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Featured Musician: Josh Via

Musician: Josh Via

Website: joshviamusic.com

Twitter: joshvia

Life is Music (LiM): Tell us what you do for a living.

Josh Via (JV): In a nutshell I get to proclaim the Gospel through word and song and I get to help lead people to the throne of God through the median of musical worship.  I get to write songs to and about my great God.  And I get to travel to places both far and near to spread the great news that Jesus saves.

More specifically, I am connected to Journey Church here in Raleigh, NC as the worship pastor and an artist-in-residence.  Journey has been such a life-line for Tasha and me.  We began praying almost two years ago to find a church where we could serve regularly in a worship leading role, but where we also had the freedom to travel, leading worship for camps, conferences, churches, events, etc.—essentially being sent out from a home church.  And we found all of that and more in Journey Church.  Through some God-ordained circumstances, we moved from Charlotte to Raleigh back in October 2009 to make Journey our home.

We continue to travel about two weekends out of the month as Josh & Tasha Via Ministries, a non-profit ministry we founded almost 4 years ago.  And I say “we” a lot because it really is a team effort.  Tasha plays the violin along side me in most cases, and is very much both the beauty and the brains of this ministry.  She takes care of the bookings, accounting, and gives a ton a spiritual guidance and direction along the way. We came under the umbrella of my dad’s ministry, Rick Via World Reach Ministries, based out of Roanoke, VA to initially begin helping new church plants get their worship ministries off the ground.  Since then, the Lord has allowed us to continue to expand our ministry in various ways a little each year, and we’re incredibly grateful for that. (By the way, Tasha has a killer blog.  Check it out.)

LiM: List your gear. (you can also include what you use to record at home).

JV: Up until about 5 years ago, I was pretty much an acoustic guitar player solely.  But during my stint in Charlotte playing with a bunch of killer musicians, I branched out and began trying to hone in my skills a little better on the electric guitar as well.   The picture here is pretty much all the gear that I typically use on any given weekend.  My primary acoustic guitar is a Taylor 410-CE.  My electric is a Fender Telecaster (Nashville Tele).  My modest pedal board that sits on the PedalTrain Pro rack consists of 3 overdrives, Blues Driver Keeley mod, SD-1 Cheeseblocks mod, and Fulltone GT-500.  My two delays are the TC electronics Nova Delay that is great for live settings with 9 presets, and the Line 6 DL4.  I’ve also got the Electro-Harmonix Holy Stain reverb pedal and a little LPB-1 gain boost in front of the SD-1.  For my acoustic I’ve got the industry standard L.R. Baggs para-acoustic d.i. and in front of that I’ve got an Aphex Big Bottom that adds some nice crispness to the tone.  I’ve got everything running through the Boss Tuner and volume pedal and then into the Morley AB switcher box so that I can simply and easily use 1 tuner and 1 cable for both guitars.

My primary amp right now is a 1964 Fender Pro Reverb passed down to me from Tasha’s grandpa from Denver, CO about a year ago.  He had it in his closet for years and was recently moved to a nursing home and wanted me to have it.  With some TLC from Paul Gussler of Oldfield amps in Charlotte, this puppy is sounding really nice.  I’ve also got a Fender Blues Deluxe that I sometimes play, but recently we’ve been running Tasha’s violin through it, and it sounds great.  When she’s not playing through the amp, she also uses an L.R. Baggs d.i. along with a volume pedal and the new Cathedral reverb pedal by Electro-Harmonix that sounds really, really nice.

For demo recording at home, I’ve got a little Tascam 2488 that is all-the-time offered in Musician’s Friend mag.  I got it about 5 years ago with the package deal of speakers, mics, cables, etc. It’s been such a great tool for getting quick, great-sounding demos.  It was just a good move for me because I’m not very savvy with ProTools or any software-based recording systems. For me, I like the old-fashioned faders, knobs and switches, especially since I’m not trying to record my own albums … just demos.

LiM: Who would you consider to be some of your greatest musical/vocal influences?

JV: You know, as a kid, I guess I would say that I was pretty sheltered and naïve when it came to music…  Not because my Baptist parents were overly-strict or overbearing.  Not at all.  I guess I just naturally gravitated toward the type of music that they listened to in our home.  So, I grew up on guys like Keith Green, Larry Norman, Matthew Ward and the Second Chapter of Acts, Lenny LeBlanc, Randy Stonehill and all those dudes that got saved out of the Jesus Movement.  Since my mom and dad were essentially saved during that era as well, that’s what filled our home most days.  I can remember my dad getting a new worship cassette tape in the mail every month from Maranatha! Music and that’s the kind of stuff that permeated our home.  Maybe that’s how I ended up in worship music.  Who knows.  Later in college, I picked up other interests and was drawn heavily to the indie rock scene, especially emo—bands like Brandtson, The Appleseed Cast, Cool Hand Luke, Elliot and others.  In the last 5 years bands and artists like Wilco, Pete Yorn, Sufjan Stevens and others have peppered my tastes a good bit and perhaps have helped to shape, in some minute way, my creative thinking.

LiM: Tell us about the “All That Glitters” album that was released last year.

