Sanctus Real Interview
  + Clara Sayre aka halofriendly - 04.13  



Sanctus Real is:
Matt Hammitt-vocals, guitar
Chris Rohman-lead guitar
Steve Goodrum-bass
Mark Graalman--drums

I met up with Sanctus Real at their Cleveland date of the See Spot Rock tour on February 11, 2003. The venue, the Agora, was absolute chaos. People were lined up down the hallway, wall to wall, waiting for the doors to open. Since my interview was supposed to happen beforehand, I made my way up to the door, only to be told that no one was allowed in until the doors opened. So my husband and I waited amidst screaming and singing fans for a half hour. Not good on the claustrophia factor.

But we made it in, we found the band and after their set (which, me being a fan and friend of theirs for over five years, brought tears to my eyes...they were THAT good.), we sat down to do the interview. Not five minutes into it, the guys were bombarded by fans wanting autographs, so after signing, we escaped to a quieter part of the Agora to finish.

*Note: Mark Graalman, the drummer of Sanctus Real, had not joined the tour at this point because of being too sick.


Clara: Well, the other day, in preparation for seeing you guys again, I popped in some old school Sanctus Real tapes....(the band groans).....hahaha...yep, I'm talking the days of Prayer 17, Song for Jesus (Note: SFJ is my personal favorite and I'd LOVE to hear you guys play it again...haha), and Last Days Freight Train. It brought back some fun memories of when you guys were first starting out. What are some of your best memories?

Matt: Definitely the barn out at uh...at the Hallelujah Party in Bryan, Ohio (1997).

Clara: Where I met you guys...

Matt: Yeah...that was fun...and crazy. Was that the place we...no, I think it was another place....no, it was the Hallelujah Party, I think. Where we had a PA up in the loft....and there were streamers hanging from the rafters everywhere...that was a lot of fun.

Clara: Oh my gosh...I forgot about that...haha...that was great...

Chris: My favorite memory is your mom's chili cheese dip....(laughing)

Clara: I almost brought it tonight! As a surprise! But I didn't get the recipe in time....

Chris: Oh man....(starts to get up)

Matt: (getting up also) Um, yeah we're done with our interview now....(laughing) Hey, remember that little wire thing that your dad recorded us on that one night at your house....what was that called?

Clara: Oh yeah...the wire recorder...I don't know the real name of it. He still has it, actually. You guys should release that song as a single...haha...(laughter)



Steve: Um....obviously I've missed out on some stuff....good memories....Let's see...I think my my oddest and most favorite memories were when I first started with Sanctus....a graduation party that we did for a friend of theirs....that was pretty cool.

Clara: On a more personal note.....Sanctus Real is a Christian band and all of the members are Christians.....what prompted each of you to accept Christ?

Matt: I grew up with it....my parents raised us in the church. I never really had a problem with rebellion or going off track. I feel really blessed that I've had the opportunities I've had...

Chris: I think we're all that way. I grew up in a Christian family....I accepted Christ in jr. high....but it became real evident actually through the band that you can't go into something like this without knowing what you're really getting into. I've been learning since day 1 how to develop my relationship with Christ everyday....

Steve: It's been both for me...I was raised in the church and received Christ when I was young...but obviously you know, uh....through high school and college, I really started to experience what it meant. Doing your own thing....I mean, mom and dad can't do things for you anymore. Spiritually, I think I really started to understand and take things more seriously...

Clara: Cool....

Matt: Hey, do you want to move somewhere quieter? It's getting pretty loud in here....

Clara: Yeah....(stops recorder)



Clara: Okay, here we go again.....how has being in this band changed each of your lives?

Chris: I think it's challenged me to take my relationship with Christ more seriously.......um...I don't know what else.....I think, like, also how to deal with issues and how to get together and communicate within the band....It's been life changing in the fact that it's been a huge part of my life....it kind of molds who you are...it kinda runs through your veins after awhile......living with three other guys, hard decisions being made.....you have to be mature and live up to it......

Steve: I've learned a lot of compromise...to give and take...just like marriage....and it does help, for those of us who are married...to just learn how to communicate, I think that's a major part....

Clara: Matt, anything?

Matt: Yeah...uh, I think that my main inspiration and goal in life is to teach kids how to find hope....and a lot of kids are depressed and don't understand that God has a plan for their life and....He changed my life, so now I want to change other people's lives....that is definitely the most rewarding and life changing thing about it.....

Clara: Have you seen an increase in that over the years?

Matt: Definitely, definitely.....some tours it happens more....when it happens, it's great....

Clara: Cool....Steve mentioned marriage earlier....Matt, you're married....and...(looks to Steve) you're married, right? (Steve nods) Okay, I wasn't sure...sorry I don't know you that well yet...(laughs)....How has being married and being in a touring band worked out for you? Do your wives get to come with you most of the time or what happens?

