About A Mile is a band of brothers, in every sense of the word. Adam, Luke and Levi Klutinoty’s self-titled debut album is garnering nationwide attention, displaying the brothers’ craft for songwriting and enthusiasm for music. They’re named after the story that Jesus carried the cross for about a mile, and they live in the motivation and calling of that commitment.
We caught up with About A Mile on their Winter Jam tour bus, a few minutes before the band was planning to head out to play some tunes for the dedicated fans who had been lined up outside for hours waiting for the doors to open. Their energy was infectious, their charm genuine, and their van-naming skills sublime.
TSO: How long have you been making music together?
About A Mile (Adam): We started the band in high school, but we started playing music long before that. My dad always played, so we grew up around music. There’s a picture of Levi with spaghetti all over his face with two wooden spoons beating on the tray. That might’ve been the first song we wrote. We’ve been taking it seriously as a ministry now for about four years.
Levi: I was working at a Harley-Davidson dealership at the time. I quit doing that, and they quit doing whatever they were doing, and we went out on the Extreme tour and we dropped everything and said, “Let’s just follow God and do whatever He’s told us to do.” We went out on the road and played so many different dates. It was sleeping in our van, playing for 30 people or playing for 10 people, and just witnessing to people; but it was a big step of faith. God really blessed our ministry because we went through that and did what He wanted us to do.
TSO: What sort of training did you have when you were younger? Did your parents put you in piano lessons like so many kids?
Adam: My mom tried to teach me piano when I was younger, but I started crying. There was no hope for the piano. I didn’t think I was ever going to be a musician after that. I wanted to be, but I couldn’t pick up the piano at all. I couldn’t learn to play music, and I couldn’t learn the theory. Fortunately, the guitar really came naturally.
TSO: At some point along the way you got hooked up with Ian Eskelin, right?
Luke: He’s actually one of my favorite dudes ever. We got an opportunity in Boise, Idaho, to play a block party, and they flew in DecembeRadio. We were trying to pick their brains and get advice from someone in the industry. They give us his name, and Adam reached out to him through MySpace and sent him a message.
TSO: MySpace? Wow.
Levi: Yes, and it actually worked! Surprisingly, he connected back with us. We wanted to pay him to do a couple of songs for us, and he said, “Save your money. I’m flying to your next show.” Before we knew it, we were on our way down to Nashville. That was another big leap of faith for us – to drive our dad’s van to Nashville and do a lot of shows and stay in host homes.
Adam: We have a lot of van stories. We were halfway to Nashville and were like, We’re doing it guys. We’re really getting out on our own! Then the axle in the van (that one was named “Rest in Peace”) snaps in half, and there were sparks flying on the road, and we called Dad. Dad, come save us! It’s funny, the first 45 times something happens, you call your dad to fix the problem, and he’s all worried and tries to get there as soon as he can. Now, the hundredth time, he’s like, Good luck, guys, I’ll be praying for you! Now Levi and Luke try to change the tire as fast as they can, and I hold the road flares.
TSO: Hopefully, you have a new van.
Luke: Yes. Our van now is “Vandisa,” ’cause it’s an overcomer.
TSO: Adam, on a more serious note, you’ve struggled through a really bad disease, right?
Adam: Yes, I have a disease called ulcerated colitis. And when we first moved down to Nashville to make a record, we were so excited because it was a dream come true for us. But I was really scared, because I ended up in the emergency room. I’d never been sick before, and the doctor came into the ER and said, “You have a disease that we can’t find a cure for, and you’re going to have this the rest of your life.” I remember losing 80 pounds. I was barely skin and bones, and I was really afraid for my life at the time. I had that confusion through most of the album process. Even our first single “Satisfied”… I didn’t eat for seven days when we wrote that. All the food that I ate basically turned to poison in my stomach. It was really painful. A lot of people who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis know what it’s like. It’s hard to explain. Your brain is connected to your gut. You are in a dark place. I remember just having to let go of all the doubt and fear and say, God, I don’t know if I’m going to struggle with this the rest of my life, but I’m making the decision tonight to let go of my health and say, ‘I don’t need it; I just need my Savior.’ I just need Jesus. And if I can just hold on to Jesus and say that my God is who He says, my Savior is who He says He is, then everything is going to work out. That’s when we wrote the song “Who You Say You Are.” It was the darkest part of my life becoming a bright part of my life because there’s hope in Jesus.
TSO: And now you’re on the Winter Jam tour. What’s a highlight of the tour for you?
Adam: One of the things I love about Winter Jam is the eagerness. People are coming from miles and miles away and are so open to the gospel. To bring so many people to one place – believers and nonbelievers – who are excited about the music, and who hear the gospel. God is good.
The 2015 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular features Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, Family Force 5, NewSong, for KING & COUNTRY, speaker Tony Nolan and a Pre-Jam Party with Blanca, About A Mile and VERIDIA. The tour continues through the end of March, with no tickets required, only $10 at the door. Visit www.jamtour.com for more info and a full list of dates and cities.