(Mike Becht speaking)
"In a world of here today, gone tomorrow pop groups, it is an
accomplishment for an artist to achieve ten years of success in
Christian music. What then should we say about the phenomenal
staying power of the group that pioneered and defined Christian rock
Of course I am speaking of Petra.
Petra began with a simple mission 30 years ago – to make
contemporary music that would encourage the believer and introduce
Jesus to those who didn’t know Him. Who could have known that the
path Bob Hartman started down would lead to 20 albums, 10 Dove
awards, 4 Grammy awards, and more than 7 million albums sold.
Petra’s music has challenged the unbeliever, encouraged the
hopeless, strengthened the weary, and empowered a generation to
boldness. And even more recently, the music of Petra was used to
comfort the hurting. When asked to sing a song in a recent September
11th benefit concert, country superstar Tim McGraw delivered a
moving performance of one of the band’s signature songs, More Power
To Ya to an audience of more than 6 million people."
S2S- Bob & John, it is an awesome privilege to sit down with you
guys. This has been an incredible year for Petra. Not only has the
newest album from a group with 30 years of history come out, but
this is the year that Petra has been inducted into the Gospel Music
Hall of Fame, this is the year that Petra has received it’s fourth
Grammy Award, and this the year that our email box at Soul 2 Soul
has been inundated with emails from Petra fans wanting to know more
about the group. Excitement is buzzing, and it is an honor to get
together with you guys and talk about this latest release. I guess
the perspective from fans, and the perspective from band members can
be different, but how’s this year been for Petra and how did you
guys get to this place with this new album "REVIVAL?"
JOHN- As far as the year, it has been an unbelievable roller
coaster. This record, in the beginning of the year, it did not
exist, the options didn’t exist. It happened fast, and when it did
start happening we were very, very excited about a record company
who, once they decided to get on board, just ran with it! So it was
exciting. Not to mention finding the right producers, for the
direction that I think everybody felt we should be going. As far as
the awards, oh my gosh….I think both of those were surprises to me.
I mean….Hall of Fame? We haven’t been around long enough! But praise
God for that! The Grammy….I was in total shock….Louie said "I knew
we were gonna get it, I knew it…" But all these things just add up
too, like you said as you were sitting there talking about it, I’m
going wow…. it has been a very exciting year…….
Song " Send Revival"
S2S- 1989 you guys released the first Petra Praise album which was
called "THE ROCK CRIES OUT," and then Petra Praise ll in1997 which
was "WE NEED JESUS." And this is like a third in the trilogy of
Petra Praise albums simply called "REVIVAL." What has drawn your
guys heart to worship in the year 2001 in such a strong way?
BOB- You know, worship has really always been a part of Petra’s
ministry in our concerts.
That’s kind of what led to our first Praise record, was that we had
been using really praise music in our concerts; you know songs like
"Praise Ye The Lord"… it goes way, way back to about our third album
I think... and lots of songs like that, that were where the audience
would participate, and in worship in the concert.
And so we saw what that did, and we saw how effective it was, and I
wanted to a record that would be aimed at helping youth leaders lead
their kids into worship. And so we did the first Praise record. And
I think that overwhelming response - it just really hit a nerve. We
wanted to keep doing that, and so we did the second one, and here we
are with the third one. It’s really been great to see the kind of
response, not only to Petra’s worship music, but worship music as a
whole, contemporary worship, modern worship, it’s been great to see
that open to a trend……..
S2S- One of the songs I really want to highlight, from the album
"REVIVAL"…is the song "THE PRODIGAL’S SONG" and that is one of the
standout cuts from the album. What’s the song mean to you when you
sing it, John?
JOHN- How many of us don’t feel at one time or another like we’re
the prodigal son? I mean, I do… I mean, I run from God way too
often. In everything we do. From making my own decisions, when I
think I’m helping God. You know I’m running into that brick wall
going "well I blew it again….forgive me Father…." I ask forgiveness
every night for all the stupidity that I did that day. And mean it
in my heart, and that song I think says it all.