Matt: I um...I was married in July of 2001 and it's really cool....the same way that you are stretched in your relationship with God, it stretches you in a marriage. It forces you to give up more selfishness...When you're married, you realize how selfish you really are....and you have to be so much more considerate on the road...especially living with three other guys...it's been really good....it's made me appreciate so much more the time you can have....you realize you can't waste your time.....I think actually it has really stretched my marriage and helped it be even better....

Steve: I think I've really learned where to place my priorities...how high my priorities are or need to be....for us and for the band....it's very important. You try to make it happen....there are just so many marriages in this industry that are failing.......it IS difficult. It stretches you very thin...but it's well worth it. Our girls are amazing....they put up with a lot. We're blessed....



Clara: Awesome....

Your band is obviously part of the Christian music scene....and this same scene is sometimes pretty controversial for both Christians and non-Christians....how do you view the Christian scene? Has it been positive or negative for you? A little bit of both? Have you seen the controversy?

Matt: Oh yeah...people talk about it all the time. We're pretty open to whatever. We really feel like God has given us a really neat ministry and that God will prop open doors for us to be involved with that. And yeah...a lot of people ask....it's a big deal....especially with POD and Pillar...you know, signing with MCA and then moving onto Columbia....if God opened that door and pushed us through, we wouldn't be opposed to it. But we're just going to let him guide us each step of the way. I can't really forsee that happening, but it would be cool.

Clara: Yeah....anyone else?

Steve: You know, we've played bars and clubs before and we just had to decide what we felt was the right thing for us. I think that God has made this an awesome ministry for the church and to edify the body....that's why we're here.

Clara: Do you guys play bars or clubs much? Is that an option?

Chris: It doesn't matter...wherever we're at...whatever. We're open...

Clara: Cool...um...why did you originally decide to make this band a ministry band?

Matt: It was because of the people....we didn't really decide as a band....we had a desire to share our hearts....I guess that kind of what made it happen.....we never set out saying we were a Christian band...it just came out that way.

(My husband, John, walks up and observes the interview)

Clara: Oh hi...I was wondering who was sneaking up behind me....



Okay, you guys are all pretty much around my age (early to mid 20's).....how does it feel to have a predominantly younger audience at your shows?

Matt: It's different everywhere we go....some cities we have a lot of high schoolers....and some cities we go, we primarily have upper high school/college age. It's cool.....I think we have to deal with each crowd individually........You know, senior high kids will like it when you're all like telling them to clap more and everything....(laughs) But that's kinda hard to pull of in a club setting.....like the Agora when there's all ages....We've gotta be cool, you know...(laughs)

Chris: When we were in high school, hardly any of our peers came out to see us....and now to be able to play to high schoolers....it's pretty cool, you know? That's who we're trying to reach....maybe by the time we're in our thirties, we'll play to college students...(laughing)

John: Hey, I'm 32....my band [Brandtson] still plays to high school kids....

(everyone laughs)

Steve: Hey, it's the high school kids who have the money....the college students never have any....(laughing)

Clara: That's true...that's true!

You kind of already answered this, but did you specifically want to target your music to the jr. high/high school age crowds or did that just kind of evolve, especially since you started this band when you were still in high school?

Matt: I think that when we first started playing, whoever came out, we were happy with. Our writing and our music kind of sided more towards youthful rock....

Chris: We started out in churches....to the youth group kids....

Clara: Yes, I remember the 10 person crowds back in the day....that's why this crowd today just astounded me....

Matt: Yeah...Delta, Ohio....Bryan, Ohio...



Clara: I have to say......this sounds really dumb, but I seriously felt like I was a parent watching my kids up on stage tonight.....I was tearing up....I haven't seen you guys play in awhile....and to see this crowd just amazed me. After seeing you so many times when you were first starting out and how small the crowds used to be......it just made me so proud. You've really come a long way. I'm so happy for you all....this is awesome....

Chris: (smiling) Aww...thank you, Clara...

Matt: Thanks Clara....

Clara: Okay...so anyway, back to the interview....What prompted your decision to sign with Sparrow Records?

Matt: Just the people....

Chris: Yeah, the people...

Matt: We just met a lot of great people there....but we knew that they believed in us, they believed in our ministry........they didn't want to change us......they wanted to provide the means to get our music out there.......that's what made the difference.

Steve: They just won us over and besides a few lyrical changes for the better, they've allowed us to do what we want to do......we're very happy.....

Clara: That's great...it sounds like things are going well. Anything else Chris?

Chris: I like it......I think it's all about them believing in our ministry......They saw our hearts and they were the ones to come after us. They're a great family....

Clara: That's awesome...You guys have come a long way since "Prayer 17", that's all I have to say.....(laughing)

(the guys start laughing)

Matt: Oh no....haha...

Clara: Obviously, you've been through some member changes through the years.....how has that affected the band? Musically, relationship-wise, etc.?



