The VonBartheld Interview Pt. 1
Thu., Dec. 26. 2013 12:03am EST
One of our greatest blessings in 2013, was meeting our new keyboardist, Bill and Todd's excellent successor, Chris VonBartheld. We've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Chris, but we feel bad for keeping him all to ourselves. Here's your chance. This is part one in a multi-part interview we did shortly after Chris joined the band.
How and when did you first get started playing keyboards/piano?
As long as I can remember I could play. I was one of those children you read about in the paper, you know "six year old plays with symphony" kind of thing. I do remember playing accordion because my grandmother asked me too. All that made life way too complicated for a kid that just wanted to play baseball with his friends.
How has your experience been "interning" with the past two months with ApologetiX?
It has been a lot of fun. I have to admit I was never a big fan of the band (before) but after seeing what the guys do and the passion in which they do it, watching them interact with the fans, it's all been quite humbling. I can tell you that so far I haven't found a single thing about it I haven't liked.
Can you tell us about your early influences (artists/groups) in music?
Funny thing, the first musical experience I remember is watching the Partridge Family on television. I mean, who didn't want to be Keith, if we're being honest? My parents were older, so I think that's where being having a wider knowledge base of music came in. Elton John was the first for me. I remember seeing a magazine with him on the cover as the "pinball wizard." And then I saw the cover to Kiss Alive.
Who are some of your favorites/influences as a keyboardist/pianist?
At that time growing up there were only so many choices: Elton, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and to a lesser extent Billy Joel. As I got older I remember hearing "Smoke on the Water" and saying, what's that? Being the right age at the right time, bands like Styx, Journey, Reo Speedwagon, Kansas all started to come into the picture. I love guys like Dr. John and Rick Wakeman, but i can't play like either of them.
You also play guitar. When did you start and who/what influenced you there?
Guitar is much more fun to play. It's may not be the best reason, but as I got older and started to realize girls like musicians. I thought they'd like a guitar player better then a guy hidden behind a piano. I was the lead singer in most of the bands I've been in and it's a lot easier to be "fronting" the band on guitar. Like I said, I love Kiss, so those guitar players. My mom listened to John Denver so I grew up with that.
What have been your favorite things about playing with ApologetiX?
These guys are all passionate and professional. It isn't like these guys know a few chords so they play some basic songs. There is some serious musicianship in this band. I hadn't played any of these songs (original versions) in10-15 years, and some I'd never played. How painstaking the attention to detail is. I'm still trying to get some of the things right. But the guys, the travel, the fans, so far it's all been spectacular.
How have the ApologetiX fans been treating you?
So far they've been really nice and supportive. I spent most of the time so far as the "mystery new guy," so no one really knew who I was or anything about me. Now that the word is getting out about me, they have been very friendly and welcoming both in person and on the social media sites.
How and when did you you first become a Christian?
It was July 4, 2005. A good friend of mine had a near-death experience and saw the hand of God wipe death away. Needless to say, he became a believer. Soon thereafter he had a dream/vision that he was to save me. I hadn't seen Rich in 10 years maybe. We had been on the road together and he'd partied worse then I did. I wasn't trying to hear about it, but Rich is my friend, so I enjoy his company. After a few months of being "dragged" to churches, etc, the seed got planted. And on that day at a firework display, he led me to the Cross. That's the quick version anyway.
What's your home church?
It's funny -- as a worship leader for several churches I try not to think of any one church over another as my "home church," but there is one that if I have a Sunday off I prefer, but I'm going to keep that information to myself in fairness to all the churches I work for.
Tell us about your wife ...
Danielle is and will always be "the one." We were high-school sweethearts more or less but in 1985 I had to choose her or music and the life, and I picked music. We were kids. Over the years I told people that she was the one, but came along at the wrong time. I never backed off that statement. We we're both married and for one reason or another both of our relationships fell apart. I never thought I'd ever hear from her again and thanks to social media we got back in contact. I moved here in 2006 to be with her and on April 4, 2009 we were married. God gave me the chance to do it all over again, this time i didn't screw it up. She is my world. She had to sign off on this before it even mattered. I get her, she gets me and after that there's no looking backwards. She is working on her masters program for Christian Counciling, she'll be really good at it. I could talk about her all day.
Tell us about your kids …
I have two sons, Jon and Zach. Jon is 14 and Zach is nine. Jon is a "techy" kind of kid. I go to him when I have trouble with my iPhone. He started showing an interest in photography, he took a class over the summer so you know he must mean it. We just bought him his first "decent" camera, so we'll see. Zach is my troublemaker (just like me). He's nothing but a ball of energy.