Jim Sonefeld of Hootie and the Blowfish Talks Jesus, New Music
Jim Sonefeld, drummer of Hootie and the Blowfish, just released his third installment in a Christian music EP series titled “Love” — check it out on iTunes. The five song EP was written entirely by Jim Sonefeld with a collaboration of hand-picked producers that include Matt Houston, Sanchez Fair, Les Hall, Stan Lynch, and Billy Chapin. The other releases in the trilogy are “Found,” released in 2012, and “In,” released in 2014. Jim has made a very moving three-piece project that recollects his experiences of drawing closer to God — all with very encouraging lyrics and superb songs. You can grab a copy online, at one of Jim’s solo performances, or even at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert.
I was excited to discover that the “Love” EP was part of a trilogy. Could you go a little bit more into detail about that?
As an independent artist without a record company or those affiliations I can pretty much call my own shots. So after finishing CD one and then CD two I realized they were sort of forming half of a sentence [laughs]. When it said “Found,” and then it said “In,” I just felt like this is actually a nice lead-in to a third and final EP. So I would say it was an accidental gift. But three is a nice little round number and puts a nice little cap of series that I’ve had of self-released CDs.
What instruments did you play on the EP. Did you contribute vocals?
I did all the lead vocals, wrote all the songs. As for the instruments, I did minimal keyboard parts. I mainly loved the experiment of creating a message and creating a music bed and allowing other musicians to put their personalities on it.
I came to a harsh realization in 2004 that I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and part of that journey into recovery was discovering and learning through a relationship with Jesus Christ. While doing that I was also encouraged by my wife Laura to put my faith into my music — something I never really fully considered. I was never that purposeful with all of that. So I opened up my Bible and I said, “God, I think you are calling me to write about this journey, so if you would please give me lots of great material.” [laughs]
Why did you choose so many producers on the EP?
Once again the beauty of being an independent artist is I get to call the shots, and so I was looking for more flavor and more ideas of how other people saw my music and my message. We are truly blessed here in South Carolina with some great talent that have made great names for themselves. So I went a knockin’ and I looked around, found some creative people in South Carolina, and I think it is fun, at this point, working with other producers to see how they do it.
It is; that’s a blast, that musical side is wonderful. I have also understood my ministry for Jesus Christ includes walking into a studio and sitting with people who may not be believers. That is a perfect setting to bring the Word, bring the Gospels, and just bring the love forward.
How do you share your stories of trials and triumphs when you perform?
I like to bring my music to an organization called Celebrate Recovery, which not only has the answer and solution for addiction and other hurts and hang ups, but they enjoy Christian worship music. Because I am a recoverer and a believer, I have a special talent for talking about such things. When it comes down to it, we are all broken, and I had to get to a very low bottom of my alcoholism, and as I have worked my way back up I see that there are other people who need to hear that. It is okay to say you are broken and okay to say you are a sinner. It is actually better than to claim how great you have been doing. And one of my unique qualifications is that I come from a band that has been as big as a band can get [Hootie and the Blowfish] and yet that wasn’t enough. I have seen what it looks like at the top of a beautiful mountain of success, and I know that is not all there is. I had a big failure, and my big, literal “come to Jesus” moment was priding myself in that top-of-career success yet feeling completely empty inside; my failure was [not] recognizing that material goods and fame and fortune, they aren’t really going to make you whole. It’s easy for us all to strive for financial success and family success, but, really, if you don’t have that foundation in Christ, you are going to be hollow wherever you are.
For continued updates on Sonefeld’s music, tour dates, and charity work, please visit online, http://www.jimsonefeld.com, http://www.facebook.com/jimsonefeld