February 22, 1997
Judson College, Elgin, IL

Our ska night continued with Beau McCarthy (bass) and Mike Rowland (trombone) of the Insyderz (see the Ghoti Hook interview for an introduction to this night of ska).

Tollbooth - Tell us about Cornerstone. You said you weren't supposed to play last year in '96.

Rowland - Last year we had a phone call from a label, and they said there'd be a possibility that we might be able to play on their stage. So we took all our equipment and went, because we were all going to go to Cornerstone anyway.

McCarthy - The Impromptu Stage was also a possibility, to be one of the thousand bands that try to play on the Impromptu Stage.

Rowland - When we got there, this label had some trouble with their stage--some power went out--and they had to bump a couple bands which included us. But we found a guy that had a gas generator and talked to him, and he said, "Sure, I'll lend it to you guys." We had just met the people from Five Iron Frenzy, and they said, "You can use some of our equipment." Through their equipment, ours, and that gas generator, we set up where our campsite was. Our manager had a booth in the big tent at Cornerstone, and we put little notes around; but we didn't expect much. Word-of-mouth went around, however, and we played at our campsite in front of about 300 kids. Then, after some people heard us down there, they invited us to play on the Purple Leopard Lounge tent [run by Brainstorm Records].

McCarthy - But it really wasn't their stage to let us play on. A couple people were sharing a stage, and it wasn't their turn to pick who was going to play. When we got there, it was ten o'clock. They didn't want loud bands playing after ten o'clock because of the worship that was going on in one of the nearby tents. We were, like, "What? This guy told us we could play!" So we prayed, and they said, "Well, you know what? You can play acoustic." Then they came back a little bit later, and said, "You know what? You can play with your amps, but don't turn up too loud." So we did that.

Rowland - And then it just got a little bigger, and there were a lot of people there. We got to play five or six songs, but then they gave us the boot. It wasn't necessarily that we were too loud, but there were a lot of kids in there who were really loud "after hours." It was a little bit of a violation on our part, but we made a lot of connections.

Tollbooth - How long have the Insyderz been together? 

Rowland - A year and eight months.

Tollbooth - If you were going to describe the sound of the Insyderz in three to five sentences, how would you do it? 

Rowland - Spirit-filled, Christ-motivated, worship music that contains ska, reggae, hard-core, punk, and several other places in there. We try to list ourselves as a ska-core band. It's ska with a little heavier end to it.. In our bio, we're compared to a couple different bands, like the Bosstones.

Tollbooth - That was a powerful sound, to have two trombones and a trumpet.

Rowland - Yeah. We like brass.

Tollbooth - Is that why you're playing ska?

Rowland - Uhm, I don't know. Why do we play ska? (laughs) It's a music form that we all enjoy.

McCarthy - With ska, it's easy to do all different styles from worship music to something that's more intense to the harder darker sounds to a lot of dance. Ska allows you to express whatever you're trying to express with music. 

Rowland - And it's easy to dance to.

Tollbooth - You have an aerobics class going on in there, for sure. I don't know how you would do this anywhere except in a gym. How does the band function with so many (7) members?

McCarthy -It's kind of like a family. We try to have as much unity as possible, knowing that, if there are problems, we can handle them as the body of Christ, as we're called to.

Rowland - We feel it was a big jigsaw puzzle that God put together, and he's been building it for a year and eight months. He started out with just our singer and drummer, and we just kept bringing people in. It's definitely a spirit-led thing, that we've been hand-picked by God for this ministry and we have what we're supposed to have. It's not like we picked people we like or that are easy to be with. Sometimes it's hard to hang out with the same guys all the time, but we definitely feel that each one of us is supposed to be here.

Tollbooth -Do problems ever arise? 

Rowland - Oh, all the time. We wouldn't be very honest and we wouldn't be human if they didn't arise; and they do in all kinds of little, quirky things. We've been learning to address those issues right away and deal with them in love, not bitterness. 

Tollbooth - Is someone writing out arrangements for you? I'm sure there are some extra challenges to producing music with horns.

Rowland - We're fortunate in having a lot of talented people in our band. Nothing is ever actually written out. Everybody writes their own part, and we put it together, and it works. Once the music's done, Joe listens to it, sees what he thinks, and puts in the lyrics.

By no means are we called to be musicians. We totally feel that we are called to be ministers. Someday, God may call us to continue the ministry but take the music aspect away from it. We could be doing missionary work in some other country or helping to build houses somewhere. We're not sure. Yes, God has given us talents and abilities, and we're using them now. And we thank God for those things, that this is what He sees fit for us right now as far as our ministry goes. But we are ministers first and musicians second. 

McCarthy - It's a hard thing knowing how to do that. We want to be real. I want to see God move in an amazing way, and I don't really know how or what all that means; but I want a real vision and passion for how and what we do. We want to be about Jesus Christ and building His kingdom because our music isn't going to last. In ten years, I don't think I'm really going to care. Are any of us really going to care what kind of music we played? We're going to look back and say, "OK, what were we given, and what were we supposed to do with it? Did I take it with the seriousness I was supposed to?"

Rowland - It's real tough, even in a show like this when there are 1600 kids. With the life style we as human beings attribute to being a band, temptation is always there. Coming to shows, it's so easy to be distracted. We're all guys, and most of us are single, and there are just so many girls running around. That's the number one thing for me that I get distracted with. But there's also "Sixteen hundred kids!" That's temptation. Hey, cool! Look at us! We're the Insyderz! I don't dwell on that thought, but the temptation's there. I have to beat myself down after that, just humble myself, and ask for forgiveness. 

Tollbooth - What do you think of all these people bouncing around, skanking and crashing into each other on your behalf, losing their wallets and pagers.

Rowland - I think that shows that are this huge can get a little out of control, and it is a distraction. I was distracted tonight because people were getting pushed up on stage against their will! People were getting hurt. As far as dancing and moving around, hey, if you're doing it because you have a joy in your heart and you feel like praising the Lord in that way, then I'm all for it. David danced before the Lord. There's times you can see in the Bible where the Israelites danced. But when you throw in the violent part of it, when people get banged into each other, that has no place in what we try to do. I know a lot of kids like to mosh and it's a popular thing right now, but it's bad when people start getting hurt.

Tollbooth - Do you have a favorite musician?

McCarthy - Keith Green. I don't know if anybody's ever done or made music quite like his as far as the way the lyrics were written to glorify and honor God. I listen to his music, and I think he was anointed. If I patterned myself after him, I think it'd be awesome.

Tollbooth - I wonder if Keith Green could have done ska?

McCarthy - He could've done anything. He was a great musician.

By Linda T. Stonehocker

Copyright© 1997 The Phantom Tollbooth