Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Outer Sanctum

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Outer SanctumThe older I get the more I learn to appreciate good music. But not good because I heard it on the radio, but because I know how talented the folks that are producing it really are. There is so much bubble gum pop on the radio now days, I rarely listen to the airwaves. But one day while I was surfing around MySpace (yes, I still use MySpace on a regular basis) I found a band that impressed me from the first listen. They are a rock band, nothing new there. But they are a great bunch of guys to boot. The first track I heard hooked me and I haven’t looked back since. I have even been talking to them about appearing on the next presents six bands for six bucks. Don’t take my word for it, just take a listen and hear for yourself why I am so impressed with these guys. I wanted to share their story with you here. So sit back and get to know the guys in Outer Sanctum.

I love the band name. It might be one of the most original names I have heard in a long time. Where did you guys come up with Outer Sanctum?

The two founding members of the band, Tony and Randy, came up with the name Outer Sanctum.  The basis for the name is that we (as Christians) are called to take the message of the Gospel to those that are needy and most of those people are outside the walls of the church.  It is one thing to be a Christian in the church, it is quite another to be a Christian in all the other realms of your life.  The word Sanctum literally means “a sacred or holy place”.  We believe that God is truly everywhere whether we want Him to be or not.  We have been called to take His message outside the church to the “Outer Sanctum”.

You guys consider yourself Christians. Did you know that you wanted to sing Christian lyrics at first, or did that come after things got started?

We have always planned on being a Christian lyric and founded band, but the two founding members originally thought that we were going to be a cover band.  In the end, the magnitude of original tunes that the band started putting out led us to strongly consider not doing those covers.  We are not trying to cram Jesus down anyone’s throats with any of our lyrics.  In some cases we are just trying to challenge people to think about themselves and the desperate needs in all of us.  The genre of rock music is almost always negative, hate-filled, depressed, or angry.  While we experience some of the same emotions, we just want to add the little extra notion that we also have a hope that cannot be swayed.  And that hope makes all the difference.

Where did you guys all meet?

The two founders are long time friends who decided to put together this concept of a Christian rock band in Indy.  They recruited Jonathan (vocals) and Mark (lead guitarist) through an Internet site called  Asking about how we ended up on is literally answered that both of us stumbled on the site tooling around on the Internet and happened to find some other people who were interested in playing Christian rock which we already loved.  “Metal” Dan (drummer) was brought on I believe as a friend of a friend of a friend.  Earlier this year, our former rhythm guitarist, decided he needed to step back from the band for personal reasons.  At that time we put out a lot of ads, did some auditions, and now have the fine guitarist, Dustin.

Who writes all of the lyrics?

The lyrics for all of our current songs are either from Jonathan, Mark, or a collaboration of the two of them.  Periodic lyrics are certainly added by all of the members, but the body of the text usually comes out with the song and most of the songs right now have been written by Jonathan and Mark.

Where do you guys practice?

Right now we do all of our practices at the church of our drummer, Dan.  It has the stage, equipment, and most of the time already has his drums set up where he plays for Sunday services.  Sure beats having him teardown and set up all of his drums every time for sure!  Dan has a VERY full kit that he spreads out approximately over three counties when he plays.  You can call him, go-go-gadget-arms…

I dig your logo. Is that a font or did you guys have someone design that?

That is a font that Mark was able to piece together for us.

Do you all have jobs outside of music?

We all do have work outside of the band.  We have an engineer, a nurse, an electrician, a press operator, a warehouse manager, lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

Our new music is completely individually inspired.  Usually one of us will have a flash of music or lyrics and then pitch it to the group.  Most of all of our songs after being brought to the group are shaped, changed, and what we call “Outer Sanctum-ized”.  Most of the time we have a general idea of a song  and then the rest of the band comes up something similar which is always better than anything that was originally planned.  We have almost constantly tweaked music based on suggestions or maybe adding an intro here or there or an extra chord to make the flow easier.  We love to just keep working on the same tunes to make sure that they are the best they can be!

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you go?

Good Question!  A number of the guys in the band are not big travelers while other ones of us travel around the country about once a month.  Knowing the guys in the band, I would think that a place like Austin or Nashville would be the best fits for us where we are a bit more down to earth guys, but can get in to a great music scene.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

This is a complicated question.  We have a large range of ages in our band.  We are 53, 41, 42, 31, and 26-years-old.  That being said, we are from a number of different generations.  Our bass player has a lot of blues influence where he played full time for a number of years.  While the guys in their early 40’s have a big 80’s rock influence, our youngest member barely remembers the 80’s!  (Laughs)  To just name some bands though, we love Red, Breaking Benjamin, Rush, Skillet, Devo, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Glenn Miller and many, many more.  If it rocks, we pretty well love it.

You guys have some hard rocking tracks but you also have some softer, more “lighters in the air” songs. Do you prefer performing one style over another?

It always depends on the audience.  In general we love to play high-energy rock tunes where we can really move all over, get the crowd moving, and it is just too much fun to yell the word, “Break!” or “What?” in a tune!  At the same time, the lighter tunes that we write get a lot of great responses and have touched at least one person in just about every one of our shows.  The power of those songs and lyrics has been overwhelming.  Those songs also give us a chance to catch our breathe!

