Third Day: Rock and Roll All Night, Study Every Day
By Doug Carroll
With his extensive involvement in stage design and merchandising for the rock band Third Day, bass player Tai Anderson has taken one long-running course in marketing.
“Since 1996, I’ve been in the business world,” says Anderson, who joined the Georgia-based band at the age of 16.
Nevertheless, something was missing, despite four Grammy Awards and being what Anderson calls a “trusted brand” among fans of Christian music.GCU has helped Anderson find it. Thanks to the band’s recent partnership with the University, he already has completed six online courses in marketing — making all A’s, he says — and couldn’t be happier with his newfound college life.
“The surprise has been how much I’ve learned and liked it,” says Anderson, calling from the road in advance of Third Day’s concert Sunday night at GCU Arena. “Things I knew intuitively, I now know the right vocabulary for them.”
With a wife and six children at home, plus multiple responsibilities with the band, Anderson says he can relate to online students who feel pulled in many directions. He’s normally home from Monday through Wednesday, he says, and tries to knock out most of his assignments in that time frame.
“I like to get through a lot of it in the first part of the week,” he says. “It seems to be working for me. But I couldn’t do it if my wife weren’t supportive of it. She understands that part of this is doing it for the family.
“I’m trying to model this for my kids. I don’t want them saying, ‘You didn’t go to college and I don’t want to.’ I’m taking that off the table.”
Third Day’s lead guitarist, Mark Lee, also is studying online with GCU, and Anderson couldn’t resist a good-natured dig at his band mate’s study habits.
“Mark is the opposite of me, more of a procrastinator,” Anderson says. “I think he turns in most of his assignments at 11:59 GCU time.”
Third Day’s new album, “Move,” is a call to make a difference in the world — and to get moving on it. Anderson describes it as “more of a fan record” and can’t help thinking about how much the music business has changed over the years.
“When we started, there was a template for doing this,” he says. “You got signed, you had singles on the radio and there was a tour. We started in that time and we were fortunate.
“Now all the rules are out the window. The gatekeepers don’t mean as much as they used to. People don’t listen to the radio in the car anymore. The role of the DJ is diminished. There’s good and bad to it: It’s more democratic, but it’s harder (for new music) to catch on.”
The changing landscape, Anderson says, requires musicians to be equal parts artist and entrepreneur. And with an older fan base to satisfy, it can be even more challenging.
“Life can get in the way,” Anderson says of those who have been following Third Day for close to 20 years. “It does for me. The other night, the Foo Fighters were playing, and they’ve always been a favorite of mine. At the age of 25, I would have been there in a heartbeat. But I was just too tired.
“You’re competing with a lot more in people’s lives.”
Third Day, with opening acts Tenth Avenue North and Trevor Morgan, plays the Arena at 7 p.m. Sunday. For tickets, call 639.8999 or go to www.gcuarena.com.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.