Wayne Watson Interview

Dec 04, 2002 06:10 PM EST

Robin: How did you hook up with Spring Hill Music?

Wayne: The journey has been from 1980, on Milk & Honey Records, which was a Zondervan label, to Word in 1985. In '95, I was on Warner Alliance, and Warner Bros. forced a lot of cutbacks and lay-offs. So I went back to Word. You know, this business is changing a lot. It has in the last five or six years. Spring Hill was attractive to me because it has a smaller, "home-y" kind of feel. Bill Johnson, the A&R at Spring Hill, is one of the main reasons I work there. He's just a real hands-on kind of guy who's been around a long time. He's a great encourager. No matter how long you've done this or how many records you've done, everybody enjoys somebody patting them on the back and saying, "Wow, this is really good." And we just felt like it would be a good fit.

I hear that a lot about the smaller labels -- this desire to go somewhere where you have more creative freedom, maybe more personal attention, less need to churn out pre-fab radio hits.

I'll tell you something else, it offers a little bit more stability. Because the big companies go through so much turnover. It's not out of control, but I know the employees at some of the bigger labels, from one week to the next, never really know what's going on. So it's not that they're making choices that make you not want to be there, it's just so much that's beyond their control, and you get caught up in it as well. So Spring Hill gave a little more home-based, cozy kind of quality.

What can we expect from Living Room, your next album?

It will have been two years between projects; a lot of life has gone on in that two years, a lot of pain in my circle of friends. It's kind of coming out in my writing, in a good way. I think this record will probably be a lot more simple, production-wise. It's not going to be complicated, it's going to be very contained, very instrumental. Not going to try to recreate the wheel, but I am going to try to let the lyrics stand out and be more of the way that I perceive it, from a writing standpoint. A lot of times production, and the excitement of doing a record in a studio, can get out of hand, and before you know it, you go, "Woah, look what they've done to my song." Which is entirely within my authority to stop at any time, but I usually don't. But with this one, I hope to keep it contained within the form it was written. That's the goal.

How many songs?

Just ten. I'm not a songwriter that writes more songs than I need. I don't have a pool of twenty songs and go, "Which are the best twenty?" It's hard for me to write, because it's emotional. It's taxing. You make the choice to expose your guts, your thinking, the doubts you have about the life you're living. How God looks at it, how you're looking at him. It's not a simple process. It's very personal, and it takes a lot out of me. And if I don't feel like something's good when I'm writing it, I don't pursue it.

How often does that happen?

Not very often. Maybe three or four times in a project. And maybe something that I discard now will, two or three years later, bloom into something useful. But if it's not burning in me, I just don't even finish it. Songs take time to grow.

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about God being pleased with me at the end of the day. The thoughts I've had, the words I've said, the words I've not said. Not in a performance sort of way, but in a grace sort of way. I'm passionate about no matter how poorly I might have performed, personally, on a given day, God still looks down upon me and loves me beyond my comprehension. When I lose my temper, when I'm negative or critical, when I feel willfull, His attitude toward me is the same. I'm passionate about living with that awareness. I'm passionate about being faithful to my family, to my wife of 28 years. To this day, by the grace of God, I have been faithful to her. Even before I met her. And that's it. To be a good husband, to be a good father, even though my children are grown and gone. To be patient. To be selfless, which doesn't happen naturally.

What frustrates you?

I get frustrated at how far I've not come, at times. After how much truth I've been exposed to about the Gospel and the life of Christ, and how long I've known Him personally, it frustrates me how far I've not come in light of that. The older I get, the more I realize how little I am sure of. There are some things I'm sure of, such as my faith. The world used to frustrated me, the mediocrity of the world. Art, television, people in general, how degrading this culture has become. But I got some help with that, because I was very angry; I went to counseling for a while, because I was so angry for a while about that very subject. I had to get over it, because I want to spend my passions on things that are important.

Why do you do what you do?

Because there is the potential that eternity is affected every time we do it. Every night there is the potential that generations will be made different. If I say something to a husband or a father, and he submits a portion of his life -- secret or not -- to a more Christ-like life, then it will not only affect his life, but the life of his little boy, and his little boy, and his little boy. If some mother has a little girl and decides to quit being such a pain, and to honor her husband and respect him and make him feel loved, her little girl is watching her treat her daddy better. And she in turn will treat the men in her life better. So will her little girl. So every night I go out there knowing, this is not about just tonight.

By Robin Parrish