10 Questions with ... Jason Fowler
August 1, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 2014 Letters From The Inside
- 2016 I Fall In
I was born, raised, and currently live in Atlanta, Ga.
I bought my first guitar at age 16. My dad soon after told me he would buy me a brand new guitar if I learned how to play the song "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers Band. He was thinking maybe a couple of weeks. To his surprise, I ended up playing it for him that afternoon. That was just the beginning.
I have a younger brother with the same birthday one year apart and a younger sister. We have always been real close.
We played a lot of sports growing up. We were always at a football, soccer, or baseball game. In high school I did well in wrestling and speed skating. I actually won the Southern Regional Speed skating Championship (7 states in the Southeastern United States) twice. They sent me to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs when I was 16. I wanted to be in the Olympics. It was right around that time that I first started drinking alcohol.
I grew up in an alcoholic family and always said I'm never gonna drink or do drugs. I saw how it was affecting my family.
My friend asked me one weekend if I wanted to go and hang out with his older brother and their friends. I just wanted to fit in and be "cool." They were all drinking and asked if I wanted a beer. I really didn't want to drink but wanted to fit in. I took my first drink and it changed everything. The alcohol killed the fear and made me feel like I was funny, liked, and comfortable in my own skin. It was my "liquid courage." I not only got sick, but also got in trouble the very first time. Even after getting sick and in trouble I said to myself, "I'm going to do that again."
I was raised in a Christian home but started to turn away from God and church. I started drinking to have fun, to deal with life situations, and to fit in. Before long I was relying on it for everything instead of relying on God. Soon after, I started smoking pot. Both gave me a false sense of spirituality. I thought I could control it and could quit whenever I wanted.
I graduated high school and went to college for aviation. During college I decided to try to make it in music. I joined a band called "Dirt Circus" and started touring the college circuit. It was a party every night. I started using whatever drugs were offered to me. Crazy enough I actually ended up getting kicked out of the band. It seemed my kind of partying was just a bit more than everyone else's. I was hurt but wasn't going to give up. I thought that if I made it and got a record deal that everything would be okay. I would be complete. I was relying on "performance based acceptance" and thought that the better I did and the more awards and attention I received, the more I would be loved.
After my band kicked me out I formed two bands, Entropy and Ultraphonic. I was going to try even harder. With Entropy I played the hard core alternative scene and with Ultraphonic I played power pop and alternative rock. Entropy won several battle of the bands and put out an EP with regional success. Ultraphonic recorded several albums with Bryan Holmes (The Producers) and started to get some success as well as radio play. We entered an online contest for a record contract with GarageBand.com. People from all over the globe could listen and vote for their favorite song. After a month we ended up winning the grand prize; a $250,000 record deal. I finally made it! So I thought.
You see, I was really trying to fill up the place inside of me with things of the world. I thought this would make me happy. I was "looking for love in all the wrong places." I realize now that the place inside all of us is designed for Jesus. He is the only one that fits perfectly and makes us complete.
At that point another member of Entropy was having his own struggles with drugs so we ended up dissolving the band. Ultraphonic went to famed Muscle Shoals to record a new album with Johnny Sandlin (Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers Band) producing. We spent several months writing, recording, partying and hanging out with legendary "The Swampers". After Ultraphonic finished the album the record label sold to Microsoft and was no more. They shelved the album and it was never released. My dream was falling apart.
By the time we got the record deal I had a big drug and alcohol habit. I had long passed the point of drinking and drugging for fun. I just drank and used drugs to hide and to numb the pain, but they weren't working anymore. I felt I had to drink and do drugs to survive. They had me. My problems continued to pile up and I never faced them. My actions of making bad choices, being selfish and self-centered, and just trying to stay high created some bad consequences. My relationships with my family, friends, and myself were all broken. I was trying to stay afloat the only way I knew how.
The band broke up shortly after. I ended up trying a solo career in Atlanta with ImageMil. They were starting a label and had worked with big acts like Pink, Usher, and TLC. It had gotten so bad that they had to have an intervention with me. They told me they couldn't work with me anymore. My alcohol and drug addiction was too much. It was controlling and destroying my life. I was crushed.
