November 11, 2008

Moving Forward

Hey Everyone,

I've spent over 6 years working with Tooth & Nail and it's been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I've met so many wonderful people that I never would have met otherwise. I've had so many stellar opportunities afforded me. One of the best was without a doubt just the opportunity to serve as an A&R guy. When I sold Takehold Records to T&N I had no idea that I'd end up honing in on A&R. All in all, I believe I've worked with some of the best bands in this business. Over the course of nearly 10 years that list has grown to include over 50 artists and more records than I care to count.

I've always been a firm believer that God's will is PERFECT and He doesn't even have the capacity to mess it up. I, on the other-hand, was in a hole up to my neck when Brandon first showed interest in purchasing the deeply debt-laden Takehold Records. My wife and I had literally been praying that God would bring a miracle. Never would I have guessed that it would come in the shape of a one-liner email that just posed the question "How much would you sell your company for?". Had you been there to see the reaction on my face it would have reminded you of the cartoon character who's eyes just turned to green dollar signs. I was ecstatic. In the end, between three deals struck with T&N, Hopeless and Century Media I was able to pay off my $114K worth of accumulated debt and start anew in Seattle. That was in the spring of 2002. It was snowing when we arrived, but it was a fresh start.

The time has come for me to part ways with Tooth & Nail Records, and at least on a business level, with each of you. It's with a heavy heart that I type this as I'd rather just pick up the phone and express my heart to each one of you individually. Reality is that I'm greatly outnumbered. It's 1 against hundreds. Some of you I've known for well over ten years now. Others I've just begun to discover a relationship with. I consider all of you my friends and a storm of amazing memories flood my mind when I consider the last few years of my life in Seattle. I can think back of snowboarding with the mewithoutYou brothers where Rickie was sacked out for hours with the stomach flu while we enjoyed one of the best days of our lives high in the Cascades. "What if you don't know what the word Traverse means" is what Aaron asked the ski-attendant as we arrived at the Double Black-diamond peak. Her response was "you should not be here!". Little did she know. We came and we conquered, well...sort of. Without a doubt one of my fondest memories was the time that Underoath was going through some personal difficulties and Aaron Gillespie suggested we rent a Pontoon boat and spend the day out on the warm Florida waters. We nearly sunk the boat and the band will never let me live down the fact that I literally dove off the boat as the bow started plunging in the water. I swear it was momentum, dudes!!!
Or I can think of the first time I saw Anberlin play (they were still SAGOH 24-7 at that point). I felt they were so bad that I called Brandon and told him we should not sign them. Thankfully, he ignored me. The phone-calls that I've received over the years of bands deciding it was their own time to call the band quits. Those were never easy conversations. The time that Josh Scogin informed all of Furnace Fest that he was leaving Norma Jean, one would have thought the world had just ended. So many memories. Mostly very fond ones. A few that will remain unmentioned but what a wild ride to be a kid, facing bankruptcy, living in the dirty south, that was given the chance of a life-time. It was a true privilege to work alongside all the wonderful Tooth & Nail staffers and every one of the bands that I've tried to help.

I chose to walk out of T&N's doors, not out of a spirit of bitterness, anger, resentfulness or of a hardened heart, but because I've felt God's call so clearly on my life to move into a full-time Ministry role. I was afforded many amazing opportunities to share and live my faith as an A&R guy but most of my time was operating as a business man. Although God enabled me for the tasks at hand, I don't know that I was ever cut out to be much of a business man. I feel more like a simple peasant that's been blessed by God's favor than a savvy employee that always made the right calls. My heart just doesn't beat for conventional music business anymore. When I really started thinking about all of this, I discovered how passionately alive I was about helping others discover a deeper connection to Jesus. As it stands today, I really do not know what exactly God's will is going to look like for myself or my family's future. I do know that God has asked me to step out in the kind of faith that will either prove me the idiot of all idiots or prove God to be the great provider who is worthy of being trusted at all times (even when the economy is retreating and music business is turbulent, at best). In the Old Testament, the Israelites were not given the promise land without having to first walk into a raging river. It wasn't until the water was knee deep that the Lord pulled the water back for them to pass through. The waters I'm about to walk into might be allowed to reach my neck but I know that God has not, nor ever will, let any of us down when we chose to obey His call. If I were to do it all over again, I would have tried even harder to have reflected Jesus more brightly in everything I did. There were the early years at T&N where I was more focused on my pride and selfish flesh fulfillment then anything that would bring glory to God. It wasn't until 2005 that God really grabbed hold of my heart (or that I allowed Him to). Reading Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" was the beginning of the end for me. I'm learning to be a better friend, stronger husband, a devoted daddy and a more focused believer of the hope I've found in Jesus. I recognize that all of my life would be worthless had it not been for the obvious extension of grace offered me. The same grace is always extended to each of us. Not because of anything we've done but as the gift from God that surpasses a whole lifetime of presents found under any tree.

