Interview with Dana Angle of The Way
The Way was one of the most beloved Jesus music bands from So. California. From acoustic folk to dual guitar rockers, they performed all over the west coast especially. Both of their albums are now available on 1 CD, digitally re-mastered. To order, send $15 plus $5 S&H to:
"The Way" (Payable to)
1777 Mitchell #82
Tustin, CA 92780
One-Way: Dana, what do you think about the Internet and the advances in technology in the last 30 years?
Dana: There is an awful lot of information out there to disseminate, you have to be careful as to what is credible and what is not. I think it is probably one of the most powerful inventions (if you want to call it that) ever. It can be the ultimate teaching tool, and at the same time the ultimate medium for deception. People should be cautioned about how and when their children should be allowed to use it. Ultimately, it is the parents responsibility to monitor the usage.
What did you think when you came across this website devoted to Jesus music?
Dana: I was delighted! An awful lot of people came to know the Lord thru music. A well expressed line or a haunting melody touches the heart as much as any method of delivering the gospel. Some people wax nostalgic when they hear certain songs that bring them back to a certain point in their lives, when the were young in the Lord, and a lot of new experiences were fresh. Sometimes just hearing a certain songs inspires ones faith and brings you closer to God. I know that every time I hear "Fools Wisdom" (Malcolm & Alwyn) or "Feel the Love" (Love Song), I immediately feel the blessings of Jesus in my heart, and I am drawn closer to God. Because, those groups and those songs were a part of the foundation of my walk, I become "Closer to God" when I hear them!
How did The Way start?
Dana: Bruce Herring and I had been friends since we were 12 years old. We were in garage bands together growing up when we were first learning our instruments. Gary Arthur and I were in sports together in high school and we both liked music. When we first entered college we both would sit out on the campus grass together, with other people, and play guitar for hours, sometimes cutting class. Not surprisingly, God was working on all of our hearts at the same time, but in different manners. Bruce had a friend, Ric Lattendresse, who heard about Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. This was when we were in our second semester of College back in 1971. Ric brought Bruce to Calvary, where the Holy Spirit was moving on hundreds of hearts each night. Bruce brought me, I brought Gary. And we were all saved within a few weeks. Music was such a major part of the Spirit moving that we instantly sat down with each other and started playing what ever the Holy Spirit would put in our hearts. This led to many songs and surprising harmonies.
Ric was the "beginner" musically in the band, but he still was just as important as any other member, in his experience and wisdom in the Lord. Eventually the band became a vessel for the Lord and we became full-time music ministers. After about year and a half Ric realized that his level of musicianship was starting to hold the band back. He made a very mature decision to step back and let the Lord work his will. We were at a retreat when we first met John Wickham. He was probably a better musician than any of us and his soft spirit and humbleness fit perfectly into our void. When were started playing large arenas and music festivals we realized that our acoustic guitar set was not cutting it. At that time we brought in Alex MacDougall to play drums and that was "The Way" line up for most of our existence. In the later years, after many, many years of touring, some members had families and were being called in new directions, and we added Mike Fickling on drums for several tours and Jim Stipech on guitar.
The Way at Knott's Berry Farm
Dana is second from left
Those years were probably like a whirlwind to you - Knotts Berry Farm, festivals, countless concerts... what's your first thought when you think back on those days?
Dana: Why me? What had I ever done to deserve the blessings God was bestowing upon us? I am just a sinner! We learned quickly that it's not according to your work, or merits, but just that you have faith in the Lord and it was by God's grace that we were being used!
What were some of the negative aspects of those days?
