Take 5 with Above The Golden State

By Amy Sondova If you’re looking to learn more about that band that’s touring with Starfield on the “I Will Go” tour, then you’re in the right place.  The rock trio Above The Golden State released their self-titled debut album (Sparrow) in late June and their song “Sound of Your Name” has been transmitting from Christian radio stations across the country.  The “pop-friendly” rock band front man, Michael Watson, was kind enough to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.  Incidentally, his responses are some of the best we’ve ever had, so this is a must-read!

OK, what’s with the bear on your album cover and in the album artwork?  Is it some sort of Oregon thing? (It had to be asked).

Ha! No, it’s not necessarily an Oregon thing, perhaps a California thing.  In fact, I’ve been attacked by a bear, once while on vacation on Lake Shasta in Northern California.  Luckily (and sadly) he just wanted the chicken wings out of our cooler.  Bears are gonna be the new craze, like pirates were, or ninjas were, they’re coming back in style.  Just you wait!  The bear thing was just one of those silly awkward ideas that ended up coming true.  We’ll be posting a video soon that explains in more detail.

You said that you want music to go back to its original purpose, which is glorifying God—how has music strayed from that path?

Simply, the same way we as humans decided to stray away from God; sin, pride, self-absorption, lust, and the desire to find our worth from people instead of understanding our identity in Jesus.

Most musicians aren’t reading A.W. Tozer in their free time, yet not only do you read Tozer you wrote a song based on his book, The Pursuit of God.  What can you tell me about “Gaze Into Your Eyes”?

I wrote that song while I was going to Bible College in Maui.  It might have been some of the best of my life.  I’d wake up with the sun for dawn patrol (morning surf session) but before going, I’d sit down and spend time talking to God, reading the Bible, A.W. Tozer, drinking 100% Kona pea berry coffee and eating a banana from our banana tree in the backyard.  Naturally, one morning I grabbed my guitar and started inserting some of my favorite lines from The Pursuit Of God, specifically the chapter called “The Gaze Of Our Soul” into a little melody I had going. Usually whenever I write anything really brilliant, I got it from somebody else, or from the Bible!

“Real to Reel” is one of my favorite songs on the album (it’s hard to pick just one!), but I love how you compare your life to a movie because I do the same thing!  So, how did you come to write this song

I had been listening to a lot of Joel P. West, and got inspired to update an old melody that I had written years ago, but wanted to change the lyrics.  It really started with the idea that God is the “author and finisher of our faith”.  I think now days we think more in movie terms.  How many times have I or someone else said, “I can’t wait to see that again in heaven?”   I think we will, with exception that we won’t be charged $10 dollars for a coke and a bag of popcorn.

You have to know your band mates really well to spend a month on the road with them, but everyone has a weird quirk.  What do you do that could endear you to your tour mates (or drive ’em crazy)?

I’m usually drinking water all the time, which translates to lot of rest stops.  I hope that’s the only thing that bothers them.  I’m not the best multi-task-er as well.

Print copy of Take 5.

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