Interview with Bob Kauflin (center)
& Don Nalle (2nd from left) of Glad
Glad came on the scene in the late 70's and their debut album barely squeezed into the time frame of this site. I've had to privelege to get to know Bob Kauflin and be under his worship leading at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD where Don also attends. They were gracious enough to answer a few questions I sent their way recently.
One-Way: Bob/Don, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Have you had a chance to visit the Jesus Music website and what do you think about this technology called the Internet?
[Don Nalle] Yes, I've visited the site. Judging by the amount of email we receive about our early recordings, there must be a good bit of interest in staying connected with the music from that era. And, it's good to know some one is carrying the torch for the decade of really bad hair. The internet is a wonderful tool that affords many opportunities. I utilize it daily. It also has the potential to become an idol for many of us.
OW: Tell me about the beginnings of Glad, how you guys met, what led to the group's forming, etc.
[Bob Kauflin] The group formed in 1972 as a result of another band breaking up with concerts left to play. The group responsible for the disbanded group auditioned numerous individuals to replace the them.
[Don] I wasn't in the very first version of Glad. But I came along before we all graduated from college. Four of the original members went to Temple University, and Ed attended West Chester State College (now University). The original five guys were brought together as a result of auditions conducted by another musical group (called The Fellowship), and then the group went through two bass players before I came along.
OW What kind of musical training did you have?
[Bob] I majored in piano performance at Temple University, and graduated in 1976.
[Don] Not enough. My training consisted of church choir (we had a great choir director with a classical background at one point) and elementary and high school band. Most of my bass playing learning has been through listening to records and imitating.
OW Did you plan on pursuing a career in music?
[Bob] Since 8th grade I thought I would be some kind of composer. My mom wanted me to pull a double major in math and music, just in case the music didn't work out. I decided to risk it all on music. So far, things have worked out okay.
[Don] I am still waiting for the career part to kick in. No, I studied Television and Film when I was at Temple, and I thought I wanted to be a Television Director.
Did you have any religious upbringing?
[Bob] Roman Catholic.
[Don] Yes, I grew up in the Presbyterian church where I developed a great appreciation for some of the great hymns of the faith. I was also exposed to the Westminster Catechism, but I was clueless as to the meaning of it all. During high school I became involved with Youth for Christ which led to my salvation.
OW Share with us some of your testimony.
[Bob] I was converted at age 17 when a Campus Crusade worker shared the "Roman Road" with me.
[Don] Ed (my brother) and some friends decided to enter a musical competition at a Youth for Christ Convention in Ocean City, NJ. They found out a week or so before the convention that the the rules required another instrumentalist. So, they taught me to play a couple of songs on the string bass, and I got to go along. During the course of the week, I heard the gospel and responded to an invitation. I began my Christian life as best as I knew how, but it wasn't until my college years that I began to put down roots in a local church.
The first Glad album was more musically progressive than most CCM albums at the time it was released in 1978. How was it received and how does it strike you now, 20 years later?
[Bob] That was quite an eclectic collection. Some of the songs had been written in high school. It was received as "radical" at the time. "Sophisticated rock" was the term used to describe it, I think. I haven't heard it in a while, but I think there would be moments of brilliance, and many more moments of mundaneness and cutesiness.
[Don] Scared to listen to it. It has its moments, I'm sure, but it was more or less experimental, and that probably comes through to the listener.
Were there any early Jesus music artists that influenced you?
[Bob] Michael Omartian, to be sure. Second Chapter, for their vocals.
[Don] I listened to Second Chapter, Keaggy, Michael Omartian some. Musically, I think we were more influenced by mainstream artists.
Do you have a particular favorite Christian album from the 70's?
[Bob] With Footnotes, Second Chapter, or What a Day, Phil Keaggy.
[Don] Can't think of one that was of major significance to me.
What were some of those early Glad concerts like? What artists did you play with or open for back then?
[Bob] Sorry you asked. We were less than "polished." Our spoken comments were often spontaneous and confusing. We played with Randy Stonehill, Lazarus, Scott Wesley Brown, Honeytree, Randy Matthews, Selah, Fireworks, and numerous others.
[Don] We did a lot of work with Youth for Christ chapters around the U.S. where we would be in town for several days or even a week doing concerts, high school assemblies, etc. We worked with lots of churches, especially Calvary Chapels when on the west coast. We did some of the Jesus Festivals where we met a lot of artists. We did a lot of work with Scott Brown in the very early days.
Bob, you left Glad in the mid 80's......why?
[Bob] In 1981 I felt called to become more consistently involved in my local church. It was great going around telling people that Jesus could change their lives, but I wanted to be a more regular part of the process. So I told the band I would complete the recently signed 3 year agreement with Benson records, and then leave in 1984. I did.
Don, are you still a part of the group?
[Don] I am back on the road as of September of '99. I have been off the road since 1987 doing administrative work for the group.
Glad eventually dropped the instruments and became very popular, even to this day, as an acapella group. What led to this transition?
[Bob] We included one a cappella song on most of the albums we did. We loved vocals. Three years after I left the group, Ed Nalle called and said Benson wanted us to do an a cappella album. I said GREAT! I began to arrange the songs, having no clear idea what I was doing. Parts were everywhere on the page, all handwritten. I remember the first time I heard A Mighty Fortress. I thought it sounded awful. Oh well..; The album sold 100,000 the first year, so I guess that's what made the transition.
