|Interview with Aslan|
One-Way: Tell me about Aslan, the band's origins, and when you became a member of the group.
Rick Conklin: Jim and I began as worship leaders at a church youth meeting (called Agapé) held every Sunday evening at Long Beach First Church of the Nazarene. I was 17, and Jim was 15 at the time. Jim invited a friend of his from school to jam with us (Kenny Walden, also 15). John Graves (14) was attending the Agapé services and offered to play drums with us, and we became a quartet. When John joined us, I started to play the bass almost exclusively, and the combo "In His Name" was born. Soon we were doing some cover tunes and a couple of original songs, and were invited to join the church youth choir on a tour through Arizona. Shortly thereafter, we were asked to play in other churches and some coffee houses around the Southland in California.
Kenny left us and Mike Holmes (another friend of Jim's from Wilson High School) then joined us. Mike played electric guitar (Kenny was an acoustic guitarist), and it changed our sound significantly. All of a sudden, we were playing real rock music, not just acoustic folk rock. This was our first step out and away from what was then the folk rock tradition of contemporary Christian music. I remember that some people felt this was very radical, and the Nazarene Church actually asked us to stop practicing there because of it. I found this a bit ridiculous, simply because the stuff on the radio (secular) was truly radical and the stuff we were playing was so mild and subdued by contrast.
We started practicing at a friend's garage in North Long Beach and playing Calvary Chapel bible studies. This was no small thing at the time, as Life magazine had just run a multi-page article about the Jesus Movement in America, in which Calvary Chapel and Reverend Chuck Smith were featured prominently. This was the center of the Southern California Christian music scene, and we were playing before the Bible studies, along with other venerable pioneers (Love Song, The Way, Children of the Day, Good News). It was at one of our concerts in Long Beach at this time when Bill Hoppe (keyboards, vocals) first heard us and offered to lend his talents to the group. Bill jammed with us after a Bible study one night at Calvary Chapel before we broke everything down to go home. It was right, and we became a five-man band that night.
Mike was dating a beautiful Christian girl from high school by the name of Toni McWilliams, who also happened to be a very fine violinist. Mike and Toni became more serious in their relationship and Mike began campaigning for her acceptance in the band. The MEN indulged Mike and we let her sit in on a few songs with us. The violin was too good to pass up, and besides, she could sing all the parts that would have taken a castrato to hit, and none of the MEN were going there. Voila! We were six. Not long after this, we changed our name to "Aslan" ... all Wilson High School alumni but myself. I was the dissenter, the oblivious and mysterious Southerner (a role I maintain to this day).
OW: How about your background, upbringing, and early musical influences?
RC: I'm somewhat reticent to share this, however, since this would be the forum where it ought to appear ... My mom tells a story of me when I was about 3 years old in Springfield, Oregon. She says that one Sunday morning after church, a group of teenagers were gathered around me while I stood in one of the back pews, dancing up and down and singing "A-rock 'n' roll, a-rock 'n' roll, a-rock, rock, rock!" This sounds way too contrived to be real, but she's been telling that story longer than I've played any instrument. I doubt she had any inkling whatsoever that I would someday move that act a few pews forward.
I've always loved rock 'n' roll. During the 1960s, it was the currency of the culture. You really couldn't have had a pulse and not been aware of the effect it had on society. It was loud, distracting, and ubiquitous. I was immersed in it and I loved it. The first record I remember wearing out was my uncle's EP of Elvis' Kid Galahad soundtrack. I can still sing all the songs on that record (that was thirty-nine years ago). Then came the Beatles, and I was conquered by the British Invasion--Cream, Led Zepplin, Elton John, Queen, 10cc, and Pink Floyd. Later would come more obscure and whimsical musical influences such as Sparks and Split Enz.
