Thursday, May 22, 2008

50 Questions with Tim Gaines


During April 19th - April 28th 2008, Tim asked friends and fans to take part in a 50 question Tim Gaines Q&A interview. He received close to 100 questions and ended up editing and narrowing them down to fit into an interview format.

This is the result. Thank you for your participation. Enjoy...

What's the funniest/oddest thing that happened while playing for Stryper? Any particular Spinal Tap moment that comes to mind?

During a concert in Australia, a wild and sweaty, one eyed fan in the front row kept screaming at Michael and pointing to (what Michael thought) was a wad of gum that someone had thrown onstage. Michael thought the fan being friendly and was screaming "gooday, gooday". Not wanting to step in the gum Michael bent down and flicked it with his finger and it flew out into the crowd. It turned out that it was not a wad of gum at all. It was the crazed fans glass eye that had popped out onto the stage. He wasn't screaming "gooday, gooday" but rather "my eye, my eye," and then continued to cuss and swear at Michael for the rest of the set.

At what point did you feel that STRYPER had a true fan base and that the band would continue to record and perform?

Right from the beginning we knew that God was orchestrating something big. We would have a Bible study in our rehearsal room (garage) every Thursday evening. We would play a few songs and then my friend Michael Guido would speak, and would give an invitation to receive Jesus. The first week we saw about 10 people show up and then every week for the next couple of months the number of people would double until there was no room inside of the garage and the people would overflow to the front lawn. From there we did our first concert at a club and packed the place, and every time we played from then on we would sell out the venue sometimes having to do 2 concerts in one evening just to accommodate the crowds. It was something that had never been done before… we would play in these clubs and bars telling about the love of Jesus Christ and throw out Bibles to the audience. People were getting saved and the band was becoming the talk of the town… and the world as all the news agencies covered our story. When our first EP came out, things just took off from there.

What's your favorite Stryper song and album and why?

My favorite Stryper song would be More Than A Man because the chorus really speaks to me every time I play it. My favorite Stryper album would be Against The Law because it sounded so big and raw.

What was your favorite look you had with Stryper?

I think my favorite look was during the Against The Law period, but for the Y&B days I would say In God We Trust. We had the best stage costumes during this time.

Why did you leave Stryper?

There were many reasons that were leading up to my departure from Stryper….
Inner struggles within myself, false promises, loss of power within the band unit, musical differences, personality differences, spiritual differences, etc…

During the 2003 reunion tour, I became grieved at some of the things that were going on that really started to bother me. Nothing bad mind you, but more of a lingering question that has haunted me for years, and was finally coming to a head. Did God really call us to be rock stars? (Idolatry is a sin.) Were we there to take the praise and glory away from what God was doing? Were we really leading people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ or were we just putting on a show and receiving the glory for ourselves? During that period I lost interest in putting on a "show" and I spent my time just playing the music in worship to the Lord and praying for His covering. I could hear God speaking to me each night on stage saying that my time here was almost over.

After the tour was over, some events took place that further sealed my mind on leaving the band. We had a meeting and I gave Stryper my notice.

Do you have any regrets for leaving Stryper?

No regrets. I gave 21 years of my life up to Stryper. We had a good run in the 80's. Sometimes I wish I could go and hang out with the guys. I do miss them and I have a great love for them. But I am also accomplishing things on my own now, and I feel I am doing pretty well.

What do you think of the current Bass Player Tracy Ferrie?

From what I know of Tracy he seems like a great person and a strong Christian. He is a phenomenal bass player and has good stage presence. From what I hear the fans are crazy about him.

Are you still close friends with the other guys in the band as well as stay in touch with them on a regular basis?

Yes, I am still friends with the guys. I speak to Oz on a regular basis and we get together whenever we are in town. I consider Oz one of my best friends. I speak to Michael fairly regularly. I have been keeping him and his family in prayer. The only person I have not had any contact with so far is Robert. I have not talked to him since the day I left the band. Hopefully that will change soon.

Would you ever consider working with Stryper again? If not, how about making a guest appearance at one of their gigs sometime in the future?

If God were to open the door for me to work with Stryper again sure I would, but ONLY as long as He was orchestrating it. I still have my Yellow and Black bass and spandex you know…. Will that ever happen? I don't know. Obviously, they would need to ask me. I know a lot of things have changed within the band since my departure so who knows? They are doing pretty well without me.

It seems to me that Against the Law was like the pinnacle or the top of the evolution of Stryper - seeming to show off your skills more than the radio-aimed earlier efforts. When you guys were laying the tracks and creating the tunes, was there a conscious effort to make it radically different - more riffs, more Oz, more kick-butt grooves - even if the public might not dig it?

