by Tracy Darlington
let the world define you. Find out who God is and you'll be an amazing
Barlowgirl is an all girl band made up of three sisters: Rebecca, Alyssa and Lauren Barlow. (Can you guess how they came up with the band name?) For two years they traveled around the country and were the back up band for their dad. During one concert Lauren, who was the keyboard player at the time, caught sight of a drumset, fell in love.... and so a drummer was born. Soon after that the girls began experimenting with song writing and out of that came songs never to be played or heard of again :) During that time they decided to start their own band and have been one for the past several years. What happened to their father, you ask? Well don't... kidding. He and his wife (ironically, the Barlowgirl's mother) are now the girl's managers. Yes, it is a family affair.
I caught up with the girls the day after they officially finished their
cd How Can We Be Silent, and they had a ton of great stuff to share.
Tracy: The big question all your fans will want to know is what’s the biggest difference between How Can We Be Silent and your past albums?
LAUREN: This record has definitely grown. It’s definitely matured. You can see that even from the look of the CD cover picture. We’re in the middle of a boxing ring. Your initial reaction might be, “Whoa! What’s going on here?” when you see it. I love it. I’m excited about it. That cover symbolizes our growth, of God really teaching us that this life is a battle, that we have so much to fight for in our lives. We cannot give up. We titled it How Can We Be Silent because God has put so much in our lives as a generation. It’s not just for us girls. It’s for this generation.
There’s a rising up of this generation that’s saying, “You can do it. You were made for so much more.” We can fight for what we were made for. That’s the kind of work God has been doing. We always had that in our lives, but God has been doing even more in us. We have our anthems, and we have our songs that try to bring hope. Over the past two years we’ve heard so many stories from kids who have two seconds with you in a signing line, and they lean over the table and tell you things they’ve never told anybody in their entire life. Just hearing the brokenness and hearing the sadness in kids . . . even younger kids are forced to grow up so much more quickly. The world doesn’t give them a chance. It just says, “This is how it is, and this is what you have to do. You have to experience all this before you’re this age.” It’s ridiculous, really. It’s so sad to see. So there’s a brokenness which seems to be present even more in our generation. And then there’s the fire and the passion that’s growing too.
We really tried to capture that in this album. So, it is mature. The lyrics are a little heavier. Because in the times we’re in right now, we don’t have time to mess around with our songs. We just say it the way it is now, a little bit more than before. It’s deeper, but there’s definitely a lot of hope in it.
Did you use an orchestra in a lot of the songs?
LAUREN: We did. We had an awesome quartet come in and play on our album. They were amazing. We’ve had strings on all the other albums, but this time it is more prominent. You hear it a lot more. It’s gorgeous. It’s so pretty; we’re like, “They can do the entire album!”
What message do you hope people will come away with when the listen to the album?
LAUREN: I definitely hope they are empowered and hopeful. I pray that the things people are struggling with in their life, the things they are going through and dealing with, that somehow through this album they can find a piece of truth to help them in their life. That they can find something in this, that God will speak to them through this album. I hope people go away with answers and hope for the future.
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
Lauren: My goodness! It’s so fresh and new, like I just had ten babies all at once! I like so many of them. But there are two that really stick out right away. “Million Voices” I love ‘cause it’s really hard core. I love the rock!
“One More Round” is a jazz song, and I love it as well! It’s the type of music I listen to. We love big band and jazz stuff. “One More Round” is one that we went out on a limb with. We embraced what we like. It’s one of those songs that I could do a bajillion times over. We’re easing people into it slowly. (Laughs.) We’ll add a couple of these songs each album, and then the 10th album will be all jazz!
What was the funnest part of making this record?
LAUREN: Doing it with Otto Price. He’s the most amazing man. He was the producer of our first and second albums. He’s family. It was great being able to hook up again. We were with him every single day for two and a half months. Just having that re-connection and getting to be with him again was amazing. He lives in Nashville, and we’re in Chicago, so we don’t get to see each other a lot. Having those two and a half months to be creative and make things happen was amazing. Another amazing thing is I got a Yorkie puppy for Christmas, so she got to come and make a record with us. She comes on the road with us too. She lets me do her clothes and her hair. At first she didn’t like it, but I was like, “You’re gonna like this; I have to do your hair.” So now she lets me do it.
On your website you guys say, “Barlowgirl has a passion to write songs about the journey God has taken them on in their lives.” What has that journey looked like for you in the past year or so?
LAUREN: The journey is always unknown in the Barlow’s lives. We never know what God’s going to do, whether He’s going to make a hard right turn, or whatever. We never know. The journey is purely trust. That’s what it’s made out of. Our journey is holding hands with God, saying, “God, wherever it is, take us there.” The past couple months doing the album has been a crazy roller coaster. It’s been insane, but it’s been awesome. God has taught us so much. He never stops teaching us. God will always teach us who He is through something, or show us how we can do things better. He has taught us so much. This journey is a pure, faith/trust-walk.