This is my act of surrender to follow God's will alone, with a purposeful commitment and an eager expectation of what is to come.

My final day at Tooth & Nail will be January 5th, 2009 and I will do my absolute best to end strong and cover any needs that will arise over the next few weeks. You should also know that T&N is working diligently to find the right replacement for me.

Thanks to everyone of you for allowing me to be a part of your lives, for trusting me with your business, for listening to my silly ideas, for just being friends.

I love you all so much and look forward to how our lives continue to intersect. My prayer is that God grows us all into the depth that pleases him most.


John 15: 16 - You have not chosen me, I have chosen you. And appointed you to bear fruit - fruit that will last. Whatever you ask of the father in my name it will be given to you!

P.S. For the sake of my own nostalgia, here's a list that compiles each of the bands I've been completely blessed to have worked with over the years:

Takehold Records

1. The Backups
2. Withstand FTHC
3. Twothirtyeight
4. Underoath
5. Not Waving But Drowning
6. Few Left Standing
7. Stairwell
8. Hopesfall
9. The Operation
10. Tantrum Of the Muse
11. Sleeping By the Riverside
12. Chalice
13. Fable
14. My Spacecoaster
15. Carry The Dead
16. Narcissus
17. Further Seems Forever
18. Recess Theory
19. Through The Eyes of Katelyn

Tooth & Nail/Solid State Records

1. Anberlin
2. And Then There Were None
3. As Cities Burn
4. Dead Poetic
5. mewithoutYou
6. The Almost
7. Beloved
8. Watashi Wa
9. twothirtyeight
10. Spoken
11. Life In Your Way
12. The Chariot
13. He Is Legend
14. Showbread
15. Mae
16. Corey Crowder
17. Destroy The Runner
18. Haste The Day
19. Inhale Exhale
20. Ivoryline
21. Jonezetta
22. The Death Campaign
24. Oh, Sleeper
25. Further Seems Forever
26. Once Nothing
27. The Classic Crime
28. Sever Your Ties
29. Trenches
30. Discover America
31. Waking Ashland
32. Terminal
33. The Fighting Jacks
34. Sullivan
35. Secret & Whisper
36. The Glorious Unseen
37. The River Bends
38. Underoath


Anonymous said...

God bless you bro!
Change is exciting, and walking the terrifying walk of faith is exciting. Sounds like your gonna let God do His thing, it's gonna be a massive blessing.

You have our prayers and we are stoked for you!

Chad Johnson said...

Thanks my man! Exciting times indeed.

Jones Family said...

God bless you man. The Lord has an amazing plan for your life and you just need to put your total trust into him, for he'll reveal his will. It's been an amazing journey all these past years of knowing you and sending emails back and forth. It's been such a pleasure having someone like yourself at a label I have come to love and admire. It wont be quite the same without you. I wish you the best and all of God's rich blessings on your life.

Jamey Clayberg said...

Wow man, big step! Awesome. I pray God's blessing on you and your family, I believe He honors and blesses steps of faith, particularly when those steps lead to tough or uncertain times. Keep on stepping!

Joel Hosler said...

You know your on the right path when it's opposite what you thought you would be doing or what the world is telling you to do. The Lord knows the plans He has for you. I look forward to seeing how God uses you in this next season, and maybe be able to come along side one day in it... Lord willing haha...


hewhocutsdown said...

Hey Chad

I wasn't going to spring this on you until I got the whole collection goes.

