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From coliseums to college, Third Day bassist balances day job and degree

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Christian rockers Third Day (Left to right David Carr, Mac Powell, Tai Anderson and Mark Lee) come to the Municipal Auditorium at 7 p.m. today, bringing with them former "American Idol" contestant Colton Dixon and singer/songwriter Josh Wilson.
WANT TO GO?Third DayWith Colton Dixon & Josh WilsonWHERE: Municipal AuditoriumWHEN: 7 p.m. todayTICKETS: $32.50 or $78INFO: 304-345-7469 or www.ticketmaster.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In about a month, Third Day's bassist Tai Anderson gets to add "college graduate" to his resume. Anderson, who performs with the Christian rock band tonight at the Municipal Auditorium, will graduate at the end of April with a degree in marketing from Grand Canyon University.As a member of one America's best-known Christian bands, having the extra education probably isn't something Anderson absolutely needs, just as something to fall back on. With more than 20 years of world tours and millions of records sold, plus a very crowded trophy shelf somewhere that includes four Grammy Awards, 20 Dove Awards and an American Music Award, Anderson seems to be doing just fine without the extra homework.Still, the 36-year-old said despite his obvious success, getting the degree has become more important as he's gotten older."When the band first got started, I was only 16," he said. "When I got older, I tried going to Georgia Tech for a year, but then we had an opportunity to do music full-time and go on the road."Anderson dropped out of school to stay with the band, which he didn't say he regretted, but his family always hoped he might eventually continue his classes and finish his education. "My grandparents," he said. "Education was just huge to them."And if he ever forgot about going back to school, they kind of reminded him -- like the time he and Third Day won a Grammy award.His grandmother told him, "Oh, that's great dear, but when you are you going to finish your degree?"There just never seemed to be time, but then three years ago, Anderson's grandmother died and he decided it might be time to take finishing the degree more seriously. He wanted to honor his grandmother, but there seemed to be a lot of other reasons to finish college, too. As a father, Tai wondered what sort of example he was setting for his kids if he told them they should go to college when he hadn't.
"I didn't want to take that off the table," he said.
Anderson also thought going back to school might be something inspirational for Third Day's fans, something he could share. The message might be, "If I can do this while raising a family and traveling, you can, too."Anderson added, "And I really think education is a great thing for people in between jobs. Instead of waiting around, praying for a miracle, go out and do something. Get yourself more marketable."As the old adage goes, "The Lord helps those who help themselves."Finally, he hoped some good would come of his degree for his band, though studying marketing hasn't revealed the answer for how to best adapt to the scorched landscape of American music."It used to be you put out an album and toured on it for three years," he said. "Now, it's quite different. It's easier and quicker to get music out, but the burn is much faster. You get two weeks of Gangnam style and then a week of the Harlem Shake.
"When we were growing up, it was the year of U2's 'Joshua Tree.' I had a summer where Tom Petty's 'Full Moon Fever' was my soundtrack."Those days seem long gone to him.Anderson added, "People are engaging with the music differently, and I'm wondering if we need to make music quicker? Do we need to be getting it out more often, maybe not in albums but in EPs a couple of times a year?"He hasn't figured it out yet, but he still loves being part of Third Day. A lot of that has to do with the relationships within the band."We love each other more than anyone else in the world," he said. "But we're like family, and nobody knows how to push your buttons better."Still, they try to be careful with each other and with their fans. It's not just personal. It's business. He said the way the music industry is these days, there's not a lot of room for fussing and fighting."There used to be all these rockstar cliches and musicians who didn't care about people," Anderson said. "Now you have to work, and you have to give your fans a good experience."Otherwise, those fans will move along.Anderson thinks fans expect some goodwill among the guys in the band, particularly toward each other. He said he's seen what happens when people in bands don't really have that. The band may be amazing on stage, but if everyone knows that as soon the show is over, the musicians are just going to get in separate cars, hop on separate planes and not even speak to each other until the next show, it kind of taints the experience -- at least, it does for him.Anderson felt lucky to be in a band like Third Day."We genuinely like being with each other."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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