Any particular struggles in which God has worked in a special way?
LAUREN: When you’re making an album, there is so much you run into. You face so much. I think if we try to take control it will totally mess up everything and be terrible. There were many of those situations where right when we’re literally praying for direction, someone will call and the problem would be taken care of. Or it could be a week or two weeks, but we trust Him and He works it out.
Tell us about your Psalm 73 challenge.
Lauren: We asked 10 or 12 speakers we admire and look up to the question about Psalm 73, “How is God enough for you in your life? Tell us a time where God has been enough for you.” We did interviews with each of those speakers on our website. We’re challenging our generation to make God enough. God is enough for you in your life. So many times we look to the world and other people to be enough for us. Really, we’re kind of changing our mindset, changing the way we think about these things. God is enough for us in our lives, but so many times we don’t even give Him a chance. We just automatically assume, “Oh, He’s not gonna be good enough. It’s not gonna be what I want.” We’re realizing that in the end, if we just give God the chance to fulfill us and be all that we need, our life is gonna be so much better. And a lot more fulfilling. It’s a challenge for our generation, and for us as a band as well. God is enough. That’s something we are very passionate about.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about Barlowgirl?
LAUREN: We live on a farm. Is that weird? (Laughs) I don’t know if many rock bands live on a farm. We still live with our parents, and we’re all in our twenties . . . that’s kind of different. Because I’m a drummer, people always think I’m an angry person. I always say, “No! I’m a nice person. I like puppies!” (Laughs.)
I hate all things that normal people like. For instance, I cannot drink coffee, and I pretty much don’t like the “in” trend of food. I hate sushi, and that’s the thing to love! I got sick on sushi once. Five days for one piece of sushi! It was the worst. I had a California roll, so it’s not that fishy. It’s got a little big of crab in it. It really tastes like the seaweed wrapping. You have to douse it with soy sauce. And I hate fish. I don’t even know why I tried it. I’m done with sushi! Every time I look at it, I get a little nauseous.
What’s currently in your iPod or cd player?
Lauren: The Barlowgirl album! We’ve been doing the mixes and stuff, mastering it. So I had to listen to it about fifteen times a day! During that time we have to call our producer and say, “We need to change this or that.” Literally, that’s all I’ve been listening to. After all the mixing is done, we master it. Then it’s finished! So now I get to listen to it simply for pleasure. I love that. I have a different mind set now. I’m not listening to what needs to be fixed, I’m listening to it as a whole, as a body. And now that it’s done, I love it. I still hear things that could be changed because an album is never really done. But there comes a point when you have to say, “Okay, just master it! We have to be done with it!” Now I just have to say to myself, “You can’t listen for the stuff you’d like to fix.” You could kill yourself mixing an album, really. You could never be finished.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
LAUREN: There’s always milk; gotta have milk! But it’s the Horizon organic kind, which is the best. I always have to have baby carrots. I’m addicted to them. I love ‘em! It’s the only vegetable I’ll ever eat, pretty much. I don’t like vegetables. I wanna like vegetables, but I don’t like them. I only eat carrots or zucchini--that’s it. I’ll stir fry it, zuchini and squashes. But everything else, I can’t eat. I don’t know why.
And there are these Amy’s little Pizza Pockets. They are the best thing ever! I have like five boxes of them in there right now. Or anything from Morningstar. They do all the soy Boca Burgers, and stuff. They do soy hot dogs. (That sounds really gross!) But yeah, I try to be healthy. When you’re on the road, you gotta be healthy ‘cause you’re eating at 2 in the morning. The only exercise we get on the road is on stage. We try, but it really never happens.
A lot of girls look up to you. Let’s say you could sit every girl down and share with them nuggets of wisdom. What would you share?
LAUREN: I would sit them down and let them know to not let this world define them. I think that is one of the biggest things we struggle with as women, even as a generation, not just women. We let this world tell us exactly who we’re supposed to be. We let this world tell us exactly what we’re supposed to look like and what we’re supposed to dress like. We need to realize as women that we need to get our definition from God and what He’s created us to be. When we look at this world, it’s not fulfilling; it’s not who we’re supposed to be. We’re just in this endless cycle of chasing fads and trends to be “in” and to be liked. God’s saying, “Just look to Me, and let Me define you.” Because when He does, it’s so much more fulfilling.
The big thing for us as human beings is we don’t know who we are. God has created us to be something amazing. God has made this path for us to look to Him every single day and say, “What do you want me to be? What do you want me to do?” But we look to all the wrong places. That is why our generation has cutters. That is why we are anorexic. That is why there is so much depression. That is why we’re sleeping around. That is why we’re doing all these things, because we don’t know who we are. We’re just looking for fulfillment any place we can find it. Don’t let this world define you. Find out who God is, and you’ll be an amazing person. That’s not to say your life is gonna be easy. You’re still gonna have struggles, but it’ll be a lot better because you’ll have someone holding you through all your pain.
