10 Questions with ... Ghost Ship
September 28, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Cam Huxford - Vocals, Guitars
- Shay Carlucci - Piano, Organ, Vocals
- Fancy Morales - Percussion, Vocals
- Chae Choi - Guitars, Bass
- Jamison Dewlen - Banjo, Dobro, Pedal Steel, Guitars, Percussion
- Doug Finefrock - Drums
- 2013 The Good King
- 2015 Costly
Interview with Cam Huxford (Vocals, Guitars) of Ghost Ship
1. Birthplace, childhood, schools, jobs, current hometown, etc.
I was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I'm the oldest of 3 boys. When I was 2, my family moved to Savannah, Georgia so that my dad could be the pastor of a small country church on a dirt road. My dad stayed at that church for 30 years and it's now 9,000 people. I grew up in Savannah. I liked growing up as a preacher's kid. I always wanted to do ministry. I met my wife in college, after college I worked at my dad's church for a year and then went to work as a worship pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY for two years. Then, in 2007, my wife and I decided (though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it) to leave our jobs and move to Seattle not knowing what we'd do when we got there. At the time I'd never been to Seattle and I only knew 2 things about it: 1 - that I liked the music scene there and 2 - that it was one of the least churched cities in the country. We thought, hey, if we want to do music and ministry, let's go somewhere where there's good music and no churches. It's been a pretty crazy ride since then.
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
There are no normal days in our home and I think it has something to do with the fact that I have 2 jobs and 3 kids. It's a really crazy season right now but it's also really fun. My kids are 5, 3 and 1 and I always think it is kind of nice that I haven't had a moment of boredom in the past 5 years. They are constant entertainment, they keep my wife and I laughing, but they also keep the days very abnormal. I work full time at a church in the University District of Seattle called Cross and Crown and nowadays Ghost Ship is feeling pretty full time as well. I honestly like the craziness of it all. No two days are the same but every day involves these things: time with God, time with family, time with people I love at the church, and some time spent writing. One thing I've noticed musically about my daily routine is that I don't actually spend time every day playing music. But I definitely spend time each day writing down stories. I think storytelling is what is driving the music of Ghost Ship. I try every day to get better at telling stories.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
"I Should Live In Salt" by The National. It's the first track on their last record and I remember the first time I put the record on and it started playing I was immediately hypnotized. And it happened to me again just the other day. Something about the sluggish but pretty melodic rhythm and the weird 9/8 time signature that keeps dropping and adding beats throughout the song is entrancing to me. Side note, one thing I've learned from The National is they know how to do their thing and nothing else. They keep nailing the same vibe over and over in different ways that are still the same and it's so them and it doesn't get old.
4. How much do you travel and what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
Travel has started to ramp up for us over the past few months. We actually did not tour on the last record very much but it looks like we'll be traveling a lot more on this record this coming year. I've always had a vision of having a 2-sided ministry. I want to be faithful as a pastor at a local church and at the same proclaim the gospel through music in as many different contexts as possible. The latter of those requires travel. So there is a challenge there in that one thing I feel called to do requires staying put and the other requires moving around. I like living in that tension. As far as being a family man in a band, on the road, my encouragement to myself and other dads is this: whether you're in a season of being home a lot or a little, when you're at home, really be at home. Dads have had to travel to provide for all of human history but we can be there when it matters and be fully there. When you hear people who love their dads talk about their dads, they always say, "he was there for me." That's actually what makes our God such a God dad. He's the dad who is there.
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you?
Definitely my dad, Cam Huxford III. We have the same name. (I'm Thomas Campbell Huxford IV and my son is Thomas Campbell Huxford V.) He's always been a huge influence; he's the reason that both of my brothers and I are in ministry right now. But I think he's had more of an impact on me in the past year than he ever has. I was a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle for 6 years and I was there when it melted down and closed. During that year of turmoil, I would talk to my dad every week on the phone and ask for counsel how to navigate the absolute insanity I was seeing all around me. He told me one thing that helped me through that situation more than any other advice I received. He said, "When you make decisions as a pastor, there's one question to ask: what is best for the people?" So simple but there's a lot of power in that and it helped me know how to love people well while navigating some pretty gnarly situations. He's demonstrated that in his 30 years as a pastor and I've seen him make decisions that help the people even when it hurts him. I'm grateful to have that kind of example.
