The Tale of Julian Drive
You know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and you just can’t get it out? You know how sometimes you hear a song on the radio and it’s that song? Except it’s not that song; it’s a song you’ve never heard before, but you swear you’ve been singing along with it all your life. That’s the way you feel when you hear Julian Drive for the first time. Familiar. Comfortable. Like an old friend you can drive down the road with and not have to say a word because, well, because you just can.
Shane Bowers (vocals, guitar) and Shaun Bennett (keyboard, guitar) formed the nucleus of the band while leading youth worship at church in their small hometown in rural Clarke County, Georgia. With the help of a few fellow friends they elevated the level of intensity from just another youth group worship band to a full fledged, no-holds-barred, ministry-oriented, Southern alt-rock band. Life got more complicated for the men as local buzz gave way to regional demand. When Julian Drive beat out 2000 contestants to win the 2004 Exalting Him talent search the natural progression to the national stage seemed simply inevitable.
But that doesn’t mean the decision to go full time in the music business was taken lightly. Playing on the weekends and during vacation days is all well and good, but like most folks the members of Julian Drive had a powerful need to eat on occasion, and playing in a traveling band, as glamorous as it may seem, doesn’t always pay the bills. “I had worked at the same job ever since college,” Shane mused. “I liked my job. I liked my boss. I liked my co-workers and they liked me. The other guys in the band were in similar situations. Leaving a steady paycheck and benefits behind was a big step. You don’t want to give up everything you have worked for only to come home with your tail between your legs if God didn’t really call you.”
Even without a single on the radio, Julian Drive found itself constantly booked for every date the band could possibly play. And the number of calls that poured in after its performance for 20,000 screaming fans at Winterfest 2005 finally convinced the guys that it was now an all or nothing proposition. “We had six months worth of events scheduled,” Shane explained. “After a lot of prayer it just became obvious that if we were going to do this thing we would have to go full time. We took the leap of faith in 2006 and have been on the road ever since. It has been a liberating, yet humbling experience.”
Countless events later, playing shows from coast to coast and sharing the stage with the likes of Casting Crowns, Third Day, Newsong, Superchick, Big Daddy Weave, David Crowder, Rush of Fools, Big Daddy Weave, Building 429, and a host of others, Julian Drive is more focused, more dedicated, more determined than ever.
Snatching moments between gigs, primary songsmith Shane Bowers continues honing the intimate lyrical style that now defines Julian Drive. Many of the songs on the band’s current recording projects were birthed from his morning devotional studies. Others come from ups and downs of everyday life.
“Each person in the band brings something incredibly creative to the table,” Shane recalled. “Through the years I’ve evolved into the music and lyric; poetic sort. Shaun’s really turned it on in recent years and has added a lot to the writing process, whether through music, progressions, ideas, or melodies. We’re all continually growing creatively.”
In early 2007, the band’s songs caught the ear of noted producer, Lynn Nichols (Phil Keaggy, Switchfoot), who brought Julian Drive into the studio in Nashville and helped the group define its sound. Nichols declared, “Julian Drive’s music represents the heartland of America in style, and the heart of God in spirit. The unique style of their music is a product of Julian Drive’s blend of all their musical and spiritual influences.” They eventually released the Nichols’ produced, “My Coming Day”, with Inpop Records and received lots of national buzz.
In late 2009 and early 2010 the guys again teamed up with Nichols and co-producer Tedd T (Newsboys, Rebbeca St. James, Delirious). Over the following 2 years they also recorded tracks produced by Jason Hoard (The Museum, Mike’s Chair) and Steve Fee.
Drummer Josh Seagraves was added to the band in 2008. The former youth pastor’s heart for ministry and passion for music was a perfect match. More recently, Dustan and Holly Barker joined the team in the spring of 2012. The duo filled a much-needed void on bass and background vocals, respectively. The recent additions has taken the sound and direction of Julian Drive’s music back to its roots a bit more; praise and worship. They are currently working on a project that will be due out in late 2012 or early 2013.
Shane states, “We are so excited about the new music we’ve been working on as well as our long time friends becoming an official part of the family. We greatly anticipate the direction God will take us next.”