During this time we definitely were looking at making a record that was just raw and dirty… We spent 8 months together everyday hanging out, writing and perfecting those songs before we ever even went into the studio. I think a lot of the camaraderie is heard in those songs. The previous 3 albums were practically written in the studio.

Why did Stryper get such a hard time from everyone after releasing Against The Law? I knew of Christian bookstores that refused to carry any Stryper music after that.

I think many people took our departure from the Yellow and Black stripes and the actual title of the album in the wrong context. People thought that we were against God, but actually the title was in protest to the modern day Pharisees that wouldn't leave us alone. We were under such a microscope that we couldn't live a normal life without being accused of being in sin. Example: If we wore sunglasses we would be accused of being on drugs. If we went to a mini mart we would be accused of buying alcohol. If we were caught talking to females we were accused of having sex with groupies. We were accused of being transvestites because we had long hair. We were accused of worshipping Satan because of the style of music we played… etc. The list was endless and the Preachers pointing their fingers profited at our expense by writing books, receiving monetary contributions for anti rock seminars and TV broadcasts…etc.

Against The Law was our response to these religious folks who Christ said "They swallow a camel and strain on a gnat."

The reason you could not find ATL in your Christian bookstore was because the genius masterminds at Benson Records who distributed Stryper to the Christian market decided to drop our whole catalogue because they thought we had become anti – Christ. They just didn't get it either.

I understand that you did not play on To Hell with the Devil, and In God We Trust. Why didn't you, and do you regret that decision?

Keep in mind that the bass players in almost all of those 80's hair bands were just an afterthought. We were just filler for the stage to look cool and move around. It really wasn't a great era for bass players unless you were Billy Sheehan or someone along that line.

In all honestly, I had never even heard the songs on either record prior to the recordings. I was never given a chance to perform on them. They went in and recorded them without me. Do I regret that decision? Sure I do, but it wasn't mine to make. You have to keep in mind that I was not brought into Stryper because I could play well, but because I had the look or the image that they sought after. I was there because I" fit the suit." But you know, that was 20 some years ago, and what was done is done. I don't dwell on the past. It's not a healthy place to be.

Did you guys REALLY personally write letters back to your fans? I have a couple of letters that were sent to me (one autographed by Oz and another autographed by Robert) that were not just a mass mail letter. They (or someone else?) were really responding to my questions and responding to my letters specifically with encouraging words responding to my specific situations. I always wondered if you guys really did indeed respond OR, was it a team of people that worked for you.

On many occasions I had personally written to fans. We did however, have a staff of people that would answer the majority of generic letters such as autograph requests etc… but the more personal letters would be answered by one of us when possible.

Was there any reconciliation that needed to be taken care of before you started to do a reunion tour with Stryper, and why?

Ten years before the reunion tour the four of us met and hashed things out. We had pretty much all reconciled before the tour was even a thought.

What was the high point for you (so far) in your musical career?

I guess you can't really top the success that I had with Stryper. I guess another high point more recently for me would be touring with Richard Marx..

Where do you see Tim Gaines 10 years from now? Raising a thundering herd of Bassett Hounds, helping out the upcoming musical generation, or something entirely different?

I can't really say. The way the world is going I wonder if we have 10 years? I know two things that have always been important to me and that is to share the love of Christ, and the other is to play music. If the Lord tarries you will find me doing both of these things in one form or another.

What have you learned through the past 20 years that you could pass along?

I have learned more about Gods abundant grace upon my life than ever before.

What do you think now when you look at yourself with all of the make up and huge hair you had in the eighties?

It all depends on which photo I am looking at. Some, I think look rather cool and others are embarrassingly hideous, and I would rather forget about them. It's like what the heck was I thinking when I decided to dress this way?

Who is/was the most influential person on your musical career?

I grew up listening to 60's and 70's pop radio. Those songs from that era influenced me more than anything else. In the early 70's I was really into Elton John, and wanted to be a piano man. But I found I was really attracted to the bass lines from his songs. Eltons bass player was Dee Murray and that is where I really got interested in the bass guitar. Some other big influences were Geddy Lee from Rush, John Deacon from Queen, John Paul Jones from Zeppelin, Craig MacGregor from Foghat, and later on Jaco Pastorious, Jeff Berlin, and about a million other players.

How do you handle the typical road temptations? (sex, drugs, booze, etc).