Dana: I'm positive that there was jealousy and coveting going on amongst the Calvary flock, but just as with any other sin of the heart, God has his own way of revealing to each individual their shortcomings. The most negative aspect of our ministry was seeing how the flock of Jesus, on a nation wide scale, was so individualistic and separated from each other. Today, sects and denominations that bicker with each other, and who keep insisting that their interpretation of God's word is right and everybody else is wrong, does just as much damage to Christianity as any thing else you can think of. Many times we were rebuked or rebuffed because we believed a certain way. One time we played at a church in North Carolina, where the Holy spirit was moving on peoples hearts, and we turned the ministry over to the pastor for an obvious alter call. He stood there and he denounced our ministry because of our hair and electric guitars, and quenched the Spirit totally. How did he ever get to become a man of God, if he couldn't feel the Holy Spirit moving? That was extremely confusing for our young years.
Tell us about your conversion experience.
Dana: Music has always been in my life. I have what some call the equivalent to a musical photographic memory. I still know the words and music to the first song I ever learned in kindergarten. God knew this and ministered to me on my level, in a way, that changed my life for ever. It was at a Monday night bible study at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, that I saw Love Song play. Never then or now have I ever seen a group more blessed with talent and insight. Their music and words cut through me like a hot knife through butter. The Holy Spirit lifted me up, twirled me around, and set me down in a laughing, crying, joyous revelation of his spirit and it was through music that this happened. Love Song that night was just another vessel of the Lord. He took five empty guys with talent and made them whole. God's Spirit, when allowed to move, was what did all the ministering. He was just making their mouths move.
What kind of musical background do you have?
Dana: I took piano lessons when I was ten. When I started hearing songs from the Beach Boys and The Beatles, I became interested in guitar. My mom bought me a guitar with Green stamps. I taught myself how to play by listening to songs and figuring them out.
What was it like reuniting with The Way for the Jesus People Reunion event in 1999?
Dana: Totally incredible! I am now and have been a family man raising four children for the last twenty years. I had lost touch with almost all of my friends. This gave us the opportunity to minister again, and feel the Holy Spirit working through our music. There is no greater feeling in the whole world, that can compare to being a vessel of God, and watching him work through you and in some cases in spite of you. I was speechless for days! We played together for almost another year after that, and that was incredible. The most fun part, on a personal level, was being backstage (basement level) with all the old musicians that made up Maranatha!Music. But, the biggest blessing was seeing all of those people smiling, singing along, clapping their hands, praising God, remembering the time of their own salvation, where they were, what they were doing, what they looked like, who they were with, and in a lot of cases, which band The Lord used to touch their hearts. And to top it all, the true words of God coming from Chuck Smith's mouth. WOW!!!
Any chance of reuniting again?
Dana: Yes, with God anything is possible, and I am praying for that day!
Do you keep in touch much with any of the guys from The Way?
Dana: I didn't before the reunion. Everybody had moved so many times, it was hard keeping up. Bruce and I had gotten together a couple of times, and we did play together in various groups, doing demos of our own material, and we both did a short stint in a country band. But I lost contact with Alex and Gary and John. Mostly my fault, I went through a lot of changes over the years and at one point had a hardened heart toward Christianity altogether. We played at so many different churches, at times it was very disheartening to see "Christians" so self centered on their own ministry. And pastors who were using bands to try and increase the number of fold in their flock. Not seeing the big picture, that if you are true to God's word, the sowing of God's seeds and harvesting of the yield, are in God's hands anyway. If you stop worrying about the size of your church and start worrying about the accuracy of your ministry, God will bless those that are true to him and his word, are he WILL increase the size of the church, BECAUSE people are hungry for the truth. They will drive far, wait in the rain, sit in another room watching a TV screen, park a mile away, and sit in the back of a huge tent, freezing cold, to hear the words that feed their sole and mind. It's the true word of God that makes a church grow.
What Christian individuals or music groups influenced you during the early days of your walk with the Lord?