As a Christian, "sex and drugs" had nothing to do with my love of "Rock 'n' Roll." However, I was really frustrated that the Christian contemporary music scene was dominated by Ralph Carmichael (I later came to appreciate his contributions). This M.O.R. Up with People, New Christy Minstrels type of thing was sanctioned and promoted within many churches of the day as "neat," "hip," and "with-it" music. I wanted to go hide. It was little wonder when I heard Love Song for the first time that I was blown away. Then came Larry Norman and his rebel cry of "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music." I was encouraged further ... these guys were getting it. They spoke the language and, from my perspective, these guys were the best first proclaimers of the gospel in the vernacular of the day. I had been writing some secular songs by this time, but realized communicating the gospel in this fashion was a calling I could not ignore. It was the Great Commission that compelled me to witness in this medium, and I went at it wholeheartedly. It wasn't always pretty, but it was always real and it was a continual source of growth, worship, and blessings.
OW: Did any of you have any formal musical training, and what instrument do you play?
RC: I play bass ... After I completed my doctorate at Julliard, I studied with several garage bands trying to figure out what notes I could play on the bass that wouldn't clash with one or more other instruments trying to do the same. I've always been a bit intimidated by musicians with formal training. It wasn't until I was paired up with the members of Aslan that I could bring myself to even acknowledging anyone that could read music as a rock 'n' roll artiste. There was a bit of a strange bigotry promoted by the likes of the Beatles (who reportedly couldn't read music) that went something like this ...
"If you read music, you are restricted by rules and unfit to experiment in this laboratory, and you have no business even attempting to pass yourself off as an artiste. You can represent nothing more than an immutable spawn of the system, a conspirator to the problem the artists are trying to solve, and your ilk must be ushered off the stage."
I think that's how it went.
I started out on drums in fifth grade and quit after my family moved to a place where there was no school music program. At the age of 15, I was itching to play anything, and thought four strings was as much as I could handle, so I bought a bass and began to practice. The blues were easy to learn, and everyone could fake the twelve-bar blues, so I explored that while I was learning where the notes were on the neck. After realizing these same four strings were also found on a six-string guitar, I began to learn chords on an acoustic nylon-string guitar, which I still play to this day. I then began picking things out on piano (that's all I have to say about the piano). Eventually, I discovered that all notes on all instruments have some relationship to one another and, with many years of diligence, I worked it out from there ... I'm still working ... I play bass.
OW: You had one song, Who Loves the Lonely that appeared on 1977's Maranatha 6 album. Was there ever an attempt to produce a full Aslan album?
RC: There was an attempt. The timing was a bit unfortunate--it came about the same time that John quit and I was fired. We had a meeting with Buddy Hughey from Myrrh Records, who told us that he was working with another up-and-coming artist by the name of Amy Grant (you may have heard of her), and would like us to consider doing an album on the Myrrh label as well. Buddy Hughey set us up with Buddy King (keep in mind this was long before the movie "Buddy"), who had produced and engineered several early Maranatha albums. Buddy King assigned Bob Ayala to work as our producer, and we began rehearsing songs we agreed would make a good cohesive album ("concept" albums were the rage at the time).
We went into Sound Castle studios near Griffith Park (Los Angeles) and recorded a live demo (warts and all). Maranatha found out we were being considered by Myrrh, and after we had been in their ranks for four years, finally asked us to consider doing an album on the Maranatha label. Meanwhile, Ron Matsen, our booking agent, met with Buddy King. They had a major disagreement over our proposed contract that ended up in ultimatums, and while we were trying to determine what the right thing was to do, the band fell apart. If this sounds confusing, then you're only beginning to understand what kind of a spin cycle we were in at the time.
Bottom line--God finished that chapter of our book for everyone's sake. The work Aslan had been commissioned to accomplish was complete. An album was just not part of the plan.
OW: Any particular album(s) or song(s) from the Jesus Movement days that are personal favorites?
RC: I wore out a few albums. Love Song's first and second albums were particularly inspirational and beautiful. Larry Norman's Upon this Rock, Street Level, and So Long Ago the Garden were among my favorites. Daniel Amos's Shotgun Angel was right on target with where I felt we were working and I was very taken by its relevance to the time. Malcolm & Alwyn's Fool's Wisdom and Wildwall played directly to my "British Invasion" mania, and I felt the songs were so well-written. As I recall, Michael Omartian's White Horse and Adam Again were some of the best-produced albums at the time and raised the bar for professional quality of performance and production.