I remember our conversation about Takehold, and how you only had mp3s of the stuff. So drop me a line and I'll get you CD-quality copies of the following albums.

Best of luck with your new endeavours.

Joel Spencer said...

As one who left endeavors that I thought would be with me for the rest of my days, in order to follow the voice of the LORD, I say run headstrong and never look back.

May your new journey be full of dreams and wonders that you're not even able to imagine.

(Did you ever do any radio PR for T&N? I used to run Indie Access Radio based in GA and we played T&N's roster - just curious)

billy wiginton said...

thats amazing brother. i have enjoyed reading your blogs as i recently found the site. i cant wait to hang out and fellowship this weekend on the wake tour.

Levi The Poet said...

Chad... I got your email about this earlier today. Know that you are in my prayers, man. I'm not saying anything new here, but you've seriously blessed more than you will know till the Lord reveals it to you in heaven through everything you've done - and will continue to do as God and life takes you elsewhere.

I can't wait to see you this weekend, man. It's going to be awesome. God bless,


Greg said...

Go God and go Chad. It's been a really long time since the Crush Warehouse and Slacker66 days. I saw this on Buzzgrinder and checked out your site. I'm stoked to hear that God is moving in your life. You should join our "I remember the Crush Warehouse" group on facebook. I've posted a ton of old flyers and have a few pictures. More to come though.

Greg Hand

Brian Ayers said...

WOW! Exciting times. It sounds like God is doing some exciting things in your life. I'll be very interested to see/hear what comes next.

Brian said...

Chad, it's going to be amazing to see what God does next in your life. As everyone else has already said, change is such an exciting thing, and it's time to see some new movement! I know He will lead you right where He needs you, and you will continue to do extraordinary things. Keep it up! Hope to hear from you soon!


JacobChristopher said...

Chad. I awoke today as a new man once again. With you help. God has shined into my life in ways I couldn't even begin to explain. As we spoke last night I was moved. Thank you for my new Baptism. I feel I need to move forward. I have been staying still too long and as I said last night. I am letting got take the wheel. I am blessed to call you friend. The Lord has worked through you in ways that have awoken me.

As we spoke of your plans in life. I think it is amazing. The Lord speaks through you in ways I have never seen. I will see you soon my brother. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen said...

Chad is/was one of the most important men in Christian music. From the early days with his vision of starting Takehold Records, a record label that would break down the walls between secular and Christian art, and give bands who, otherwise, might not have been given the time of day, a real record deal, and an identity!!!

I had the pleasure of working with Chad Johnson. I know for a fact that had it not been for Chad, we would have never been able to achieve the success we had, being the kind of band that we were, and having that opportunity gave me some of the best years of my life!!!

It is undeniable, when looking at this man's roster, that he has had a huge impact on the world, through music, and in keeping with that integrity and spiritual discipline, he is moving onto bigger and better things.

I have a lot of memories of Chad. One of my favorite memories was when we toured down south, and we got to stay at Chad's house (The Takehold headquarters) For some odd reason we decided to play with firecrackers in his back yard. Chad brought out his old millennium falcon toy, and we packed it with about $100 worth of firecrackers. It blew up a few times and then went up in flames. This fire caught on to Chad's yard, and spread quickly, and we started stomping around to put it out!! That was hilarious. Man, so many crazy days.

Well, anyway, with that I leave you, Chad, a heartfelt thank you for the memories, the music, and the opportunity.

Best to you and your family exploring the rest of the map God laid out before you, and it is my prayer that more Christian men, with a vision like yours, will come and shine some light on this music scene once again...

...they have some big shoes to fill ;)

- Stephen (Tantrum Of The Muse)

Tim Baron said...

Chad, God bless you on your new endeavors. Exciting days ahead for you. I appreciated hearing your journey.

nate said...

what about dreadlock phillie...? I love those yellow goggles!

Nick said...

God bless you Chad. Good luck in the future, and I might not have ever heard most of my favorite bands if you never worked with them and got them on the Nail.

- Nicholas Le

GOOD LIFE RECORDINGS - Belgium. said...

THANK YOU Chad for all the years of working together and for renewed in inspiration through your blog.

Your friend in Belgium, Ed Goodlife.