Saturday, June 06, 2009

Out of the Disaster

Out of the Disaster Interview by Chris Lutes Campus Life October 95 "I'm not interested in funding this disaster anymore. So get a job." The "disaster," Scott Denté tells me, was his first two semesters of college. The bluntly direct statement, he adds, was made by his dad, who'd gotten sick of spending money on a son who wasn't "into studying." Scott, guitarist for the husband-wife duo Out of the Grey, has joined me for an interview at Harry Caray's Restaurant in downtown Chicago. Unfortunately, his wife, Christine, couldn't make it because of a severe sore throat. As lead singer for Out of the Grey, she had to save her voice for a concert that evening. (Scott and Christine had been on tour with fellow artists Margaret Becker and Susan Ashton.) I gotta admit, I was disappointed by Christine's absence. After all, Out of the Grey's acoustic-spiced pop is a team effort. What kind of decent interview could I have with only half the team? But my disappointment soon took a hike as Scott and I got into a pretty cool conversation about his relationship with Christine, his spiritual search and, of course, the "disaster." WHY'D YOUR DAD GET SO TICKED OFF? I was goofing around a lot. If I wanted to, I could sit in the student lounge all day. Nobody was around to make me go to class. I obviously wasn't ready for all the freedom college gives. WHAT HAPPENED AFTER YOUR DAD PULLED YOU OUT OF SCHOOL? Being a rock-and-roll kind of guy, I started looking for jobs at places like record stores. My dad said, "No way." He wanted me to have a real job. So he got me work at a warehouse in Manhattan. I'm getting up at 5 in the morning to ride the subway from our home in New Jersey. I'm carrying around these heavy pipes and stuff all day long. I'm going to bed every night at 8--exhausted. After several months of this, I told Dad, "I'm dying to go back to school!" Which, by the way, was his intention all along. He obviously wanted to give me a taste of how tough it could be in the real work world, so I'd go running back to school. He agreed to let me try college again. I applied to Berklee College of Music in Boston and got accepted. SO WERE YOU READY TO GET INTO STUDYING THIS TIME AROUND? N-o-o-o [laughter]. Eventually, though, my guitar teacher confronted me. It was obvious I hadn't been practicing. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Scott, put your guitar in the case." He then said, "You have to decide right now what you want to be. You need to decide if you want to be a guitar owner or a guitar player." His words hit me hard. And I actually started to get my act together. I worked harder at the guitar and at all my studies. SO WHERE'S CHRISTINE COME IN? We met through my roommate. He was dating her at the time and the two of them dropped by our apartment for something to eat. I'm sittin' in the living room writing a term paper, and also watching TV. She said to me, "You're writing a paper with the TV on?" I answered, "Yeah, so?" She said, "Turn it off." INTERESTING FIRST CONVERSATION! Yeah. And by the way, even with the TV on, I got a B+ on the paper. HER IN-YOUR-FACE ATTITUDE APPARENTLY DIDN'T TURN YOU OFF? Scott [laughs] I thought she was funny. I also thought she was beautiful. SO DID YOU MASTERMIND A BREAKUP BETWEEN CHRISTINE AND YOUR ROOMY? No, but not long after I met her she stopped seeing my roommate. Chris and I just started noticing each other around campus. Eventually we were going out for coffee together. She was really pretty lonely at the time. Her dad was dying of cancer and she needed somebody to talk to about it. She also talked about her Christian faith, which kind of kept me from wanting a more serious relationship. WHY SO? I was interested in spiritual stuff--but not Christianity. I'd taken religion classes in Voodooism and Buddhism. I'd read novels and books about all kinds of weird religious experiences. But I had no interest in a "traditional religion" like Christianity. DID THAT BOTHER CHRISTINE? Actually, she was into "rescuing guys." You know, dating them so she could "straighten them out"--which she now admits was a very dangerous and unhealthy way to date. Anyway, I was another "rescue project." When Valentine's Day came around, she gave me a Bible. WHAT DID YOU GIVE HER? M&Ms. YOU GAVE HER M&MS? Yeah, they were in this heart-shaped container. Hey, I had 10 bucks to my name. I was a poor college student! SO WHAT CAME OF THE BIBLE? I put it up on my bookshelf, next to my copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. Not long after that she gave me a copy of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis, which I did read. WHY DIDN'T THAT ONE END UP NEXT TO YOGI? I appreciated the way Lewis developed his arguments in a clear and intelligent way: If you believe X, Y and Z, you're a Christian. If you don't, you're not. After reading the book, I think God grabbed my head. He grabbed my heart later. SO DID YOU AND CHRISTINE END UP TALKING ABOUT "MERE CHRISTIANITY?" Talk about it? It caused an argument. Somewhere in our "discussion," I told her bluntly, "Look, what do you think I'm going to do? Read a book, call myself a Christian, then ask you to marry me?" I know I sounded defensive. But I really respected her. I didn't want to be accused of mixed motives. HOW'D SHE RESPOND? I can't remember. But we did kind of pull back a bit. We kept seeing each other, but we were both more guarded. As for Christianity, I avoided the subject. I did, however, agree to go to an Amy Grant concert with Chris. Sometime during the concert, Amy gave a talk about her college days. I honestly don't remember what she said, but I remember feeling she was so open and honest. Earlier, I told you C.S. Lewis grabbed my head. Well, what Amy said about her faith grabbed my heart. I remember going back to my apartment, getting into bed and praying, "Lord, I know you're there now, and I want you in my life." A couple of days later, I took the Bible Chris gave me and read through the Gospels. What I read started to make sense. It was like God was opening my eyes to his truths. HOW'D CHRISTINE REACT TO THE CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE? It took awhile to talk to her about it. I was still concerned about the "mixed motives" problem. Eventually, though, we started attending church together. Our common faith soon became the center of our dating relationship. I gotta stress, though, we were very fortunate. God redeemed a potentially bad situation and used it to his glory. Neither Christine nor I would recommend dating a non-Christian. We were just very fortunate everything turned out like it did. Actually, after eight years of marriage, things couldn't have turned out better. Copyright (c) 1995 Christianity Today, Inc./CAMPUS LIFE Magazine