OW: What circumstances led to your conversions? Tell me about your early years at Calvary Chapel.
RC: My parents are both wonderful Christians and I was blessed with a home that recognized Jesus as Lord. I realize now, more than ever, what a rich gift I was given, and I strive to make that same reality for both my children. I received Christ as my savior at Thornton Church of the Nazarene (Colorado) on a Sunday morning service when I was 9 years old. I went forward at an altar call given by our minister, and my dad came up and prayed with me. It's one of my favorite memories with my father.
I was never really what anyone would call a rebel or a wild child, but I was gauged as unconventional by most of my friends. I think I still am. At church, I had little interest in much of the traditions, and I sought out more personally meaningful worship and teaching. That's what led me to attend Calvary Chapel. My dad was pretty strict in many ways, and he insisted that I would attend the Nazarene Church every Sunday with the rest of the family until I was 18, then I would be free to choose my own way. I began attending Calvary during the week (Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings) throughout most of my high school years. My first year at Calvary was my sophomore year of high school, and Calvary Chapel was reaching out to the youth with a message and format that was very "street level." Coming from a church steeped in traditions, it was very liberating for me. I loved it, and when I turned 18, I chose Calvary Chapel as my church home.
OW: Recall some of your memories of artists, festivals, concerts, etc., that you played with/in during the '70s.
RC: Artists--Tom Stipe was a one-man embodiment of the Jesus People movement. If I could select one icon from that period to stuff in a time capsule, he'd be my first choice. He was consistently the most engaging, humorous, entertaining, thought-provoking, challenging, and convincing speaker I can recall. I believe the proper word is "anointed." He was the impresario of the Saturday night Calvary Chapel concerts. He was also a fine musician and singer/songwriter (he was originally in Country Faith," then along with members of Love Song, he formed a group called Wing and a Prayer, and went on to play with the Richie Furay Band before issuing an album or two of his own). He was Aslan's mentor and strongest advocate within the Maranatha ranks. When Tom moved to Colorado to form his church in Boulder, Aslan may have done better to follow. Saturday night concerts at Calvary Chapel were never quite the same after he left. His departure left a great void for me personally and for Aslan, as well. The ministry in Colorado flourishes to this day, and God continues to bless Tom in very big ways. Tom, if you're reading this, I just want you to know how much I appreciated your guidance and fellowship. I miss you much and pray God's continued blessings on you and yours.
Erick Nelson was Aslan's favorite concert and touring partner. He's an original with a heart for the Lord that is nearly matched by his mastery of apologetics. He's a student of the Bible, logic, and philosophy (in that order, I believe, and a very potent and interesting mix it is). He's a sharp wit, a great songwriter, a wonderful vocalist, he's got a great way with the ivories, he has a terrific ear for strong talent (of which he was always in company, yours truly excepted), and has always managed to remain a bit of a buried treasure. And his sense of humor is so strict! The man is simply overqualified for this planet.
The first time I heard Erick sing was on the Maranatha! Two album with his group called Selah and the song "He Lives." I love that recording. It remains one of my all-time favorite Christian songs, and the performance is so genuine and palpable, it's humbling. "Flow River Flow" and his cover of "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" are equally compelling to me.
His group, Good News, was everything the name implies, and he was the hub (boasting talents such as Bob "Butterfly Kisses" Carlisle, David Diggs, John "Vatos" Hernandez, Billy Batstone, and Yvonne "Dusty Doney" Lewis ... don't ask), which underscores my comment about his strong ear for talent. I have always enjoyed the fact that our only song on vinyl ("Who Loves The Lonely") was followed by Erick singing "He Gave Me Love," which closes the first side of Maranatha! Six. Erick closed for us at every concert we performed on our tour of the Pacific Northwest in 1977. Imagine what a strong performer and talent he had to be to follow a six-man full-tilt rock band with nothing more than a microphone and a piano! In that day, I believe there were only a handful of artists that were capable of such a feat--Larry Norman, Chuck Girard, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, and Erick Nelson are the ones that spring to mind.