It comes from a personal relationship between you and God. You have to take that time. If you don’t hear God, how much time do you spend with Him? It’s not just fifteen minutes of opening your Bible and saying, “Show me something. Do something now.” Don’t give Him a limit. You gotta press in and be as passionate about Him as you are about turning on the television and listening to your radio. Be passionate about listening to Him and just sitting there. Sometimes we girls will sit as a family before God for hours saying, “Okay, God. Speak to us.” It’s intercession. It’s praying. It’s being on your face. And a lot of times we don’t get anything because God’s slowly pulling the things of this world away so we can hear His voice. You gotta press in and be passionate about it.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started in music?
ALYSSA: Looking back, I see that even in those times when I didn’t know where God was taking me, there is such a sweetness to that. It made me trust Him more. I kind of liked the time when I didn’t know much. I’m the kind of person who loves to know everything, to really be in control and know the answer for everything. I think so often God purposely hides things from me so that I cling to Him and actually trust Him instead of trusting myself. Looking back, as much as it annoyed me at the time, I kind of loved those areas of my life that were a blind spot to me, that made me seek Him and say, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust You.” That’s something that will go on the rest of my life, with my personality. I think He’ll always do that so I trust Him more.
You’re sitting across a table from someone who’s not sure if they even believe in God. What would you say?
ALYSSA: When I’m faced with talking to people who don’t know God at all, I love sharing my personal experiences. It makes it very tangible for them. I love talking about ways God has shown up in my life, or something God has done in my life. A story is something that reaches a person’s heart quickly because they see, “Oh, my gosh, if that’s who God is in their life, what can He do in mine?” I make it as personal as possible, instead of pulling out fifteen Scriptures. If we don’t make it personal they don’t know why we’re even speaking it, because they don’t know what it means to us. They don’t know why we’d be sharing it. But if we put an emotion to it, something that we’ve experienced, they start to go, “That’s what I want in my life,” because they want that emotion and that feeling, that understanding, that Rock under their feet.
It would also depend on what they are going through in their lives. What are they dealing with? What in my life could I share that God has done similar to what they need? I find God brings a lot of people my way who are pretty skeptical about the fact that God would ever have anything for their lives. I believe that’s because that was totally me. I can go, “Hey, I’ve been there.” I totally went through the biggest season where I had dreams of what I thought I was gonna be. I thought I was gonna go to Broadway. I had it all planned out. I’ve had my life planned out since I was six! I’m just that kind of person. I knew where I was going. I share my story of how I was so stubborn until I was about 18, still serving God, but saying, “God, hands off my dreams. I don’t think You could have anything better than what I have for myself.”
There was a season of my life where I was extremely broken. I had fallen down some stairs and twisted my ankle. We thought it was broken, and after a month of doctors and horrible chronic pain, they found out I had a disease and that I would never walk again. The disease is called RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), and it was crazy. My life blew up in my face. In that moment I almost said, “Forget it. I don’t want God anymore. If this is the God I serve, I don’t want Him.”
I was angry, and I was bitter. The amazing thing for me is that God was way more persistent than I was in that time. He went after me in full force! He began to show me what unconditional love was, through my family, through people helping me. He showed me that I didn’t have to be perfect for someone to love me. Through that He began to reveal that He did have a plan for me, for my life. I’m here today because of those examples. I was like, “Okay, if You are this loving and forgiving, then yeah, I’m all Yours.” He healed me, and I’m walking, and I’m serving Him. Both are equally miraculous.
How has journaling impacted your lives?
ALYSSA: There are lots of song lyrics in my journal over the past years. Not even intentionally written as lyrics. They’re written in journal form. “Never Alone” was birthed in a journal. A lot of those lyrics came out of that. I find journaling to be a wonderful release. Especially when you’re in a crowded place, and you just kind of want to scream something out to God or really get something off your chest. A lot of my life is spent in crowded places, on a bus or in a venue, and it’s very hard for me to be alone. I will sit down and open my journal, and it feels very intimate all the sudden. It feels like nobody’s looking over my shoulder; nobody can hear me; it’s just me and God. There could be a bunch of people around, but I feel very focused all the sudden on Who I am talking to.
Also, I love looking back. I have all my journals from since I was seven. I love being able to look back and go, “Look where God’s brought me! Look at the things I was dealing with.” Or, “Oh, I’m still dealing with that.” (Laughs.) It’s almost like my own life story written down in all these books that I’ll have forever---my story with God and where He’s brought me. My journals are wonderful.
You’re in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Alyssa: I always order a tall, skim cappuccino with whip. Definitely whip! I get whip on everything. I don’t know why, I just love it. It’s my favorite part.
