The Great Divide
By: Cean Wilson
I would like to open first of all with thanking JJ Lester for taking the time out of his busy
schedule to do this interview with me.
Cean: Where were you born?
JJ: Edmond, Oklahoma, because that was the only hospital, and I raised in the Stillwater, Perkins
Cean: Any personal info you want to share with us?
JJ: No I havenít an answer...laughing...like am I wearing any underwear today?
Cean: Boxers or briefs?!
JJ: Their...right now...?? Boxers! I am not commando today!
Cean: Whenís your birthday?
JJ: July 16
Cean: When did you first start playing drums?
JJ: I started playing drums in 6th grade, which was the first time my school offered music as in
band music. I played drums in 6th grade in band up until the 9th grade. It wasn't really my bag.
Band wasnít my bag. I loved playing drums but I did not get along with the teacher, and I really
didnít have any friends in band because I was an ag kid, you know, so I quit.
Cean: Did you play drums on your own then?
JJ: No I quit. It's kinda weird. Music, for me, has been something I grew up with. My motherís
parents played fiddle and guitar and had a band. I was always involved in music, and I always
listened to music different than the kids around me. Everybody I grew up with dug music, but I
dug it in a different way. High school when I was not playing music I would say "Listen to that
or check this out or listen to the way he does that or listen to the way he plays the guitar this
way. All the guys I hung out with were like "I donít know what you are talking about". Then after
high school I thought maybe I dont know what Iím talking about. Maybe Iím just insane! Then I
started playing music again and realized I was right!...of course I was right!
Cean: So when did you decide to make it a career?
JJ: I made it a career...it was actually a dream I let go of. I took my parents advice as one of
those dreams that you should pass by...you're crazy...itís high school talk and thatís not ever
going to happen. I let music go for a long time, and then I was working at a screen print shop
managing a screen print shop. My brother, Scott, was in the Fire Dept. and had learned to play
rhythm guitar through a guy who was in the Fire Dept. who was state champ fiddle player. He and I
had lunch one day and met a guy who went to my brother Scottís school and he was looking for an
acoustic guitar player and a drummer. My brother Scott said "My brother J can play drums and I
can play guitar". At the same time, Mike McClure moved in next door to an old roomate of mine
and introduced us, and things started to fall into place and we started to play music together.
Mike and I became friends, and Kelley Green, who I had met riding bulls years before all this
took place, was playing bass guitar with another band. We all got together and started playing.
About 5 years after that, I quit my full time job.
Cean: What job were you doing when you quit your job after playing together for 5 years?
JJ: At that time, I was a technical representive for a screen print supply company called
Southwest Process Supply out of Tulsa.
Cean: Do you miss it?
JJ: No, not in the least bit!
Cean: What are your hobbies?
JJ: Hobbies??? hmmm Dirt bikes...I love to ride dirt bikes. I ride whenever I am home and can
justify time away from my wife and child. Thatís basically it. I spend time with my family and
mow lawn, take out the trash, and do everything anyone else does. But as far as hobbies...dirt
bikes is #1.
Cean: What is your favorite movie?
JJ: Thats a hard one to answer. Funny you should ask that because we were talking about this on
the bus the other day. I can think of 50 movies at the top of my head that I go "man those are
great movies". I think a classic is "One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest". My favorite western is
"The Cowboys" and uh....my favorite comedy is...ohhh thatís a toughie cause I love comedies. Iíd
have to say Caddy Shack/Animal House! But seriously I am a HUGE fan of like Star Wars. I own the
Star Wars Trilogies. I own the Indiana Jones trilogies. I am a big fan of that. Iím not big into
horror. I saw Halloween in the 8th grade, and it scared the **** out of me. I am not too big on
that. I didnít dig it....wasnít my bag! Guy with a knife...mask...not funny...Jamie Lee Curtis...
donít get me started there!
Cean: Where were you and what were you doing on September 11th?
JJ: September 11, we were home and our road managers brother, Cody Cundiff, had asked me and my
brother, Scott, to help him out in a factory in Stillwater, called Armstrong Textile Plant. I had
agreed to help him out and so had my brother. I woke up early, which is rare, and took a shower
and got in my truck and drove to their shop. When I got to the shop, they were all talking about
some dumb ass who had flown a plane into one of the towers. When they said it, I thought, well
here's a guy who was a student pilot who was in a single prop airplane who accidently flew into
the tower. They were all making jokes about it, and I was too, and then we left there to go to the
factory and heard on the radio that another plane had flown into the second tower. At that point,
we realized that it was more than we had anticipated. By about noon we realized that something
was going on. I was in Stillwater going to do odd labor for my cousin, which is usually how it
works out for me. I wasnít anywhere cool or anywhere on the road.
Cean: But you were home. Arenít you glad?
JJ: Totally. Yeah cause a month and a half before that we were in New York.
Cean: oh yeah...what did you think about New York?
JJ: Oh I loved it, but I donít ever want to live there.
Cean: What all did you do?
JJ: We got to see Timeís Square, drank a lot, partied! Itís funny, too, cause we were playing the
show and it was a great crowd...really good crowd! I looked up and saw this guy that I used to
work with. He went to school to be a chef up there...and I was playing some more and I looked up
and saw my cousin...I was freakin. I thought I was trippin! I was freakin out. I was seeing my
family! It was a great time...I enjoyed it...I would love to go back, I just donít want to live
there. Go play in Madison Square Garden...that would be cool!