JV: ATG was a concept that my dad had for a while as a tool to help get the Gospel into people’s hands that would be non-threatening and hopefully not end up in a trashcan somewhere like most Gospel tracts and pamphlets.  I’d like to think that it’s a pretty unique and unorthodox (not a theological reference) way of getting the Gospel to people.  The CD includes 6 song tracks and 7 spoken word tracts all weaved and intertwined together so that it takes the listener on a bit of a journey—hopefully toward a relationship with Christ.  My dad, who is a gifted preacher/teacher and passionate about helping people come to faith in Christ, did all of the spoken word tracks while I was responsible for the musical side of things.  You can check out allthatglitterscd.com for more information.

LiM: You also just released “The First, The Last” this past April. What is the concept behind this album?

JV: Honestly, there really was no great deal of thinking or over-araching concept or goal involved in this album.  Basically, when we set out to record the 6 tracks for ATG last summer, we got in the studio and realized we had enough material for a full-length album. So, we initially tracked 8 tunes for ATG and chose 6 for that project.  Then tracked 4 more over the next few months to top off the record.  Thematically, salvation/redemption is a big idea since half the songs were on ATG, an evangelistic project at its core.  And then, the others we chose just seemed to fit pretty well with that one big idea.  I’ve always loved “When God Ran” since I was a kid and initially wanted it to be on ATG, but cut it later on for lack of coherence with the rest of the project.  Then brought it back for TFTL.  “People of the Light” was a last-minute addition, but one that I’ve received the most positive feedback from.  It’s just me and Tasha and Scott Spruill on light keys and textures.  I wrote it just days before the final mixes were completed as God had been dealing with my own heart about growing a backbone and making a fresh stand for Christ.  I’m thankful it made the album in time.

LiM: “The First, The Last” has a good combination of hymns and original songs. Where do you find the inspiration to write your original songs?

JV: It sounds trite and unoriginal, but honestly it mostly comes through my early morning times with Jesus in His Word.  That’s primarily where I receive the most inspiration for tunes.  Other times, it comes through hanging out with other writers who are passionate followers of Christ and who seem to always have a new song in their heart.  My buddy, Andy Cherry, from Charlotte is one of those guys.  He’s phenomenally gifted and the Lord is using him in a big way in that area.

LiM: I like the arrangements on “The First, The Last”. Do you arrange your songs, or do you get help from others? (If other people help you out, here’s your chance to give some shout outs).

JV: Once again, I have to give a lot of credit to Andy.  He’s an amazing arranger.  He just hears that stuff in his head that other people can’t hear.  And in all honestly, all the dudes on this record (Scott Spruill, Tim Morrison, and Stuart Clark) helped tremendously with great ideas for the arrangements.  Most of the time I would come to a rehearsal with a pretty good idea of how I wanted it to sound, and many times they bought in right away.  Other times, they would suggest another route and I would like that better.  (A perfect example is the album title track “The First, The Last” – Originally I wrote it in 6/8 time with a bunch of convoluted lyrics and some dumb melodies that included a completely unnecessary Flat 7.  The guys looked at me like, “Seriously?!” And about an hour later, we had the framework for the updated and much better edition of the “The First, the Last.”) TFTL was definitely a collaborative effort, for sure.

LiM: What are the last 5 albums that you have listened to?

JV:

Thad Cockrell – “To Be Loved”

Johann Johannsson – “Fordlandia”

Jonsi and Alex – “Riceboy Sleeps”

Paper Tongues – self-titled

Phil Joel – “Deliberate Kids” (Ha! I’m a dad!)

LiM: As a musician, what do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

JV: I’d love to continue writing, creating and recording with the hopes of taking more baby steps toward becoming a better artist, writer, musician, worship leader and toward making better records.  I’ve said before that “getting signed” has never been my goal.  And that’s the truth.  I could care less about notoriety or recognition. But, I would be lying if I said that it never crosses my mind, especially in the sense that I would love to think that maybe God might see fit to one day give our music a wider audience with which to both reach people with the Gospel and to encourage and edify His people in local communities of believers.

LiM: You have a wife that plays the violin and three children, any chance there will be a Josh Via Family Band in the future?

JV: That’s without question.  I’ve already mentioned a little bit about Tasha. She is vitally connected to our music ministry.  I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without her.  Areyna, our oldest and only daughter (so far), just turned five.  She is showing a lot of interest in singing, in piano, and in violin, although her primary insterest at this point involves dresses and make-up! Ezekiel, our 4-year-old son, has music flowing through his veins.  He of course gravitates toward guitar, but shows an interest (and that’s an understatement) in any and every instrument he finds.  He has the best vocal pitch of any 4-year-old I’ve ever met, and is constantly studying what happens on stage at our rehearsals.  He then comes home and mimicks everything he just saw.  His memory for music is impeccable—all the way from melodies, to lyrics, to … you name it.  I guess I’m a little biased, but it’s true.  Micaiah just turned 10 months and it’s still too early to tell, but I can almost guarantee music is in his blood.  So … yes, the Josh Via Family Band is very much in the works!

Thanks to Josh for taking a lot of time into putting these responses together. Go out and buy “The First, The Last”. It’s available on both iTunes and AmazonMP3 .

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