BH: From what I understand, your idea of holistic living extends to the way you eat, the way your tour bus runs, etc. Could you talk about that a little bit?
AW: Sure. I see the danger of compartmentalizing your life, where on a Sunday you go to a meeting and talk about God, and then Monday morning comes and you go about the rest of your life until Sunday comes again. Obviously, nobody really thinks that’s how we should live if we believe in God. If we believe God sees everything and is there in all things, there’s no escaping that reality of that call to love. If it’s a question of how we eat, you’ve got to wonder. Some point the thought crosses your mind, like, how is it that I’m able to buy bananas so cheaply? How is it that I can go down the street and buy Chinese food here, and Mexican food here, and Indian food here when the majority of people in the world have always had to work for their food or at least have some connection to the land or the people who grew their food?
For us, it’s all so distant. It could be someone who is getting paid ten cents an hour to pick the tomatoes that I’m eating, and I don’t know it. So, my ignorance caused me to put on the breaks a little bit and say, “Until I can understand what’s sustaining me, I don’t want to support these companies.” You hear about some, in particular, that are notorious for mistreating their laborers, and that’s all throughout the Scriptures, like, “Woe to you rich oppressors.” And that’s who I’ve been. Certainly, by the world’s standards, I’ve been filthy rich. Maybe I’m not directly oppressing somebody, but if I’m supporting a company that is profiting off of oppressing somebody, then I feel like I’m complicit. So I started looking around for other ways. For example, if someone is throwing out a bunch of tomatoes that are bruised or about to expire, I feel like if I go and pick those up out of a dumpster and cook those, I’m still benefiting from that in some way, but I’m not supporting a system that I feel that is oppressing people. It’s kind of a temporary fix.
For me, I think a more sustainable answer would be learning how to grow my own food and eating more simply. I still enjoy a good meal — I’ve got a bowl of food in my hand. I love to eat, so it’s hard for me. It is a struggle. You see a nice restaurant, and you’re like, “Oh, I know I could go in there, and I’ve got money in my pocket, so I could afford to go in there.” But then you’ve got to wonder, oh boy, but how else could I spend this money that might be more glorifying to God and bring into reality that possible Kingdom that we talk about, where no one would go hungry while somebody else has extra, where no one person would have two coats where someone else doesn’t have any. You see the Scriptures are calling for that redistribution. If you’ve got two coats, give one away. If you have extra, supply for those in need. Everybody shares everything in common. Everyone’s needs are met but not through selfishness but through sharing and community. For me, it’s just a more beautiful way to live, and it has given me so much peace. There’s no question in my mind that God gives us those directions not to restrict us or as rules but because that’s the life more abundant. That’s the way we’re meant to operate, so it’s the way we live peacefully.
BH: And could you talk about how your tour bus runs for a minute?
AW: Yeah, it runs on vegetable oil, which we get from restaurants when they’re done frying food in it. We collect it, and then we filter it and heat it, and we put it through our diesel engine, which is what the diesel engine is built for. Right now, most of them run off petroleum-based diesel, of course, and we know that that’s running out. And, also, we hear that there are wars being fought over who has control of oil, and that’s another thing that I don’t want to be a part of. At present, I don’t think there are any wars being fought over waste vegetable oil. But, of course, who knows what’s going to happen? But, right now, I think a more sustainable answer is not relying on automobiles as much as we do. If we’re a band playing locally, maybe we can ride our bikes and travel around. Maybe we can play acoustically. It doesn’t have to look like this, where we go on a full U.S. tour and have big amps and all this merchandise. We’re still fitting into this pattern of what bands do, and I’m kind of uncomfortable with that, but at the same time, we’re so steeped in that. We came out of that.
We built up our momentum before we had any of these convictions, so now it’s a question of, “How do we put on the brakes and start to rethink what it would look like if we were a band in Heaven? What would it look like if this world was the Kingdom of God? Would we be traveling around? Would people be waiting out here [outside the venue]?” I don’t know how it would look, and I’m not saying this is all wrong or this is evil, but there is a tendency for us to fall into these patterns that other people have laid out, and it’s so seldom that I ask, “Is this the most beautiful way to do it? Is this the most life-giving way? Is this the way that spreads the Gospel in the clearest and most true way? Or is this the way that helps me to get paid and boosts my ego and feeds my ambitions?” Right now, I feel like it’s a mixture, and I want to move toward the one and away from the other.
BH: So, overall, what are your goals for your band? What are the things that you’d like to incorporate that you haven’t yet?
AW: Well, I’d sure like to not have so many goals for the band (laughs). Maybe that’s my best goal, to realize every day that I’ve got a duty to do, and I’m not worried about tomorrow. Maybe we can get to this next level or something, but we should be content with what we’ve got. Just to learn to love each other and praise God together. That would be great. Of course, I could give you a whole list of other things. I’d love to be on Conan O’Brien. I think that guy’s really funny. My buddy’s band was just on there, and I saw that and was saying, “Darn! These made it on there, and we didn’t!” I have that same kind of pettiness that I’m talking about trying to move away from. That’s very much in me. I have all this ambition. I do want to be more successful and more admired and all these things, but at the same time, this other side of me realizes that there’s no good in that. There’s no good purpose in that. It’s just self-serving. I could give you two answers for pretty much every question. One is who I am if left to my own devices, and the other one is who I want to be. I usually give the answer for who I want to be, so people think I’m a good dude, but the truth is more than anything, my goal is to be on Conan O’Brien (laughs). That’s what I want out of the band.