Tinman Jones

Poetic Era

In the summer of 2002 TMJ had a surprise guest at a Louisiana show. The president of Cross Driven Records wanted to meet the band after the show. Ryan Howard passed himself off as just someone who "worked with a label" in Nashville. Talks began with Cross Driven and how the two 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 a search was conducted for a replacement. While interviewing the hopefuls, one player came in having memorized all the songs from Gravity Youth. The band was impressed he had taken the time to do that. A few weeks later they had a show in South Texas that Matt was going to be unable to play. Matthew Balch was called (since he had already learned all the songs) to fill in for that show.

Tinman Jones selected Matthew to be the replacement for Matt Helms. Cross Driven Records notified the band that they were sending label representatives to a convention concert in Hot Springs, Arkansas in August of 2002. This just happened to be Matthew Balch's debut show. No pressure at all.

With the increase of tour dates, the band needed better accommodations on the road. A tour bus was purchased and renovated for use. It was an MCI, one like you see at your local bus stop. The scroll on the front had a number of choices, with one sinply saying "Fun Bus." Naturally, the band opted for "Fun Bus" and the new ride had a nick name.

In spring of 2003, the deal with Cross Driven was solidified, and at GMA Week in April contracts were signed. Also at that GMA Week, Tinman Jones played two showcases for other industry professionals.

The label wanted to get a fresh national release out as soon as possible. The new CD was produced by Alan Shacklock of Abbey Road Studios fame in Britain whose resume includes working with Meatloaf, Dennis DeYoung (Styx) and Newsboys, Phil Keagy, and Shaded Red, just to name a few. Tinman Jones felt the union stretched them creatively.  The album remained true to the style of the band, yet used that style as a launching pad to carry them farther than they have previously ventured.

From Poetic came three new radio songs. Sunshine and Say Goodbye found top 20 success while the rap rocker Party became the bands second top ten, reaching #8 nation wide.

In the Fall, the band landed a spot on 2003 Shoutfest Tour with Skillet, Tait (Michael Tait of DC Talk and his new band), Zoe Girl, Tree 63, Benjamin Gate, Pillar and more. The obligation for more intensive touring gave pause to Mark Toombs and Matthew Balch, and both announced a desire to leave the band. After some frantic interviews in light of Shoutfest coming upon us, guitarist Nick Starnes and drummer Phil Cox was selected.

The first business for the new musicians was to tour with the band to Virginia Beach, VA, where the band recorded their first official video to the song Guitar Saint from Poetic. After the video shoot, the band made their way to Texas to hook up with Shoutfest.   

Shoutfest was sponsored in part by World Vision, and Tinman Jones was the only band on the tour associated with World Vision, so they became the official WV representatives for the tour. It was an amazing experience for the band, crossing the country with the high profile artists. Shoutfest dates were only scheduled for Thursday through Sunday nights, so the band took opportunity to book their own shows Monday through Wednesday to fill the gaps.

At the end of the tour, it was obvious that the newest drummer was not a fit for the chemestry of the band. Phil made his exit and a new round of auditions brought in Nashville drummer Kevin Sparkman.  

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