[Don] We never fully dropped the instruments, although it may appear that way. Once the a cappella recordings met with some success, there was pressure from the record companies to stay in the all vocal mode. So, with the record industry having a "stay in your niche" orientation, it has become a struggle to keep the band aspect alive (commercially speaking). The last band release was "Color Outside the Lines" in 1995.
What are your feelings on the whole CCM industry, as we know it today?
[Bob] Hard to comment on the "industry." I could say that the people in the CCM industry are like people everywhere - sinners in need of God's grace. Some apprehend it more faithfully than others. :>) When CCM seeks to operate as a business alone, it does fine. When it seeks to do the job of the church, it's a very poor substitute. Unfortunately, I think many people view it in that role. In other words, I think too many people in CCM need much greater accountability and better teaching from their local churches.
[Don] I don't think I'm an expert because in many ways we're out of the loop. However, my view is pretty dim. The CCM record business is not all that different from the mainstream in many respects. Many times record companies operate with a "let's make it to the next quarter" approach where they create or acquire product for the marketplace and throw it out there to see if it sticks. Artists tend to be the fodder in this process unless they are well managed, persevering, rooted in the local church, and Godly in character. There are some bright spots out there (and I would describe some if I had first hand knowledge). Another disturbing aspect is the emphasis on image over and above substance, but that's a long discussion.
This website is all about Christian "oldies" - do you still listen to any of it?
[Bob] Nope. Sorry.
[Don] Sorry, no. I don't own much from the era.
Sadly, the early Glad albums are out of print. Do you think any of them will ever see the light of day again on CD?
[Bob] Nope. Sorry again.
[Don] The economics are not in our favor. We do not own the Word masters (first two records) and so far the asking price makes it unfeasible for us to acquire them. We get a lot of email and calls asking for our out of print titles, but translating those requests into the wherewithal to accomplish the re-release is an obstacle.
Bob, I know you've been involved with worship leading for many years. Tell us about that and why it continues to be your passion.
[Bob] Oh, this could go on for quite some time. Let me be brief. We were made to know and love God. Worship is all I know of me responding rightly to all I know of God. Music helps us do that. I find no more fulfilling way to use my gifts in music than to help people encounter the living God. Of course, it's a sovereign work of His Spirit whenever it takes place, but He works through and uses those who are willing vessels. I want to make myself available. The hardest part of worship is living, not leading. Worship leading gives me the opportunity to continue to pursue God's glory in all of life, and to help others do the same.
Don, I've enjoyed recently watching you play along with Bob on the worship team at church. What's it like to play together again?
[Don] It's a thrill to be around Bob again because He is a Godly role model and faithful friend. It's a joy to play with and learn from him again.
By the way, I was there at the Kennedy Center in 1984 for the recording of the live album. Do you remember me? I was the tall dude in the 17th row, 9th seat, yelling like crazy!! (I'm sure I can hear myself on that album!) :-)
[Bob] I wondered who that was.
[Don] The Kennedy Center was a very special event for us. I liked working with the horn section.
You've both been around for a while doing Christian music, what advice could you give to talented young musicians starting out in the music ministry today?
[Bob] Get involved in a church which teaches the word of God faithfully and has leaders who will get involved in caring for your soul. Let God take it from there.
[Don] Establish roots in your local church, learn the Scriptures, and grow in Godliness. Pursue musical training (starting as a child if possible) and faithfully serve in the "small" things at the local level. Receive any accolades that come your way as encouragement and not as a sign that you're destined for the "big time".
What are your thoughts on the ministry vs entertainment thing?
[Bob] Entertainment has a shallow sound to it. i.e., something done for no good reason other than to produce a good feeling. Ministry has as its goal the enjoyment of God.
What kind of music do you personally like to listen to?
[Bob] light jazz, different forms of classical (sometimes), thoughtful CCM artists (Chris Rice, Cindy Morgan, Matt Redman, Jars of Clay)
[Don] I enjoy lots of musical styles. This dates me, but the group I have seen the most times in concert is The (Dixie) Dregs. I loved The Beatles, and sadly, The Monkeys (hey, I was 12)! Tower of Power, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Pavarotti, John Sousa, Bela Fleck, The Yellow Jackets, James Horner.
Tell us a little about your life now, your family, your interests.
[Bob] I think you know just about everything now. I'm a lousy golfer. I have 6 children, a beautiful wife. My oldest daughter Megan is getting married in May! Now that's something to get excited about.
[Don] I have the greatest wife on the planet and three lovely daughters. Our extra curricular world is mostly about ballet, Irish dance, drama, and musicals. All three girls have an interest in the "fine arts". Our church life has changed over the past couple of years since we have had the joy of becoming members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. The great leadership, theology, worship, and accountability have been such a boon to our whole family. Our main family interest is in glorifying God through our participation in the mission of the church.
How about future plans?
[Bob] Continue to help people love and serve God with all their hearts and train as many others as I can to do the same.
[Don] Spend another vacation in Maine! To learn how to enjoy God and worship Him more and more.
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. Any parting thoughts to our readers out there in cyberspace?
[Bob] If you haven't read anything by John Piper, I'd encourage you to. His writings have been instrumental in increasing and developing my passion for God and His glory. Thanks for this opportunity!