Tommy Green is the front man of the hardcore Christian outfit Sleeping Giant. Previously, Green spent several years with the extremely hardcore act XDeathstarX. He also heads up Revolution Reality, a youth centered ministry in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife Krissi. He has two children and spends several months of his year out on the road with his band. This past year, Green released his first book entitled Religio-cide, a primer of sorts meant to educate and encourage young believers. I spoke with Green in the basement of his church in Salt Lake City this past April. The man himself is a talker and that’s a great thing, so this interview has been edited for length.
What are some of the biggest temptations while out on the road and how do you avoid those?
Tommy Green: The biggest temptations are more availability to the stuff that gets you when you’re not on the road, more availability to strange women, to secrecy, and the ability to make a decision and leave and be far away from it. Then, just the carnal trappings of being in a band when people give you that kind of attention and girls are out to get you. That’s as a Christian, you know? Most people we go on tour with aren’t Christian bands so I just watch people live it up. I think for Christian dudes it’s more of the same temptations that people face in the kingdom when they’re at home. The internet is just as available, it’s probably just easier to get away with having your own space. It’s easier to make flirtatious gestures towards women on the road and there are not as many people there to keep you accountable. It just kind of gets magnified; the temptations get magnified on the road I think.
I create a perimeter around myself especially by being very vocal about how much I’m down for my wife. I have to say, for me, by the grace of God. I’m real particular about the stuff I do and don’t do. I think for me it’s that thing of me putting a lot of time and attention into my image because no one else is going to do it for me. And because I’ve been divorced before, I value my marriage a lot. I don’t mess around with it because my wife is awesome. Any girl that I know or is on the road with me or anyone that’s with me, they know first and foremost that I am down with my wife and I don’t mess around with that kind of thing and I don’t talk crap on my marriage in front of anyone and I don’t downplay or downgrade my wife or vocally make marriage sound like a problem which helps everything about it. There are not the same chinks in the armor that people pick up in their brokenness and try to make light of. People come to me like “Oh the old ball and chain”, but I’ve never referred to Krissi like that, I’d never talk about my wife like that. So I try to create that perimeter where if you’re coming in my bubble you’re coming into the bubble of a married dude that’s down for his wife and I don’t pay attention to you if you’re putting that stuff off like I can feel it sometimes in the atmosphere like oh you’ve got that seductive spirit on you, that’s cool, you can stay away from me. I think dudes have become so accustomed to how I’m wired when it comes to marriage that if I was doing anything remotely out of character that they could smell it from miles away. I have to be honest too, I was never like addicted to pornography, I checked it out when I was younger but I think any of my struggles with masturbation or fantasy was related to the people I was with. The only struggle I really had at that point that I needed God’s
grace with was in my last marriage. The only time I really fantasized was when I fantasized about my wife and it was because I wasn’t with
her, our marriage was falling apart. That was a trip because I wondered if I was allowed to masturbate and think about my wife. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else, so that’s weird but it kept me soul tied to her and our marriage wasn’t healthy at that point. I needed God’s help in it. So I think for me, I’m not struggling with the same things and even being here at home I’m centered in a lot of ways, there’s men’s accountability within our church and there’s a sexual addiction group that meets and I was able to and take part. I was sober, I wasn’t watching porn or jerking off and I wasn’t being unhealthy that I could tell. I was there to be a counselor but as I was doing it I was getting calls from people that didn’t even know and they’re calling me to tell me about stuff that they’re struggling with like sexually and it was weird but I was getting all the tools right then. I just feel like its really a danger zone and I don’t play with the tools that are out there and I think in my behavior and attitude and words that I’ve really clued people into my marriage being really important and maintaining that level of purity. That’s for me, on the road. For other dudes, its just more availability for the things that traps people in their head but just on a greater scale. It’s easier to do it and get away with it.
What is the overall consensus on something like pornography among band dudes? Is it something that is talked about generally or is it just pretty commonplace?
Tommy Green: All I can speak for is my band. All those dudes are dudes that love Jesus so much and they really try hard. I know that some of them have struggled with porn and sexual stuff but the standard of our band is that it’s dangerous because of what it can do to your heart, it really does damage to your soul. It causes a lot of division in people’s lives in relation to God so in our band the standard is real clear; don’t mess around with that stuff. We are accountable to each other and we have some of the XXXChurch software on our phones and we can check in with each other. I have random dates on my calendar that pop up then I’ll call a dude and see if he’s doing good. But with the dudes on the road the reality of the situation is that is something that’s acceptable. It’s expected. I forget how prevalent it is then we go out with dudes and its just like they send each other that kind of stuff on their phones and they’ll share messages. They treat sexuality like its real self-centered and self-focused and so its there for pleasure and they’re there to get down with girls and it’s not a big deal. I think what’s prevalent is the mindset that sexuality is just open and free and people are able to make their own decisions and its not hurting anybody. If it was your daughter or your wife getting treated the way people treat each other then you wouldn’t be okay with it, not for a second but people don’t have that perspective on it, necessarily. I can appreciate the freedom of it, people are free, make your own decisions. I’d rather people have the freedom of choice, just choose something better, it’s a joke. It’s real prevalent with the other bands, its just part of their culture, sex sells. There are a lot of dudes that don’t know how to do intimacy; they’re not real good at expressing themselves. It really is a powerful thing. That’s just the consensus with the other dudes, its everywhere, its part of their language, mentality, its in their mindsets.
