This week is the official beginning of TobyMac’s This is Not a Test Tour! To celebrate that, we talked to Diverse City’s drummer B. Haley. We talked about what it has been like being in Toby’s band, basketball, B.Haley’s own brand, and more!
Gabe: How is it working with Toby? You’ve been with him since the beginning of Diverse City, right?
B. Haley: Absolutely, 14 years.
Gabe: How is it working with him not only as a friend, but also a boss?
B. Haley: It’s what you have been hearing for around 25 years.. being with DC Talk and then TobyMac.. he’s a great, integral man of God.. he’s a great business man, but he always makes moves with the Word as his fore focus> He always sets the stage for me by choosing to do the right thing.. not the right business move, but the right thing and sometimes those can be two totally different things. I’ve seen a lot of people make the right business move, but it wasn’t the right thing. Toby, he always surprises me, always making the right moves.. being able to show Jesus even in business moves.. I’ve seen him lose money in order to keep his word, that to me is integral. I think that is why you get people who stick around with him for a long time.. 14 years.. in these days it’s hard to keep a band together for 14 days let alone 14 years. He has been able to build a team around him that thinks the same way.. it’s not about the best business move, it’s about the best truthful move. Not to worry about things, like Jesus said in Matthew.. I’m not called to be popular, I’m called to be truthful.. out of being truthful it’s funny how God will raise you.
Gabe: What are some things you’ve learned from him not only as a business man, but as a Christian who is on the grind.. has to be accountable to his family?
B. Haley: Integrity. Back to the thought of it’s not about the best business move, it’s about the truth. I’ve also learned from him, even being out here on the road, family comes first.. God is first, then your family, then everything else falls in line. Once you get those priorities in focus it’s funny how God will push you forward.. breathing you throughout this world. Making sure you have those priorities in check and having people around you that will uplift the standards, the standards God has put in place.. Him first, your family, and then everything else. If we can’t witness to our family, we can’t witness about God. We see people come and have a very short-lived career.. and I think that’s because their priorities are out of whack.. burn yourself out.. if your spiritual life is intact showing you that your family is the next priority then there’s not a hole for anything else. Me being newly married.. going to celebrate 5 years in August.. that’s how me and my wife are strong.. we put the Word of God first and then each other.. and then comes the kids and business and everything else. I believe if you have to that structure.. when you leaning on guys.. not just Toby, but other members of the band also, who have been married twenty plus years that’s good company to be in. Never get advice from people who haven’t been where you’re trying to go.
Gabe: Did you really learn how to play drums in reverse [left-handed]?
B. Haley: I think what you are talking about is I had to switch feet. I tore my achilles playing basketball so I had to re-train my left leg to take on all the kick drum patterns. My right leg had to rest for seven months. I’m happy I did that.. I embraced the challenge where a lot of people would’ve taken a year break.. because the achilles is the longest tendon in the body to heal up.
Gabe: You have to be honest with this question, this is important. If you are playing a pick up basketball game with the Diverse City guys and you have the first pick, who are you taking?
B. Haley: I always go with Toby.
Gabe: You are serious? You’re not just saying that?
B. Haley: No, Toby always rolls with me. We’ve known each other for 14 years and we know how to win. We’ve been on the same rec league basketball team for twelve years now.
Gabe: Who would compare your game to?
B. Haley: My game? That’s pretty hard man.. A little bit of Jordan, a little bit of LeBron, with the shooting capability.. a little bit.. maybe about 5% of Stephen Curry
Gabe: Wow, so you’re indestructible right now?
B. Haley: We’re just in the zone man.. we love the game and we’ve been playing for a long time. Honestly, basketball, corn-hole and sports is our therapy away from the business of music. When we are about to rehearse.. getting ready for “This is Not a Test” tour.. we’re going to have corn-hole boards set up for rehearsal.. when we take a break we go straight for the corn-hole boards.. or if we get a bit of a brain blockage, we take a time out, go play corn-hole or shoot basketball. I know it’s weird, but if you come by rehearsals, it happens all the time.
Gabe: Is it stressful at all to get ready for a new tour.. with new songs and new material?
B. Haley: It can become stressful because we want to put out the best product. We want to represent Jesus the right way so we’re always pushing ourselves to be better than the last tour. Sometimes that’s a tall order. We’re just leaning on the Lord.. we lean on each other for pushing each other. We want to pick up our dance steps, pick up musically.. production, pick up on production too. I just love saying this.. I know Toby can’t say this, but I can say it because I’m the competitive one.. we love pushing the envelope and we love being trend setters. We hate following trends, but we love setting trends. Look throughout our career, that’s what we are known for.
