The Billions: Ichthus Festival
Do you all live under the same roof? What has that been like over the years and do you see yourselves keeping that arrangement?
Sam – We moved into a farm house in Kansas about a year ago. June of 2002 we all moved in together. It’s John Jared, Ken, Dan, his wife Rosa, and myself. And about 4 months ago, a guy named Jason Barr moved in with us and he is the one who makes our collages which you can see on our website. He is also a local college radio DJ and he knows a lot about the college music scene and helps us out a lot with that. He is going to be moving out pretty soon because he is going to be going back to school. My brother’s wife is pregnant, so we will all probably move out.
Ken – We hope that, if the band starts picking up enough money, we will be able to get our own apartments.
How did The Billions form?
Jared – It was the summer of 1998 and we knew each other growing up from church. All our parents are friends and our parents played together in a praise band at church. We always were at each other’s houses for special occasions and getting baby sat together. Sam invited me to play with him and his brother Dan one day after church and after that we decided to form a band. We had a different drummer at that time and we have gone through about 5 drummers. We think we will keep Ken.
Ken – I’m lucky number six!
How long have you been playing drums Ken?
Ken – About 2 years.
Did you (Ken) play another instrument before the drums?
Ken – The pianica is my favorite instrument. It’s Japanese. You blow on it and you play the keys
Sam – Ken actually lived in Japan for a couple of years
What was it like to work with Chris Colbert?
Sam – Chris Colbert is a good guy. We had heard some kinda bad things about him from other bands because he is kinda strong willed, but we got along really well with him. We clicked with him and we through a lot of ideas off of one another. I think he likes bands that are less organized. When we are recording, we will do a part and be making something up and throw it on. He really liked that. It was really awesome.
Did he facilitate bringing out your sound more?
Sam – He did. He would tell us to keep a part or not if we were like iffy on it. He had a broader perspective on everything that was going on, if it was going to sound good.
Ken – Chris helped us out with our songs. He cut them. They were like 6 minutes long and he would reformat them.
Sam – He helped out a lot.
What direction do you see the band going from here?
Sam – We have some new songs done. We are going to do more orchestrated arrangements. Hopefully on the next album we are going to have real instruments like a cello, a harpsachord, timpanese. More like that on the albums. Live, we will stick with rock music.
What is your writing process like?
Jared – I can only speak for myself because we write separately. When I write, I just can’t sit down and decide to write. It never works for me. Sam can almost write a good song whenever he wants to. For me, it’s less frequent. I have to be in the mood for it. I get bursts. Because I am around it all the time, when I am at home, I usually stay away from it. But, sometimes I will get a song idea, a melody line and then I will sit down at the piano or on the guitar and play it. I almost always learn my songs on the piano and the guitar to see which one sounds better. Then I can switch it up on the recording. I think Dan is the same way too.
Sam – I am pretty much the same way. I will get inspired. After our first tour last August, I was just tired of stuff going on outside and I will shut myself in the bedroom and write like 5 or 6 songs.
Ken – I don’t write any songs yet. But I got a four track recently. We will see what happens.
What would you say are some artists that have influenced you?
Ken – My personal favorite is Tom Petty.
Sam – I change a lot. Right now I have been getting in the Shins. Beach Boys for a while. Usually kinda abstract stuff like Flaming Lips.
Jared – Recently I have just been hanging out with my girlfriend all the time and she listens to top 40 radio. Some of it I actually like, like some of the new Justin Timberlake. I like catchy pop songs.
What bands do you feel are underappreciated and don’t get enough attention?
Sam – I think the Shins don’t get enough attention. They are totally awesome. The Lassie Foundation. People know good bands appreciate them, but it’s just not enough people.
Do you have any other comments?
Sam – Our goal right now is probably to move toward the college radio side of things. We are not getting picked up enough on the Christian side of things and we don’t see success happening there. We will see what happens.
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