Jars of Clay

  • Dan Haseltine: vocals, percussion
  • Charlie Lowell: keyboards, piano, organ, vocals
  • Stephen Mason: guitar, bass, vocals
  • Matthew Odmark: guitar, mandolin, vocals

How the Jars Were Formed

The first three members of Jars of Clay met as students at Greenville College in Illinois. Dan Haseltine describes the band’s first encounters: “Charlie and I met as freshmen. I was wearing a Toad the Wet Sprocket t-shirt during orientation week and Charlie asked me if I was a fan. The next year I was wearing the same t-shirt the first week of school and Stephen came up to me and asked the same question!”
Stephen Mason continues the story: “Charlie and Dan were freshman at Greenville. They had done some recordings together. The following year I moved into the dorm and I had a sampler with me. They had wanted to try using some sampled loops, and just kind of throw in this kind of hodge-podge of different styles, and see what we came out with. We just kind of hit it off immediately, same influences and what not. So friendship was spurred on and beyond that we had a lot of fun making music. Initially it was our friendship that actually brought the band together. We got a pretty good response on campus, that led us to a contest in Nashville and yadda and then we were born.”
In 1993, on a lark, the band submitted one of their student recordings to a nationwide battle-of-the-bands talent search. They went to Nashville for the finals and won! Haseltine recalls, “Suddenly we were getting calls from record labels on our dorm floor phone. So we ended up quitting school after only two years and moving to Nashville. Matt, who was Charlie's best friend from high school, joined us there.” Jars of Clay signed with Silvertone/Essential Records in 1994. In 1995 they released their debut album, self-titled Jars of Clay. It yielded the immensely popular single and video, “Flood.”

Much Afraid
Following the release of their first album the band toured the United States and began working on a follow-up album. “We did a couple of opening slots for Sting during our 1995-96 tour and we met Miles through him. He invited us to his annual writer's convention at his castle in the south of France,” Haseltine recalls. “Every morning at breakfast, we'd be paired off with different songwriters to see what might happen. It was such an amazing atmosphere. Timbuk 3's Pat McDonald was there, along with Carole King and Paul Carrack. The idea was to write a song each day and record it, then, the next day start over with different collaborators. ‘Crazy Times’ was the product of our day with Greg Wells and Mark Hudson. Actually we wrote it in about ten minutes!”
That track spurred an entire album called Much Afraid. Haseltine describes the album, as being “about moving from a place where fear guides us to where we're guided by love.” Charlie Lowell adds, “Much Afraid is both literal and allegorical for us. As we wrote and recorded it, and then chose the title, we realized that it was going to mean different things on different levels. We were facing a sense of pressure to meet the expectations set by our first album.” Much Afraid was released in 1997 and won a Grammy for “Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.”

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