I handle them the same way I do when I am home and that is I try to live the best I can by a value system… I have a beautiful wife whom I love dearly and I value our relationship more than the fleeting pleasure of a one night fling. I value having a sound mind over getting high or passing out drunk somewhere. I try to live by Gods standard and not the standard of the world which is "if it feels good, do it."

Do you think that you will ever do a solo album? Maybe a Stanley Clarke type thing? If you were to release a solo album would you handle the vocals?

If the door of opportunity were opened for me to do a solo album I would. I have a lot of songs and musical ideas that I have worked on over the years. If I were to do an album it would more than likely be an instrumental project… progressive rock and fusion… along the lines of what we did in Sin Dizzy. It's just a matter of finding the right people to collaborate with. If a song or two required vocals, sure I would take on the task.

All of the places that you have been to in your life, where is the one place that you would like to go back to and why?

Japan. I am not sure why, and it was probably the jet lag, but the culture and the way of life there is very interesting to me. The people are very courteous and hospitable. The food is great too.

After being in a band such as Stryper and having that kind of rock star status and doing it years on end, and going your own way musically, has that image of "being the bassist for the heavy metal band Stryper" hindered anything as far as what another musical artist or any kind of recording company has labeled you as being "heavy metal," and not the Tim Gaines you set out to be?

I don't know if it is because of the heavy metal label or because I didn't play on some of the Stryper albums, but every time I am considered to work with an artist or do a session, the question always comes up " Can he play?" I feel like I always have to prove myself. It can be frustrating to do something for over 30 years and have people act as if I were just starting out. What can be even more frustrating is having younger players with much less experience get all of the work.

Have you ever had any formal training on the bass and if you have ever taught?

Yes, I studied with several teachers when I first started playing. Later on in the 80's I had some informal studies with Jeff Berlin. I am searching for a new teacher now as I find I want to go to another level in my learning.

I have taught bass in the past and I am considering taking on beginning and intermediate students again.

When did you know for sure you wanted to play bass?

I was 13 years old. I had been taking classical guitar lessons and found I ended up playing a lot of the bass parts to songs on my guitar. I removed the E and B strings and started practicing bass on my Suzuki classical guitar. My parents bought me my first real bass for my 14th birthday. It was an Orlando P bass copy.

Do you play any other instruments other than bass and piano?

Yes, I also play guitar, harmonica, and clarinet.

What CD is in your stereo right now?

Led Zeppelin – Early Days and Latter Days – The Best of Led Zeppelin Volumes One and Two. If you asked me last week it would have been the Forrest Gump Soundtrack.

Who is your favorite artist, besides Stryper and Irene, which you have worked with over your career?

Sin Dizzy, Bryan Duncan, Kim Hill, and Richard Marx.

Will we ever see the Stormer demos remastered and re-released like the Roxx Regime demos?

Probably not. I doubt if anyone can find the Masters. We are talking of having a Stormer reunion in the near future. We may decide to record it.

Have you ever given any thought to donating any of your Stryper gear to the Nashville Hard Rock Cafe?

Not really. I believe HRC actually have a budget to purchase these items, and I would surely sell an item to them if they really wanted it and the price was right

Do you still do HAM radio?

Yes, I am still into Ham Radio. I hold an Amateur Extra class license. My callsign is AE6J.

My question involves your playing with Irene Kelly; will we see any more new recordings from you and her? To this day I still listen to 'If you were here' and keep hoping for some new tunes from you guys! That was an amazing CD and far under rated!

Yes, we had been recording some new tracks recently and the studio owner somehow erased them all, so now we have to start over from scratch. Irene has many new songs and she plans on releasing another CD as time and finances permit.

When you play bass on a track, do you mic your cabs in the studio and play out there or do you play in the control room?

It depends. I almost always play in the control room with a few exceptions. One was when I played on Tourniquets Crawl To China CD. I played in this big room with my amp and had the music blasting through some big playback monitors. It was like I playing in a live concert or rehearsal setting. Another time recently, I played bass on Boston's (bassist) Kimberley Dahme upcoming CD, and I sat in the studio with all of the other session players with headphones and played live. I mainly play in the control room though, and run direct from my UA LA-610 preamp into the mixing board.

Do you ever play 5, 6, 8 or 12 string bass on anything?

I have owned and played both 5 and 6 string basses but I always end up going back to my 4 string as I feel more comfortable with it.

Are you ever going to grow your hair really long and use makeup again?

I haven't cut my hair since September of 2006 so Hair – yes. Make up – No.

Being a session musician, how do you feel about recording in digital (pro tools and such) vs. analog 24 in. tape? Which do you prefer for sound quality and "vibe"?

