Who is Todd Waites?
Keyboardist Todd Waites was a touring member of ApologetiX from April 2011 through May 2013. He played his first songs with ApologetiX at our Brooklyn OH concert on March 5, 2011, and he became an official member on April 1, 2011.
Todd eventually left ApologetiX because he wanted to focus on his budding career in motivational speaking, in addition to his regular job, both of which require a lot of travel. His final concert with ApologetiX as an active touring member was June 21, 2013, but he still contributes occasional keyboard parts to our studio recordings.
Born in Parma OH, Todd lives in the Columbus area with his wife Laura and stepson, Ian. Todd was the first member of ApologetiX to live outside Pennsylvania. But an even more noteworthy thing about him is that he plays everything left handed ... because he lost his right arm to cancer when he was only 14.
Anybody who plays the piano or keyboards can attest to the fact that the right hand usually does most of the work, which makes Todd's excellent musicianship even more incredible.
Believe it or not, Todd is also friends with another famous one-armed musician, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, who lost his left arm in an automobile accident in 1984.
Todd also has two adult children, Brittany and Seth. You can learn more about Todd's current activities at his website, http://www.not4nothing.net
Here's an interview we conducted with Todd shortly after he joined the band:
How hard was it learning to do other ordinary tasks with one arm, especially since you were right-handed before?
It was kind of a strange couple of years. Things that you would never think of were very weird -- skipping stones, putting toothpaste on a toothbrush without the toothpaste falling off the brush, even putting socks on, writing, etc. They weren't really hard but just was a learning cycle. I would say that when you lose an arm, you only really lose five percent functionality, if that. Clapping and doing cartwheels comes to mind. One thing I learned early on is that it's best to just do things from instinct rather than to plan out and think through how to do things. I'm better at just flying by the seat of my pants!
What kind of challenges does this pose musically?
It's really not a challenge as much as an adventure! I don't use sequencers for live shows -- that would be cheating -- so some songs are harder to play than others. When there is a will there is a way, and I've got enough will for me and several others.
What are the names of some other bands you've been in?
Michael, Spank, RunAvrilRun, Rocket to name a few of the many bands I've been in over the years.
How old were you when you became a Christian?
As a young kid ... 5 or 6. But back from "my fall" that I took 2002-2004 and back with the Lord better than ever. Amen for his patience, unconditional love and grace!
How did you come to meet Def Leppard's drummer?
I had been featured in Keyboard Magazine back in 97-98 or so, and through that it led me to meet many great musicians. Rick Allen and I bonded because of us both missing one of our arms, and being musicians. I am much more popular than him, of course, lol!
In all seriousness, Rick is just an amazing man who is totally humble and caring, even though he has had so much success. He joined Def Leppard at 14 and was touring the world like a year later. We keep in touch quite a bit and every year we get a picture of us twiddling thumbs since he is missing his other arm! He is a good sport and he and the band know my children very well too.
How did you find out about ApologetiX?
I had woken up one morning and my nerd phone told me I had a message on Facebook, which I rarely check early in the morning. When I logged on, there was a small advertisement on the side of the page talking about a Christian concert in the area coming up so I clicked on it. It was ApologetiX and as I dug into the info and learned more, I thought it was the coolest thing ever!
What caused you to ask to try out for ApologetiX?
I was really burned out on playing clubs and left my last band just a few months prior to finding out about ApologetiX. Reading about what ApologetiX stands for, hearing the variety of songs, the musicianship in the band, etc. just seemed too perfect to be true. Here was a full-blown ministry not only on a mission to entertain but more so to change lives, and doing so in a way that allows the talents God has given to be used for that purpose. And in such a fun and exciting way!
I've toured in the past but was in a secular situation that ultimately led to my fall so to speak. While it's really easy to say "Well, God told me this is where I should be," and sometimes that gets thrown around too easily, I'd have to say I totally felt that this band was where I belonged before I even met the guys. It felt like I was a puzzle piece that was a mutual perfect fit. Amen!
How do you feel now that you're an official member of the band?
I am truly humbled, honored and blessed to be considered good enough spiritually and musically to be in such an amazing situation. I've been looking for a band that is "home," and this is it. It was a month-long audition (and patience is something I struggle with!) and one of my first travel gigs/auditions was a great confirmation for me: After the show a kid came up to me and told me I showed him life has hope.
Hearing those words and his sincerity was so touching -- to be a vessel for Christ to reflect that there is indeed hope through Him is an amazing experience. Well worth every effort it takes to get up there and play. The two hours it takes me to drive to the bus, and the 11- hour drive to the gig was worth it and more. It's such a blessing to me. Stay the course; the Lord knows the desires of your heart. God gave me mine but only when I stayed true to him.
What was the first album you ever listened to?
Elvis is my earliest memory. Then Kiss in fourth grade. Then Aerosmith in fifth.
What are your favorite bands/performers?
Hmmm ... just about any rock record that came out between 1982-1992.
How do you balance life on the road with your other job?
They are an amazing company and allow me to work from the bus on Fridays. God is blessing the company as we continue to grow and remain an ethical/moral company. I love my job and the people I work hard for. They are men of faith in God.
Todd Waites endorses 12 Step pedalboards from Keith McMillen Instruments.
"Keith McMillen is a genius," says Todd. "The MIDI bass pedals he invented are much more innovative and compact than traditional pedals. Like the pedals on an organ, you use your feet to play bass and/or keyboard parts, and these pedals take that to a much higher level."
You can learn more about 12 Step pedalboards at http://www.keithmcmillen.com.