Artist Interviews
Leeland - February 27th, 2008

This is a phone interview w/ Leeland Mooring of Leeland. The interview was done by Scott McClellan. Scott McClellan is the Editor of COLLIDE, a magazine about media and technology for church leaders, and he blogs at Scott lives north of Dallas with his wife and dog. Leeland was on his cell phone, so there are some parts that cut out. enjoy.

Wimpy Player
Scott McClellan: I read where you said that Opposite Way is about encouraging your generation to live out their faith. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Leeland Mooring: Definitely, yeah. The theme’s kind of woven throughout the whole second record. I mean, before we went in to record, we slowly had a huge that will this afflict a year-and-a-half to two years. We’ve been traveling so much, and we’ve had a really good chance to kinda get to know our generation as far as like what’s happening in our life, and as far as what’s their hunger and what’s driving them. And I think one of the biggest things that I’ve seen as far as this – my generation – what’s happening to my generation, especially here in America, is that they want to be a part of something so much bigger than themselves. _____________ whatever it comes from, just something bigger than they are. And that’s why I think a lot of the times you have things – they’re trying to fill themselves with all these different things, whether it’s drugs or whatever the world has to offer, and a lot of worldly things, and that’s why they kinda leaving themselves empty, because everything you find in the world will always be temporal, but God’s always eternal. And so I think one of the major things we’ve seen is they want – they kinda hunger to be used and be a part of something bigger. And any time we mention about the Gospel and Jesus, or the kingdom of Heaven and the call is on their life, any time we’ve ever talked about that these past few years, we’ve had an incredible response. Because a lot of kids, I think, even sometimes they just want to be encouraged and know that they’re called to do something great with their life and aren’t destined just to sit on the couch, or be a part of the rest of the world as far as what they’re doing. They want to stand out and do something meaningful in their life. And so we just ______ inspire and encourage a lot of our generation in these past two years, and so that theme opposite way was kind of meant to kind of happen for this next record, and it’s kind of – what the theme is is definitely speaking our generation is we believe that God’s raising up a new type of worshiper that worships God with their whole life instead of just a song. And plus, and with that, they’re not afraid to go the opposite way of the world in anything they do. You know, they’ll love their enemy, they’ll feed the homeless person, they won’t care about the _______. They’ll pray for somebody if they’re sick, and they’re just someone that’s on fire for God, and ultimately, not be trying to purposefully be _______ everybody else _____. When you’re living for God and we are pleasing God, you’ll eventually just look – you’ll be set apart, and people will notice it, and not even trying to do anything to make people know, and so this theme is kind of woven throughout the record, and we’re just real excited about it, and we hope it’s mean a lot to our generation.

Scott McClellan: Yeah, that’s great. You mentioned like loving your enemies and feeding the homeless and praying for people. Is that kinda what you – is that kinda what you see the song, Wake Up, is that kinda what you see that if the Church did wake up, is that kinda what you see happening?