I really enjoy the flexibility of the digital realm. There have been so many advancements to digital that it is really hard to hear a difference.

What is or was your favorite song to play live?

Sacred Blood by Sin Dizzy and Maker of My Life by Irene Kelly

What was the project you worked on with Steven Patrick of Holy Soldier? Any chance it will be released?

Steven has been working on his project for some time now. I can't really say anything about it as he wants to keep it under wraps. Not sure when he will release it if ever.

What was the hardest thing about touring with bands that were not necessarily of the same convictions as you are?

There wasn't really anything hard about it at all. We all hung out together and ate meals together. It's not any different than working at a secular job. You may be a believer in Christ but you interact on a daily basis with non believers. Christ tells us that we are to be in the world but not of the world. I am friends with many of those musicians still to this day.

What advice would you give for young Christian musicians who want to play music to spread God's word?

I usually tell them to trust in the Lord and let Him guide them in their ministry. Be sure that they are truly "called" by God. Don't expect to become famous or make a lot of money. Get out in the world and reach the masses of unsaved, not entertain the church.

I was curious as to what your favorite book of the Bible is and what your favorite Bible verse is?

My favorite book is Romans, and my favorite verse is Philippians 1:6 "And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus."

Where do you think today's current state of Christian Music (Rock) is headed to? You and Stryper were different in the early stages of Stryper with the Metal music sound, long hair, the crazy outfits, etc. but yet still carry the message. I know you took a lot of criticism back in the day. Who do you think now is the same position?

Christian music overall, accounts for maybe 5% of the total music sales from all genres of music. It is a tiny industry. The problem with CCM as a whole, is that it is inbred and lacks originality. Almost all CCM rock artists that are out there look and sound the same. They lack sales because they are only marketed to a small minority of kids that buy that stuff. CCM as an industry is failing because they, like the mainstream counterparts, haven't really figured out how to deal with the internet. The majority of the music sold is through the Christian Bookstore (another failing industry). So let's say I wanted to buy the latest CCM band at a Christian bookstore… It costs $17.98. I can buy the same album at Best Buy or online for $11.98.

I don't know of any Christian band today that is doing what Stryper did except for maybe POD. But even with the media being what it is nowadays you won't see POD videos or hear them played in rotation on the radio.

There is a new young band that I really like that reminds me of Stryper in the early days. They are called Anavox . I believe the Holy Spirit ministers through their music. Unfortunately, I think they too will succumb to the CCM deathtrap of playing churches and Christian events, and never really get out and reach the masses.

When did you become a Christian?

August 1972

Are you studying to become a pastor?

I am going to Calvary Chapel Bible College to work on a degree in Theology, but I am not studying to become a Pastor per se, but if that is where God calls me to go in the future, then the education is a big plus. Right now, I feel I am called just to be a musician that happens to help or shepherd people that the Lord brings in to my path via the internet… Myspace, Shoutlife, Facebook, and just regular old email.

Where do you fellowship?

I am a member of Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN. It is a Calvary Chapel affiliate. We have a live internet service Sunday mornings at 11:00 Central -

At any time in your career, did playing for God ever feel like something you HAD to do, or was it at any time not the priority while you were doing what you were doing?

Yes, many times. I think the period from the end of In God We Trust through Can't Stop The Rock was a real burnout time in my life. But God is good and His grace and mercy is abundant on my life. I know first hand that He restores.

Who are some of your favorite preachers/teachers/ministers?

My dad - Rev.James Hagelganz, Steve Berger of Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork,TN., Pastor Raul Ries of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Chuck Missler, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith, Pastor Mike McIntosh, and Pastor Greg Laurie to name a few.

Is there a future with Sin Dizzy or any chance of some new Sin Dizzy?

We are remastering and adding new artwork to He's Not Dead. It will be available from Maybe if this sparks some interest we will have a better chance of doing something new. But at this time, I do not expect anything else to happen with Sin Dizzy. I spoke with Oz earlier this year about reviving the band and there had been talk of a 10 year reunion concert in LA, but nothing has come of it and Oz is too busy with Stryper and Bloodgood.

If you had to start a Christian heavy metal band what would you call it?

I did, and we called it Sin Dizzy…. Actually, my original name for Sin Dizzy was Dizzy at 78. This will more than likely be the name of my solo project if it ever gets off the ground.

Thanks so much for your wonderful questions.

Be blessed,
Tim Gaines

Discuss this topic and more at OLD SCHOOL METAL - GLAM - HAIR METAL - HARD ROCK

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