In anticipation of a brand new issue of CCM Magazine (August 15, 2017 issue) and our upcoming feature Q&A with Third Day guitarist Mark Lee as he prepares to release his first-ever book, we couldn’t let the conversation go too long without asking him a little bit about music. After all, as first-chair all-things-strings for one of the most influential Christian rock bands in history, surely he would have something to say about their newest roots-rock album Revival (August 4, 2017, Provident Label Group/Sony Music—buy), right?
Contributor Mark Geil recently met up with Lee in Marietta, GA outside the famous Strand Theater for book-talk, but here’s a highlight of the music portion of their conversation about the album that was just recorded at, appropriately named, Fame Studios.
CCM Magazine: I brought the liner notes from your Chronology collection. It opens rather dramatically with, “Christian Rock lore is thin on fabled venues like the Strand Theater.” What sort of memories does this setting evoke?
Mark Lee: Growing up in Marietta, I have memories of coming here when I was a kid. There used to be the drugstore that was two doors down from where we are now, and we would go there and buy Now-And-Laters candy. Then I can go back to the early days of Third Day when The Strand was like our Third Day world headquarters. The guys that ran it, we were buddies with them. We worked out an arrangement where they would let us leave our gear there and we would practice in the basement. There were even times where a band would be trying to sound check up on the stage and we were in the basement below rocking out. The band had to come down ask us to keep it down.
A real Atlanta Christian rock scene used to be here at The Strand. One of my favorite memories was when The Waiting threw an album release party and Smalltown Poets opened up, and we were the opening band for the openers. It was just like that moment in time where it was all happening.
CCM: Through the years you’ve largely stayed an Atlanta band?
ML: We have, yeah.
CCM: If you could speculate, would anything be different if Third Day had succumbed to the Nashville magnet and everybody had wound up there five years in?
ML: We were able to forge and maintain our own identity by staying in Atlanta. When we started, it was the middle of the alternative thing and nobody really got what that meant or what that was. The record company has always been like, “Third Day, you do your thing and if we feel like we need to speak into it we, will,” but they give us a lot of autonomy. I don’t know that that would have been the case if we had moved to Nashville and just been a part of that scene up there. I think we would have wanted to conform to what was going on with everybody else rather than just doing our own thing.
> Stay tuned to CCMmagazine.com for an upcoming Third Day cover story featuring Mac Powell and Geil’s full conversation with Mark Lee!