Leeland Mooring: Yeah, I definitely see that. I think that fire of God is spreading throughout wherever they’re from and I just – you know, a relationship with God and the love of God is very contagious. The one thing that I have found – it just – it spreads so much. Like when the presence of God hits a place, or is on one person, and that person ministers to another person, and that person gets on fire for God, and they just – they get full with God’s present and they can’t contain it and they have to go – they have to go minister to their friends, and their friends to their friends. So I just believe that God just contain ____ catalyst _____ thing, it’s like you can’t avoid it and you can’t __________. And when you’re offered the chance to get into a relationship with God is one of the most – it is the most incredible honor in the world. It’s the best honor in the universe, and you’ll be able to walk side-by-side with the Creator of everything. And I think when our generation gets a hold of the fact that, “Man, I don’t have to just meet with God in church, and I don’t have to necessarily know all these incredible scriptures, or be an incredible speaker, but God can use me just like I am, and then I can meet with God everywhere. I don’t have to be at church to meet with God.” Church is an incredible place once you get to minister there with your friends and get to surround yourself with the body of Christ, and church is very important, and you need that there in your life, but when our generation gets a hold of the fact that it can have an intimate relationship with God, of constant communion with Him, with His presence, with His glory of constant communion with the Father all throughout my day and all throughout my week, even _____________ church every week, and that in that communion with God – the awesome thing is when you’re in communion with God, God’ll start showing you people throughout your day. He’ll even speak to you. You’ll be _______, and people sitting down in an airport, and I heard a story of this one lady – she was coming to this church in Redding, California, because it’s a really on-fire church, a guy named Bill Johnson started the church, and I heard that one of his members, they just walked into the airport. She was in the airport and she was waiting to get on a pain, and God said, “I want you to sit right there and just wait. I’m going to bring –” she just felt God saying, “Just stay there, I’m going to bring some people that are hurting that you need to speak to.” And random people would just sit next to her for small moments of time, and she would just tell ‘em, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” And that would be all that she would say to people, and they would start to break down and crying under the presence of God, in the airport. And you know, when I heard that story, it just really ministered to me because that’s what I feel our generation doing. Not necessarily going out and telling people they’re going to hell for doing some of these things wrong, but the fact that they are so in love with God. And that each one of us are so – in such a close relationship with God that we leak the presence of God, and that we just kind of – we’re just overflowing with God’s love, and with God’s mercy, and God’s kindness, and all the different personalities of God, that we’re just overflowing with God. That we decrease ourselves so much, and that we just follow God and we pull away with our flesh so much that we’re so full of God that when we just say the name of Jesus, that people will just – will just break down under the love of God. And that’s what I see our generation doing. That’s what I’m talking about in the Opposite Way is a generation that is just ______ of God, and all they do from the moment they wake up in the morning is just to please the Lord in any ways they can, and I definitely see – I know there are a generation here in American that has that passion, and I know that we can operate in that power and that authority. I just think it’s a matter of time before our generation really gets a hold of this message and gets a hold of the Gospel of God, and gets a hold of that revelation that they can know God now, and they don’t have to wait. And when I think about that, it just really inspires me, and that’s what we hope in the ministry, and that inspires the rest of our generation, you know.

Scott McClellan: Yeah, yeah. Your music is often – it’s described as worshipful, but it doesn’t have that kind of traditional worship music sound. How do you describe your music?

Leeland Mooring: Yeah, we’re ________ we’re ___________________>

Scott McClellan: Uh-oh – I think we’re losing you a little bit.

Leeland Mooring: Oh, okay sorry. Are you there?>

Scott McClellan: Yeah, we’re there, we got ya.

Leeland Mooring: So when I was 14 or 15, my parents started a church in Baytown, Texas, my home church, and it’s been going for like five years now. I was supposed to be the youth worship leader, and my brother, who was like 17, was gonna be the youth pastor. And basically, it was just our cousins, and that was about it in the youth group. When we started out, we were very small, but we had just come off the road for two years of ministering with my mom and dad, and we felt God do some awesome stuff, and we had tremendous faith. Our faith was really high, and we just experienced a lot of stuff that a lot of 12 and 13-year-olds don’t really get to experience with God, just to __________ ministering _______ incredible ministers about two years of traveling with them. So back at home, we started a youth band, or youth worship, and I just met a few guys here and there. One was my cousin Jake, who’s like a brother to me, and he’s playing bass, and my brother was playing keyboard. Met a guy named Mike at IHOP about a year later through a friend of mine, Daryl, and Mike started playing drums for us. And then I met Matt Campbell, our guitarist, and he started playing guitar with us, and it’s just an incredible time. And worship was all that we knew, and we’re not incredible musicians, so we would just worship God and just pray that God would show up some talent, you know? And God was faithful to show up every Thursday night when we do our youth group, and we started practicing together, and then I started writing songs and bringing songs I’d written to the practices, and we’d play ‘em and stuff, and then I started to falling in love with like that whole _____ sound. Like bands like U2 and Coldplay and all those bands, and I just really started falling in love with that kind of sound. And then – but my heart was worship – our heart was worship. We never wanted to be just some entertaining rock band. Personally, we can’t really entertain much – we’re not like amazing, amazing musicians. We’re __________ but we’re not amazing, and then – and second of all, anytime we ever tried to just like – maybe it’s just the way that God designed our ministry, but any time we’ve ever kind of like really entertained people, or like – or maybe just start trying to write just strictly a rock song or a song that doesn’t have any meaning, much meaning and are cool, you know, we kind of – that kind of miserably fails.

Scott McClellan: Wow.