What's truly unnerving about Erick is that he seemed to understand Aslan in the fullest sense. The disturbing thing is no one else did, including ourselves, and HE wasn't about to clue us in!!! (I told you his sense of humor is strict!) That's just the way Erick is--he makes you work for everything, and you end up thanking him every time. He not only endured our private Aslan rituals (the fabled 5-Man Oot-Greet), but he actually contemplated joining us when invited (visit the Aslan website for more on this under "Memories"). That takes a strong man, secure in his masculinity. Our respect for Mr. Nelson was earned the hard way. Erick was, for me, the Seventh Aslan.
The musician ministers of the Jesus Movement will not all be remembered equally on earth, and unfortunately, some hardly at all. But that was never really the point ... the point was for Christ to be remembered and introduced to those who would follow. The workers in the field were wonderful, and as is usually the case, those that I remember most are the ones I shared the most with and learned the most from. People like: Donny Kobayashi (drummer for Parable and for Aslan's last tour); Denny Stahl (Maranatha soloist); Terry Taylor, Jerry Chamberlain, Marty Dieckmeyer, and Steve Baxter (from Daniel Amos); Pete, Wendy, Marsha, and Russ (from The Children of the Day); Joe Gallo (Maranatha soloist); Bob Ayala (Myrrh soloist); Dana Angle, Bruce Herring, Gary Arthur, Alex McDougall, and John Wickham (from The Way); Darrell Mansfield (with Gentle Faith and with his own band); Bryan Duncan (Sweet Comfort); Tommy Coomes (Love Song); Oden Fong (Mustard Seed Faith); Dave Barton and Bob Rainey (from Credit Union); Bill Sprouse, John Falcone, and Diane Hershey (from The Road Home); Ed McTaggert (The Road Home and Daniel Amos); not to mention the Aslan clan that I served with seven years in the trenches. All had an impact on me directly and, although I have forgotten much, I will never forget them. It was a remarkable time spent in the company of truly dedicated and wonderful saints that frame some of the richest experiences of my life in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of Aslan's early concerts 1973
Concerts--The first really big concert event that we played was "Praise '74." This was a festival held on the Orange County Fairgrounds (Southern California), and it went on for about 3 days and 3 nights, as I recall. I felt humbled to be among those performing on the same venue as Larry Norman, Psalm 150, and Andraé Crouch. For a few local boys from Long Beach, this was a great honor.
The second Saturday night we played at Calvary Chapel was overwhelming. The Saturday nights there were big events (usually more than 1,200 people in attendance). We received what I have been told was the first encore the congregation had ever called for on a Saturday night concert. The number of people that came forward to receive Christ as their personal savior that evening moved me to tears. I was deeply humbled that God had chosen us for this purpose.
The Anaheim Convention Center was something of a memory. I recall during rehersal standing on the same stage in an arena that I watched Elton John play to 10,000 people just 4 years prior ... I was stunned. You can't begin to realize how small you can feel until you've been there. When we played, I remember that I could see the exit signs looking something like a well-ordered brigade of bright green dots across the hall. During the concert, the only people I could see were in the first 10 or 15 rows. The appaluse at the end of each song was overpowering. It was such a strong mix of emotions: joy, fear, anticipation, excitement, and humility. The 40-minute set we played went by so fast, I hardly remember what we did or said. I don't know how many people were there, but I was told it was full to capacity, which I think pegs it around the 10K mark. Mustard Seed Faith played after us and hundreds of people came forward at the altar call. It was an awesome evening. I've never experienced the like, and doubt I ever will again.
Our farewell concert was played at Point Loma Nazarene College near San Diego, California, in October of 1978. It was a memorable concert to me for a number of reasons. We had just returned from a concert tour of the Pacific Northwest, and we were all aware this was to be the last time we would perform as Aslan. Johnnie had left the band by this time, so our massive sound was a bit diminished, but we still played as the synergetic collective that we were.
