It's been over a decade since ska music—including a few Christian bands that excelled in the genre—peaked, but that hasn't stopped the O. C. Supertones from mostly plugging right along. They briefly called it quits in 2005, as band members left to pursue more family time (the six band members have 18 children among them) and other ministries. "And," says frontman Matt "Mojo" Morginsky, "I was burned out."
A 2010 reunion—10 shows in the summer—was supposed to be short-lived, but "when we saw how God was using the ministry again and how much it was encouraging people, we wanted to stay open to God using us," says drummer Jason Carson, a full-time youth pastor in California. "Since then, we've been playing around 7 or 8 shows a year. And then we got really foolish and agreed to a new album!"
That new record, For the Glory, released last week. We caught up with Carson and Morginsky to talk about the new album, the band's history (they formed in 1991 as Saved before becoming the Supertones and selling over 1 million records), and why they got back together.
What's kept you busy since 2005?
Matt Morginsky: I got married in 2004, and we've had three kids so far, so that has been what's really kept me busy. I went to Covenant Theological Seminary, graduated with an MDiv in 2011, and now an assistant pastor in Denver. [Morginsky was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America last month.]
Jason Carson: Beyond youth pastoring, I love being a husband and father to four young kids. Also, I recently have transitioned into leading adult ministries at my church.
So, why a comeback, why a new record, and why now?
Carson: This may sound cliché, but it's the truth: It's because of the Spirit of God! Six guys with full time jobs, all of us totally involved in our churches, five of us full time pastors, all married, and 18 young children. We swore we wouldn't do another album, and I'm sure God was laughing at us saying, "Oh really? Do you have limits on what I want to do with you?" The Lord started giving new songs to Mojo and Tony [Terusa], and next thing we know, we have the best, most fun, most spiritual, most encouraging, and most purposed album we've ever put out.
Morginsky: I don't look at this as a comeback. This is just old friends who love playing music together to the glory of God, and the album is really an outgrowth of that. I personally love the creative process of making and recording new songs, so I don't need much of a reason to do it.
Ska had its heyday a decade ago. Is there still an audience for it, and do you still consider yourselves a ska band?
Carson: We're a total ska band! From the start, we set out to make the best ska record we could—and people love it. There ain't nothin' like it these days.
Morginsky: I'm not sure about the current market for ska. But we really didn't think about the marketability of the record. We simply wanted to make the best ska record ever.
Pick a song on the album and tell me the story behind it.
Carson: "Far More Beautiful" is special. Three of us are youth pastors, and our trombone player [Nathan Spencer] had the idea for a song to share with our youth group girls—that God loves them just as they are, and to stop listening to all the lies of the world about their identity. Mojo wrote three verses off that, about a young girl, a teenage girl, and a mother. We've already received unbelievable feedback about it. [Watch the lyric video here.]
Morginsky: "The Wise and the Fool." I really like this song because it is heavily influenced by Biblical wisdom literature; many of the lyrical concepts come from things I learned in seminary. I also like this song musically because it's different from what we've done before.
How did you see God at work in your band when you were in your heyday, in the interim (from 2005-2010), and now?
Morginsky: A wonderful part of getting back together is that we have heard more and more stories about how certain songs have impacted people who got into us after we broke up. We had certainly hoped our songs would do that, but I honestly didn't expect that it would outlive the band the way it has.One person said they became a Christian after reading the lyrics. I mean, come on, the lyrics aren't that good! God truly can use a donkey to speak his message.I also hear many people say how our records helped sustain them through tough times and faith crises.
Carson: The fact that God uses unimpressive sinners like us to do anything is super humbling. The title of the album, and thesingle message of this band for the last 21 years, is this: It's for the glory of God.
You funded the album production through Kickstarter. You had a goal of $30,000, but raised over $47,000. What did that mean to you?
Carson: Supertones fans are the best—so supportive, so generous, and so faithful. We are grateful beyond words.
Morginsky: I was very surprised. Our fans are amazing and it was a great feeling to know that so many people wanted a new record.
The music industry has changed rapidly since you were in the thick of it. What are the biggest changes you've observed?
Carson: I love to see the heart of worship, and I love to see any band make that a priority. Hopefully our band will always stand for that and encourage others to that as well.
What's been more daunting, getting back on stage again together, or doing the whole studio thing?
Carson: Being on stage? Simple, easy, and fun. Writing and recording an album with guys living in different states? Let's just say praise the Lord that he makes all things possible!
Morginsky: The most daunting thing is making our music life work with our regular lives. It is tough to take off from work and family, but it has also been great.
Is this just a temporary reunion, or could this be a full-time gig again?
Carson: Probably temporary. But I will not tell the Lord what we won't do anymore. God is in charge; we're just vessels and servants.
Morginsky: We're getting old! There is nothing in the whole world which can persuade me to again live in a bus or van, get up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport, eat gas station beef jerky and Papa John's for three weeks straight, spend 12 hours in an enclosed space with crew guys (and their armpits) so that people can come up to me and say, "Hey back in high school I used tolikeyour band!"