Your favorite vacation spot?
Alyssa: Anywhere with a beach and my brother and his family. We mostly end up going to Florida. We love Florida.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
ALYSSA: It could have been way more embarrassing than it was, but last year on the Rebeccca St. James tour, we had just finished our show, and we said, “Good night everybody!” They turn out the lights, and we walk off stage. Once your eyes are used to that bright light for forty five minutes, when it goes pitch black it’s pretty hard to see. I had forgotten that night that there was a big hole in the stage, and I fell into the hole right on stage. I broke my foot and dislocated my heel. But my bass was still on so I put it up on top of my head so it wouldn’t break (It didn’t.) The first thing I totally said when I fell in was, “Did anybody see?” And fortunately, not everybody saw. Only a few. But it was still embarrassing. I had to get out of the hole on stage and hobble off. It was a wonderful moment. Very humbling!
What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
ALYSSA: You know what’s funny, most of the songs that we’ve always said, “If I could do it, I’d write a song like that,” actually ended up on this new album. We’ve always said, “If we could, we’d write a jazz song,” and “If we could, we’d write more of a worship song, or a love song to God,” and they all ended up on this album. I do have one I’d still like to write (even though it kind of happened on this album, but not fully). I would write a full Broadway type song. Like Rogers and Hammerstein.
Having your family in your lives has kept you on track spiritually on the road and through the tough times. What else do you do to stay on track?
ALYSSA: One of the things we feel is really important is prayer time. I know that sounds so cliche, but it’s true. It can get away from you so quickly. Especially when you have fifty million things scheduled, and you’re just packed. One thing that Mom and Dad have been really, really consistent with is getting us to pray and listen to teaching every day as a family. Like at 10:30 in the morning we’ll wake up, get out of our bunks, grab our coffee---well, Lauren will grab a Red Bull, ‘cause she hates coffee---and we’ll sit on the couch and listen to teaching. (We love Joyce Meyer; she’s incredible.) I think teaching was a huge piece that was missed being on the road. So we have a huge library of teaching cd’s and worship on the bus. I think filling yourself up with teaching and prayer is one of the most amazing things we definitely should keep up.
How do you guys beat stress when you’re on the road?
ALYSSA: Definitely prayer again. I find it’s really important, too, to get away for a little bit. I don’t think we realize how much we are with people. A lot of times when I’m on the road, because I’m so social, it’s very hard for me to go, “Okay, I’ve been with people non-stop for four or five days. I haven’t had a second to myself.” Like the other day on the road I found myself starting to get short with people, kind of agitated, and I thought, “This isn’t good.” So I took my Bible and my book and my journal, and I literally locked myself in the back bedroom for three and a half hours. It was amazing. I said, “I’m not coming out until I know I have a good attitude.” I just needed time with myself, time to calm down and get focused again. Time alone is a very big piece of that.
Any advice for someone who might be struggling with their prayer life?
ALYSSA: Find a time that works for you and stick with it. When I’m home I have a time in the morning. I’ll wake up and get my coffee, and I’ll sit in the same seat, or I go outside. I sit there, for a couple hours some days. Other days it’s only an hour or whatever. But I know what time of day works for me. And when I go on the road it works better for me at a different time because of my schedule. I think anything that becomes a habit is wonderful. It needs to become routine for us. That’s probably the most crucial thing we could do. For my brother, it’s late at night. He loves doing it the last thing at night, praying and taking an hour before he goes to bed, getting all his stuff out. He loves it, but I couldn’t do it that way. So definitely find a time that works for you, and stick with it. Get yourself disciplined. The first couple weeks are gonna be the hardest as you get a routine established.
Stay on top of studying the Bible and journaling. I always have with me a good book from a pastor or worship leader that I love. I find that jump-starts a lot of my prayer time because I have something to discuss with God, to really look into. He begins to reveal things to me through other people’s words. Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer is one of the best ones you can start yourself on. Once you get your mind taken care of, everything’s a little bit easier.
Describe yourself and your sisters in three words:
ALYSSA: I’ll start with the girls first. Lauren is: passionate, extreme, and fun. Becca is: deep, determined, and focused. I am: determined, passionate, and articulate. (Laughs.)
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
Alyssa: I’m definitely focused on seeking God and the prayer life thing. Everything branches from there. Our calling, what we know about ourselves, so much of what we struggle with, our insecurities, not knowing if we’re loved, not knowing how to pray, not knowing where we’re going, all those what if’s are all taken care of by spending time with God.
It’s funny that spending time with God is so attacked in each of our lives. Everybody still asks the question, “How do we pray? How do I find the time?” It wouldn’t be so attacked if it wasn’t the most crucial thing that our enemy knows is gonna change our lives. I would encourage people to go after it just as hard as the enemy’s trying to counterattack it. Be persistent.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.