My question for John is in white, followed by John’s answer in orange.
1) When you started Jesus Freak Hideout 14 years ago, did you ever imagine that it would become as popular as it has?
Definitely not! I’m very thankful for how JFH has grown and how God has allowed it to grow. It’s really humbling to be a part of something like it.
2) Since you're the CEO, what's it like to be the "face behind the name" of Jesus Freak Hideout?
Ha, I don’t know? I don’t really think of myself as this big time “CEO” or “face behind the name.” Granted, JFH is my baby, but as it’s grown, we’ve had some wonderful people come to be a part of its growth by contributing to it, so I see us as more of a team or family than it just being a one-man-show or something. I’m definitely thankful for the entire JFH team.
3) What question are you asked most often by JFH readers, and how do you respond to it?
Well, I’m not sure what it would be now, but it used to be “Why are you encouraging Christians to ‘hide out’.” Ha. Then we updated our “About Us” page to kind of address that question. To answer it, the name has nothing to do with the action of “hiding out.” “Hideout” (one word) is a place – like a headquarters or gathering place. And although, admittedly, not a ton of thought went into the creation of the name (in other words, there’s no super deep meaning behind it), it really is just meant to be a gathering place for believers. Fellowship. Besides, if anyone spends just a few minutes on the site, I think it’s obvious we’re not telling people to “hide out” (and it’s near impossible to “hide out” on the “world wide web” :) )
4) What would you say is the most exciting part of your job? The most frustrating? Do you enjoy having a "desk job"?
Most exciting is to just be a part of this industry and to be used by God to help promote Christian music while encouraging excellence in the art and ministry of it. The most frustrating aspect can be that the job is never done. There’s an overwhelming amount of music – past and present – to cover, and we’ll never be done. And one of the most frustrating parts of that can be when you spend most of your days working on keeping the content up to date, but still get emails from people (who sometimes write even in an indignant tone) wondering why we didn’t review something or why a certain band isn’t on the site. :) The truth is we’ll always be missing something, so we just have to do our best.
I do enjoy having a desk job, but it still has its ups and downs. I like my desk too, which helps. Haha.
5) What would you say is your most memorable event in the Christian music industry?
Oh wow. Hmm… Well, at least since I’ve been into Christian music in the mid 90’s, it’s probably been either the release and impact of an album like “Jesus Freak” by dc Talk (surprise, surprise!), or it’s just been experiencing GMA Week on a personal level and getting more involved in the industry coming out of Nashville.
6) There are literally hundreds of Christian artists. Can you tell us a few of your favorite artists/groups along with your favorite genre? Is there a CD you will never get tired of?
Hmm. That’s a tough one. Well, my favorite group since my young teen years has been Audio Adrenaline. I listened to them during those defining years and they kind of grew with me. Some of the songs that make up “Lift” would be my ideal choice for a worship album. Other artists I just love and probably will always love are Jars Of Clay, Dakoda Motor Co. (particularly their debut), PFR, Bleach, Project 86, Family Force 5, and still others. Records I’ll never tire of? “Lift” and “Bloom” from AudioA, Common Children’s “Skywire,” PFR’s “Them,” Eric Champion’s “Transformation,” Hoi Polloi’s “Happy Ever After,” Grammatrain’s “Lonely House,” Jars of Clay’s “Long Fall Back To Earth” (and their debut), and Project 86’s “Drawing Black Lines.” I’m sure I’m forgetting many others, but that’s just some (and other projects by the favorite artists I mentioned earlier).
7) Over your 14 years of business with JFH, how many artists have you personally had the opportunity of meeting, and which artists do you still hope to meet?
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few. I definitely don’t have an idea of the number. Of artists I’d love to meet? Hmm… they’d probably be artists I never had the chance to meet when I was younger who are no longer really in the game. Idle Cure was the first Christian band I ever heard back in the early 90s. It’d be cool to meet one of those guys some day. And, sadly, although I loved Common Children, I never got to see them live or meet Marc Byrd. Then there’s Dakoda’s original vocalist, Davia (I only got to see the band live after the vocalist change unfortunately) and singer Sarah Jahn who released a wonderful solo album in the late 90’s and… then… vanished!