Leeland Mooring: I think God has _______ for a reason. You know, we just have a heart to see God do something incredible, and I think that that we operate in right now is we really like kinda sit down and say, “Okay, well this is what we’re gonna sound like.” We just kinda – it kinda just developed over time. I mean, when we first started, we sounded horrible. But we finally just developed like every band, and it developed to what it is now, and after we really – we were kinda coming into our own, to our own sound of this – and we were kinda settling into our sound, and just really guiding it. Very encouraging for us and with a new record, and we sort of want it – the response is people are really enjoying it already, so we’re just really excited about it, and so humbled to be in this place where God has brought us here, cause God’s just – God’s done some awesome stuff for us, and we’re just excited.

Scott McClellan: Yeah. Now it sounds like on the second record that you guys have definitely grown together as a band. I guess that’s the product of being on the road a lot and that kinda thing.

Leeland Mooring: Yeah.

Scott McClellan: When going into the studio, did – were you all wanting to try kinda some different things, or did that just kinda happen, or –

Leeland Mooring: Well, it was really cool. We changed the location as there was a pretty different studio than the studio we recorded some of the melodies in. There’s a guy named Paul Moke, who is an incredible guitarist. He used to play guitar for Dixie _____. He was the kid, the guy was ____________. He’s an incredible guitarist. And I’d seen him around town before, and we were doing this new record with ______________, ______________ was doing the whole record at the time, and he only did six sounds _____________. And he was doing the whole thing this time. And so we were talking with __________ about _______ record that, and Matt said, “Well, man, right next door to my vocal’s deal, like literally right over the fence, my next-door neighbor, _____________ vocal studio and they record _______ and like vocals and stuff, and so he said, “Right next door to me, in the next house over, is a guy named Paul Moke, and he’s got a small house,” and he said, “come over, I’ll show ya.” And I went inside, and Paul Moke just had all these really – it’s a small house, but he had a drum room, and he had a key room, which is basically a bunch of upright pianos that sounded incredible, like a wooden floor with all these different like old, ____________ keyboards, and all these really – he’s just been collecting since he was like 18, since he ______________ so he’s got all this great stuff. And then he’s a guitar player, so his amps, his rigs were just incredible. And I’m going like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so cool,” and I’m thinking, “_________________ moving all this stuff.” And then he’s got some old Gretz drums in the back, and a cool little lounge room that we record in. It was really cool, and I just knew we ___________ walk down, “This would be a lot cooler if we ______________.” And the last room we were in was kinda bigger and maybe a little more intimidating. Also, we’d never even been in a studio, so maybe that was the reason why.

Scott McClellan: Right.

Leeland Mooring: But this new record we ______, this was the feel for it. And so I just got excited about it, and told one of the guys, and so we go in to recording, and like we approached it different than the last record. Instead of just recording track person by person, we did pretty much almost a lot of the songs from _________, and we planned to ___________. And each person’s take, the rest of the guys would be playing along with them, and when we were recording the drums, all the guys would be playing along with Mark playing the drums for his _______________. When Jake was playing base, we’d all be playing along with Jake playing his base tracks and singing along. So that way, it gave the live feel to every take for every instrument. And so we were just really excited about that. That was really cool and interesting, and we all had headphones on, and I had the _________, like the little old Fender amp, and I was playing the scratch guitars on and stuff. And then we go into – I’m really excited about the guitars on this record. You know, I found – _________ new guitarist actually hadn’t been – had just signed on to the band. He actually – he was back at home and had to do some stuff, so he couldn’t come to the recording for the new record, so I was doing most of the guitar leads and the guitar sounds and stuff, along with Paul Moke, me and him were kinda doing the guitars on the record. And it was really, really cool, cause I just believe the guitars on this record kinda progressed more than the last record, and we really tried to like getting better tones than we did in the last record, and just trying to _________ kinda _______ better with the lead lines and creative stuff, and it was just really cool. I played some interesting guitars and got some really cool stuff on there. So it was really cool, we had a lot of fun.

Scott McClellan: Did you have a favorite guitar during the recording process?

Leeland Mooring: I think my favorite guitar was – what year was that? It was in 19 – I think I’m gonna say in mid 70s or late 70s, the 1970s Fender Jaguar, wide body with ____________ this brown type of finish on the pick guard, and it just sounded so amazing. I mean, I use that guitar in so many different lead lines. For instance, there’s one lead line on the song Enter This Temple and there’s a lead line – what’s like an octave lead line near the end of this ________, it’s like [Making sounds like a guitar] it’s like a lead line there at the end.

Scott McClellan: Yeah.