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

Two shows immediately come to mind.  The first is the NewsBoys.  I admit that I was not the biggest fan all of their music throughout their history, and was therefore a little skeptical going to the show.  I have to give those guys credit though, they put on a show like nothing I’ve ever seen before and may never again.  Everything from SUPER high energy and a drum stage that lifted up, turned sideways, spun around while he was playing a rippin’ drum solo. If you’ve never seen a guy play a solo upside down… you haven’t seen a NewsBoys show.  The second show that comes to mind was a Slipknot show.  I’ve never seen such an energetic show.  The work that they have done with light synchronization and having all 8 (or how ever many there are) guys in the band simply jumping around to get everyone going was infectious and exhilarating.  If you ever want a lesson in great shows though, simply sit down with Metal Dan for a few minutes.  He even proposed at a concert.  He loves this stuff…

I love your quote, “If not under God, then under what?” Who can I thank for making my day with that statement?

You can thank the great lead guitarist Mark Lentz for that amazing and stirring quote.  That one still kicks me in the gut every time.  What a great challenge!

Your music doesn’t seem to be Christian on the surface. Do you also appeal to non-Christians as well?

I think our music uniquely positions us to specifically appeal to non-Christians.  We have been approached by a number of people just wanting to ask us questions about our music and our faith and how we see the two aligning.  We have all been burned in one way or another by the church, but that is because churches are led by people and people are inherently sinful and fail.  We try to offer the perspective that we are anything but perfect, yet we can present the passionate love of Jesus through some heavy, melodic crunching rock.  What could be better than combining our loves of Jesus and rock?

Where can I get some of your merchandise? I want to wear Outer Sanctum on my chest!

We are planning some big changes before the end of the year including a brand new website with some merch available and hopefully dropping a full length album!  Right now if you shoot an email to, we can get a shirt with our EP shipped to you for $12 plus shipping!

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

The largest crowd we have played for was also are best crowd mentioned above in Bloomington.  We have played a number of great shows, but would probably say that one of the best ones is where we have played to a big group of high school kids down in Bloomington.  High school kids seem to not have the inhibitions to get physically in to our music and jump around like us!  It’s a blast to feed off each other that way.

The smallest?

We drove all the way out to a suburb of Columbus, Ohio with another band that we are friends with and literally played the concert to the other band.  That was more than a little disheartening, but heck, at least we got to have our practice that week in Ohio!

What are you all drinking on stage?

Usually just water.  We all seem to sweat like it’s our job!  We may share a beer before or afterward, but most of the time we are just too amped!

Do you guys have a favorite venue?

We are happy to be everywhere that we can be.  It really doesn’t matter if we play to 5 people or 5000 people, we believe that God meant for exactly those people to hear our words and message.  All we can do is plant His seed.  God makes it grow.

Any word on a full-length disc?

Soon, my friend!  We are in the final post-production stages right now hoping to have it on independent release by the end of the year for sure!  That CD will have a lot of the crowd favorites that aren’t on the EP like Hands Up and Lonely.  It should be a great CD after a lot of work!

What can someone expect seeing you guys live for the first time?

We seem to shock most people right when we start.  We start our shows with a small musical introduction and then WHAM; we launch in to some driving, in your face, rock.  You can expect that you will hear some polished music, great solos, strong melodies, and certainly not a “garage band” type of sound.  We were once described as a band destined to play in arenas because our sound is so big.  We like to put it right in your face and let the distortion and lyrics run over you like waves of Grace.  You can expect entertainment, a sore neck from head-banging, and a big smile on your face.

You are on the lineup for the next presents six bands for six bucks. Are you pumped for a great night of live, local music?

Like you wouldn’t believe.  All of our band members are BIG in to live music and we are looking forward to meeting some other great local bands and melting some faces!

If you could only perform one track for the rest of your career, which one would you choose?

I may not be the best person to ask this question because I am the most musically A.D.D. person listening to songs and absorbing new stuff like crazy!  If you asked me today, I would definitely say For Those Who Wait by Fireflight.  That song just hits my soul right now.

What sort of motivation would you give to someone struggling in today’s music industry? Do you have anything to lift his or her spirits?

Ask yourself why you want to do music.  Is it all you can do or is it the most unbridled passion that you have ever imagined?  If it’s the former then (sorry to be blunt) get some new skills.  The music industry is not a place where the best musicians succeed any more.  It’s where people with passionate talent and great luck meet and a record company sees that.  Making millions in music shouldn’t be the goal.  Playing great music that you love… that’s the goal.  If you get that, then you will never have a bad show and never be sad with your decisions.

Have you ever been in a food fight?

Tony, our bass player, tells this story.  I was pledging a fraternity at Indiana University and it was my night with another pledge to serve the dinner.  We served the food to the entire house, but the cook was known as “broomhilda” and was notorious for her terrible, terrible food.  The other pledge and I were serving the food which was a ¼ lb of chicken, mash potatoes, and some veggies.  One of the upper classmen took a piece of the chicken, broke the bones open (the leg from the chest) and blood squirted up in his face.  At that moment, food started flying.  Everything that was on their plates went flying.  It was as epic as anything from Animal House.  In the end, though, all of the pledges (including me) were called to the cafeteria room to clean up the mess.  That was less the less than ideal part…

Let’s say you are about to headline a show out at Verizon Wireless Music Center. Who is your opening act?

For me, it has to be Red.  Those guys to a style of rock all-their-own and it is a consistently amazing show.

What are you doing on most Friday nights?

Over half of the guys in the band have children so there are high school football games or date nights for most of us. Have you ever had one of those moments where you read something and think, “Man we sound lame!”?

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

To be honest… I never think about it.  Why live worrying about things that you can’t know.  Plan to do your best in everything that you do and pray about the rest.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

When it is all said and done, I think all of us just want to be remembered as Godly men that showed people that to err is human, but to believe in His love and forgiveness is literally heavenly.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

“We’re living with the proof.  We’re showing we have nothing left to lose.  We’re singing ‘we are so alive’.  We’re Undead.”