Dana: Not in any particular order, Chuck Smith, Larry Norman, Love Song, Blessed Hope, Children of the Day, Debby Kerner-Rettino, Petra, Liberation Suite, anything Phil Keaggy ever did in his whole life, Malcolm and Alwyn, Country Faith, Denny Stahl, Kelly Dietrich, Paul Stookey, Randy Matthews, Randy Stonehill, Paul Clark, Chuck Girard - thank you for your neighborly leadership, Laverne Romaine - so lucky to be with God, hope to see you soon, I'm sorry, my mind is only a fraction of what it used to be, which was questionable to begin with, and there are many bands and faces I can see in my mind, that were true vessels of God's word, but I can't remember their names, and Chuck Smith!!! (I sorry if I misspelled anybody's name)
When did you guys know The Way was going to disband?
Dana: I can't answer that! SO many unusual circumstances. Most bands break up because of jealousy, envy, selfishness, and they are just plain sick of each other! Little things start creeping into relationships after a while. I, was probably most of the cause of the band breaking up, but I couldn't tell you which stupid thing I did contributed the most to the breaking point. Looking back I would have done things differently. Thank God for forgiveness!
What did you do after the band broke up?
Dana: I started my own contracting business, doing low voltage installations into custom homes. Mostly stereo distribution, with many home theater applications. I later, through classes, became an audio-video systems integration engineer. I design boardrooms, conference rooms, training rooms, Video teleconference, and theater or large scale venue applications. These systems are unique in that they use control systems that operate screens, drapes, lights, projectors, and a multitude of audio and video switching devices, from one display screen remote control.
You're handling the remaining CDs of The Way's albums. Will they be reissued again when the current inventory is gone?
Dana: That's all in God's hands. I'm only doing this one CD at a time, and to me, it is to me pretty astounding that, God still puts it on peoples hearts to want to listen to our old songs. But, I truly understand when I listen to "Fools Wisdom" or "What a Day." God blesses those people he wants to bless, and He chooses the manner in which they will be blessed. If He chooses words or music that a bunch of nobodies wrote a long time ago, to bless someone with, I'm only humbled and blessed myself. We put both albums on one CD so that people could hear our entire collection at once. Besides, if you don't like the first album, maybe you'll like the second one. And visa-versa. He is the potter, and we are the clay. Please shape us in your image, and draw us closer to you! Amen
Do you have a particular favorite Christian album and/or song from the 70's?
Dana: Psalm 5 by Bill Sprouse.......... see ya soon Bill!
Are you still involved musically in anything these days?
Dana: Mostly I practice and write, and wait. I've written a whole lot of music instrumentals. Mostly smooth jazz, and acoustic guitar. I never stop writing.
What are your feelings on the whole CCM industry as we know it today?
Dana: I think it's great that there are stations dedicated to Christian contemporary music. My only prayer is that people focus on ministering to the unsaved, and not just feeding the flock!!. And I think it's great that bands are finally being judged for who they are and what they are saying, and not by the way they look or what genre of music they are playing. God has and will use all types of music to minister to people on their own level, regardless of the style of music that is being played.
Do you keep in touch with any Jesus Music artists from the old days?
Dana: Not really, just the guys from "The Way". That's what made the reunion so special!
Can you tell us a little about your future plans? Any new music in the works?
Dana: I'll continue to practice, and write, and wait. I'm constantly writing new music!
Tell us a little about your family, hobbies, interests, etc.
Dana: My hobbies include snail races and scat collecting. Just kidding! My family life is my hobby and interest. I've been a cub scout leader, a boy scout leader, a girls Bobby Sox softball coach(8 years), a little league baseball coach, and a high school swimming, water polo, softball, and MUN, board member.
Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. Any parting thoughts to our readers?
Dana: Thank you for your patience, inspiration, forgiveness, and steadfast faith. They say that one man's ceiling is another man's floor. Remember your walk with Jesus includes times when you've given up, lost faith, sinned without guilt, and swore against God's words. He will still be there. He'll always be there! Everybody goes through changes, sometimes we just can't see that what's happening to us is for our own good. Ask for God's forgiveness today and become new with the Lord!