Mike Lee, Worship Leader/Martial Artist – Interview
Mike Lee is a jack of all trades and a master of martial arts. He is a devoted son, father, husband, martial arts instructor, recording artist, touring musician, and worship leader at his home church in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His latest musical contribution is titled “All I Need,” which will release June 16. The EP was produced by Cody Norris, Scott Cash, and Ed Cash, the power trio responsible for Dove-winning collaborations such as Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Kari Jobe. According to press, the new EP is a more stripped down collection than his band-driven debut, and it provides a glimpse into his artistic, personal, and spiritual growth.
Your press release states that you are “kicking butt” for Jesus. Do you care to elaborate?
[laughs] Well, that is accredited to Brian Mayes my publicist on saying I am kicking butt on that. I don’t know how much butt I am kicking on my EP, but the tie-in is that I am a martial arts trainer and a singer/songwriter/worship leader, so Brian over at Nashville Publicity really liked that idea of kicking butt. So mainly that is a spiritual metaphor for, I don’t know what the word is, but [laughs] there it is.
You have an all-star cast of producers on your new EP. What was the recording process like?
This is the second thing I have done with the guys at that studio. I actually had done work with Cody Norris, and it is cool to be in the studio with them and working with friends. I had actually got together with Cody and written a few songs, and just as I got some ideas down and got really comfortable with them, it was just like sitting down and performing with friends. We would kick some ideas back and forth until we got the direction we wanted to go musically with it. We wanted to be simple, and we started playing with a banjo and mandolin, and we thought that is the direction we wanted to go, and that’s the way we wrote, and that is the way we tracked. It was a lot of fun conjuring up that creative writing process.
How do you juggle fatherhood, being a husband, being a mixed martial arts trainer, and a recording artist?
Man, you know what, I don’t know, and my wife Michelle who does so much for me would probably tell you that I mess up things that are supposed to be prioritized a lot [laughs] — a lot of grace on the end of my wife that she, 1) helps me so much, but 2) just has so much grace that we have so much going on, and that I am going to make mistakes, and I really am; but I think by the grace of God I have peace in my soul that I can put things down at the end of the night and focus on family. Family is priority. I have two wonderful children. Preston who is 3 now and Stetson is 9-months-old almost, and they are such an incredible blessing. One of the things that makes it all sort of easy and gel is that I don’t ever separate from my family to do things. My wife assists with my martial arts gym. She is very helpful and involved with the business side of things and running that and managing that, not to mention she plays bass for me as well. We travel together. She does a lot of my managing. We share that load and when we go to the gym, man, it’s like I am coaching classes, the kids are in there, my wife is in there, my kids are in there, and when we go on the road my wife is there playing bass alongside me, and we have got a babysitter there, and we are all together. That makes balancing it a lot easier because it’s not just doing something that my family is going to believe and support from the sidelines. We are all in this together, and it is a family dream for us to be able to do it all together in the capacity that we are all involved.
Oh man, [laughs] my son Preston who is three now he really started playing drums when he was one-and-a-half [laughs]. That sounds kind of ridiculous, but he was a stellar drummer by the time he was two, and he has since then developed an interest in playing with cars and other stuff, but I have videos of him before he was even two, and I was going, wow, this kid is amazing. But yeah they are definitely both going to be very musical.
Could you comment a little bit on your father’s condition and how he is doing?
He was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer, actually back in January of 2014, and then he began chemotherapy May 1st last year — so right around this time. On his condition as to where to he is, my dad smoked his whole life and it got him to the condition that he is in, but when he was diagnosed he quit smoking cold turkey, and it took something this serious for him to reflect and say, “hey I want to live.” And the diagnosis was technically a year and a half to live, according to statistics. Right now he has been re-diagnosed to Stage Three, and we just had a scan done and [I will] go and check out here soon [to see] how his last treatment did, so it is kind of a pivotal moment for us. He has kind of tapped out as far as the maximum amount of radiation his body can take. It is a pretty intense and grueling treatment. But on the outside he looks fine, he has six grandchildren, and he lives for them and loves to be with him, so we will find out soon how he is doing with his treatment.
And you are a part of the Creation Festival Tour?