10 Questions with ... Kutless
November 16, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Jon Micah Sumrall - lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
- James Mead - guitar, backing vocals
- Neal Cameron - bass guitar, backing vocals
- Vince DiCarlo - guitar
- Drew Porter - drums
- Kutless 2002
- Sea of Faces 2004
- Strong Tower 2005
- Hearts of the Innocent 2006
- To Know That You're Alive 2008
- It Is Well 2009
- Believer 2012
- The Worship Collection 2013
- Glory 2014
- Surrender 2015
1. Birthplace, childhood, schools, jobs, current hometown?
I grew up in Jacksonville OR, and after graduating from South Medford High School in 1999, I was recruited to play soccer at Warner Pacific College in Portland.
It was during these college years that Kutless was formed and midway through my junior year, we were offered a record contract with BEC/Tooth and Nail Records. With this new opportunity, we chose to leave school and pursue our music full time and left on our first tour in January of 2002.
Almost 15 years later, we are still touring full time and have had the privilege of performing in all 50 U.S. States and have traveled to nearly 20 countries around the world.
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
One of the difficulties of our touring schedule is that it isn't very consistent. Sometimes we are flying from show to show and have to be at the airport crazy early in the morning. Other times we will be gone for weeks or months at a time on tour, traveling in a tour bus. When we get home we may only have a day or two before we have to leave again, or we may have two full weeks depending on our schedule.
Usually whenever we get home it takes a day or two just to catch up on sleep and try to get back on a normal sleeping schedule. Once we are able to get on a "normal" schedule, we usually focus on making the most of our time home and investing in our families. Typically I will work on emails and phone calls from home while my kids are at school and then I try to spend the afternoons or evenings with them.
I have helped coach my son's soccer team the past few years and depending on the season we all love to participate in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, camping, archery, hunting, and skiing.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
I recently visited a church where the pastor sang a Scripture memory song. It was kind of an annoying, playground type, sing-songy melody but it totally got stuck in my head! I guess that's a good thing though because now I can easily recite the scripture... as long as I sing it!
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
We travel constantly. Typically we perform around 100 shows a year and there are almost as many travel days. A couple years ago I set a new personal record of flying over 240k miles in a single year, most of which was domestic flying. By the end of that year I was quite tired of airports and especially TSA checks!
Fortunately this past year my flight miles are closer to 100k miles which is still a lot, but is much more reasonable. It's difficult being gone as much as we are and we have to be very intentional about investing in our families when we get home.
There are definitely times that I'm tired and just want to go home, but at the same time, I know that God has called me to this ministry and I have had the privilege of seeing many people's lives impacted by our music. I think it is this aspect that really keeps us going when things are difficult.
At the same time there is a delicate balance between our work away from home and the wellbeing of our families. Personally I have found that when I'm gone for more than two weeks, my family starts to really be affected by my absence. As a result, I've worked hard to try to get home at least every two weeks, even if it's only for a day or two in the middle of a tour. Even a day of face time can go a long way in investing in my wife and kids.
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you?
I would have to say Pastor Jon Courson and Pastor Brett Meador have been two key pastors in my life. I grew up under the teaching of Pastor Jon at Applegate Christian Fellowship and when I left for college I realized how fortunate I was to have grown up under such rich Bible teaching.
I was able to have many in-depth conversations with other students who were theology majors while I was at college, and they were astounded at the depth of my Bible knowledge for not having taken any upper level Bible classes. I definitely attribute this to the teaching I had growing up.
Pastor Brett Meador was my youth pastor growing up and while I was in high school, he moved to Portland to start Athey Creek Christian Fellowship. When I moved to Portland I began attending Athey Creek and enjoyed sitting under Pastor Brett's teaching for the next 15 years. Pastor Brett became a close friend and over the years we would frequently catch up over lunch and on several occasions he came out on the road with us for a few days at a time.
I am so thankful to have had such great spiritual support and I believe it has had a major influence on where I am at today.
6. What's the last book you read?
I'm currently about 3/4 the way through a book called "Moses", by F.B. Meyer. It is an in depth look at the life of Moses and I have found it to be both encouraging and insightful.
I think sometimes we think that these great men of the Bible had it all together and knew exactly how they were going to overcome the adversity they faced. It's good to remember that they were regular people just like you and me and they likely felt similar emotions of stress, panic, and doubt. Ultimately, however, their faith in God carried them through and allowed God to do an amazing work in their life.
This is what God has been teaching me over and over again through this book as well as in my devotional time. Put my faith and trust in Him. The miraculous only takes place when a miracle is needed. Great opportunity comes with great adversity. The question is if we will put our faith and trust in God and allow Him to work in and through us.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
There's been a lot of crazy things that have happened on the road and some of the stories would take a long time to tell. I'll go with a simple foot in mouth one. Years ago we were signing autographs and one of the guys asked a fan "Did you see the show tonight?" He looked up from the item he was signing only to discover the person he had asked was blind.
8. Take us through a couple songs on your latest project.
The record is titled Surrender, which really stems from what God has been teaching me lately and the lyrics of many of the songs reflect this theme.
"I Will Go" is one of the songs that is particularly special to me. This song talks about stepping out in faith and trusting God even when you can't see what the outcome will be.
Also, our first single, "Bring it On" has already begun to receive feedback from people and how it has encouraged them. "Bring It On" is about understanding our hope is in heaven. Even though there is so much darkness in this world, there is a day coming where God will make everything right and we are looking forward to that day!
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
We have worked with a lot of organizations over the years. We have probably had the longest relationship with Compassion Intl. and I have had the privilege of traveling with them to both Ecuador and Peru. While in Peru, my wife and I actually got to meet the girl that we had sponsored for ten years. It was incredible! Seeing what Compassion does first hand was really powerful and it has been a natural partnership for us to continue to spread the word and encourage others to get involved.
We also have been donating a portion of all of merchandise sales to Operation Heal Our Patriots as part of our Kutless Military Mission Project. Operation Heal Our Patriots is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse that ministers to injured military men and women. They run a lodge in Port Alsworth, Alaska where they bring both the wounded soldier and their spouse, providing them with encouragement and counseling as well as enjoy many of the wonderful activities Alaska has to offer such as fishing and wildlife viewing.
I've been able to visit the lodge on several different occasions and perform a few acoustic songs for the soldiers. It was really amazing to hear their stories and to also see many of them come to Christ, get baptized, and rededicate their marriage vows. It really is an incredible program that not only provides an outlet for the soldiers but also addresses the spiritual and marital issues that often arise as a result of experiencing war and injury.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
I've been asked this question before and I think my answer has changed a few different times. I think right now with how much I've been reading about Moses, I would love to have a discussion with him. I'd love to know what was going through his mind right before and right after the Red Sea parted. That had to be an intense and amazing moment!
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
Psalm 37:4 - "Enjoy serving the Lord, and he will give you whatever you ask for."
This has been a verse that has encouraged me over and over again for many years.