A-pol-o-get-iX – Defending the Christian faith through musical parodies. Being once a hard core rock-and-roll and pop music fan, then now a born again Christian, one can appreciate this twist on one of the most popular media influences, music. Bringing together some of the most well known bands in our rock and roll culture, ApologetiX has changed the face of music through the not-much-wanted book called The Holy Bible. This band consists of four main players, with different backgrounds and different beliefs, but with one message.
J. Jackson, raised Catholic with three older sisters, grew up listening to Broadway. Living in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, some of his early influences include Petula Clark and Elvis. ‘J’ is one of two founders of the band, bringing it together in 1992 with Karl Messner. As the band’s lead vocalist and song writer, one can say that he knows the Bible and the music very well. Then to merge the two, you can say ‘that’s talent’. Not to mention he is a hard core rock-and-roll trivia fanatic.
‘J’ once wrote a report on a man named Josh McDowell, which started him on his way down the path of consecration. He listened to his speech titled ‘The Great Resurrection – Hoax’? This impacted ‘J’ because Josh was an atheist who converted, due to his findings that prove the Bible factual. Another impact in ‘J’s pathway to God was when he was a reporter and had to write a report on a Christian band called Abraham. With the intent to head to the bar that night with his buddies, by being in the presence of Abraham, he just knew that he will feel condemnation during the interview. This is just another inspiration ‘J’ felt God placed in his life.
While watching the NFL football game with some of his buddies, in 1988, ‘J’ felt drawn to go next door to the Catholic church, where he repented. He then began reading the Bible on a regular basis. Shorly thereafter, he met Tim Hart, who shared many of the same life stories as ‘J’. He became a good friend and confidant, even to this day. When asked what he wants people to get from his music, J states ‘I want them to see God is real and that he cares enough to speak to them in thier own language, whether it be English or rock and roll’.
‘They love us; they just don’t know it yet. Here is a band that appeals to as many 30 and 40 somethings as it does to 20 somethings and pre-college students’, Karl Messner said while asked what his favorite ApologetiX song was. At the age of 15, Karl gave his life to God. From a Major in Physics to co founder, backing vocal and lead guitarist of ApologetiX, Karl Messner says ‘I feel it is my responsibility to show how Science defends Christianity, and that Science that doesn’t defend it can be questioned.’
His major musical influences include The Beatles, Chet Atkins (in whom he met in Junior high) and his Mom (who plays piano and guitar). Growing up in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, Karl, at the age of 12, mischievously played his Dad’s brand new guitar, while he was gone to Texas for two years. Karl says he had the main chords down by the time his Dad made it to Texas. God given talent? You can say so. His first stage experience was at a reuinion where he played to some tunes that no one would tune into, such as ‘Stairway’ and ‘Proud Mary’.
After giving Weird Al’s Yankovich’s bass guitar player, John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz, two ApologetiX cd’s, he recorded seven tracks with the band on the cd ‘Biblical Grafitti’. Karl comments on defending the faith with this, ‘Some will hear and reject the teachings of Christ. That’s O.K. I’m sorry for them, and I know what they’re choosing and I’ll continue to do my earthly part to win and woo them, but every mature Christian knows that the Holy Spirit draws people and some folks balk at that’.
Not knowing bass, but still learning, Keith (nic named ‘Stan’ by a Waffle House waitress) Haynie was asked to stand in as bass for the band in 1992. With four siblings, he often went to his home town Lutheran church, where membership could be obtained by being at church three times in a row. As the brother-in-law of Karl, Keith says he never thought he was good enough for the band, so although he married Karl’s sister, it would be years later when he would join the ApologetiX.
A true Star Trek fan, Keith also is a fan of K.K Downing and Glen Tipton, from Judas Preist, for thier ‘harmonizing’ guitar skills. Back in ’75 or ’76 a woman who prayed for Keith was an instrument of inspiration for him. Although he didn’t change right away, she was influential enough to call her an inspiration. Not only because of the things she shared with him about God, but it was through how she lived her life.
Once while writing a song to the Lord, a change began to take place in Keith’s life. All of his secular music collection was ‘no more’, except for the couple B.T.O. albums he stashed. When asked about salvation, you can say fear of Hell plays an important part in Keith’s life. He puts it like this, ‘Knowing that there’s a way out, even though at particular times you might wonder where God’s at, you can always look back after the experience and see where He was’.
Wanting to play the guitar at first, but persuaded to play drums, Jimmy ‘Vegas’ Tanner began his musical adventure at the young age of eight. After his instructor informed him that he taught him everything he knows at the age of 16, you can say Jimmy was a drumming master. He has been with the ApologetiX for maybe a year or so and met them through thier keyboardist, Bill Hubauer. He was looking for a drummer for thier church band ‘TpT’, and Jimmy past the audition.
KISS was an early favorite of Jimmy which includes thier drummer, Peter Criss.
When asked about his favorite thing about playing with the ApologetiX, Jimmy said he loves the lyrics. Also the fact that he is learning more about the Bible and it inspires him to read it more. Back home in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, Jimmy played for Sunday night service at his United Methodist church. He met his wife, Eve, at a KISS concert and although she wouldn’t share her phone number with him, he got a call from her on Super Bowl Sunday. Fifteen years of marriage and two children, Jimmy says he enjoys being a Dad.
Jimmy got his nickname and trademark hat he wore while playing in a ‘soul’ band. He still keeps the hat on while playing. When asked what he felt about playing in a touring band, Jimmy says ‘This is even better than I dreamed because I am serving God in this ministry. It doesn’t get any better than that.’
1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (or defense or “apologia”) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Whether newly converted or a lover of music, anyone could appreciate the message, the music, or the entire reasoning behind the band, ApologetiX. Reaching the unreachable through the greatest influence of this time, ApologetiX, the Christian parody band, has this to say ‘Just Look Yourself in the mirror’…!