An Interview with LWO
Rapper LWO talks about his music, his struggles with life on the road and, his mental health.

Posted: September 19, 2019 | By: KevinMcNeese_NRT
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Many artists and bands leave the music industry because of the constant touring: one city to another city; one show to another show; one hotel to another hotel. It never stops. Many artists take a much needed break to recollect themselves: spend time with their families, and find the passion which directed them to the music industry in the first place. Logan Oakes, or LWO, lead singer of pop rock band The Lasting Hope, recognized this was happening in his life and took a break to take care of himself, and to tackle mental health issues. I had the opportunity to connect with LWO about his music, his time on the road, and his mental health.

You've been involved in music for a few years. Tell us about The Lasting Hope and your latest venture, LWO (pronounced Low).

The Lasting Hope [also known as TLH] has been my heart since 2010; it will always be something I use as a platform for ministry. We have had several lineup changes in the last nine years. Former members Eryn West went on to Tour Manage for Big Daddy Weave, and Craig Banister went on to work for K-Love. But, I think every past member is still super thankful for what we were able to do during their time with the band.

We were never afraid to be the band going into public high schools to talk about Jesus, regardless of the reception. We're still going today, but we all either have real jobs, families, or just life in general and touring isn't the priority in our lives currently. LWO came out during a period of down time with TLH. I was writing songs that I didn't think our TLH fans would really enjoy. So, after talking to our bass player, Tanner Marling, we decided it made more sense for me to release these songs under a solo name. Both Tanner and Braxton, the drummer for TLH, were super supportive. Braxton has already done some LWO shows with me, adding some real drums to the show.

You left the road to become a history teacher. Was that a financial necessity, or a desire to work outside of music or a little bit of both?

That is the question I get a lot. And most people are surprised to hear it wasn't a financial issue. To be honest, I was making a lot more money doing music than I am as a teacher, haha. We had a really strong community on Patreon, which generated income monthly. We were still getting some decent radio play from a song we released in 2016 called, "Stars in the Morning." But, most of all, we did 103 shows in 2016, and 110 in 2017. 

We were on the road four days a week, and God was making it work for us. It was honestly a desire for normalcy. My relationships with friends, family, and others were struggling. I was fighting some mental health issues on the road and I couldn't really explain it to anyone. The band guys knew I was hurting. And I don't think it could have gotten better if I stayed on the road. 

I've been so blessed to be in the classroom. I work with middle school and high school students in a public school. I feel like I've done more ministry in my one and a half years here than I ever did from a stage. Obviously, we never know what impact God may have at a venue. But, I feel very invested in students lives here and I am getting to actually help 1-on-1. 

You cite you mental health as a reason for coming back to music. What is it about music that gives you some security a normal job won't offer?

I would actually say mental health was my reason for leaving music. But, also my reason for coming back. I had to get away from the highs and lows that touring caused. I started going to therapy in 2018. And, after a few months, we figured out that I have to write music to get complex ideas out of my brain. I felt like I had let TLH become my identity and felt like I had no purpose without it. Taking some time away helped me re-establish my theology, as well as my ways of thinking. Finding my purpose in who I am verses what I do was a huge turn for me.

You've released three singles so far. Can you tell us about them?

Absolutely. Writing and producing all these songs--as well as playing all the instruments on them--has been a must from the start. "Solo" was the first track I released. It was written in 2016 for TLH. But, I never felt like we had a project that made sense to release it on. Since it was already finished, it just made sense to release it first to say, "Hey, I'm gonna make some solo music."

"Bad News" was the song that I actually wanted to release first. But, at the last minute, I got my favorite Christian hip hop (CHH) rapper Jon Keith on it. And, I decided to wait until the timing was right. "Bad News" focuses on the age of social media, and fighting the urge to just comment on every single person's posts online that you disagree with. Sometimes you say more by not giving those posts attention. Jon came into the last verse and wrapped up the meaning with discussing how keeping your soul in line with Christ is more important than trying to win an earthy battle.

"Throw Hands" is my most recent release. I wanted to do a song where I could actually "rap" on, so I made the beat, and finished the song in a day. The song says, "I don't throw hands, turn the cheek though, give them two shots that's some free throws... How they gonna kill me when I'm dying on the daily." The song is about breaking down the walls we put up to establish ourselves as more than human, which goes against Christ's own actions.

What are some of your favorite lines from these tracks?

Some lines I'm proud of for their cleverness, such as in "Solo" when I wrote, "Took my old girl out for lunch, call that Fed Ex"; it usually takes people a minute to get that one. But the lines that I'm seeing people relate to are those in "Bad News" like, "I don't want to be anti-social, I just hate posting on socials". I'm thankful Rapzilla and people like Chris Chicago, at NGEN Radio, have added the song to rotations and playlists.

What's next?

I have an EP, possibly two, finished. And, I'm posting a new song every week through my platform on Patreon. After giving them all the songs early, I will be releasing one of these EPs on Spotify and Apple Music. TLH has a new single ready to go as well. But we want to make sure the timing is right before we drop it.

How can we be praying for you?

I love working in the school system. I really feel like heading up things like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) has been a huge blessing in my own life. I would like prayer for continued strength in mentorship and guidance for these students. God is doing a great work and I just want to be a part of that.

Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.

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