J MAN: Since Benson has folded, you just inked a deal with Reunion. How did that come about?
Michael: You just went right for it, didn't ya?
J MAN: Gotta get the scoop!
Eddie: (laughs) The companies were owned by the same people, so I think they went down the roster and saw that we would fit over there. The oddest thing is that since Benson folded we're having the biggest record of our career. Because of Christmas Shoes, Sheltering Tree is selling in great numbers. So it was really a no-brainer for them. We liked them, they liked us. We just jumped right in and started recording a Christmas record called Christmas Shoes, which will be coming out real soon here. It's a good situation. Great people. We're very excited about it.
J MAN: What started the idea for your "JAM" festivals/concerts?
Eddie: A few years ago, I was talking to a promoter friend and I told him we'd like to come to his town, do something big, play the arena, since we usually play churches. He said the only thing he could give us was January. The reason it was open was because in January tickets don't sell, after Christmas there's not enough time. So I said we didn't want to ticket, we wanted to do an offering-at-the-door show. He said, let's do it. So we went, just us the first time, we had around 6,000 people and had to turn away a few thousand. We were like "WOW!" Gradually, after that, we said, let's bring a friend or two and make it Interesting so it became an annual thing a few CD's [after] we started calling it Jam, Summer Jam, January Jam. It has become a very cool thing. What's awesome about it is that there's no ticket, anybody can come to the concerts. We're able to have a lot of fun with the music and artists. We're also able to give an invitation and see people reached who wouldn't normally buy a 15, 20-buck ticket to see [a Christian artist].
Michael: Yeah, you get so many different artists, different music, and you get different fans who wouldn't listen to us, but they'll listen to Anointed, so it all works out for the good.
J MAN: Mike, how did you get hooked up with Newsong?
Michael: How I got the gig ... people always ask, "How'd your solo career go?" And I tell them "I'm in Newsong. There's your answer!" I basically was opening up for them around six years ago, and when Russ left, Eddie and I had been conversing, wondering when the time was right. I didn't try to fill his shoes, because Russ is a preacher, and he has an amazing voice, so I just brought in the element of what I did in my concerts, and it matched up pretty well.
J MAN: The vision hasn't changed, but the way you portray it has over the years. What is the mission behind the music of Newsong?
Eddie: I think we've always been about enjoying a God that's fun and everything. Encouraging ... and evangelistic. Newsong started in a church that had a strong evangelistic approach to it. It's all about having some fun with the music, tearing down walls and barriers ... Getting people to say, "I like these guys ..." We get their ear and get to tell them about a relationship with Christ and what it's all about.
Michael: (points to Eddie) And here it is, 20 years of ministry, how can he do it for so long? He would have to say because they've been faithful in keeping the message what it is, and lifting Him up. I think that's pretty honorable in a ministry, where even in Christian music, it's not the most popular thing to do. It doesn't matter where we are, man, on a baseball field, we could be at a Jam in an arena, in a church, the chance is always there to give an invitation.
J MAN: There's still two original members in the band?
Eddie: Yeah, me and Billy.
Michael: (laughs) Most of the time they're in oxygen machines at halftime during a concert. They've been doing it so long, they need a little air.