The following was an interview from "Soul2Soul Radio," a weekly syndicated one-hour Christian artist feature that airs on radio stations both domestically and internationally. Aired Nov. 24, 2001  with John Schlitt & Bob Hartman of Petra
Show Opens with the song "Prodigal’s Song"

(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 music.

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……..

Song… "OASIS"

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.

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.


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.


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…


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 so terrific…?"

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 to them.


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 record…


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 audience?

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.