I couldn't hold a job, I couldn't keep relationships together, I didn't like who I was, and did not have a relationship with God.
I was hopeless...and ended up homeless.
At the very end I was kicked out of a drug dealer's house.
I was crying, it was raining, and I didn't have anywhere to go.
I was alone.
Right then and there I said, "God whoever You are, whatever You are, please help me." I meant it with everything I had left.
The next thing I knew, I was in a Christ based homeless shelter in Athens, Ga. It was December 30th of 2005. I was starting over.
We studied the 12 steps based on the teachings of Jesus. I started to feel better and get better mentally, physically, and most of all spiritually. At 6 months of sobriety, I attended a men's conference. That is when I gave my life to Jesus. I had been trying to find that love and fill this hole inside of me with things of the world. That place inside all of us was made for Him. I realized that He never left me. I chose to leave Him. Like the prodigal son, Jesus celebrates our coming home to Him, He loves us, and will never leave or forsake us. We are forgiven through and by Jesus.
After I accepted Jesus in my life everything started to get better and better. It's really like a country song backwards. I started getting my life, my family, my friends, and myself back. I started getting involved in church and even joined the praise team.
I have been sober over 10 years and leading worship at Celebrate Recovery for over 6 years. I've been the worship leader at a church plant in the heart of Atlanta with Pastor Jason Becker for over three years. My wife and I also work together serving others through her ministry HEARTS Across Atlanta. We feed the homeless, provide clothing, toiletries, and play music to share His love.
I love serving, giving back, and sharing the story of redemption. Jesus saved my life and I want to share my story and His story of love, mercy, and Grace through my music. My grandmother has a saying I just love. "Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God."
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
I get up and the first thing I do is hit my knees to pray and turn my will over to God. I like to start out the day with prayer and meditation. I have several readings and devotions that I read as well as a daily bible verse and study. This gets me balanced and spiritual fed. Then there is breakfast and time with the family. Depending on the day there may be an interview, rehearsal, or I may meet with a sponsor and go to an AA or Celebrate Recovery meeting. It's another way to stay spiritually grounded, humble, and grateful for the redemption in my life. When I start off my day like this I'm spiritually, mentally, and physically prepared for the day ahead. In the early afternoon I will write, run errands, exercise, and record new ideas and material for future albums. Then there is dinner with the family and quality time together with a movie or activity. It's very important to have that family time.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
I would have to say a song called "Rise Up" by The Union of Sinners and Saints. I actually co-write it with Billy Smiley of Whiteheart. We teamed up with John Schlitt of Petra to form The Union of Sinners and Saints. I guess I can't get "Rise Up" out of my head because we just shot a video directed by Mil Cannon for it. It's a catchy tune and will be the first radio single off of the album. We are also practicing and getting ready to start touring. I will be opening all of the shows with songs from my new album.
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
I am about to be on the road pretty regular promoting my new album "I Fall In." I have a lot of Christian Music Festivals this summer from California to New York as well as a lot of tour dates with The Union of Sinners and Saints. It's always tough being away from family and friends. I'm so glad technology has given us FaceTime. When we get the chance I like to bring the wife and kids out. We make a little working vacation out of it. Even when I'm out of town I get to video chat and see the smiles I miss so much. Being a Christian Music artist I get to minister and share my story of redemption with others through my music. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have a job with the ultimate purpose.
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you?
I had the wonderful opportunity to start a church in the heart of Atlanta, Ga. with Pastor Jason Becker. I've seen him pour his heart and soul into others. He is such an amazing guy and loves to experience the life changing power of Jesus. We actually co-wrote several songs on my new album "I Fall In" together with Billy Smiley. He always points to Jesus and has been a huge inspiration and spiritual guide for me and my family.