Gabe: That’s good.. I think that’s lacking in Christian music a lot.. trying to be that trend setter. It’s risky to do that. You have a website, theunited1.com, can you tell me a little about that?
B. Haley: I decided to start a movement, God put this movement on my heart four years ago.. it’s all about loving, uniting and building a community. Meeting people exactly where they are at. With Toby, we’ve been talking for fourteen years about race reconciliation.. that’s been our heart, that’s why the band’s name is Diverse City.. to bring a little more flavor to a predominantly white CCM audience. Especially with where our world is today.. and I didn’t see this coming, with events like Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina.. this is a message, we have to be united. What I see, and I have been seeing this for a long time, a lot of churches.. the body of Christ, we’re dividing. God gave me this message way before there was a Ferguson or anything and now me Toby and management, we are all seeing it.. like woah! This is a God-thing preparing me to be able to speak truth, life, love and unity.. where a lot of churches are dividing. We’re jumping on the sides man.. Gabe, hear me out.. as believers, we done took the bait. We jump on the side of who’s wrong and who’s right. When ever you’re following Jesus, you’re a Christian or you’re a disciple of Jesus and you want to choose sides.. you’re not called to choose side of who’s wrong and who’s right, at all times we’re called to choose the side of Jesus and the sound of Jesus looks like and sounds like this.. they will know you’re my disciples by the love that you have for each other. Not judgement, but love. That’s the foundation, that’s the DNA of Jesus, promoting the love of Christ and not focusing on the negativity, but focusing on the answer and Jesus gave us the answer over 2000 years ago.. and that’s simply his love, the love of Christ.
Gabe: How much of that love and community contributes to being a city on a hill? I think a lot of times, especially now, Christians are guilty of not being that city on a hill.
B. Haley: Brother, that love that we just talked about is everything. I’m not going off my opinion, I’m going off of what Jesus said. Jesus said in John 13:21-22, “Father, may they be one as we are one.” That’s it brother, the only way to love right, to become one is you got to have the love of Christ. It’s not me trying to pick out the wrong in you, it’s me trying to pick out the right that’s in you.. but as Christians, it’s like a fury of judging. We were never called to judge, we were only called to love. I love the way Billy Graham said it, he said this, “The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict, God’s job is to judge, my job and your job is simple.. we are called.. better yet, made, simply to love. ” That sums it all up for me.
Gabe: I think a lot of people miss that for sure. You mentioned before that you are doing speaking engagements, how can people get involved with that and possibly get you to come speak?
B. Haley: All they have to do is go to our website, theunited1.com, and there’s a submission button on there if you want to book B. Haley. I didn’t see this one coming 7 years ago, Toby and the guys said you really need to be speaking.. and I thought, I don’t know about that (laughing). I got this awesome opportunity with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at a speaking event and that led to me to the whole athletic department of the SEC conference for football and basketball.. then that led to me doing the NBA and NFL. It’s been a fast journey.. and now every time you see Toby, you see me speaking. The message is “We Are One”. How you can get involved in it is loving your neighbor as you would yourself. This is something people don’t know how to do. 100% of our proceeds after our business costs go to meeting people exactly where they’re at. That’s what Jesus did. Most of the time before Jesus spoke a word about the Word of God, he went around meeting the needs of people and meeting them exactly where they were at. I just want to love hell out of people through our service. Through love and service. It’s not a one way.. it’s not one way, I’ll come do this if you listen to my message, I’ll come do this if you be my friend at church one Sunday. Jesus was going around healing people, feeding them. Healing the woman with the issue of blood. Once you do that, people wonder.. what’s the catch? There is no catch! I just love you. Then you have followers for life.. I want to get back to that, the true heartbeat of Jesus, meeting people where they’re at. Going into predominantly poor neighborhoods, they just want people to love them.. and I see that first-hand, because that’s where I come from.. I come from a very poor east St. Louis up bringing.. violence, fighting, not having food to eat. I get that struggle and I get that they need people to love the hell out of them. That’s what Jesus did, he literally loved hell out of people.
Gabe: That’s a good way to put it. People should know there are clothes on the website.. you can get shirts and all that.. some swag. Thank you for your time!