6. What's the last book you read?
"Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. (Well truthfully I've read The Martian by Andy Weir since then but I want to talk about Leaders Eat Last.) I'd recommend it to any Christian leader because it's written brilliantly from a completely secular perspective but makes a really compelling case for the biblical principal that leadership is fundamentally self-sacrificial. It's the scientific way of saying what Jesus says in John 10: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I think that the global church would be much healthier if we as church leaders could learn to be self-sacrificial instead of self-protective.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
There was a time when we played at the main Symphony Hall Seattle and we had a 40-person orchestra playing with our band on Easter Sunday. We had rehearsed with these amazing professional classical musicians for weeks but on the morning of, at the first Easter service, with 4,000 people in the room, we started one of the songs in the wrong key! Thankfully, the conductor and orchestra, as any true professionals would, didn't miss a beat and charged ahead in the correct key as it was written in their music. So to the audience, it sounded like the entire band was out of tune for the first 30 seconds of the song, and they got to watch us completely stop and figure out a way to jump back in with the orchestra after about 30 seconds of total chaos. Thank God for classically trained musicians to keep us rock band types in line.
8. Take us through a couple songs on your latest project, Costly.
Costly, the new record, is all about God's love. Each song looks at the love of God from a different angle. His love is like a diamond with a million facets and we could write songs about it forever. Though we obviously cannot comprehensively cover the subject, it's been a cool journey scratching the surface of something so huge. We called the record Costly because we believe that God's love is the most costly thing in the universe because it cost Jesus his life. I'll mention a few songs. The last track "Hesed" is foundational to what we're trying to say about God's love. There's a beautiful Hebrew word in the Old Testament, Hesed, which gets translated into English as "loving-kindness." It roughly means, "covenant love" and it carries so much meaning that it's hard to define concisely in English. But it carries these meanings: long-suffering love, steadfast love, faithful love, unbreakable love, unconditional love and love that will never end because it is bound in covenant. Another song I'll mention is "Scarlet" because in that song we state what we believe to be a biblical definition of love. The bible defines love as self-sacrifice. We see the ultimate display of true love in Jesus laying down his life for us.
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
One way or another, Ghost Ship has always had some involvement in to movement to fight sex-trafficking in Seattle. Seattle being a port city, it's a huge problem in Seattle and it's something God has called us to in various ways. We've worked several organizations in Seattle in these efforts. I believe that one day our generation's grandkids will look back ask us what we did to fight slavery. But most of what we do as a band is serve our local church. Cross and Crown just moved into a really rough neighborhood in Seattle so we're looking to see what the biggest needs are in that area where we may be able to help.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead...Deities are excused from this question
My Grampa O. He was a brilliant math teacher and a self taught theologian who ended up planting several churches that still exist even though he continued to work in the school system. He died when I was in Jr High and I remember vividly the things I learned in conversations with him. There are a few things I could really use his advice on now.
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
I wrestle with ongoing anxiety in my life. I've recited Matt 11:28 to myself so many times in moments of anxiety, that now days I feel like I hear the steady familiar voice of Jesus when I do so. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
2. How & when did you become a believer?
Jesus saved me at a very young age. I was 8 years old. I remember in the very early years of my just knowing that Jesus was a real person who was with me. I'm grateful that he saved me at a young age and I pray the same for my kids almost every night. I had many years of rebellion in my life but he's always continued to pursue me in his steadfast love.
3. What's the biggest "God moment" you've ever experienced? Personally or professionally, when has God shown up in a powerful way?
My wife and I moving to Seattle was totally orchestrated by God. At the time we didn't know why we were picking up and moving and leaving everything. But God used that move to lead me to massive repentance in my life.