Remedy Drive's song, "Commodity," has spent six weeks at #1 and the story behind it has already made the rounds. In this exclusive interview, David Zach goes deeper into why he is so passionate about human trafficking and doing something to stop it.
Kim Jones - Human trafficking has become a buzz word in the media, but many people really have no concept of what it is or where it happens. How did you personally go from seeing it in the news to actually taking a trip with The Exodus Road to see it up close and personal?
David Zach - My first attachment to the injustice to children was watching the Kony 2012 video where boys are kidnapped from their villages and then brainwashed to fight a war for an insane warlord. We had been doing benefit concerts to raise awareness on this issue with a group called Invisible Children over the last 5 or 6 years. But when I watched that video my heart was moved in a significant way to get in the fight. It was then that I started writing a lot more lyric specific to injustices towards children and wanting to get in the fight but being scared to. I met with Matt Parker from The Exodus Road. He has 3 kids just like I do. I realized when we were meeting that if I'm going to have any impact calling people to action - real action on the front lines - then I need to be on the front lines myself. Awareness and advocacy are important - but I want to multiply action - so I asked if I could be trained as an undercover operative and join him and Delta Team (the Southeast Asia branch of The Exodus Road) on covert missions into the darkness.
Kim Jones - There are so many NGO's (non-governmental organizations) that work within the international trafficking community, what was it about The Exodus Road that drew you into a partnership with them?
David Zach - The majority of the emphasis with NGO's that I've seen is either rehabilitation and restoration after a victim is rescued or awareness and prevention before someone is taken captive. There is a massive deficit in the NGO community of groups that are actually going in and facilitating rescue. Rescue doesn't mean anything if we don't have great partners in our coalition that we can work with to restore dignity and hope to a victim - but I believe in rescue and that is where my heart was pulled. It's more dangerous and it has a higher level of exposure to things no one wants or should see. Once I started to see the infrastructure and vision of what The Exodus Road is doing I was drawn more and more to leverage everything I've built in 14 years of making music and touring - to support them and tell the story of the brave operatives that are empowering rescue.
Kim Jones - When you went on your trip with them, I know that you mentally and spiritually prepared yourself - but what did you encounter that you absolutely were not prepared for?
David Zach - There was nothing that I encountered that I was prepared for. You can't prepare yourself for what it feels like to sit with a 13 year old that's for sale. I had to pretend to be someone interested in sleeping with a minor and for many people that I met - that's all they know of me (even though I went under an alias). The other thing that was hard is seeing footage and surveillance of gangs that are trafficking 8 year old boys by motorcycle. And then being on a mission to find out more about the traffickers by waiting at a place where they frequent for lunch. Seeing this guy 10 feet from me that I know is such an agent of evil - that was pretty strange. But we got his address that day and we found out more about his network. Riding on a motorcycle taxi on the wrong side of the road - that was the scariest part. More scary than walking into a place with mafia security etc. Those motorcycle taxi drivers are crazy.
Kim Jones - I know that there are things you can never un-see - the things that can haunt your dreams. Is there one story, one young face that you will never forget?
David Zach - Her name is June and I remember her better than most of the other girls I met because it's easy to remember her name - my birth month. I know that you can't just break down the door and run out with a victim but that night my heart couldn't make sense of it. I wanted to just take her hand and run - but instead we had to leave her there in that karaoke bar on the outskirts of a major city in Southeast Asia. What made it worse is I had to get in a taxi to the airport, then fly to Japan and then to Denver and then back home. And she's still there enduring that hell night after night.
Kim Jones - Now that you truly know the horrors of human trafficking, how do you come home and tour (or even be off the road, at home, being "normal") knowing that many of the people you see every day have no clue what horrors could be right down their own street and often, don't want to know? In other words, how do you not just want to grab people and shake them, yelling "Wake up! This could happen to YOUR child! This isn't just a 'boogie man under the bed' story?"
David Zach - Ha. I don't grab people by the shoulders - but I play rock music at 110dB and tell June's story over and over - night after night. I'm going to challenge everyone that hears our songs or reads these interviews to reevaluate this sub-culture of ours that cares so much about redecorating our places of worship that we spend a mere hour or two at per week. That's where we're sending our precious 10%? For comfortable well designed sanctuaries with overpriced sound systems that can't even exceed 95dB? It's like buying a Lamborghini for the congregation but then not driving more than 35 mph. Maybe we should spend our treasure, our time, our influence, our intellect on sanctuary for the oppressed. Maybe we should invest our lives on something much more valuable than our comfort and our security. Who decided that christianity should be safe for the whole family? I don't believe it. It's time, as MLK Jr. said, to live with a dangerous selflessness. I aim to call the righteous out of indifference. If a songwriter from Nebraska can carve out a couple weeks to Southeast Asia to be trained as an undercover operative - what can you do? I can't afford a two week vacation with my wife and kids this summer because this is what we're investing our time off into. And we're doing the same next year. And my kids wonder if I'll make it back when they dropped me off at the airport. "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and they loved not their lives even unto death."