Farewell concert Point Loma 1978
The sound was good--really good. Our former soundman/roadie extraordinaire, Sir Walter "Wally" Grant, was there to commemorate the evening. Wally remains a very strong talent to this day as an exceptional recording engineer and audio/visual professional. Currently working with Full Moon Motion Pictures in Hollywood, Wally left Aslan early on to pursue a career that led him to head Andraé Crouch's touring arsenal, and later to win a Golden Reel award for his studio work with Willie Nelson, among other distinguished achievements. Wally lent his unique "sweetening" to the evening that was absent for the years he had been away from our live performances. It was great having him preside over that aspect of the concert ... a bittersweet homecoming and farewell.
The thing I remember most about our farewell concert was what was written in the Point Loma College newspaper. As was the case with so many Aslan events that seemed to complete full cycles, there was a sweet irony in the print. Years before, we had played as In His Name at the Point Loma coffee house on campus, and were written up in a small column on the back page of the college paper, which stated, in not so many words, that In His Name was perhaps the worst that Christian music had to offer at the time and that no one should be made to sit through the kind of evening we provided. It was harsh. By contrast, however, our final concert there made the front page of their newspaper and was cited as the best concert of the year on campus (this is a campus that had regular concert appearances from artists such as Andraé Crouch, Second Chapter of Acts, and Daniel Amos, to name just a few). I don't repeat this for any other reason than to illustrate how God can take anyone and apply them to His service, regardless of their talents or abilities, and use them to His glory. I was so humbled and thankful for this final gift of appreciation that God confirmed to us as he closed the book of Aslan.
I am forever thankful for the ministry God allowed me to participate in, despite all my shortcomings and inadequacies. There are too many lessons of faith to list that I had learned during those years. The power of God's presence and hand in my life and in those of whom He touched through the offerings of this small band of willing and dedicated musicians called Aslan has been a wonderful gift to us all. GOD BE PRAISED!!!!!
OW: I know you guys have a special relationship from the past with Erick Nelson. Tell us about this inside joke with him and Dr. Pepper?!
RC: It's private--too private--in fact, it's none of your Cheese Nippin' business! Who do you think you are, Mike Wallace? The nerve of your prying!!!! You'll never get it out of me, NEVER!!! (Erick taught me well.)
OW: Many lives and hearts were touched during the early years of the Jesus Movement. Can you explain what made those times different than we see today?
RC: The life-altering experience of a personal relationship with Jesus has, of course, never changed. However, the phenomena of the Jesus Movement occurred during a period of raised social awareness and exploration of personal spiritual fulfillment. The '60s and '70s were a time of much personal experimentation, and music was the idiom of the era. The Beatles launched one of the first and most memorable of these pursuits with their spiritual retreat to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, attended by a diverse entourage of other celebrities (Donovan, Mia Farrow, the Beach Boys, Timothy Leary, etc.). It drew quite a lot of world press attention. There was a blatant focus on spiritual values at the forefront of pop culture. The gurus of rock were the keepers of popular musical faith and, subsequently, became public tour guides and/or advocates of spiritual exploration.
I believe more people were overtly searching for truth and answers in a collective social fashion than any period I've witnessed before or since. This is reflected by the music of the day, such as Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky," Blind Faith's "Presence of the Lord," the Doobie Brother's "Jesus is Just Alright," and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," all at the top of the charts. The spiritual messages of these popular songs were vague generalizations, and oftentimes unbiblical and cultish. Not everything was Christian, but Christianity was certainly in the mix. It seems everyone was a bit less sure of what they thought they knew (i.e., the "question everything" axiom) and open to the fact that man is alone and incomplete without God. Some would seek alternate religious avenues such as Hinduism, Ba'hai, and even Satanism. But just as Jesus said, "Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened unto you," the seekers came to Jesus by the thousands daily and found Him to be real.
