sound a little odd, but to the members of Sunday Drive, such an act made perfect sense.

"Really, it was more of a belief factor in what he (Josh McDowell) does; as if we were saying 'We would love to be involved with someone like him,'" explains group leader Buddy Mullins "because we believe ministry and music go so closely hand-in-hand."

For Mullins, it seems a little strange to even ask why the band contacted McDowell in the first place. "In my mind," explains Mullins "it's like 'Why not Josh McDowell?' He's doing so much of what has been my heartbeat all my life -- which is to use the platform as not just good, fun, clean, wonderful Christian entertainment, but also as total ministry outreach."

Although this newfound association eventually led to the group's signing with their record label, it was never truly their intention to get a record deal out of hooking up with McDowell.

"Actually," says Mullins "at that point in time, we weren't trying to get a record deal. We were just interested in getting heard."

Another unlikely Sunday Drive career move involved touring together with {{Clay Crosse}} and {{Jaci Velasquez}} in the fall of 1997 and spring of '98. In addition to playing its own short set for these shows, the guys also acted as the backing band for both Crosse and Velasquez, which added up to approximately three hours of stage time each and every night. That's a long night's work, but Sunday Drive still remembers this tour fondly.

"That was a great experience," recalls bassist Wes Willett "because we were breaking onto the scene in the contemporary music field at that time. It was great to travel with Clay, who is kind of a seasoned veteran type and a great godly man. We also had a lot of fun with Jaci."

Although the album, ==Doors Open Wide== is only its second album as a group, many of the members in this six-piece band go back many years together. Mullins and percussionist Paul Lancaster have now known each other for about 12 years. Mullins and Willett have been friends for almost nine years, and Mullins and Mark Willett (keyboardist and Wes' older brother) have known each other an even 10. Guitarist Joel Higgins has been with the group for seven years and drummer Marvin Sims is the new guy, celebrating his third year in the group. (click here to read sidebar on the Willett brothers)

(editor's note: Sunday Drive developed quite a following in the Southern Gospel and Inspirational genres under the name Mullins & Co., although their current sound never alludes to those roots, except for their exceptional vocal harmonies.)

When you think about how this group eventually ended up meeting each other, and take a closer look at Buddy Mullins' upbringing, Sunday Drive's unique decision to submit music to a well-known evangelist begins to make even more sense.

"We all really met on the road," explains Mullins. "My dad was involved in evangelism, and we would travel to different churches. I met a lot of these guys as we would go into a church in some area, and they might be there with another artist or something."

The road has always been the most likely place to find Mullins, since he has been traveling for about as long as he can remember. "I've been on the road singing since I was 8 years old," he says. "I lived on a bus for years."

Mullins now has an immobile home in Nashville, where he lives with his wife. He enjoys his home life, but sometimes those around him observe his obvious itch to get back out on tour. He sees such restlessness to keep moving as a God-given attribute. "The Lord has to give me that, to make the road enjoyable. I enjoy my time at home, and look forward to it when I'm out on the road. But when I'm at home for any length of time, I'm ready to get back out and start doing what I know I've been called to do."

Sunday Drive's calling is to make music that is both infused with honesty, and rooted in a solid, life changing message. "Pop music today can be honest; sometimes brutally honest," says Mullins. "But it doesn't offer any kind of hope. I think it's a shame how sometimes we (as Christians) know where that hope is, yet we don't offer this hope to people, utilizing the talents God has given us. That is what {{Sunday Drive}} is all about; trying to offer the hope that we've found in Christ."

The Brothers Willet

If you follow rock history at all, you'll be well aware of the many troubles associated with blood brothers in bands. From '60s groups like The Kinks, to the '90s band Oasis, brotherhood has often meant nothing but trouble for many such musical configurations. Yet Mark and Wes Willett get along just fine, thank you very much.

"Out of 10 years of me being with these guys," says Mullins "I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've actually seen an argument (between them) -- and these were not physical arguments."

"With any band that spends the amount of time together that we do to create and do what we do, there's always going to be moments of disagreement and tension," elaborates Mullins. "But [getting along] always has to do with communication. One thing we've always said in our band is that we're never going to hit the stage when there's a disagreement going on. We want to make sure we talk it out, and get it all taken care of before we have to go out and try and give something to the people that have come that night."

Wes has nothing but admiration and appreciation for his elder sibling, Mark, and always had the intention of always playing music together, but God had different plans.

"We ended up separating, and going different directions in two separate groups for probably four or five years. But he was -- and still is -- my best friend. It was difficult to be in different groups. We both prayed that God would someday let us be in the same group again, and He worked that out. So it's now a real blessing to be together again." BACK TO STORY

To hear "God is Good" from Sunday Drive's new project Doors Open Wide and read more about the guys in the band click here!