Mike Rimmer talked to ADIE about The Benjamin Gate, husband Jeremy Camp and her solo debut.
Let me explain about liners. This is a broadcasting term and you've probably heard them but you didn't know they were called liners. It's where a radio station gets a celebrity to say something like "Hi I'm Madonna and I listen to Chris Moyles on Radio 1 all the time. He's the best!" Anyway, you get the idea! There's a Christian version of this.
So that's why I found myself in the liners session at Gospel Music Week a few years back, where all your favourite Christian music artists were sitting around in booths waiting for you to shove a script in front of them. It's all so they can say "Hello I'm Jeremy Camp and you're listening to Soul And Spirit on WZPX, Houston's hottest Christian station." It sounds really cheesy doesn't it, this faux celebrity endorsement? Truth be told, artists absolutely hate this stuff and so do I.
Back in the days when The Benjamin Gate were still together, I was wandering around the booths and queuing (you have to queue to get to the more popular artists) to do what I call anti-liners. These get the artists to say things like, "Hi I'm Adrienne Liesching from The Benjamin Gate and I'd rather have my leg ripped off by a raging hippo than listen to Rimmerama." This made Adrienne laugh. There's a certain amount of celebrity spotting that happens in liners sessions. It shouldn't because it's supposed to be broadcast professionals doing their jobs but the celebrity culture of American CCM means that even the radio DJs can be a bit in awe of artists. Next to Adrienne's booth, the handsome form of Jeremy Camp had a huge queue of DJs clutching microphones. He kept jumping up and clowning with Adrienne. I didn't know it then but hindsight tells me there was obviously some romance going on because in 2003 Liesching's band split up, she married Camp and gave up doing music, instead concentrating on starting a family and settling down into married life.
Three years and two children later, she's decided to make music again and 'Don't Wait' is her solo debut. After the aggressive edgy rock of South Africa's The Benjamin Gate, the mellowness of the album is a complete surprise. Isn't she a little young to be going so mellow? She laughs, "I just thought, if I do anything away from The Benjamin Gate, especially the first thing, I wanted it to be so different. I wanted to start afresh and break new ground for me as well. It was interesting. It was fun. I really enjoyed it."
Adie has been breaking a lot of new ground in her life in the last few years. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. She met and fell in love with Jeremy, then married him and now she's had two children. She's been very quick about all of it and hasn't waited around. She explains, "Jeremy and I love kids. From the very beginning, we just totally agreed. We knew we would love to have kids. To be honest, both of them were kind of a surprise. I mean obviously we're thrilled because we were just very excited about having kids anyway so it was great. We have two girls and they're so cute! They're called Isabella Rose and Arianne May. Isabella we call Bella. Isabella means 'consecrated to God' as well which we thought was so awesome! Because we want to, as parents, as much as we can, instil as much of the Lord into our children's lives, you know? And then from there on out you've kind of got to wait on the Lord for the rest. Arianne's name, Jeremy's mom and I were like, 'Oh that sounds great!' And Jeremy, he liked it too."
It feels like she's had three years off to get into married life and
maternity leave. And now she's back into music again. Was she always
going to come back and make music again or had she thought of retiring
and just being Jeremy's wife?
She shares, "We worked so hard with The Benjamin Gate that when something comes to a natural end, it's kind of weird to try and force it up again. I was just so content and so excited to be married. Obviously then we had kids and so it was great."
She continues, "But then probably just hanging out with Jeremy and being in the studio a little bit, every once in a while it was kind of like, hmmm.I just started feeling a little thing in my heart. Then one day I seriously started thinking about doing a solo album and I was just praying about it and I was like, well it would be weird if all of a sudden I'm like, 'Oh yeah, by the way, I want to do a solo album!' So I just thought, well okay, if this is really God's will then it'll happen. And within a few days, Jeremy came up to me and he said, 'I really think you should do a solo album.' And I was like, 'Alriiight! There it is!' I told him, 'That's totally what the Lord showed me too!' So we both found ourselves on the same track together. It happened really fast to be honest with you. We probably wrote and recorded the album within six months."
I'm talking to Adie while she is touring with her husband and she's taking the call while staying with friends in Albuquerque where she is playing that evening. I point out that she can have a rest day the following day since the date at Lubbock has been cancelled. "You're very clued up," she laughs, "are you spying on me?"
Nope, but I'm guessing that she will probably use the extra day to do her laundry since there's never time on tour to catch up with those domestic tasks. But I'm wrong. She proudly points out, "I actually did my laundry yesterday. All of it!" Including Jeremy's? "Of course!" So how did he manage before they were married? "That's a good question!" she responds. "He takes such good care of himself. I remember going to his house one day because he had a little bachelor pad and to be honest I was so impressed! Other than the lack of colour and decorating in the house, I was like, 'Wow! This is really clean!'"
She's on tour as a solo artist, is it strange being solo? "Oh my gosh! It's the weirdest thing!" she admits. "With The Benjamin Gate we just gave our everything for the band. Every time we played live it was just putting everything into that. Not that I don't do that now but it's in such a different way. Like when you're totally rocking out it's just such a different environment. And just even having the support of the guys, you know? Support, like physically just being there. We wrote all the songs together. We basically did everything together and we all carried the whole thing as a band. When I was in the band no-one was singled out at all. It's kind of weird, after doing that, to be standing up there by myself. I've felt quite shy to be honest with you! I'm like, 'OH MY GOSH WHAT AM I DOING?!'"