Cean: Who is your favorite country artist?
JJ: My favorite country artist is Merle Haggard.
Cean: Who is your favorite female country artist?
JJ: I probably donít have one. I would have to say when it all came down to anything...I would
have to say Patsy Cline. Thereís alot of great female country artists out there. We did a show
with Martina McBride...she knocked me out. Sheís fantastic! Sheís the most unbelievable female
vocalist today. No doubt about it. Trisha Yearwood...these ladies arenít getting the credit they
deserve and theyíre not getting credit as great country female artists. Theyíre getting credit as
great female vocalists, but not getting credit as artists. Itís makes it hard because I donít
want to give anyone credit who doesnít deserve it. But those two would be on my top as far as
Cean: How do you entertain yourself on the road?
JJ: Itís hard. I read, I play video games....a lot of video games...I drive, and thatís about it.
Thereís really not much time for anything else.
Cean: Who usually drives?
JJ: Kelley, Chet, my brother, and myself.
Cean: Whatís the highlight so far of TGD?
JJ: As a band? I think signing our first national recording contract...thatís one. Probably
another highlight is 10 years together. Weíve been together 10 years! Another highlight is selling
out venues! We sold out 6,000 seats in Hastings, Nebraska, which playing a lot of shows..that
says a lot! Wow....6,000 people paid $15 to see us play and thatís a pretty big deal!
Cean: What are your plans with TGD for your 10th Anniversary, other than College Days?
JJ: You know nothing really. You would think weíd do something cool. Itís funny, all our
anniversaries...most people donít even know how long weíve been together because we donít make a
big deal about our anniversaries. Usually, in the past, if anybody has ever heard of our
anniversary, its because of our newsletter or Egroup. The Great Divide quietly celebrated their
anniversary. We donít make a big deal about it because itís kind of personal, and it's kind of a
time for us to reflect on the time weíve spent together...all that weíve gone through, good and
bad, and we donít usually try to make that big of deal out of it. But, 10 years is a pretty big
deal. I can name a handful of successful bands right off the bat that have had more successful
careers than weíve had that havenít been together for 3 years so. You know, we feel College Days
is all we can do for it. We donít want to try to make people you know play it for more than it is.
Yeah, weíve been together for 10 years...thatís great...we are glad about that, and we thank God,
and we will get together, the 4 of us 5 including Chet. We will celebrate in our own way and not
make too big a deal out of it. Then deep down inside we are all going "Damn, 10 years man. Thatís
pretty cool, thatís a hard thing to do."
Cean: Nashville...how do you feel about it?
JJ: What about it? Nashville is there. Nashville is a big yen yang. Thereís a lot of really great
things about Nashville, and as many great things there are as many evil things. I personally donít
care for it. Not to say I dont have friends there, and there are a lot of good people there.
Nashville has almost turned into a character of itself. Its lost what it set out to be, and it
breaks my heart, but it is what it is and you have to deal with that. Itís reality, and its not
reality. You know what I mean? Iíll take Nashville in the doses I have to take it in.
Cean: Where is your favorite place to perform, and where you would like to go back?
JJ: Itís hard to say....probably...Iíd have to say The Wormy Dog concert hall in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
It was about a 900 seat club...it sold out everytime we were there. It was hot, stage was small,
and the shows were always phenominal! I could go back there and play the rest of my life!
Cean: Tell us a funny bus story
JJ: I donít have any funny bus stories. I know some funny ones, but I canít tell you!
Cean: Can you remember any crazy fans?
JJ: Itís just a typical crowd. Weíve had women offer several things, show us their chest. Itís
the same thing over and over. Do anything to get on the bus or meet the band. We are so accessible . We try to be accessible.
We donít require anything to meet us.
Cean: Not like Def Leppard? Girls have to raise their shirts to meet them.
JJ: How do you know?!
Cean: I read a lot!
Cean: Favorite TGD song
JJ: Thatís a hard one! Thatís why there is never a #1 song! Probably off the new album my favorite
song is "Moon is Almost Full." I think thatís the best song Mike has ever written. Lyrically
speaking, he out did himself. Itís funny cause Iíd written a song and was really proud of it and
I sat down beside Mike before a show. I think we were in Lubbock. I said, man I want you to hear
this song I wrote. He said, yeah I wanna hear it but check this out. He played me that song, and I
wadded up my song and threw it in the trash. He played it for me one time, and I still know every
word, and from that day on I was just like...itís an unbelievable song.
Cean: Off Revolutions?
JJ: Off Revolutions Iíd have to say "College Days". I donít know....Iíd have to say "Dragonís
Heart" . Itís an unbelievable song but nobody gets it.
Cean: Break in the Storm
JJ: "Never Could"
Cean: Going For Broke
JJ: Probably "When you Loved Him." I donít know. Itís hard to look at an album from that long ago,
when we were that green. I love that album for what it is. That album opened a lot of doors for
us. I am proud of it.
Cean: Favorite video
JJ: Pour Me a Vacation video
Cean: What do you want to say to all the million readers this interview is going to reach?
JJ: WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE! Follow your leader. BE YOUR OWN LEADER!