Jimmy Abegg has worked with many different artists over the course of his career. Along with his solo music, Jimmy A has collaborated with Charlie Peacock and Rich Mullins. His long-awaited collaboration with Steve Taylor releases November 18th. We recently discussed the upcoming record along with his career.
Gabe: What can we expect from the new Steve Taylor record?
Jimmy: A lot of surprises probably. A different sound, probably a more seasoned look. Steve’s a really clever lyricist so his lyrics are still pretty great. I find them to be slightly more mature. That coupled with the seasoning of where John’s been, where Peter’s been, where I’ve been has created a pretty solid songwriting base. And there’s no clunkers. It’s really fun and I think it will be an exciting time.
Things are just getting underway. And with our record coming out, we’ve gotten lucky to be booked on our past reputations. So it’ll be interesting because the record will be quite polarizing. There’s really not easily definable Christian music on it. It’s certainly created by men of faith but, on the other hand, it doesn’t take aim on any specific topic and make a yay or a nay for it. I guess it’s just a fun combination of words and music played by people that are having so much fun it’s embarrassing.
Gabe: The Kickstarter was incredible…
Jimmy: Yeah, I originally thought the $40,000 ask was a little beyond what we could expect. Instead, we hit that in the first day and went on to raise somewhere around $121,000. And of course Kickstarter got like 20 grand of that… But we’ve had the luxury of taking our time making a very specific record with the highest standards of recording, mastering, mixing, and packaging. The packaging is really fun. The whole thing has been a real treat. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without Kickstarter.. And of course our fine fans.
Gabe: Did you do any of the art?
Jimmy: I did all the art. I have a really close friend that made the photographs for us and then I designed it. I had another close friend that is an extremely talented graphic designer and artist design the poster for us since all were busy traveling with everything. But when I got home recently I assembled everything and everyone loves it. We’re really anxious to get it out.
Gabe: That has to be an interesting comradery with the band. You guys have all been around for awhile. What’s that like to go down the road together?
Jimmy: It’s great fun. I can’t believe that I get to do this again. I kinda hung it up about 10 or more years ago. I think I was just tired of being on the road. The truth is I guess I might have gotten tired of the music that I was doing. And maybe the excitement of the company that I am keeping on the road and the new record promises to be very very different than the singer/songwriter thing that I was used to accompanying in the 90’s.
Gabe: You’ve worked with Charlie Peacock. You’ve worked with Rich Mullins. You’ve done your own art. You’ve even painted at the Dove Awards for dc Talk. How does a guy like you stay inspired all these years?
Jimmy: You know, I haven’t really had to work at that. It just seems natural outcome for whatever my day-to-day is. I’m an artist so I’ve always struggled financially. When I started this band with the boys, one of the first things my wife said “Not another non-profit”. And that’s meant as an ironic joke because my career has been filled with fairly notable collaborations and partnerships. But this one is just a really exciting time. We’ve all kinda been around the block a little bit and I think there’s an agenda-less approach. We’d love for the whole world to hear it. And on the other hand, we’re not all that interested in jumping on that merry-go-round of whatever the music promotion business is all about these days. Things have changed substantially from when we were all more active. Steve’s last record was around 1994. I made records and have been apart of making records all the way up until now. Peter, of course, left the Newsboys a few years ago but has continued to make compelling solo work. John is busy every week doing a huge variety of interesting session work as well as arranging and engineering. So, I think the combination keeps it spirited and interesting in a way that I’ve never really had an opportunity to be a part of. It’s really fun!
Gabe: What was it like working with Rich Mullins?
Jimmy: It was great…
Gabe: Why do you think his songs are still so relevant today?
Jimmy: He was a great songwriter. All those songs he wrote, not all of them but many of them, are bulletproof. He was able to do, in the words of a lyricist/poet, find the common thread in himself that unexpectedly rang true in an audience that was eager to hear something other than pop music. His personal life had highs and lows. We hear this word “seeker” all the time and it’s a new word people use to describe people who are trying to find the light or find the good news. But in most of the artists that I’ve worked with that have shown incredible tenacity or stick-to-it-iveness, they would all say that it’s a by-product of looking. And I think that Rich, more than most, had not only the ability to seek but also to tap into some things that are overlooked in lyric/songwriting experience.
The trend these days is to make corporate music; that is in the Christian scene to do worship music and make an effort to make songs that are sing-a-longable. And I think Rich did that accidentally by finding his voice in his influences that range from Over the Rhine to Cat Stevens and beyond. He just had a really innate gift that is unmistakable and indescribable and pretty much impossible to get. This friend of mine is a fantastic guitar player and he probably worked at it a little bit but he would tell you that his gifts are just that. He’s just exceptionally gifted and it’s not his fault. And I would say the same about Rich.