Pete Townsend was my biggest influence. I just loved the way he played. He had a very primal sense of rhythm, power and grit. Gutsy-type stuff, especially in the rock opera Tommy. Such great chord movement and writing. I also liked, very broadly, the rock-and-roll tradition and folk music. Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, stuff like that. Back then, people would sit around and sing throughout an evening. That was a way of being together.
Help me understand what happened after Lord of Light. You’re all together, and then a few years later you put out a last album. What were some of the pieces of that?
We moved up to Seattle in the summer of 1980. I, at thirty, began a bachelor’s music program there. Bob and Dan took other courses, and John was working on an oratorio. We weren’t writing a lot of liturgical music at the time. We were working so hard on learning to relate together, and that took energy away from composition.
Developing our relationships in the group was part of our reason for going to Seattle. (The other was to study music.) We were trying, especially in the second year there, to work on relating and relatedness. We decided that, in order to work as a group, we were going to have to work on communicating better. We spent many hours talking about who we were and trying to relate to each other. Even when Dan moved to Marquette University in 1982, while the rest of us stayed in Seattle, we wrote letters every month or so, summaries of what was going on, just to keep that communication going.
In the summer of 1983, John went to tertianship in Spokane, Duff came to Creighton, I went to Mankato and Tim stayed in Seattle. We kept writing letters and, in January 1984, we came back for a meeting to see what the next step was. Tim said he didn’t want to be part of the group anymore, that he didn’t want to continue with music. We were blown away. It was hard.
In 1985, Dan and I began tertianship. At the beginning of the summer of 1986, about the week before tertianship, Dan and I had lunch. He told me he’d been struggling a lot. He said that he’d decided to leave the Society. This was quite a surprise. The experience of that was hard, especially after having had these times of getting together and making commitments to each other. These hard times strained our relationships. Though we’d grown together, there was also a part of each person wanting to be more expressive in his own right about music and, in one sense, have a little less oversight. One of the good aspects of our separation was that people went on to discover their own style and voice, to explore what it means to compose in the church’s life in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. The goal was to grow in the knowledge and the craft of composition, and each of us went in different paths along those lines.