music morsels indie music October 2006 

by Mark E. Waterbury

Darren Wilsey

ARTIST NAME:  Caspar McCloud - vocalist/singer/guitarist for the Ministry of Three
MUSICAL GENRE: Christian hard rock
BIRTHPLACE:   Cleveland, OH
# OF CDs SOLD:  In the thousands
FAN BASE:  In the thousands

MW: When did you become interested in music and why?

CM: My parents are both musicians, so I grew up in a musical family to begin with. It was always part of my life. When I was still a boy, my friends took me to see The Who. We were right at the stage and I remember thinking, I want to do that. Seeing Pete Townsend smashing his Strat, I thought that was exciting and wanted to do that.

MW: How did you become professionally involved in music?

CM: Some friends convinced me to try out for a part in “Beatlemania,” which was a Broadway show. I had originally come to New York to be an artist, and I had been playing in some bands at the time. For awhile,  (Beatlemania) was pretty cool, but after a while the bassist and the songwriter were bringing in new songs, and I thought, we can’t really do this. (Laughs) Trying to make songs like the Beatles, and still call it music. Around that time I was invited to jam with some guys from Santana, as well as some guys who were sidemen with the Stones.

MW: Is that how you connected with Atlantic Records?

CM: Partly. All these guys from the Stones and Santana were telling me I was wasting my time playing a fake Beatle. (laughs) So I went back to England, and for a while EMI and Virgin wanted to sign me. I went through some personal tragedies at that time. My mom died and that threw a spanner in the works. I eventually ended up back in New York and ended up signing with Atlantic. They released one album for me and the second one is sitting on a shelf somewhere. 

MW: Were you primarily self-taught on the guitar?

CM: The Bible says to play skillfully to the Lord and I take that to heart. I have spent many many hours of practicing to hone my talents. I do have some classical training, and I did figure out if you can play classical you can play anything.

MW: You had all these tragedies, with your mom dying and your dad being murdered, is that when you became interested in Christianity and changed your focus to Christian rock?

CM: I was playing in a pub somewhere and the manager for Glass Harp approached me and wanted to put me under contract. He said I was the best thing he had heard since Phil Keaggy. That was when I was still in my teens.  Later on, a friend of mine introduced me to Phil, and that was the first time I had heard the Gospel presented and learned about ministering and witnessing. I kind of had the feeling, wondering, (Phil) had all these people after him, why was he wasting his time with me? I met Phil just before I signed with Atlantic, which played havoc with my career there. I had conversations with Ahmet Ertigen who told me I was throwing my career down the toilet. I kept thinking that I needed to store my treasures in Heaven.

MW: What completed your conversion into doing Christian music?

CM: It wasn’t really abrupt, it just sort of came about. I was at a point at one time where Gene Simmons wanted to manage me. Not to single him out or anything, but I was surrounded by all these guys who were rich and famous, and they seemed to have just as many problems as everyone else. I did get a little bit into the rock and roll thing for a while, the cliche'd sex, drugs and rock and roll, but I was more on the edges of it, I didn’t really go into that full throttle. The fame and fortune was not the answer at all, so I started seeking a better path. It was hard making the transition at first because I really didn’t like Christian music and could hardly even listen to it in the beginning. It seemed so lame having just come out of the halls of rock and roll. So I started writing songs that I wanted to hear, and to my utter amazement, other people wanted to hear them as well.

MW: Did you perform with a band first or were you a solo performer?

CM: The first thing I did was quit Atlantic Records. I actually decided to put the music aside for a bit, but that lasted about a week. I was involved with a church up in New Jersey, and the pastor there found out that I had been on Broadway and on a record label, and he asked me to come play there. That gave me an excuse to start writing again, and they gave me a concert there every month. I also got to share my heart with the people there, and people got saved. It kept evolving from there. So the first thing was me doing solo shows that I built some electronic tracks around. Then I moved to Georgia, and was playing in one of those mega-churches. A bass player and drummer came up to me and said they wanted to jam with me. As soon as I did that with them, I realized that is what I wanted to do, so that is how the band Three was formed.

MW: It appears you are not really in this business for the money like you were in the major label days, but you still need to be able to spread your message and music to others. What do you do to market your music to others?

CM: I just finished recording the last bits of a new album that we are starting to mix. Playing some out of state concerts and might do some shows in England. We are starting to get more internet play as well. Like anything else, obviously it costs money to go play somewhere. Personally, I trust the Lord for everything, and he has helped provide for me. People sometime tell me that they feel like they are listening to a mini sermon when they hear my songs, and that is the main purpose, for them to hear the Word.

MW: Obviously when you write music you have a divine inspiration. When you are performing and recording Christian music, do you feel that is important for success with the music, rather than being secular or ambiguous like some Christian bands and musicians tend to be?

CM: It works for me because, with me, it is knowing the Word of God and appropriating it. It is very interesting for me and I don’t know about other Christian bands that are claiming to be Christian and then going out and acting like rockstars. The past few months, I have been doing book signings and acoustic concerts at Borders stores, and I am amazed at the number of interdenominational people who come up to me and say my music affects them. It seems like nonbelievers like the music as much as the believers do. That is sort of strange for me because I hadn’t really intended to cross over. I do think good music is good music, no matter how you label it. If people are sincere about their music and talented, you have to appreciate it for what it is.

MW: Does writing and performing this type of music also help give you more satisfaction?

CM: To give an example, I was in the Borders in Kennesaw (Georgia), and I did have a lot of believers come up to me. But the place was packed, and I think I made an impact on others and that is the kind of thing that really is satisfying. It was really caught up in it and caught up in the Spirit and kept playing long after I was supposed to be finished.

MW: Your perceptions on success are obviously different than someone who wants to be a rockstar. What do you see in the future and what will you consider success for your music?

CM: I think it is important to have dreams and visions. That being said, I don’t really think passed tomorrow. I have enough to deal with just today. All I know is I want to keep writing better songs and keep doing everything I can to get them out to people. We have the new album coming out, and the amazing thing is I played the music in front of some people whose opinions I trust. One is a top publicist in Nashville who listened to this one song that is about eight minutes long, and said it seemed like a three minute song, it was so intriguing. Obviously, if the music can help save people, that is wonderful. I just need to do whatever the Lord plans for me.

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