6. What's the last book you read?
The 5 Languages of Love
It's pretty insightful on how we all give and receive love in different ways. Love is a choice. True love happens when we choose to love someone through the good and the bad. Either we are moving toward each other or away. We grow stronger together.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
I was playing a show a few years back to a packed house. We had everything set. The lights were low except for the stage lights. The intro music was playing, the crowd was screaming, and the band was pumped! The band walked out on stage and the crowd got louder and louder. I put my guitar on and we were ready to start the show. The very first note I jumped up and when I landed I slipped and fell back in to the drum set. I immediately jumped up and started singing. I was hoping no one saw, but they did. I guess I had an adrenaline rush because I was singing my heart out. I looked over at my bass player and he was looking at me funny. I turned to my guitar player and he was looking at me funny. Turns out I had cut the back of my head. I was bleeding and it was running down the back of my head and neck. We continued playing and after the first song we had to take a short break to clean me up. I was pretty embarrassed but we made it through and had a great show.
8. Take us though a couple songs on your latest project.
"I Fall In" is the title of my new album. The first track is called "Come Alive." It's an upbeat rocker that gets people to their feet. It's about giving everything to God and becoming a new creation. The second is a piano driven pop/rock tune and the first radio single called "You Give Me A Reason." It features Peter Furler from the Newsboys on backup vocals and drums and is co-written with Billy Smiley. We had a blast recording it and it's a fun one to play live. Check out the new video for "You Give Me A Reason" (Feat. Peter Furler)
"Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)" features Jillian Edwards. She is an amazing singer and songwriter from Nashville with a very distinct voice. The song is a cover originally by Hillsong. It speaks volumes about true grace.
"Family" is a song featuring Leigh Nash from Sixpence None the Richer. She has an amazing voice and really brings the song to life. Family is really about helping others. Jesus says: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"Matthew? ?22:37-40? ?????????????????
"I Fall In" is the title track and the last song of my new album. I co-wrote it with Billy Smiley and my Pastor Jason Becker. It's about trusting Jesus in our times of fear and completely surrendering to His will by falling into Him.
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
I'm really involved with H.E.A.R.T.S. Across Atlanta. I guess it helps that my wife is a co-founder. H.E.A.R.T.S. Across Atlanta is a non-profit organization that ministers and helps the homeless and those in need in and around the city of Atlanta. We provide meals, clothing, toiletries and other needs to our brothers and sisters. We have gatherings were we just love on people. We play music, dance, eat, hug, laugh, smile, cry, and share the gospel. I believe Jesus has made each one of us to love Him and love our neighbors. I get to listen to their stories and share my story of redemption. I relate with what they are going through whether it is addiction, feeling lost, and even hopeless. We also get to share our hope and faith in Jesus with them. It's funny, a lot of the time we are the ones that get ministered to.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question.
I would love to have a discussion with St. Francis of Assisi. I just love the prayer for peace. Although he is attributed to this prayer it more so kindles his belief and spirit-"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace - that where there is hatred, I may bring love - that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness - that where there is discord, I may bring harmony - that where there is error, I may bring truth - that where there is doubt, I may bring faith - that where there is despair, I may bring hope - that where there are shadows, I may bring light - that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted - to understand, than to be understood - to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen."
When I think of that prayer it reminds me of how we are to live as Jesus taught us by loving Him and others.
Another quote that reflects his spirit is "Preach the gospel wherever you go and when necessary use words."
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
Currently my favorite bible verse is ??2 Corinthians? ?5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" It reflects the transformation Jesus has made in my life. I am a new creation in Jesus.???????????????
2. How & when did you become a believer?
I have been a believer since I can remember but I got away from a true relationship with Jesus when I was around 15. That's when I started to try to run things on my own. I thank Him every day for never leaving me. I was the one who left him and so glad He never left me.
3. What's the biggest "God moment" you've ever experienced? Personally or professionally, when has God shown up in a powerful way?
When I got sober. I thought there was no hope. I knocked and He opened the door and gave me a new life. He made me whole and new again. I've seen firsthand a true miracle. Broken relationships have been mended with family and friends. I get to share my story of redemption and hope in Jesus with others through music.