With the number of dates keeping us on the road more than ever, founding member and drummer Denton Ashcraft felt it was time to leave the band. This was unexpected. But God always has a plan.
A round of auditions yielded an explosive talent who would quickly seal a solid place as drummer of Tinman Jones to the already established fan base. Mark Toombs joined the band and made his debut in Grove, OK, on a New Year's show December 31, 2000.
The addition of Mark stared an exciting era in the history of Tinman Jones. One of the first orders of business for 2001 was to do what bands are meant to do. Write songs and make records. Producer Reid Waltz (Super Hero single) was enlisted again for a full length CD. The project was to include re-releases of the five songs from the ep Evidence with drum tracks re-recorded by Mark Toombs, and some extra flavors added. Six new songs were selected and recording dates set. The band camped out at "The Orchard" in Brentwood, TN, for nine days for an intense session of recording. After laying the tracks, Reid and his team worked their magic and Gravity Youth was born. And we were greatly entertained in the process by the random visits by Chet Atkins. You'll just have to ask.
Gravity Youth hits the streets and is instantly embraced as it began flying off the table at concerts.
But there were greater ambitions than dispensing these cds just to concert goers. Every year the Christian music industry
collects in Nashville,
Seth worked the phones and got "I Will" in the hands of Christian rock stations across the country. Before long the song was climbing the charts and jumped to the top twenty, then continued to climb. "I Will" topped out at #6 in the nation according to R&R and stayed in the top 10 for ten weeks. The follow up release "Axis" found top twenty success making three songs on Gravity Youth (including "Super Hero" released as the single) that topped the radio listening audience. Naturally this opened many doors for the band through 2001 and into 2002.
In the summer of 2002 we had a surprise guest at one of our Louisiana shows. The president of Cross Driven Records wanted to meet us after the show. Ryan Howard passed himself off as just someone who "worked with a label" in Nashville. We began talks with Cross Driven and how we might be a fit for each other.
Later in the summer, Matt Helms decided that he was not willing to follow this more demanding path. So he announced his departure from the band. This was unexpected and not welcome news. But he did stay on while we searched for a replacement. While interviewing the hopefuls, one player came in having memorized all the songs from Gravity Youth. That was impresive that he had taken the time to do that. A few weeks later we had a show in South Texas that Matt was going to be unable to play. We called on Matthew Balch (since he had already learned all the songs) to fill in for that show.
We selected Matthew to be the replacement for Matt Helms. Cross Driven records had contacted us about sending labels reps to a convention we were playing in Hot Springs in August of 2002. This just happened to be Matthew Balch's debut show with us. No pressure at all.
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