TEN QUESTIONS WITH JOSEPH AND TOSHA ZWANSIGER

1. Your latest album, “Shine On Us” was recorded live. What special considerations go into recording a live album that people may not realize?

Too many to list. People ask, “Why can’t you just mix it and release it?” The answer: to make it really feel live when you’re listening to it takes about six months of post-production work. Also, running through all the musicians’ minds: “Don’t mess up!”

2. Were there any mishaps during the recording?

More than we’d care to say. But that’s what makes it “live!”

3. If you could create a worship collaboration album with any artist, whom would you choose?

We got to collaborate with each other on this project, which was really fun to do. It was pretty amazing getting to collaborate with Stu G on “Shine on Us” too. It’d be fun to collaborate with some of our friends, like Brian and Jenn Johnson, Tim Hughes, or Jeremy Riddle.

4. Do you have any embarrassing stories that have happened while leading worship?

Joseph actually started a list of worship slip-ups. Never underestimate the ability to say/sing things you didn’t mean to say, especially at an early service—like 8:30 AM.

One time, I (Joseph) was leading worship and our bass player passed out in the middle of the song, fell against the drum cage, and droves of people rushed the stage to help him. Show stopper!

5. How would you describe your songwriting process?

Overflow. We really never sit down to write (at first). Every song starts in private worship times, and then they’re crafted to best serve the church.

6. How does your study of Scripture affect the way you approach your profession?

A pursuit of the deep things of the Word only results in a deeper worship expression. The more time we spend studying it, the more understanding comes—and that’s where good songs come from. Otherwise, our songs and expressions stay shallow.

7. Do you have a favorite song on “Shine On Us”?

Joseph: My favorite song is probably “King of All.” It works in a bunch of different keys and tempos. It really is a powerful song in whatever setting it’s used.

Tosha: “I Want to Hear You” is probably my favorite. We were doing this song for three years before we recorded it, and it’s been an anthem for our young people and church as a whole.

8. How do you deal with criticism from people who may not like your “style” or your songs?

It’s inevitable. Most of the time those people don’t say anything to you; they just don’t listen/buy. The fact is there isn’t one style of music that 100 percent of people like, so our responsibility is to be true to who we are. We’re also always open to criticism. We want to be ready to learn and take what we do to the next level.

9. What has it been like balancing your careers while raising two young children?

It’s different for sure. We’ve really had to wrestle with our schedules to make it work. Our kids come first, but our kids also love to be in church. We’ve learned from Tosha’s parents that you do ministrywith your kids. Our kids are young, so we’re still learning. It’s all new.

10. Some may see the job of a worship pastor as preparing a few songs and playing them on Sunday. How does your role in worship go beyond that?

Our role is so much more strategic than just the “art” side of it. We’re constantly strategizing what is best for the church every week and also long-term. Also, we work incessantly on our “pipeline” of musicians and singers, intentionally raising up the next generation for the ever-increasing demands of a multisite church. We also work really hard with our Care Pastors to ensure that our worship community is doing well personally and spiritually, not just musically.

Additional Questions:

Is there a key in which you hate to play?

Joseph: Thanks to my capo, all keys are possible! Anytime we play in B or B flat, though, I get scowls from Tosha.  Bb and B aren’t really a piano-player’s best friend.

If you had the chance to own your dream guitar and piano/keyboard, what would it be?

Joseph: I’m actually getting to own my dream guitar shortly. It’s a custom-builder out of Winters, CA called ARC Guitar. I used it on “Shine on Us”, and he’s building one for me. That’s every acoustic players dream, right? I can’t wait!

Tosha: It’d be amazing to have a Steinway full grand in a wood room with high ceilings.  Game over!

You can find “Shine on Us” at josephandtosha.com or buy it at iTunes or Amazon.

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Author: David Jones

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