What she is doing is opening up on tour for Jeremy Camp and Hawk Nelson and she's stolen Jeremy's band to back her. A very practical move! So what's it like being Mrs Camp on tour? It must be different from being a normal support act because all the audience are probably predisposed to loving her because she's married to Jeremy. "Well I don't always get introduced as Mrs Adie Camp," she says, "so I think a lot of people don't even know that I'm Jeremy's wife until we actually close up the show together and then he introduces me again and I come out. Then everyone is like, Oh! Okay!"
She continues, "But for me it's been weird because my last shows played with The Benjamin Gate, we pretty much would close the show and it was also a rock show so it was just so different. And now I'm at the beginning playing mellow music and trying to warm up the crowd! I must say in the first couple of weeks I was like, oh my gosh! This is just so awkward. I just feel weird! But obviously the more you do it, the more it starts to feel more natural. And then I'm like, okay, okay. Cool. I'm getting this. I'm getting back into this. I get some dirty looks from some girls in the crowd sometimes! And some are like, 'Yay! You're Jeremy's wife! We love you!'"
Earlier in 2006, I actually got the chance to meet Jeremy for the first time and I was impressed by what a thoroughly nice guy he is. It doesn't surprise me that he's been such a big hit in the Christian music scene in the USA. I tease Adie that she's done very well for herself. She goes sloppy on me, "Awwhh. He's amazing! That's honestly the best thing that I love about him. People see him and they love him in the public but he's the same at home too. I mean he really is a great guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He's just honest, you know? So it's just great. It's easy to be able to support someone like that and even take a back step for somebody like that too."
Adie is actually Camp's second wife. When they met, Jeremy was a widower. The songs on his debut album were testimony to God's faithfulness during the time that his wife Melissa got sick and sadly passed away from cancer. Sometimes being a second wife can be a challenge. I wondered how Adie had found it. "It's been such a blessing," she says simply, "I can't even tell you! Melissa's life alone and her testimony of just how solid and how honest her relationship with God was, has in itself impacted me. In so many ways it's been almost an honour to be a part of the story. Jeremy's been amazing. He's never once compared me to her. Melissa and I are both very different. Obviously we come from such different backgrounds. He just always says to me, other than the fact that we both really, really love Jesus and that he's a big part of our lives, we really don't have a lot of similarities."
She continues, "So it's just been great. In a lot of ways I think that's made Jeremy and I be very honest about a lot of things in our marriage, even from the very beginning because we had to talk through so many things. Really like it says in the Bible; bear one another's burdens, you know? And be there together as friends. Even for me, every once in a while I have a hard day and I'll just call him and say, 'Hey, I'm feeling a little bit insecure today.' And he's like, 'Awh, don't worry about it. I love you! You're fine!' You know? His parents have been really supportive. I've met most of his family and I'm good friends with his sisters. So it's been incredible."
I'm aware as we're chatting that I have spent a great deal of time asking her about family life, her marriage and that Jeremy has popped up in the interview way too much since she's supposed to be talking about her new album. If the songs were all written in a six month period, I wondered what themes emerged across the album? She shares, "When I started out writing I didn't necessarily have anything in mind. To be honest I think I was just grateful if anything came out! Because this was just such a new thing for me again and I hadn't really written any songs for three years. But I think more than anything I was like, 'Okay God, I can encourage people in any way at all to take their relationship with you more seriously and to really live wholeheartedly for the Lord and be sold out.' Just anything like that, that would be great. That's my goal. And to encourage people to have an eternal perspective and to not get caught up focussing on things that are not important. And that's even speaking to myself too. Like sometimes we can get so busy with things."
She continues, "A few songs have come from that. The title track, 'Don't Wait', is just speaking about not wasting a day. Just to take hold of every opportunity to share with people what Christ has done in our lives. Like it says in Revelation: we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. I think it's so important to share what God has done in our lives with people because it's real. Like I said, more than anything I think I just want to encourage people to be passionate their relationship with God because that obviously is the most important thing. People come and go, things come and go, life experiences change, music changes.whatever. But it's the message that's the most important thing. It's just an encouragement, to follow God more wholeheartedly."
With the change in music style, she must be very aware that she's reaching a different audience to when she was in The Benjamin Gate. "Yeah and especially with the style of music too. I think there were a lot of people with The Benjamin Gate that were .I don't want to say 'rebellious' people, but just harder, arty people. And we were on the edge of a lot of stuff. I don't know if it's just because I've matured and because I'm a mom. I didn't necessarily plan for it to be that way but I think it'll probably attract more of a mature audience. But then at the same time I'm a girl. I'm still kind of young so it sort of does the whole girl thing as well."
In many ways, her debut album does occupy some very safe territory musically. Does she think that further down the line she may move in an edgier direction? "To be honest," she says, "I would love to! I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Benjamin Gate but I think I just knew that I needed to step away from it completely. I really enjoy more.I don't want to say 'creative' because it's not that the style of music I have done isn't creative, but just kind of pushing the box a little bit more on the art side. Jeremy and I have always joked about doing a rock project together but I don't know if that'll ever happen. But it would be fun!"
And it'll probably mean that when I chat to her, I'll end up talking too much about her husband again! For me, I'm just glad that Adie is back making music and trying to inspire people and even if this album is a little on the safe side, it feels like a good place to start. Now she's launched a solo career, let's hope it won't be three years before she's back in the studio again.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.