10 Questions with ... Philip Bardowell
September 23, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1993 Magdalen - Revolution Mind Essential Records
- 1995 Magdalen - The Dirt Intense Records
- 2001 Solo - In A Perfect World Independent
- 2005 Solo - In The Cut Frontiers Records
- 2007 Solo - Fall To Rise Kingstown Music
- 2013 Solo - To The Ends of The Earth Independent
1. Brief History....birthplace, childhood, schools, jobs, current hometown?
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. My dad was born and raised there and my mom was born in Bogota, Colombia. I am of Lebanese/Syrian/Colombian descent. We immigrated from Jamaica to the USA when I was 3 years old. We came to Southern California. I grew up primarily in Cypress, Ca and started my first band at the age of 12 with my older brother and a drummer he brought into the band named, John Stamos (Full House). We played all over until John decided he wanted to be an actor :) I went to Long Beach State University and got a degree in Psychology. It was around the same time that I started touring as a musician. My first gig was as bassist for the surf duo, Jan and Dean. I then went on to tour as lead singer and rhythm guitar player for the band "Criss" led by Peter Criss of KISS and sometimes joined by Ace Frehley of the same band. Later on, I would meet Mike Love of the Beach Boys and tour with him in his Endless Summer Beach Band. It was at Mike's 50th birthday party where I first met Carl Wilson. It was Carl who would later ask me to join the Beach Boys as his fill-in when he became stricken with cancer. I accepted Christ in 1992 while singing on the praise team at Saddleback Church. My present occupation is as worship pastor at Shepherd Of The Hills Church in Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita in Southern, Ca. I have a passion for leading people (including myself) into God's presence through music. I currently live in Mission Viejo, Ca with my wife Sarah and our three boys: Isaiah (12) Jonah (8) and Elijah (5)
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
A normal day at home goes something like this: I wake up at 6:30 am (boy have times changed!) and go for a 4 mile jog. I then take the boys to school and arrive at my church by 9am to start "work". (I love what I do :) I usually get home around 5pm, unless I have a meeting or an event at church. I also still work a lot as a musician, so I still fill my days and nights with gigs and recording sessions. I don't know how I fit it all in, but God works it all out. My favorite thing is to just be at home with my family and our dog, Vinnie. I feel so blessed and thankful to God for all the blessings He has given me.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now? Why do you like it so much?
Right now, it is "Healer" from Hillsongs Live. We are doing that song on Sunday, so I have been completely immersed in it. I love that song. There are so many great songs in the Church right now!
4. How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home? How much do you travel, what are the challenges?
For a guy who used to be on the road 7 months out of the year, I really don't like being away from my family for very long. I did not have kids back in the Beach Boys days, but I don't know how I could ever be away that long. Thank God, He does not have me away too often for very long, but having said that, I LOVE to go minister at other churches and meet other grateful believers. God is moving and I love to be used by Him. I always get so much more than I give.
5. What's the biggest "God moment" that you've ever experienced, personal or professional?
I have had a few, but the most amazing was the miraculous healing of my dad in the hospital. My dad had very strong faith in Jesus. As a child, I always remember how my dad gave God glory for all things and always openly shared with us three boys (I also have a younger brother named, Jamil, who produces TV commercials) about how he would pray for God to help him sell more cars-my dad was a car salesman and worked very hard to support his family. At the end of his life, he had many health issues related to diabetes. He had to have his foot amputated and started to develop an infection that would be cause for further amputation above the knee. This would prevent him from using the prosthesis that was enabling him to get around on his own and my dad never wanted to be a burden to anyone. He developed gangrene and was told on a Friday that he would have to undergo surgery the next day. Just before the surgery on Saturday AM, my older brother (who is now a pastor) and I were praying over my dad, who was already heavily medicated. My dad suddenly popped up his head from the hospital bed and asked "who just touched my leg?" My brother said, "No one, dad-we were just praying that you would not have to go through this surgery". My dad said, "Son, I believe Jesus can heal me". They wheeled him into the OR and 10 minutes later his doctor ran out. We thought we lost dad, but the doctor said that the leg was all healed up and they were not having to amputate. It was amazing and he was called the "Miracle Man" at the hospital! God is alive. He is so good. He first took my heart into His hands while singing songs of praise to Him at Saddleback Church. My life was forever changed and He has NEVER changed. Sorry to ramble-He has done so much and I am so grateful for His love for me and how He continues to reveal HImself to me.
6. What's the last book you read?
I read Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. This is a great tool for any worship pastor. It reminds us that Worship is so much more than just music. It speaks to how we as worship pastors are charged with pastoring the people that God places in our path. I always say that God will never be impressed with how good we think our skills in music are. I believe He is more concerned with how we treat each other.