Song…"THE PRODIGAL’S SONG"
S2S- The name of the album is REVIVAL…..and we seem to be in a time
in this country right now, because of the recent events, the
terrorists events, the people are more open than ever to hear about
the gospel. Everyone’s talking about God, they’re trying to find out
their place in this world, and God’s place, they’re asking a bunch
of really good questions… Do you sense that the title of this album
fits with where our country may be headed, to a new revival?
JOHN- I sense that they are searching. They are searching out of
desperation, which is often very good. I would like to think that
yes, it’s a beginning of revival, but you can never tell. I think
this album with, if nothing else, just the title of it is a reminder
that it is the direction we should be heading for, not only the
church, but with people that need to hear what we’ve found. In doing
so, as the song says, "start with me, send revival, start with me,"
absolutely. It’s getting the foundation strong. Then take the next
level Lord; let’s win this country back, a country that was started…
in the name of God. Let’s win it back to Jesus Christ, and see where
He wants to take it…
S2S- Peter Furler of the Newsboys attributes the success of the
Newsboys directly to what Petra achieved, because you guys were such
trailblazers, you guys were able to go through the jungle, sort of
create a path for them to follow. And Inpop, your record label, is a
label that’s started by Peter Furler. So it kind of feels like there
is a relationship where you helped them get started and they’re
today helping this next Petra album get off the ground and get out
to people. What’s your relationship with groups like the Newsboys,
who you’ve been so influential to?
BOB- Well we have known those guys, since they kinda started out. I
think because when we went to Australia, and did a tour, they were
just beginning. They were our front artist. It was neat to meet them
then, then they came over to the U.S. and toured with Petra over
here as well, as they were growing and then recently, Petra actually
toured with them. It was really cool to get back together again. So
there’s been a relationship over several years… really, we were both
I think…John and I both, were really impressed with just the respect
that they expressed to us; that was really a lot of the beginning
talks between Inpop and Petra on this record, because they began to
express things that they felt about us, and how they felt like we
had a blaze to trail for them, it was real honoring.
Song "JESUS FRIEND OF SINNERS"
S2S- You guys were made to be on stage and to perform music;
musicians just have that as a part of who they are, and you guys in
particular… are there times when Petra’s not on the road touring,
and Bob, you have also resigned from the road and have focused your
energies and your talents on your recording studio; are there times
when you miss the touring and want to get back to it?
BOB- You know I miss those moments on the stage, you know, in front
of an audience, everything else before and after that - I don’t miss
at all! (John and Bob laughing)
I don’t miss the travel, the hotels, the airplane, waiting in line,
the buses, and how you feel when you get off the bus after being up
all night, and all those other things I don’t miss, but you know we
do all that stuff, so we can stand on stage for an hour, two hours
or whatever, and do what we do, and that’s as good as it gets, you
know, on stage, doing something for the Lord, watching people
respond to the spiritual message that you bring, not only in your
songs but in the things you say.
Song "MEET WITH ME"
S2S- Petra has been in ministry for 30 years, so you guys have
played concerts all over the world, released 19 albums, received so
many Dove awards, and Grammy awards: what stands out for both of
you, as sort of the key stone of what’s happened: is it a person, a
night of ministry, a time where the ministry of Petra meant the most
to you guys?
JOHN- The thousands of times where we’ve watched God do unbelievable
work at concerts, where we thought it was one of our crummiest
nights, and of course God would take it and make it one of our best…
just watching how God works like that. You know, just coming out of
the secular side of things, I got a second chance. It’s such a
fresh, different, feel and it’s just getting that second chance to
go out and use the voice that God gave me, it’s just been rewarding,
and thinking back on it now, you know, I’m very, very thankful… And
so, how can you put in, in my case… My gosh I’ve only been in the
band for 15 years, so many things have happened… it’s just amazing…
S2S- How about you, Bob?
