How exactly did you get connected with the others?
My memory is that I heard their music over at Fusz, and I heard a rumor they were going to write it all down. I said, “Hey, let’s gather me and any other Jesuits in St. Louis who have been writing liturgical music, and we’ll put out copies of it when people ask for it.” My stuff started to get around; Schutte and Dufford got copies of it, and they started writing in their own unique ways. I was doing short refrains, setting those antiphons that are printed in the missal, that are remnants of the chant from ancient days. When he got to St. Louis, Dan started to do longer refrains that had a lot more melodic content. I had based mine on Joseph Gelineau’s, in part, but when I heard his, I thought that it really fit instrumentally; we tried to keep our parts simple. We made each album we put out a little more complicated because we thought we would be teaching the guitar crowd to be better and better. But there wasn’t the continuity we thought there would be. There would be people playing guitars for two to three years, and then they’d go to college or go into business and a new crowd would come in, so we gradually professionalized the whole thing and raised the guitar playing standards.
People talk about your work together as capturing the rhythms and speech well.
The ultimate roots are with Fr. Bob Boyle at Regis. I studied Hopkins with him at college. I heard the sprung and metaphorical rhythm, and I just fell in love with it. Working in language from that point on became something I couldn’t compromise. It’s actually easier to get the rhythms of the language right than to do them wrong. It’s like a guy who lays bricks and lays them all crooked. I’m not making any claims that I did it right all the time.