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I’m much more of a hands-on relational guy. I like using the gifts that God has given me to have an impact that I can see, that’s quantifiable. In the studio you play on stuff and you don’t even remember what you played on. Records come out and you don’t even know when they are released. You don’t get to know the impact of your work. But now, I’ll make a record and I get to go out and minister to people live. I get to hear, “Man, this song meant this to me,” or “Hey, your guitar playing really inspired me,” or “I put on your CD and it helps me get through the day.” It really keeps fuel on the fire.
So what’s your approach to playing, stylistically?
It’s definitely rooted in the blues, with some variations. It’s funny, you can play basic pentatonic scales and add a flat 5, and suddenly you’ve got your basic blues mix. Throw in a 2 and a 3, and you’ve got a whole other kind of bag, where you’ve got more of a melodic sensibility there.
How do you approach songwriting?
I feel like it’s the old 10 pecent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration approach. I’ll get inspired by a sermon or a thought, and I keep a little closet of guitar riffs handy. I tend to look at songs as tools. I say, “This song, if it’s doing its job, should inspire people to connect with God.”
When I write, the idea is that if I’m Joe Whoever, anywhere in the world, I should be able to pull it off in its basic form. When a worship leader at another church – who may not have a real skilled band – approaches it, I don’t want him to not be able to play that song, so there’s a kind of skeleton format. It’s almost like drawing dot-to-dot; its got a basic shape, but then we’ll fill it in and kind of “Lincolnize” it.
I’ll also redo other people’s songs and put my own twist on it. It’s like doing a cover song, but making it your own. And I’ll even do it with my own songs, because I feel like when I write them, they’re not for me – they’re for the church.
Is touring any different for you, in comparison to a secular band?
When we do a straight-up tour, it’s probably pretty similar. City to city, day to day on a big bus. These days, Christian artists are using the same stuff as mainstream artists. There’s no difference between the quality – the budgets are bigger for mainstream artists, but that just means you may not be able to get Tom Lord-Alge to mix. Ten grand a song in the studio is a little steep.
Do you see any contradiction with that kind of outlay and Christian ideals?
No, but that’s a very individual thing. I don’t think there’s an inherent contradiction in the system, but if you let your life get out of balance – you don’t go to church, you’re disconnected, there’s a lack of accountability and you let the lack of connectivity affect your spiritual life in an adverse way – then yes, there’s a problem. But that’s not inherently because of the system; it’s because of an abuse of the system. Too much of anything isn’t good; anything in excess can be bad.
I know guys that will go out and play a spring tour – 20 or 30 dates – and then go home and stay home for quite some time. There’s a band called Delirious, a really influential worship band from the UK, and they are never away from home for more than ten days at a time, even if it means flying home from California to London for a couple days to see their families.
So what’s in your CD player right now? In your opinion, who’s making good music?
There are actually a lot of bands doing cool things, and I’ve got quite the eclectic mix of music. Like I said earlier, I think John Mayer is doing amazing things. I’m a big Keith Urban fan, and a huge Norah Jones fan. Her voice is like a modern-day classic. There’s also a new band called Paramore who are really good songwriters and musicians. They’re playing great pop music, and the lead singer has a real Pat Benatar vibe. When you look at her, she’s got that ‘80s new wave haircut, and she’s a straight-up rock n’ roll gal. One foot on the monitor wedge, two hands on the microphone and just belting it. I’m a big Radiohead and Coldplay fan, but I still love old Van Halen, too.
Despite a stripped down live rig, Lincoln’s got quite the selection of gear. Here’s a sampling:
|Exclusive: A Sample of Lincoln Brewster''s Songs
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