7. Tell me about how you became a believer. What caused you to want to serve God in full time ministry?
This goes back to my experience at Saddleback in 1992. My older brother was brought on staff as assistant music pastor under Rick Muchow, who was the worship pastor there for many years. I was still on the road and really rough around the edges. I just got off the road with CRISS and I was realizing that music was not the destination but just a vehicle to get to something greater. That "Something Greater" became Christ in 1992, when I was asked by Rick to join the praise team. Saddleback was still in a white tent back then and I was singing a lot of the solos. I had a long mullet and was quite scary looking! I would convulse like Joe Cocker when I sang, but God was tugging at my heart and I would literally break down in tears singing songs to Him. He literally grabbed a hold of my heart and my life as I worshipped Him and my life was never the same. I found my purpose and realized so many things about myself and especially about my Father who loves me so much. It was around that time that I signed with Frontline Records as lead singer of a Christian band named Magdalen. My whole path in life was being directed to HIM. It was actually after all this in 1994 when I started with the Beach Boys. As "on fire" as I was for the Lord, I went back to my old ways and fell out of fellowship with Him. He never let me go and in 2001, I left the Beach Boys to pursue my own career as a solo artist. That year found me broke and broken. My wife at the time divorced me and I lost my house. I found myself indulging in some of my old drug habits. I felt scared and alone. To be honest, I did not care if I lived or died. I was truly depressed. It was around that time that I got a call from a Pastor at a local church who needed a musician for their church picnic. I took the "gig" because I needed the money, but God had other plans. As I was leaving, the pastor told me that they needed a worship leader and thought that I may be a good prospect for the position. I told him I would pray about it (thinking in my heart that I really did not want to give up my music career to be a worship leader :)) In retrospect, that pastor saw into my heart the same way Rick Muchow did at Saddleback Church years before-they saw me the way God saw me. I took the position and after just a few weeks, I realized that my passion and purpose in life was to use the musical gifts God has given me for His glory and purpose. I praise HIm for saving my life.
8. Take us thru 3-4 songs on your latest project, To The Ends Of The Earth. What's the "story behind the song", how is it impacting audiences?
"Jesus In My Life": I actually wrote this song during a time of trials in my life. It's funny how God works. Here I was sulking and worrying about things and circumstances and God put this joyful song in my heart and on my lips. It is about rejoicing even in suffering. (James 1) "Nothing's gonna change the way that I feel inside-I've got Jesus in my life"! God is BIGGER than our circumstances and He is the HOPE of the world. My hope is that God will use this song to help people experience the joy of a relationship with Him that transcends all circumstances! From the get go, this song has caught on quickly and congregations join in singing immediately. It has been a joy to see how God has used this song in the Church.
"Take My Life (I Am Yours)": This is the last song I wrote on my latest release, To The Ends Of The Earth. The album was almost already done and I told my producer, Mike Wallace, that I had another song that I wanted to add to the album. I played it for him and he agreed that we should include it. It is a song about surrender and giving up of our lives TO Him so IN HIm we can experience eternal life.
"All I've Got To Give": I wrote this song about 2 years ago and it is about how we can do nothing of any substance or eternal consequence without God being at the center. I have served in many churches and one thing I have found is that the ones who produce fruit and are most used by God are the ones who yield to His calling and not their own agendas.
"Let It Be So". This song is really personal for me. A few years ago, I was working as a music pastor at a church that started in a park as a ministry to the homeless. I was in a place in my life where my family and I were struggling and I was feeling discouraged and dejected wondering why God would have me in such a place after all I had experienced in my musical career. God was humbling me and that ministry changed my life. The chorus says it all for me:
"If I'm to suffer for Your name and never know great wealth of fame, If all I do just goes unseen and only You know what it means, so be it-let it be so. If I'm to walk this world alone with only You to call my home, and I've got no place to belong and no one ever hears this song, so be it-let it be so. IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM. This song is about giving up my plans and taking on His call on my life.
9. If you could go back and change three events/decisions in your life, what would they be, and why?
Because my life verse is Romans 8:28, I stopped asking myself that question: "We know that God works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes" Rom 8:28
I used to regret not going right into ministry when I was at Saddleback. I even regretted all those years out on the road with the Beach Boys. However, God has been reminding me that everything in my life led me to where I am now-the good and the bad. For this, I am grateful and just walk in His graces each day. I cannot alter my past, but I can bring my past to the altar. That is what I have done and where I am today is what HE has done.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
I'd like to talk with my dad about how much his faith influenced my life. However, I believe he knows :) I ran into Rick Warren about a year ago while we were getting our cars at a valet at a local hotel. He gave me a big hug and it was so nice to see him. I'd love to grab 5 minutes of his time to let him know how much his ministry has influenced my life and thank him for allowing me to share my ministry and how God took hold of my life in that white tent called Saddleback all those years ago. I'd love to thank Chris Tomlin for writing such great and worshipful songs of praise.
1. Favorite Bible verse....life verse. Why?
Romans 8:28-see above:)
2. Funniest or most embarrassing moment? (details, details, details!)
There has been so many. I fell over a monitor once while being introduced by Mike Love at a Beach Boys show. I onced yelled "Hello Bakersfield" into a mic while fronting a show in Salinas. (not Bakersfield :) I once got booed for singing "Oh Canada" in Montreal, Quebec while fronting CRISS. (I guess they didn't appreciate that song very much :)
3. What artist or pastor has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
Once again-Rick Warren-to see how much God has used such a humble spirit is amazing.
Another is my brother Pastor David-Habib. He is the first person in my family to accept Christ. We were brought up Catholic and didn't really have a relationship with Jesus. (not saying Catholics don't-just our family:) I love my brother's heart for the Lord and he is an amazing song writer, worship leader and pastor. To see how God has transformed him is amazing, up close and personal.
I love Keith Green. I wish I could have met him. Such a man after God's own heart. For me, he epitomized a true worshipper in Spirit and Truth.