8) You have quite a collection of mini action figures on your desk. Do you keep up with the latest in "superhero world"? :)
Hahaha Oh man. Ahem… Well, I actually don’t keep up with the whole superhero world (although I do often enjoy the films, like the newer Batman or Iron Man movies). I’m actually a geek for anything that has to do with the film “Ghostbusters.” I saw it as a kid and I still love it today. The 25th anniversary of the film’s release was last year, and they’ve been releasing all these neat new “adult collector” figs that they never had around when I was little, so collecting that kind of stuff is totally a guilty pleasure. I’ve run out of desk space for them. :) I also have spaces reserved to honor my love for Star Wars and Back to the Future and stuff like that too, but Ghostbusters takes precedent. Ha!
9) I saw The Hideout Show episodes. Where did the idea for this hilarious show come from? Do you see plans for more of these in the future?
Thanks for watching, man! The long version of a short story is that Josh Taylor tried to get me to watch the US version of The Office for a very long time before I gave in and finally did watch it. I did some time in an office for 6 years but didn’t start watching the show until after I escaped the clutches of that environment. ;) Anyway, my wife and I got hooked on the The Office and as a gag, I thought it’d be fun just to do a mock-up of the small little world that is the JFH office. Ha. It’s more of self-entertainment for myself and anyone else who wants to participate. It’s mostly not serious and just meant to be goofy, so we don’t take it seriously.
I’d love to do more episodes, but it’s tough to set aside the time for them. Truth is, Josh and I filmed a piece for the ending of an episode that hasn’t been made at all yet when I visited him this past April. It’s actually pretty dang funny and was a lot of fun to finally do something together in the same shot, but Josh had to go get busy with preparing for getting married and I’m preparing for the birth of my son (who could deliver any day now, actually!), so we’ve just had a million excuses why not to finish it. Ha. But hopefully that footage will see the light of day in some form, and maybe the expanding JFH family will become fodder for more episodes soon? We’ll see! They’re fun, even if people don’t dig ‘em, we have fun making them. So thanks for watching!
10) What is the most encouraging Bible passage to you and why?
This probably changes all the time for me, but I actually read an interview answer from Sarah Kelly as I was proofreading our interview with her tonight (I promise, this is NOT intended to be a site plug. Haha) where Sarah said “Joel 2:25 says that He will restore the years that were stolen! And He has!” and it really brought a lot of encouragement to my heart (which I don’t take lightly). I can’t lie… Big changes terrify me – like this pending parenthood – and I didn’t have the easiest childhood – I don’t want to relive it -- but I never viewed becoming a parent as possibly being part of God restoring years that “were stolen,” so to speak. That’s an incredible promise that I really think I need to start holding on to!
11) For you personally, what is your goal with the JFH website? What do you hope readers will walk away with?
I hope to connect music listeners with alternatives to what the world offers. I hope that listeners can find music thru JFH that encourages them and really resonates with them. I also hope to help the artists find new listeners, and I hope that, ultimately, God is glorified through everything JFH does. And I do want us to be the best we can be at what we’re trying to do. I believe wholeheartedly that ministry and art can go hand in hand and that God’s children should be making the best art out there, so it’s something we feel strongly about encouraging in music. And we want JFH to be a community as well as a reliable resource for the Christian music fan to keep up with everything in the Christian music industry. But, at the end of the day, I just hope JFH makes God smile. :)
12) Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with Jay's Musik Blog. Any closing remarks?
Thanks for your time, Jay! I really appreciate your support. Keep being awesome! :) And for those reading, please visit us at Jesusfreakhideout.com and drop a line to say hi!
For more about Jesus Freak Hideout, visit www.jesusfreakhideout.com! Follow them on twitter @jfreakhideout!