Today's pop culture seems to me to be spiritually more like a hip-hop/disco rehash of the '50s Rebel Without a Cause sentiment. Christians are portrayed in cinema and other media as white middle class lock-stepped McCarthyistic zombie-like witch hunters fixated on self-righteous hypocritical finger-pointing. As we know, nothing could be further from the truth for those of us who have experienced the liberating grace of a personal relationship with Christ. I think it's no coincidence that all this comes at a time when we as a nation are more deeply divided and fragmented on issues of Biblical values than at any other time in our history. Many of us feel the palpable struggle for the soul of our nation. The need for Christian outreach is greater today than ever before. It is a greater challenge and a much less popular, but a much more important, pursuit.
OW: This website deals with "oldies" Christian music. Do you listen to any of the older stuff any more? Do you listen to any current Christian or secular music?
RC: I'm still having difficulty adjusting to the notion that Aslan is an "oldies" band. I have two small children, I've still got all my teeth, and I'm not ready for the wheelchair-and-walker brigade quite yet. On the other hand, my 20-year high school reunion has come and gone. Tempus fugit.
I have always listened to more secular music than Christian music. It's hard not to--it's everywhere you go, so you have to work pretty hard to avoid it. I don't equate Christian music to secular music, and my appreciation is distinct for both. I enjoy what I can from whatever music I'm listening to by actively sorting what I like or dislike and making mental notes as to what I'd do differently.
As far as secular or Contemporary Christian Music goes, I am more inclined to listen to what's current rather than to "oldies." On some rare occasions, I'll pull out the old vinyl and do some archaeology; however, I'm more interested in what's new. Randy Stonehill attends my church and I've been privileged to hear him perform selections from his latest album live ... I think "I Was Only Dreaming" is as beautiful a ballad as I've heard anywhere. I like several CCM artists that I've heard (I admit my exposure has been limited). Among my current favorites (in no particular order): Jars of Clay, The Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, PFR.
OW: What do you guys think about the whole CCM industry as we know it today?
RC: First of all, I'm not qualified to talk much about the inside of the CCM industry as it is today. I only know what I perceive, but I'm not sure what's real. The business end, which was my least favorite aspect of Aslan's ministry, appears to me to be much more sophisticated and "businesslike" today. It's a relatively mature business and I've never been favorably impressed with the "business" aspect of CCM. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing; I have no current experience to draw from.
I believe there is a distinction between artists and ministers in CCM. I perceive there are a great many more artists than ministers in CCM today; I'm not sure that's real, it's simply my perception. Not all artists are ministers and that distinction is significant and rarely explored. I do not belittle CCM artists and I do not elevate CCM ministers--I believe both are legitimate. Resources for artists/ministers during the Jesus Movement were scarce and not very savvy. I can't recall ever seeing specific publications (i.e., CCM magazine), and the CCM artists had much less opportunity to interface (i.e., Internet access and laptops simply didn't exist). There was less understanding of the Christian artist/minister's role and legitimacy during the Jesus Movement. I used to be deeply frustrated by that back then. I don't know how much, if any, of that has changed, but I imagine it has.
There are a great many more artists producing CCM recordings today, and the variety and quality is clearly superior. I was talking to Jim Abdo's son Ian (an up-and-coming new CCM talent himself) a few months back and he said he never buys secular music because he has all the variety he could want in Christian music. That's a very strong and beautiful statement. There was such little musical diversity amid greatly compromised quality of product during the Jesus Movement. Although the message was really all that ever mattered, the delivery was usually much poorer than that of secular artists. I think cost and technology is a large factor--a record album would cost $20K to $100K to produce in the economy of the 1970s ($40K to $200K by present standards). You can buy a respectable studio for that same amount today. Christian albums simply didn't return enough revenue to justify steep investments. Even the best Christian productions were poor cousins to their secular counterparts.
OW:I've really enjoyed the Aslan website; what do you think about this '90s thing called the Internet? Have you had a chance to visit the Jesus Music website?
RC: It's a tool of tremendous resources and communication ... this interview was conducted entirely on the Web. I'm a big Internet fan. We're only scratching the surface, but the Internet is a vastly more powerful and important communication tool than television ... the true impact is yet to be felt. The opportunity for Christian outreach and understanding is immense. Christianity is based on communication and relationship with God and one another. We've been preached at far too long by television, radio, and the other media. It does require responsibility and accountability, but these are no strange concepts to Christians. I really enjoy the Internet.
