In all that we do, we seek to paint an authentic and creative picture of God's presence in every aspect of life, causing people to crave a first hand experience with Jesus Christ.
Sitting around a home office known as the "Bat Cave," submersed in a world of superheroes, Daily Planet was born.
Actually, to say the band was "born" is a bit misleading, as Jesse Butterworth, Seth Davis, Danny Lund and Bobby Reinsch have been a band for over five years. Daily Planet just had a problem finding a name that no other band in the world had already claimed. "My younger brother can start a punk band in the garage, put one song on the Internet and he has first rights to that name," jokes Jesse, the band's front man.
Locking themselves in Jesse's home office, Danny (the band's drummer) picked up a Superman comic book, and flipping through its pages, threw out the name of Metropolis' newspaper and Clark Kent's employer, Daily Planet, to his band mates. "It made perfect sense. We've been fans of superheroes our whole lives," says Jesse. "I mean, I named my office the 'Bat Cave.'"
Meeting at Azusa Pacific University (APU) in southern California, Jesse and bass player Seth first thought about starting what is now known as Daily Planet, while in music classes they had together. They wrote a concert favorite, "The Coffee Song," the first time they sat down together. Seth suggested adding Danny on drums, as he knew Danny from their hometown of Santa Rosa, Calif., and the trio played at an open mic night at Azusa in April 1997.
Coming back to APU after summer break, Daily Planet was still in need of a lead guitar. Jesse originally called one of his friends about the job, but the roommate who took the phone message gave it to Bobby instead. "One day I was walking through the Quad, and I heard someone calling my name," remembers Jesse. "When I looked around, I didn't see anyone I knew. Bobby kept calling my name and waving his hands. He came up to me and said, 'I hear you guys are looking for a guitar player.' So we walked over to his apartment, he plugged in and within 30 seconds, we said, 'You're in.'"
Even before forming Daily Planet, the four guys had distantly worked together through APU's music department. Seth and Jesse were involved with the men's choir, while Danny and Bobby played in the school's orchestra. But with its foursome in place, Daily Planet began putting together its show, playing its first gig at Skate Junction-literally on the skating rink. "We about outnumbered the people skating," says Jesse.
From Skate Junction, Daily Planet opened for Burlap to Cashmere and the now disbanded A Cross Between, when its direction took a twist at a showcase at Melody Land in Anaheim, Calif. "We were a bit misinformed going into it. Someone told us it was simply a songwriting workshop," says Jesse. "But after we played, we sat down in front of this panel of Christian radio and promotions people. And they say, 'First off, you sound exactly like Third Day. The first song you played sounded like Big Tent Revival. And you-pointing to me-you're ... big.' And we're like, wow, you actually said that. This panel completely trashed us."
Daily Planet took the Anaheim experience and decided to step up its show. The band also questioned whether the Christian market was where it wanted to work. Daily Planet began playing more clubs and fewer churches, not taking Christ from its show but shaping the message into a format non-believers could understand without being put off by church language.
Yet it was while opening for Reunion Records band Jake, that Daily Planet first connected with its future label home and again considered a Christian deal. After playing a showcase for industry personnel, Daily Planet sat down to think through their mission. "It was a real transformation time for us," says Seth. "It was a time when we had to find out exactly who we were and what we wanted to say and what avenue we wanted to take. And that's when we decided, if this was the door God was opening, then we would sign with a Christian record label."
Jesse adds, "For me it was a time of soul searching, because I was still unsure if the Christian market was the way we wanted to go. But what we had worked for four years to get, came together in one day-a record label, producer, management and booking. If we said 'no, we still don't want to be in Christian music,' we would have been closing our eyes to what God laid out for us. It would have taken a fool not to see God's doors fly open one after another."
Before taking the next step, Daily Planet sat in Jesse's living room in California and forged its mission statement: In all that we do, we seek to paint an authentic and creative picture of God's presence in every aspect of life, causing people to crave a first hand experience with Jesus Christ.
With the choice made to sign with Reunion and move from California to Nashville, Tenn., everything fell into place. The four guys and three respective wives gave notice at their jobs, got released from housing leases and ordered two 24-foot moving trucks, packing up their lives in one 24-hour period.
After arriving in Nashville, Daily Planet began to get on tape its modern rock/pop sound reminiscent of bands like Jars of Clay, Dave Matthews Band, Lifehouse, matchbox TWENTY and Creed. Of course, with a circus of musical influences like Stone Temple Pilots, Sting, Stevie Wonder, U2, The Beatles and James Taylor, a ringmaster was needed in the studio, and the band enlisted the talents of Regie Hamm (Left Behind, Bob Carlisle). "We were a bit apprehensive about working with Regie because we only knew him as a producer of adult contemporary acts. But when we listened to some of his personal work, we were hooked," recalls Bobby.
"Regie really shaped this whole album and gave it a very consistent sound-whereas before, we came in with a little bit of everything. He let us do what we wanted to do, but he took that and made sense out of it. Everything fits together," Jesse says.
One of Daily Planet's stand out tracks, "Questioning the Notion," cuts to the heart of what the band is about-you can't be afraid to ask questions about your faith. Seth remembered a friend asking, Why does God let the innocent suffer? Realizing he didn't have an answer that could satisfy her, he wrote "Questioning the Notion." Talking about the song, Seth says, "You can fall on the Rock or let the Rock fall on you. Let your finite concepts be broken and trust God even though you can't see the whole picture. Or try the alternative-figure it out yourself and let the weight of the all questions fall on you."
"Questioning" is only one step into Daily Planet's deep lyrical well. "Six-String Rocketeer" takes another step, as Jesse's storytelling ability hits a high-point. Through the fervor and passion of his lyrics and music, Jesse leads the listener on the journey of escape he took as a teenager dealing with his parents' divorce. Instead of making music his god, he embraced music as his gift of healing from God, finding a blessing in the midst of pain.
The album's title-track, "Hero," explores the rock-n-roll side of Daily Planet and speaks to a musician's responsibility to intelligently use the platform he's been given, not to use it as an excuse to do whatever he wants. "Five," Seth's daydream-turned-song, is Dave Matthews Band meets Barenaked Ladies and creatively molds actual memories from Seth's childhood into his wish to be a 5-year-old forever in heaven.
Daily Planet desires to connect with its audience through its eclectic mix of songs and its dynamic and diverse live show. "I only enjoyed Christian music once I heard dc Talk's Jesus Freak album," remembers Jesse. "I hope our album becomes that-where someone disenfranchised with Christian music can listen and say, 'This is cool.'"
"But whether someone is disenfranchised with Christian music or with the Church in general, he needs to see someone with an authentic walk," Danny adds.
The guys' sincerity on and off the stage could be just the touch needed to transform them into versions of superheroes, and just like Superman, Daily Planet could be responsible for rescuing the world. OK, they might not be able to carry a nuclear bomb out of the earth's atmosphere before it explodes, but they can communicate the Gospel through their music, which can only help lead to saving souls.