So what is your advice to bands just starting out on the road and who are just beginning to see these huge temptations, Christian and non Christian musicians.
Tommy Green: Don’t support it because its garbage. It’s an industry that would rape and molest my daughter who’s ten years old and tell me that its freedom. I don’t support it, I hate it. I think its trash and that the fruit of it isn’t anything good for generation after generation after generation. I hate it so bad because I just think it’s not fair and this culture has been doing it to little kids since we were all little, just taking advantage of our eye gates and feeding us all this stuff and we don’t know what real love is because of it. What I would say to dudes who are coming up in bands…I would say honestly, you need to be careful because anyone that you hooked up who you really love, like really loved with a selfless love, you wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize their trust. And if you develop a habit of enjoying other women now, it’s going to be harder for you to demonstrate trust long term in your relationship. I’ve had friends who didn’t even realize how easy it was for them and their dudes to just share that stuff and a message or picture got out and his wife felt absolutely violated and cheated on. They weren’t Christian people who had my values, they’re not interested in that but what it communicated to his wife was like “I can’t trust you because why do you need something else, I’m not good enough?” Whether or not that’s her insecurity or not, if you don’t want problems, keep that stuff out of your head and your relationship. Long term, it’s going to go well for you. A lot of the stuff we get fed by the media, they’re not going to live your life, they’re not going to wake up with your wife the next day or your situation so they don’t care about seeing you protect that, protect your heart. It’s just dangerous; you can’t mess around with it. That stuff will kill you for real; it will kill the stuff you love. It’s just a fact.
And what would you say to those girls out there who do think it’s cool to hook up with band dudes or try and find their identity in this kind of thing?
Tommy Green: They are interested in romance and intimacy with people…All I can think about is that in a couple of years I’m not going to be in a band, I won’t be a dude that sings on stage. I’ll just be working a job and have a gut and doesn’t have the glory of rocking’ out and I just think that it’s so short lived, so how do I communicate that? How do I communicate wisdom to a generation that doesn’t care about it? I think what I would say is that you’re really so much better than trying to get the attention of someone you don’t know. I think in general it’s about you needing to know who you really are and how loved you are and how important and how valuable you really are. It has nothing to do with how you look as a person; it has nothing to do with who can love you back. It has to do with who you are in your spirit and I think that a whole generation of young women has so much more to offer but they settle for the attention of men. I feel like women are really amazing creations, they’re powerful and they’re vast and understanding. They’re really great, they are made in the image of God so I think I would look at any girl and say “You’re really awesome” and I would do my best to just treat her as a sister and be kind to her and involve her and treat her like an equal so that she could see what maybe a healthy respect from a man looks like. In the midst of watching girls go after that lesser love all the time and get their hearts broken, just continue to pour into their lives the acceptance and compassion of Jesus, He’s the best love you’ve been looking for your whole life. All I can give to people is Jesus; He’s the only thing that’s going to last in people’s lives. With girls, I try to do my best to lift their image of themselves; they’re made in the image of God. I think to give them that boldness and the courage that they’re a person and you treat them with respect and their sexuality is so powerful and so awesome but they don’t need to get it used against them like a weapon. They can be content with who they are and not chase that stuff around. These dudes are morons, they’re just dudes and sooner or later their bands are going to break up and they’re not going to be cool anymore or the scene is going to get fickle and their band is going to suck or whatever the little wave is, and they need to think about this stuff. You don’t want to be the girl who hooked up with all these different dudes who tries to make sense of it later saying “I have all these experiences”, no, you got robbed. You can make sense of it and that’s cool but if done over again, there are a number of things you wouldn’t have done. I would tell them who are they in God and I’d try to treat them with respect as an equal and look at them like a real person and give them the dignity that they deserve.
What are some things you can do when you’re away from home, away from your significant other, to insure that the relationship is still growing and doesn’t become stagnant as you’re in two very different worlds for a time?
Tommy Green: What’s her language, what’s her communication? And then I would maximize that as much as you could. That’s the thing with my wife, sometimes she just needs my time to hear about the stuff that’s on her brain. For me, what I love is just sometimes getting an encouraging text. Maybe I don’t have the time to take but if she would just take some extra time to send a Bible verse or something like that would speak volumes to me. And I’d tell her thanks for praying for me. Sometimes I want to send her a video of where I’m at but she can’t receive that because she’s not there, she doesn’t want to watch it. So what do I really need to do for her? I need to call her and give her some time and connect with her and carve it out. That’s part of me being clear about my boundaries and not letting other people dictate to me what I’m not allowed to give to her. My tip would be would be to find out what it is that you do for her and she gets stoked, just do that as much as possible because as simple as that sounds, making time for it will actually set so much peace in your heart. Don’t let the urgent drag you all over the place and really over communicate in a way that she can hear you. It’s all communication. Whatever’s not being communicated is being left unsaid and that’s where sickness can start getting in. Live in the dignity of what’s really important.