Matt: I think, at the point where our first bass player kinda left off musically, we had to mature as a band.......at that point in our lives, anyone who had replaced him would have to be at that point also. When we found Steve, it really took us a long time to let him into the band just because it was such a big decision. But over time, Steve has worked out really well and I think we've definitely found a steady bass player......we all get together.....and hopefully we won't have any more member changes....

Clara: Haha...yeah really...let's hope there aren't any more....Steve, what are your thoughts about stepping into someone else's shoes and making your own name for yourself in the band?

Steve: It was kind of nerve-wracking and of course, I can't comment on the member change before I joined but......I've been with them for three years now and I love it...I feel right at home. Hopefully, they can continue to put up with me and I'll be here for a long time.

Matt: It's been strange because on this tour, Mark, our drummer, caught a virus and hasn't been able to play yet. It's weird not having him.....the drummer from the Supertones is playing for him right now and he's great...it's just weird turning around and not seeing Mark....

Clara: Well, that's it on my end....anything you want to add?

Matt: Our new record is out now....you can find it in Best Buy, Walmart, etc.

John: I have a question for them...

(everyone laughs)

Clara: Okay, go right ahead....

John: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or The Who?

Clara: Haha...oh man, he made me ask this question in my last interview with The Beautiful Mistake....

Matt: Well, my parents didn't really raise me on too much mainstream music, and I didn't know a lot of it......but now, it would be the Beatles. Ask me again in a few years and it might change, but yeah......

Chris: I'm a Beatle. (Clara cheers) I grew up on The Beatles...



Steve: Not necessarily out of pure choice, but out of ignorance of classic rock........I grew up on Psalty......now in my early twenties, I'm starting to appreciate true rock and roll....I'm trying to avoid the question.........can you tell?

Clara: You've come a long way!

John: Yeah, I was raised Southern Baptist.....I understand.

Chris: Have you seen the new Paul McCartney DVD?

Clara: No we haven't...we want to though...

Chris: Definitely get it.....every song is good. He can pull it off live now even...it's amazing.

John: You know the reason why the Beatles are better? Because the Beatles broke up before they could embarrass themselves....

(everyone laughs)

Clara: Haha...something everyone in this group right now can learn from....You know what? I just found out the other day that I have one degree of separation from Paul McCartney....

Matt: No way...how?

Clara: I just found out the other day that a family friend of ours has been doing McCartney's sound for like the past 20 years and knows him really well.....I was shocked!

Chris: I wonder if his name is on the DVD....

Clara: Maybe....You'll have to look...Thank you so much guys....



(the wives walk up)

Clara: Hey girls....I was talking to the guys about being married and being in a touring band.....how it goes over with the wives......they said lots of great things about you. So, how has it been for you on your end? Are you able to tour with them a lot?

Sarah (Matt's wife): We try to tour with them as much as possible....we hang out with them until they're setting their equipment up and then we just hang out together. We just started crocheting......

Clara: Ohhh....I'm trying to learn how to do that!!

Sarah: Yeah....we've been doing it for awhile....

Jodie (Steve's wife): We are starting to make our Christmas gifts now (laughing)....and as for touring, it's pretty much an option. If we want to go, we go....unless it involves airfare. We generally like to go for half of it....just to hang out and see what they're doing. Then we come home for a little while...

Sarah: About three-quarters of the time, we're out....

Clara: How have you seen the crowd size change over the years? I was talking to the guys about that...going from small 30 person crowds to what we saw tonight....

Sarah: It's definitely larger.....the tour we're on right now is huge...it's like a festival. And it's funny because everytime the crowd gets into them [Sanctus Real], we're like, "Oh yay...they like them!" It's a good feeling...We scream a lot....

Jodie: (laughing) The main thing is that we like each other.....we get along really well.

Clara: Oh yeah, that is so important...

Sarah: We've become really good friends.....we've never had any issues.

Clara: Anything else?

Sarah: Um...well, we're very proud of our husbands....(smiling)

Jodie: Oh yes....we enjoy getting to know the other band wives too. Although there aren't a lot....there are none traveling on this tour so far....

Clara: Yeah, we're a rare species, I think. I'm hoping to be able to travel with Brandtson a bit this summer...we'll have to see. It takes a lot of planning....

Sarah: Yeah, we figured that we'd try to travel with them as much as possible the first couple of years and then start our families....

Clara: Sounds like a good plan....Well, thanks for the interview...this'll be great alongside the band interview.

Sarah and Jodie: Thank you!

Some pictures I took at the show:

Matt and Sarah Hammitt


Chris Rohman


Jodie and Steve Goodrum

Webpages:
http://www.sanctusreal.com/
http://www.sparrowrecords.com/

Sanctus Real is on tour right now from TX to the west coast and all the way back to the Ohio area: Sanctus Real tour dates

All other photos taken from www.sanctusreal.com



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