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Jordan Riley
by Jon Fisher
Contributor on 2011-11-04 15:26:50
The first video I saw of yours was “Next Sunday” and I really like the song. Do you think that song might have upset a few people?

I actually have heard from a few people that it did upset them. I wrote it about growing with my family because in some ways we were those Sunday Christians. Even though I knew it would hit a nerve I was hoping it would make people actually think instead of being upset. I wanted them to think about their own lives as they looked inside themselves and see if there were similarities.

I know that some have come to me after shows and said, “Man, that’s me, you know I’m just kind of going to church just for show and doing my Sunday thing with God and then just putting it on the shelf for six days of the week”. So although this song is the goofy side of Jordan it was meant to get people thinking and hopefully spur some change in how we view our walk with Christ.

Style-wise, that song is a lot different from a lot of the songs on the CD. It’s definitely more punky. So how would you describe your style?

I honestly have never been able to put that in a box. My goal was to be more genre-neutral where I didn’t sound like everyone out there or people couldn’t put me a particular genre saying “Well, oh you’re just punk, or oh you’re just pop or you’re just rock”.

I’ve always tried in my career to have a little bit more of a versatile sound. Reaching a more broad audience with my music has always been my hope, so I have worked hard to make my sound a little diverse. To me it's also fun as an artist to be able to give the audience a little bit of everything musically, whether a hard hitting rock song, or a very soft ballad.

Next Sunday

The second song I really like is “Catch Me”. Now do you consider that to be more autobiographical?

Yes, I pulled the lyrics and inspiration from personal experiences I had as a kid. The relationship with my dad was never as strong as I longed for, and when I began to think about the feelings that it left in my heart the words began to come quickly. I also wanted to be transparent enough that others who listened to the song could relate to thoughts, feelings, and relationships that they had gone through in their own lives.

Catch Me

I saw in your bio that you’re 6’6” and you have size 14 shoes. Have you ever had any thoughts of playing professional basketball? You’ve gotta play basketball or football or something, right?

Oh yeah. I’ve been playing basketball since I was four years old. My dad loved basketball and played in high school so it sort of came naturally. He pretty much put a basketball in my hand at a very early age.

I remember when I was in high school on the varsity team I would lay in bed with my basketball and practice my shooting form against the ceiling until i would fall asleep with my basketball by my side. I went to bible college thinking that I would be playing for my college, but God had other plans. It was hard to accept that as it had been such a big part of my life, but I knew that I had to lay down my love to basketball.

Any particular bands, either secular or Christian that you would say “Oh these guys really influence me”?

Let’s see. I would have to say that some of my favorite bands that influenced me were Petra, Whiteheart, POD, and Linkin Park. They influenced me very heavily because they didn't follow the typical ways of writing music. Most of those bands wrote lyrics that I could relate to.

Growing up in a small town, Christian rock was looked at like devil music. I went to a Petra concert as a 12 year-old and was blown away that they were rocking and singing about Jesus and I’m just like this is the coolest thing ever. Bands that tend to get my attention are ones that don't write about a lot of fluff. I want something that moves me and gets me thinking about my own life and situations that I have gone through.

My last interview was with Jesse Ribordy from “Falling Up” and since he’s from the Oregon area, I asked him this question too. Do you think the Northwest is more or less receptive to Christian artists?

As someone who grew up here it’s not even a hard questions, the northwest is less receptive to Christian Artists. I’ve lived here my whole life and obviously a good portion of the concerts I’ve done in my career are in the Northwest – Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California area. I mean I can do a concert out here and I’m lucky if I get 100 to 200 people. And I go to the east coast or the southern United States, and we’re talking 500 to 1000 people at an average show.

This is a great example. My first ever tour to the east coast we did 23 shows in 27 days. While in Virginia we did a concert in a town where no one had ever even heard of me or my music and there had to be over 1000 people there. I was blown away as that would never happen out in the northwest. We are one of the most un-churched regions of the whole country.

Speaking of touring, you’re kicking off a new tour, right?

As of now I will not be touring till 2012. I had a whole fall and winter tour planned with over 40 dates. I mean it was all pretty much lined up and I had been working on this with my agent since probably about April or May. And one by one, they started to close or cancel. I was just beside myself for the past three months, like why is this happening?

And then something big happened in my career and it was that “AHA” moment where I was like “OK God that’s why all this closed down”.

So what is the big thing then?

I was waiting for you to ask. A national producer from Warner Brothers, contacted me which is really weird because I didn’t even know who he was nor did I pursue him. He is a Christian although he is a movie score writer and accomplished producer who writes for a ton of secular big named artists in the industry such as, Lincoln Park, Korn, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, and Usher.

During our first conference call at midnight last month he said “Hey Jordan, I really didn’t know who you were six hours ago, but through a friend of a friend I heard about you and your heart to reach people with the Gospel, and I believe in what you do, and people like yourself need to be in the forefront as you take the message of Christ to the nation. I want to work with you to take your ministry to the next level.”

It was made clear to me that he never works with local artists, but he felt that God was moving him to work with me and my ministry. He had the blessing of Warner Brothers behind him to sign this deal, and now I have the signed the development deal with him. I will be moving forward and the first single is due out this fall.

What is the name of the first single?

We don’t know. All I know is that as I was driving my car the other day the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart and said that the first single would be about "not looking back." I then went into the studio a few days later and the producer who originally wrote the song for Limp Bizkit and was now giving it to me showed me the song and it was obvious where this song would be heading. I am very excited to see what God does with it.

What scripture would you consider to be the most meaningful to you?

Oh that’s easy, its Jeremiah 15:19, that is like my theme scripture. If I was going to get another tattoo, (I have nine tattoos already), I would get that one. God kind of hit me with a ton of bricks when it happened. Would you like me to read it to you?

If you could read it to me that would be great.

I don’t have my NIV which is what I usually use, but it says “Therefore thus sayeth the Lord 'If you return to Me, I will restore you. Before Me you will stand and if you extract the precious from the worthless'” or the other translation says “If you will speak things that are of worthiness you will become my spokesman". And that’s passionately what I feel.

I feel that I’m a mouthpiece for God. I’m like His PR guy, and I want to be the best PR guy I can. That’s really kind of my testimony. When I turned from my selfish ways and things of the world and gave myself to the Lord, I became His spokesman and He gave me that awesome responsibility. So that verse is like, it’s kind of been my thing to lean on because it keeps me grounded. I realize that I have that awesome responsibility that God’s put on my life

Your website mentions that you’re partnering with Hopeline and I was wondering if you could give a little more detail on that?

Sure. The back story on that really quick is that as a teenager I struggled with depression and hopelessness, even thoughts of suicide, just because of family dynamics and different things. A friend of mine said “Hey have you ever heard of Hopeline?” This was when I was already a Christian singer, and I said, “Well I’ve heard of them” but I started to Google them and I realized that they’re dealing with the same kind of stuff that I write about and that I dealt with as a teenager.

I ended up talking to one of their executive directors and he said “Jordan if we can have you as one of our artists to bring a message of hope in another way, we would love to partner with you.” They’re actually talking about going through a “Hope” tour, possibly next year, with me and another artist.

Their goal as an organization matches the heart of my ministry. I don’t want to be your typical artist. I don’t want to be someone who goes in and does a show and rocks on for Jesus, then says, "see you, goodnight," and then I’m off to the next town. In my time as a Christian artist it is clear that people have needs and are hurting and want to be loved and heard.

I want to be an artist who cares about people and not about how many CD's I sold that night or the size of the crowd. People need us to stand up and boldly point them to Christ because we live in a dark world. I am just glad I can be a part of blessing others.

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