10 Questions with ... Jonathan Steingard
April 1, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Daniel Biro - bass guitar, backing vocals (2002-present)
- Jonathan Steingard - guitar (2004-present), lead vocals (2012-present)
- Justin Benner - drums (2008-present)
- Dave 'Davin' Clark - guitar (2002-2004)
- Matt 'Matty' Paige - drums (2002-2005)
- Aaron 'Skwid' Tosti - drums (2005-2008)
- Jason Dunn - lead vocals (2002-2012)
- 2000: Riding Around the Park, as SWISH (Independent)
- 2003: Saturday Rock Action (Independent)
- 2004: Letters to the President (Tooth & Nail)
- 2006: Smile, It's the End of the World (Tooth & Nail)
- 2008: Hawk Nelson Is My Friend (Tooth & Nail)
- 2009: Live Life Loud (Tooth & Nail)
- 2011: Crazy Love (Tooth & Nail)
- 2013: Made (Fair Trade Services)
1. Give us a brief history....birthplace, childhood, schools, jobs, current hometown
I was born in Vancouver B.C., Canada, in 1983. My dad was a pastor, so my family moved around a lot. We moved out to Ontario, near Toronto, in 1991, and lived in 3-4 different areas near Toronto. I met the boys that would eventually form Hawk Nelson somewhere around 2000, because Ontario had a pretty thriving Christian music scene. Each of us was in different bands (with some crazy names... September Satellite, The Natural Anthem, Swish, Cheese Monkeys from Planet Nine), but we eventually found each other and coalesced into Hawk Nelson. We began touring the US in 2004, and ended up re-locating to Nashville, TN, where most of the guys and I live now. Daniel (bass) recently relocated back to Canada to be nearer to family, but he is still very much a part of the band - he just has to FLY a lot more!
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you? Morning to Night.
Well, like a lot of band-guys, I have two modes (kinda like a sports team).... Home and Away.
When I'm home, I get up around 7am, have some coffee, catch up on emails and news, maybe dive into facebook and twitter a bit. Try to keep up with people. If it's warm out, I might go for a run on the trails near our place. Then throughout the day, I'm usually writing some music, producing some music, or catching up with someone I work on music with in some way, shape, or form. My wife and I don't have kids yet, so I'm still pretty career focused! She's a makeup artist, and usually has a photo shoot or wedding to go and do, and we try to have dinner together by the evening. Pretty standard home-day!
When I'm on the road, I usually sleep in on the bus until 9-ish. Then grab coffee and go through that same routine. Look for a place to run. SHOWER! Ha. Then soundchecks, meet n' greets, radio visits, contest winner meet n' greets, that kinda thing. It's amazing how a whole day can disappear in 20 minute increments. Ha. By showtime, I am usually getting kinda tired, if I'm honest - but somehow as soon as the show starts, adrenaline and habit kick in, and it's ON! Then after the show, we usually find a place to sign some autographs and maybe take a couple of pictures.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now? Why do you like it so much?
I'm pretty obsessed with a song called Believer by the new Audio Adrenaline. It's kind of a surfer anthem, and I love the themes and textures. The chorus "I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves, I can see through the darkness, I'll hold up a flame. Take me to the ocean, I wanna go deeper, I'm not afraid, no, I'm a Believer." just connects with me. The idea of facing every day with that attitude is inspiring.
4. How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home? How much do you travel, what are the challenges?
You know, for people that are really made for the road (after nearly a decade, I still love it), there's this weird dynamic that happens. When you're on the road, you want to get home, but when you're home, you kinda want to get back out on the road. It's this sort of perpetual anxiousness about what's next in life. I can't really explain it. I'm trying to learn to be patient, to enjoy each moment as it comes, and to be present in the here and now. In the early days, we played 200-250 shows a year, which was just an insane pace. Now we're all married, and Justin (drums) has a new baby, so we try not to be away from home quite as much... but like I said.... when you get the bug to travel, you get the bug to travel! Ha.
5. What's the biggest "God moment" that you've ever experienced, personal or professional?
Well quite recently, I experienced a big one. It was about a year ago. I had been the guitar player in Hawk Nelson for about 8 years, and had always been fairly content in the support role. When Jason, our previous singer, decided to depart the band, we began the search for a new lead singer, and never felt complete peace about any of our options. It was beginning to look like perhaps our time as a band was coming to an end - but God used Bart Millard and the Mercy Me guys to push us in a different direction... they thought I should be the new singer. It was an option that hadn't really occurred to any of us before. I had been a singer in previous bands, but I was so comfortable in the supportive role of guitarist and bgv singer. The more we thought and prayed about it, though... the more it felt like the right decision. Sometimes when you're at a fork in the road, and neither path looks like the right one..... God chooses that moment to drop a third option on you. That's what this felt like.... and I can say with certainty that he's guided our path this past year. He clearly had planned this all along, and we had no idea for all these years.
6. What's the last book you read?
I'm just finishing a book called Love Does by Bob Goff. It's about embracing life and love with passion and whimsy. He shares stories from his life about moments when he would leap first and ask questions later... saying yes to nearly everything. It explores what it means to truly love those around us. Pretty inspiring book. Funny too.
7. Tell us about how you became a believer. What caused you to want to serve God in full time ministry?
I grew up in a Christian home, as a pastor's kid. In my early years, I wanted to be a pastor just like my Dad. Then, as a teenager, I saw some pretty ugly sides to church life, and quite honestly, I swore that I would never go into ministry. Of course, when we do things like that, God tends to laugh, I imagine. He finds a way of sneaking us into the very position we say we don't want to be in. When I started making music, I had no grandiose plans for it to be a ministry. I just wanted to make music that brought people together to share common feelings and struggles. As time went on, I realized that if Jesus is who He says He is, then there's no greater thing to sing about - and if you're singing about Jesus - surprise! - you're in ministry. So in a lot of ways I feel like God snuck me in the back door of ministry. I've landed at this place - where I know that I'm far from perfect, I make loads of mistakes, but God loves me for who I am, and wants to walk with me and help me grow. If I can be a part of that journey for others as well, and if that's called ministry - then so be it!
8. Tell us about some of your favorite songs on your latest project, "MADE". How are they being used to impact lives?
"Words" is the first single from the record. It's about the power of words... and how each of us has the ability to speak encouragement into the lives of those around us. Of course, we have the power to do exactly the opposite if we choose... so this song is about finding the place where we ask God to give us the strength to speak His life and grace into the people in our lives.
"A Million Miles Away" is a fun pop song with a message. It's all about the freedom we find in salvation. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are freed from our past, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way. Sometimes it feels like we're dragging all that guilt and shame along with us. This song is all about accepting that it's in the past, and watching all that old stuff fade into the distance.
"Every Beat of My Broken Heart" is a song that came out of some stuff that my family went through over the past year. My sister was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma while she was pregnant with her first child. It was a really difficult time for my family. We found ourselves asking "why" a lot. This song was written from that place.... the journey of discovering that while God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we would like, He asks us to trust that He loves us and knows what's best for us..... and when life gets hard and confusing, the best thing we can do is draw near to Him....
9. If you could go back and change three events/decisions in your life, what would they be, and why?
I have a hard time answering this question, if I'm honest. I've made plenty of mistakes, and of course part of me would like to take a few of those back... but I know God used a lot of those things to shape and mold me into someone better.... and I wouldn't want to lose that. So, if I'm honest, I wouldn't take back anything.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
I'd love to chat with C.S. Lewis. He's my favorite author - and has written so many books I love. Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, The Narnia Series, Screwtape Letters, and so many more.