Author shares road stories of Christian rock band
Predictably, Jameson Ketchum went on tours with a Christian heavy metal band and it was mostly clean living — except for the sleeping in the van part.
"All of it was down and dirty, sleeping in a van in a Walmart parking lot every night," said Ketchum, of his days working as publicist and in other capacities for Portland band Fallstar. "If we stayed in a Motel 6, that was as close to a nice hotel as we got.
"One year, there was a guy who brought Febreze, but the lead singer threw it out the first day of the tour."
Life on tour with Fallstar as well as attendance at Warped Tour events and working with nonprofits has been documented in Ketchum's new e-book, "Name Dropping: Seeking Creative Truth Through Trendy Altruism and Punk Rock," which reached No. 1 in some Christian categories on Amazon. It's his first book through a publisher, RhetAskew Publishing, and he hopes to sell enough digital copies to be able to produce a hard copy of the book someday.
"The publisher is not a huge publisher, and their focus is romance and sci-fi, so I thought my book was very strange for them," said Ketchum, 35, who attended Westside Christian High School.
From Amazon, the book's description: A coming-of-faith story detailing Ketchum's time touring with Christian heavy metal bands and trendy nonprofits, "Name Dropping: Seeking Creative Truth Through Trendy Altruism and Punk Rock" is a fly on the wall perspective of trends in "hip" Christian culture told through the eyes of a self-doubting rock journalist begging to belong. Witnessing healings, demonic possession, and the ever-present rock star ego, Ketchum's stories are hilarious and heartfelt, exploring artistic doubts while pursuing truth in all aspects of his professional life. "Name Dropping" is one part memoir and one part self-help. It's "Saved!" meets "Almost Famous" sprinkled with a healthy dose of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
Ketchum, who also operates The Godspeed Podcast, grew up going to concerts at the likes of Satyricon, Roseland Theater, Analog Cafe and Hawthorne Theatre, but his "coming-of-faith" days in music came during his tours with Fallstar, starting about 13 years ago. He'd go with the band for up to a month a couple times a year, serving as publicist and manager.
Were there sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with Fallstar on the road?
Hardly, Ketchum said, as "I only have boring answers to those questions. It was a bit of an above-reproach idea, not to do a thing that can be misconstrued. … Girlfriends and wives were at home, and none of that was available to a band like that. It'd be a miracle if you met a girl at a show. Drugs were way more of an option, but it was, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' It was still a loving environment."
What Ketchum found was the band members, and people around them, started being more inquisitive of their Christian beliefs while growing as a band.
"It was interesting to see theology change and thoughts changing," he said. "That really became more of the crux and point of the band. Rather than hide (questions), let's talk about it instead.
"In my experience, there was just a lot of the questioning. A big part of the book and the conclusion was that I found peace in that I don't have the answers and I don't know. A lot of us raised in the church were always taught to have answers, about theology, about why Christians do this and why God does this. None of us have all the answers. Let people know it's OK to say, 'I don't know. Let's talk about it more.'"
Building a community was the goal of the band, he added. "Some Christian bands said, 'This is our mission, we're going to talk about God every night.' Why not build a community instead of knocking people over their heads with it?
"I hope the book is not preachy, even with weird faith-related stuff."
Ketchum also shares stories of being a freelance writer on the Warped Tour, which used to stop in Portland. It was made up of secular alternative bands, and Ketchum had made a goal of being around some of the music and musicians he admired from an early age — bands such as Taking Back Sunday, MxPx, August Burns Red, Emery and Anberlin.
"I wanted to interview bands to answer the question, 'Do we know how impactful their music is today to our lives?" he said.
"To work in the business, and in writing a book, I realized how integral music was to me."
For more, see Ketchum's Instagram page: http://www.instagram.com/namedroppingbook. His podcast can be accessed through Apple Podcasts, and his book can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B099DP1S51.
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