Leeland Mooring: I recorded that lead line with a Jaguar, just cause it sounds so like punchy and like creamy sounding with that VOX and stuff, and it just sounds so good. Put it on a few different rigs like the Divided by 13 rig, which is ___________. I really enjoy that setup, like it’s an RSA Divided by 13, and it’s an RSA model, it’s a Rusty Anderson model, the guy who plays for Paul McCartney.

Scott McClellan: Mm-hmm.

Leeland Mooring: And he’s one of the first ones who ever got a Divided by 13, so that’s what he named it after, and then – and it’s like a really great for like rhythm guitar. Like it’s just like straight up, great rhythm tone like – it’s pretty much got ______ on it the whole time. ______________ the thing’s just got a great rhythm tone to it and I’m rhythm guitar some of the band’s like electrics and acoustics, so – but it was really, real great to have that rig. And so we just play on a lot of really cool stuff. He had this old like – what was that thing called? It kinda sorta looks like a VOX, but it was like a really weird amp. Oh, my gosh, I can’t remember the name of it, but he had some like Fender twins and stuff, and this was really cool. That the biggest ________________, cause I’m definitely a lot _____________ I’m a lot cooler than the last time ______________________.

Scott McClellan: Okay, I have one last question for ya, and that was when you sit down with a guitar by yourself, what tends to come out? New stuff, old stuff, other people’s stuff?

Leeland Mooring: Yeah, I would say most of the time – well, I ________ probably cause I answered this questions, but it must have been after we cut off, and I didn’t know, so I was like talking for like a good three minutes – (Laughter) it was really good, though, it was really funny. Let me think. Yeah, I mean most of the time, when I’m writing, sometimes it’ll just be kind of prayer. Like I’ll just be just sitting down just to pray. I’ll just want to pray with God, and want to get in the presence of God. Sometimes I’ll just sing an old hymn. I really love singing old hymns that like worship and just _____________ seem like they meant a little more to people than worship songs now. (Laughter)

Scott McClellan: Mm-hmm.

Leeland Mooring: But and so I just love doing that, I love getting in the presence of God that way, and also, I also like ________ to start out, like if I’m going to – if I have a really, really important idea, like something that’s like – that’s really, really – I think it’s a God idea for a song, usually I’ll just start out worshiping, and just create an atmosphere for the presence of God. I think one of the best places to write a song is out of the presence of God, in the Spirit of God, and I heard a minister speak about this. He said, “Jesus, or God,” God, Jesus, whatever – they’re both the same (Laughter) he said, “you know, God sent His Spirit to hover over the face of the waters and kinda lay the foundation before he started creating anything,” and there’s some scriptures all throughout the Bible that talk about God’s Spirit coming before something incredible happens.

Scott McClellan: Mm-hmm.

Leeland Mooring: Or the creation of some sort happens, and so any time I go to write on an idea that I think is a God idea, that’s just something really important and I want God to be just all over, I’ll usually just start – just kinda start worshiping with God, and just kinda telling God how awesome He is, and the songs, maybe old hymns and the stuff, and then I’ll start working on the idea after I’ve kinda worshipped for a minute and kinda laid that atmosphere around me of the presence of God. And it’s one of the best ways to write. But then there’ll be sometimes where I just kinda have a fun idea, that I really – it’s just kind of a fun thing, and it’s _________ in the song, and so usually I’ll just kinda write it on the spot right there, or just start working on it, and me and my brother coauthor a lot. My brother’s a keyboardist, and he’s great with lyrics, and I’m kinda more the melody guy, but I’m working on the lyrics. I usually can finish a song lyrically when it’s something really important to me, like if it’s an idea that I like and fall in love with, it’s like _____ on the God idea.

Scott McClellan: Yeah.

Leeland Mooring: Like a song like _______________, like that I’m doing that I can finish like by myself, but like the fun songs and stuff, like usually I’m just kinda like just there, just fun for fun, whatever. It’s kind of hard usually for me to finish those lyrics. I love the melody aspect of those songs, but lyrically, it’s just kinda like, “Aw, man,” so I’ll usually kinda get some help with that with Jack, and so it’s really cool, though. But that’s usually kinda how the writing process kinda varies. But the presence of God is the best place to come out writing the songs, cause it can be just saying, “Boo,” but because you’re hearing this from God, it will really ______ some people. So yeah.

Scott McClellan: Cool, man.

Leeland Mooring: _________. Thank you so much for having me, man.

Scott McClellan: Yeah, thanks a lot for the time.

[End of Audio]

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