BOB- I think to me, I think the tour we did with Josh - touring we
did with Josh McDowell - was a real high point for Petra. You know
Josh… people listen to Josh, when he says something, he always says
it with full conviction, or he won’t say it. He was able to really
speak to the church as a whole, as we traveled around the country,
he spoke with pastors, and youth pastors, and really told them how
God was using this music. And we saw so many great things happen on
that tour that it was a memory that I will cherish for a long time…
Song: "WE WANT TO SEE JESUS LIFTED HIGH"
S2S- After 30 years in ministry as the group Petra, were there ever
any goals that you wanted to reach, but didn’t reach… was there ever
anything that you thought "if we could just attain that…" I mean
there’s been so much success… it’s overwhelming to really talk
about. Was there anything you guys thought, "this one thing would be
JOHN-Yeah I wanted to sing at a Billy Graham Crusade… as Petra.
S2S- Did that never happen?
JOHN- Nope. S2S- That’s a shock... what a perfect fit that would be.
JOHN- Yeah I would’ve love to have done that… it’s the only regret I
have in all of Christian music.
S2S- How about You Bob?
S2S- No regrets?
BOB- No regrets… everything… I can’t think of one thing… that I
wanted to do. I guess my aspirations aren’t very high… (laughing) I
am totally cool with, with everything that God has done with Petra;
way beyond what I ever dreamed.
S2S- That leads me to another question… what kind of goals did you
have when you started out? Because this wasn’t even really an
industry, the same way it is today… and I don’t know that bands
consider a longevity of 30 years in rock group, particularly a
Christian rock group… what kind of goals did you have?
BOB- Pretty simple goals…we wanted to do something for the Lord, you
know; first and foremost, we wanted to reach our generation with
music we knew they would listen to… or music that would communicate
Song: "AMAZING GRACE"
S2S-The album ends with the song "HOW LONG," which is a perfect
ending for this album. What does that song mean to you guys… what’s
the song express to you… in it’s meaning?
JOHN- As I’ve been listening to the record, or the CD… lately
especially, I’ve been able to listen to it with a clear head and not
worry about what I didn’t do here or what I should have done here.
And I been able to actually listen to it for the first time,
recently, maybe as a fresh listener… and my first impression was
that song capped the whole message of the album. It was like it even
brought in little tidbits of what other songs were about, and just
sort of finalized it. And saying - you know it says… in our first
song on the record its saying, "Lord send revival, start with me,"
and then the final is saying "how long is it going to be before You
do it…" and really, I think that is an absolute fantastic cap to the
Song "HOW LONG"
S2S- After singing with Petra for 15 years, John, what songs are the
most fun for you to do, that have the most meaning for you, and the
JOHN- Probably "PRAYER." I remember when it first came out… I
remember when we were doing it live, when I remember the words… it
would be one of those certain times… more than once where it was
like, it didn’t matter if I was in front of 3000 or 30, 000 people.
It was just me and God.
S2S- Bob, you have written over 200 songs, and John Schlitt was
quoted as saying… "20% of those are classic and 80% of them are just
great songs. But for you, which are the ones that it came together
and you said "now that’s a good song?"
BOB- As I look over the years, I think, starting in sort of
chronological order: it is probably "FOR ANNIE," which is a great
song that the Lord has done a lot of great things with…
"GRAVEROBBER," "MORE POWER TO YA," "JUDAS KISS," "BEAT THE SYSTEM,"
"THIS MEANS WAR" …kind of those title songs… "NO DOUBT"…
JOHN- Oh, NO DOUBT, absolutely.
BOB- "NO DOUBT," which was a song I co-wrote with John Elefante… and
the Lord has done some really neat things with that song. I get
these emails from people who write me and say they had to pull over
in their car, they heard it while they were in their car, they had
to pull over because they were weeping before the Lord from
something they got from that song. And you know, that’s just an
amazing thing, because we make these albums in these little rooms…
and then it goes out… and it’s just broadcast all over the world,
and we don’t even know a fraction of what God is doing. We hear that
fraction from so little communication, that we might get from a fan,
but it’s the tip of a huge iceberg of what God is doing. And God is
doing all that in spite of us, not because of us… and it’s just an
amazing thing to comprehend.