CALEB brings message of hope and healing to ‘The Shed’ this weekend
By Steve Wildsmith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
His last name may not be Chapman, and he may not share the same DNA, but Knoxville native Scott Mills feels like a brother to his sibling bandmates just the same.
Caleb and Will Chapman, sons of acclaimed Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman, brought Mills into the fold back in 2010. And from the beginning, Mills told The Daily Times this week, the chemistry between the three young men has defined their approach to music and the road.
“I remember going out and playing with Caleb and Will for the first time,” Mills said. “They had given me some of their stuff, and I had learned one of their older songs, ‘Turn This Ship Around,’ and when Will counted off, we played it almost all the way to the end, perfectly. Will just stood up and started to slow clap. It’s kind of funny, but I think that dynamic has just carried on over the last three years, and we’ve grown a lot closer.
“We spend a lot of time together, the three of us; we listen to a lot of the same records and go to a lot of the same live shows, and that kind of shapes us and puts us all on the same page musically. We’re joined together by a lot of things, and we’ve developed this unique brotherhood. I hang out with their family, and I’ve just kind of adopted their story. I’ve jumped right in and gotten my hands dirty with them.”
Together, the trio makes up the rock band CALEB, which performs this weekend at “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville. It’s something of a homecoming for Mills, who grew up in Knoxville’s Holston Hills neighborhood and attended Carter High School. He started playing guitar around the eighth grade and during high school was a member of the local band The Frontline of Champion Hill, which played a few gigs at venues like Old City Java, the Electric Ballroom and New City Cafe.
In 2007, Mills moved to Murfreesboro to attend Middle Tennessee State University, staying there for a couple of years until the Chapman brothers invited him to join their band. At the time, Mills said, he had gone to see their old band, The Following; a cousin of the brothers who was close friends with Mills invited Mills to a family party at the Chapman estate, and he met Will and Caleb for the first time.
“They had taken some time off for a while and were kind of getting back into music, and they started talking about needing a guitar player for this band they were thinking of starting,” Mills said. “My friend shameless volunteered me, and a couple of weeks later, they invited me to come out and jam. Will was 17, Caleb was 18, and I was 19.”
CALEB was born of that union, and Mills was immediately brought into the Chapman family fold. CALEB joined Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, as part of a family tour to share the story of a family tragedy: Will and Caleb’s young sister, Maria, was killed in an accident at the family’s home. Her older brother, Will, was behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit her. CALEB, Mills said, was a way for the Chapman brothers to move forward and heal.
“We feel like we have a story to tell, which is their family story, and the hope and perseverance in that,” Mills said. “I think that translates into our music. People tell us it’s upbeat, but it’s not necessarily happy, even though it is hopeful. We have a song now called ‘Won’t Give Up,’ which is this very detailed song about their family and their sister, and I think that’s what we want to leave people with.
“At the end of it, it’s a song about pushing through and leaning on our faith through those hard times. I think that can be what we want people to walk away with. We have our fun songs, but there’s one little moment in that song where Caleb is saying over and over, ‘I won’t give up.’ It’s a profound message.”