|Todd Waites is keyboardist for ApologetiX.
Keyboardist Todd Waites is the newest member of ApologetiX. He played his first songs with ApologetiX at our Brooklyn OH concert on March 5, 2011.
After a month-long tryout, Todd became an official member on April 1, 2011. He plays keyboards at the majority of our concerts, although keyboardist/producer Bill Hubauer is also still a member of the band.
Born in Parma OH, Todd lives in the Cleveland area and is the first member of ApologetiX to live outside Pennsylvania. But an even more noteworthy thing about Todd is that he plays everything left handed ... because he lost his right arm to cancer when he was only 14.
Anybody who plays the piano or keyboards can attest to the fact that the right hand usually does most of the work, which makes Todd's excellent musicianship even more incredible.
Believe it or not, Todd is also friends with another famous one-armed musician, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, who lost his left arm in an automobile accident in 1984.
When he's not on the road with ApologetiX, Todd is vice president of sales for a national/international custom web-based software developer. He has one daughter, Brittany (21), and one son, Seth (17). Seth comes along to many ApologetiX concerts as part of the band's crew. He was affectionately renamed "Chip" by ApologetiX guitarist Tom Milnes.
At every concert, Todd gets a chance to tell his story of how Christ enabled him to overcome adversity, and there are always people who come up to him afterward with stories of similar challenges they are facing or have faced. That's one of the reasons Todd and Seth launched Not4Nothing and its accompanying website.
Todd says they designed the site to be "a place that allows the stories of unsung heroes -- people who have faced physical and/or medical challenges and used them to inspire others -- to be heard. It's a resource to find and share encouragement, show triumph in the midst of tragedy, and to make sure none of it is in vain."
The website includes a video interview with Todd interspersed with live footage of him in concert with ApologetiX. But what really has Todd excited is the special section of stories of people who have inspired and encouraged others while in the midst of their own
"I need your stories," Todd says. "Please submit one to two paragraphs of your story (or the story of someone you know). Upon approval it will appear on the page and inspire others!" You can submit the stories at http://www.not4nothing.net
Let's get to know Todd a little better:
How hard was it learning to do other ordinary tasks with one arm, especially since you were right-handed before?
It was kind of a strange couple of years. Things that you would never think of were very weird -- skipping stones, putting toothpaste on a toothbrush without the toothpaste falling off the brush, even putting socks on, writing, etc. They weren't really hard but just was a learning cycle. I would say that when you lose an arm, you only really lose five percent functionality, if that. Clapping and doing cartwheels comes to mind. One thing I learned early on is that it's best to just do things from instinct rather than to plan out and think through how to do things. I'm better at just flying by the seat of my pants!
What kind of challenges does this pose musically?
It's really not a challenge as much as an adventure! I don't use sequencers for live shows -- that would be cheating -- so some songs are harder to play than others. When there is a will there is a way, and I've got enough will for me and several others.
What are the names of some other bands you've been in?
Michael, Spank, RunAvrilRun, Rocket to name a few of the many bands I've been in over the years.
How old were you when you became a Christian?
As a young kid ... 5 or 6. But back from "my fall" that I took 2002-2004 and back with the Lord better than ever. Amen for his patience, unconditional love and grace!
How did you come to meet Def Leppard's drummer?
I had been featured in Keyboard Magazine back in 97-98 or so, and through that it led me to meet many great musicians. Rick Allen and I bonded because of us both missing one of our arms, and being musicians. I am much more popular than him, of course, lol!
In all seriousness, Rick is just an amazing man who is totally humble and caring, even though he has had so much success. He joined Def Leppard at 14 and was touring the world like a year later. We keep in touch quite a bit and every year we get a picture of us twiddling thumbs since he is missing his other arm! He is a good sport and he and the band know my children very well too.
How did you find out about ApologetiX?
I had woken up one morning and my nerd phone told me I had a message on Facebook, which I rarely check early in the morning. When I logged on, there was a small advertisement on the side of the page talking about a Christian concert in the area coming up so I clicked on it. It was ApologetiX and as I dug into the info and learned more, I thought it was the coolest thing ever!
What caused you to ask to try out for ApologetiX?
I was really burned out on playing clubs and left my last band just a few months prior to finding out about ApologetiX. Reading about what ApologetiX stands for, hearing the variety of songs, the musicianship in the band, etc. just seemed too perfect to be true. Here was a full-blown ministry not only on a mission to entertain but more so to change lives, and doing so in a way that allows the talents God has given to be used for that purpose. And in such a fun and exciting way!
I've toured in the past but was in a secular situation that ultimately led to my fall so to speak. While it's really easy to say "Well, God told me this is where I should be," and sometimes that gets thrown around too easily, I'd have to say I totally felt that this band was where I belonged before I even met the guys. It felt like I was a puzzle piece that was a mutual perfect fit. Amen!
How do you feel now that you're an official member of the band?
I am truly humbled, honored and blessed to be considered good enough spiritually and musically to be in such an amazing situation. I've been looking for a band that is "home," and this is it. It was a month-long audition (and patience is something I struggle with!) and one of my first travel gigs/auditions was a great confirmation for me: After the show a kid came up to me and told me I showed him life has hope.
Hearing those words and his sincerity was so touching -- to be a vessel for Christ to reflect that there is indeed hope through Him is an amazing experience. Well worth every effort it takes to get up there and play. The two hours it takes me to drive to the bus, and the 11- hour drive to the gig was worth it and more. It's such a blessing to me. Stay the course; the Lord knows the desires of your heart. God gave me mine but only when I stayed true to him.
What was the first album you ever listened to?
Elvis is my earliest memory. Then Kiss in fourth grade. Then Aerosmith in fifth.
What are your favorite bands/performers?
Hmmm ... just about any rock record that came out between 1982-1992.
How do you balance life on the road with your other job?
They are an amazing company and allow me to work from the bus on Fridays. God is blessing the company as we continue to grow and remain an ethical/moral company. I love my job and the people I work hard for. They are men of faith in God.