The Jesus Music website is a wonderful tribute to those in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ in music during those days. It's really fun to see all the familiar artwork and albums that I recall browsing at the local Christian bookstore, and so many more than I ever encountered. It's not only fun, but a very valuable historic account of the roots of CCM. Keep in mind the saints that are canonized on the site are only those that were able to create a record of their work. So many more artists/ministers never did. Those days, we were awash in music, and the website is only a small representation of the live landscape of the era. It's a great gift to the Christian community and I am delighted by the efforts of Dave Hollandsworth to preserve and share these memories.
OW: What do you feel is the difference between entertainment and ministry in Christian music?
RC: I believe entertainment and ministry should co-exist, and are not mutually exclusive. Not all Christian art ministers to everyone equally; frankly, there are many people who didn't get what Aslan's music had to say because they couldn't get past the music. There are other people who were ministered to directly through this same medium who would not have received it through any other means. I believe Christ spoke to the people in their own language and in parables as illustrations and clarifications of concepts that are intangible to many. It's pretty difficult to convey a message if you bore your listener; it's also meaningless to entertain your listener if a message is not conveyed. The art of ministry is to realize both.
OW: I know that the three of you are planning to record an album of new music soon. Tell me a little more about how this came about and what we can expect. Any guesses on when it might be done?
RC: It started out as an Aslan 20-year reunion concert that didn't happen. In the process, Bill, Jim, and I began discussing the logistics of a concert event, and since we turned out to be the only participants, we began sharing with each other some music we had individually been working on. The result was an 8-hour recording session that produced a song called "Long Live The King," and we continued to record several other tunes from there. Pretty soon, we began thinking it might be worthwhile considering an album project with just the three of us under the name "Broken Works." We're still in the process, and we've laid down basic tracks for about half a dozen tunes. There may even be a couple of revisited updates of some old Aslan material incorporated in the project. The time and distance factor (Bill lives in Washington, Jim in Oregon, myself in California) has slowed our progress a bit, but has not dampened the spirit. It's hard to say when we will complete this work, but we're all enjoying the process immensely ... it really is a blast!!!!
OW: You've had some opportunities to play again together recently. How does it feel to do that again after all these years?
RC: It was pretty awkward for me at first, but it really only took a couple of days to fall back into our old groove. The sound is different without Johnnie, Toni, and Mike, but the sense of musical interchange between the three of us is still there. It's a gas.
OW: What are the three of you doing these days as far as careers? Do you have families?
RC: After Aslan, I went back to school and became an X-Ray Technologist. I went on to do CT, MRI, and eventually ended up managing two medical imaging outpatient clinics. I received a job offer from 3M to work as a medical imaging product support specialist, and I now work for Eastman Kodak as a installation manager for medical imaging networks and equipment. They don't ask me to sing.
I married a beautiful Christian girl named Kathy Dibble from Tempe, Arizona, in 1983, and we settled down in Huntington Beach, California, where we've made our home. I have a beautiful, loving 9-year-old daughter named Madison who is very active in gymnastics and a 6-year-old rambunctious outspoken tornado of a football-loving son whom we call "Bear," but whose given name is Trevor. We are surrounded by great friends, terrific families, and are richly blessed with love. God has been bountiful and gracious to me and my house.
OW:Rick, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. Any parting words to our readers?
RC: Yeah, I'm sorry for those who suffered through all my longwinded answers, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to reply. Special thanks to you, Dave, for waiting several months for all this--I appreciate your patience. Most of all, I want to express how much I appreciate your gift to all of us and your labor of love in this Jesus Music website. It's a wonderful work, and I'm proud to be a part. The service of the Lord is our blessing and commission, and the Lord will return soon. There is much to do in preparation and in broadcasting the good news ... let's cheerfully continue, so He will catch us in the midst of doing the good work.