Randall Lee-There is always an answer

In this week’s interview we turn the tables on….well…me. I get to answer questions that were sent to me by those that I have interviewed for Don’t Let the Music Stop. They were all given the opportunity to ask any question that they had about the site, my mission, and about me personally. I compiled these questions, arranged them in an order that seems to make sense, grouped similar questions together, and sat down and answered each one, only changing spelling and grammar errors after the initial answers were given. I hope this will shed some light on what has become my life’s mission and maybe a bit on myself, enjoy!

When did you first decide you wanted to start Don’t Let the Music Stop? / What was the single greatest incident that led you to found Don’t Let the Music Stop?./ Was there an exact moment or experience that contributed to you starting Don’t Let the Music Stop? / Was there a key moment in your life that brought you to the idea to start Don’t Let the Music Stop? 

Truthfully, it came about a decade after my brother had died by suicide. His death was the biggest tragedy in mine and so many other’s  lives. Although the pain had gotten easier (or I had gotten stronger) over time, I still felt this big hole in my heart that would not heal. I could not describe it any other way except that there was something that was eating at me from inside and tearing me apart. With the tenth anniversary of his passing looming over my head I knew I had to do something. I wasn’t sure what, but I needed to make something. Something positive. Something to honor him and his life, so I came up with Don’t Let the Music Stop. I thought about what to do for about four months without talking to anyone about it. I was trying to come up with an original idea (although it turned out not as original as I had thought) and I wasn’t sure what to do. I had read once, to find out what you should be doing, you need to first find out what you are good at and what you enjoy and then turn it into something. I had done some webpage work for a few years for bands, and music had helped me in my time of need. So I decided to put it together and create a site that would focus on suicide prevention and awareness through music. When I finally talked with my wife about it we both ended up in tears. She agreed that we needed to do this, whether we succeeded or failed. It was as much for us as it was for those we may help. We needed to take our tragedy, our pain and turn it into a force for positivity and light.

How did you choose the name for Don’t Let The Music Stop?

During times of grief, depression, and trouble in our lives we tend to shut off what we love most and stop doing the things that we love to do. My original message was to not stop doing those things. Keep listening to music, it could be the thing that helps you make it through the day.
It also has to do with the human heart being the most beautiful music that there is. A child is comforted by it’s mother’s heartbeat. When we need to feel better we curl up next to those that make us feel safest and listen to their hearts. It is the most amazing sound in the world, the most beautiful rhythm. So, don’t let the amazing music end. Never give up. Don’t Let the Music Stop.

If you eventually had the resources, would you ever do a festival/tour for Don’t Let The Music Stop? / If you would have the financial power to fund a big tour event .. for example like the ‘Family Values’ tour – what kind of bands would you invite to this tour and what would be the motto?

I would love to do something like that. I would actually do something more along the lines of a Lollapalooza tour where there were acts of all different genres playing. When I first started going to clubs in Portland, Oregon after I had turned 21, my wife and I would go see shows that featured three Pacific Northwest bands of different styles play each night. There would be industrial, ska, metal, rock, alternative, funk, rap, pop…it didn’t matter. Just whoever would play together. Those shows were amazing and opened me up to so many different bands and styles. Those are the type of shows I love. And that is what the type of festival or tour I would like to do. As for who I would want…there are so many bands that I really don’t know if I could name them all but I have always been a supporter of the smaller bands, so I would have to say that anyone of those that I have interviewed would definitely be a part of it. And I would want to have organizations there that are devoted to helping others. As for a motto….I am so terrible with those types of things. I would probably just have an overall theme of inclusion and lifting each other up.

Where do you see Don’t Let The Music Stop in the future?

I see it growing, expanding as an online resource for those who are looking for a bit of inspiration or positive entertainment. In the immediate future I want to add news sections, pages that highlight other organizations and their work, and trying to connect all of the organizations that are willing to joining up with us as a community. I feel there is too much competition in suicide prevention and awareness, instead of a being a united community.
I am also planning to start selling merchandise that will feature inexpensive products where a portion of the proceeds will go to charity and the rest will go to expanding our reach.

In the future I see us becoming a legit organization and doing charity shows and events to help other organizations that help those who are dealing with mental illness or considering suicide.

What’s been your favorite interview so far and why?

That is a tough one to answer. Each has a special place in my heart…and I mean that. You all have inspired me with your words. Each in your own way. Some as first for me…first interview or first phone interview. Some for amazing quotes. Some because I have made good friends from them. Some because of how openly and bravely you have shared your stories. As I read each one, they amaze me. For each of you to take a chance on my small page astounds and humbles me. It gives me hope and so much respect for each of you. Just like a parent can’t choose between their children, I can’t choose between my interviews. Sorry, I know that is a cop out, but it is the truth.

You put so much time/effort/heart into DLTMS. What are some things (besides music) that you do to take care of your own mental/emotional health in the midst of caring for others? / Must be hard non stop work doing this. What are some of your favorite hobbies for a day off?

I really don’t find it hard to do DLTMS. It takes a lot of time and energy, but I love it with all my heart, so I don’t consider it work. In my downtime, my family is my biggest and favorite outlet. Spending time with them grounds me and makes me enjoy life. Nothing is more heartwarming than the smile on the face of someone you love. Besides that, I listen to a lot of music (obviously), I do web page work for friends, digital manipulations, some sketching, watch movies and some sports, grow hops in my yard, play old school arcade games. I just try and enjoy life and take every moment in for what it is…amazing.

Do you/have you play(ed) any instruments? If so ever thought about making music as well? 

I wish…I played a few instruments in school, but was not very good. And I can’t carry a tune if my life depended on it. So I will just rely on others to make the music for me.

When you listen to a song, what do you hear first? Lyrics, melody, rhythm?

I would probably say the rhythm attracts me, but the melody usually is what sticks with me. The lyrics area is always last for me. Especially since I feel that the vocals should be considered part of the music itself. The lyrics are important for connecting with the song, but the music (including the vocals) needs to be strong to start with.

You’ve mentioned that hard rock and metal are important genres for you. Why/how did you get into those genres originally?

When I was in about 7th grade I was living out in the middle of nowhere Oregon and I had just gotten my first stereo for Christmas. I remember trying to tune in any radio station I could, but there really wasn’t anything local. But at night, during the slower hours for radio bandwidth I could pick up a rock station from Eugene. Their late night show once a week would play metal songs. I remember hitting record on the cassette deck and recording a very bad copy of their show one night. It featured songs like “Run to the Hills”, “Am I Evil”, “Screaming for Vengeance”, “Eat the Rich”, and so many other classics. I was blown away by the sound, the power, and how it made me feel. That was when I became a metalhead. I wore that cassette out until it finally came apart and got wound up in my player. Soon after that I went out and bought my first metal album, Krokus’ “Headhunter”, and the collection started.

While some people still see rock music and particularly heavy metal music as a threat for our children and coming directly from Satan himself others see it as universal language for a common understanding and potential bringer of peace – what is your opinion about it?

Peace is brought about by understanding and compassion. Although there are always individuals who will do the wrong thing, I feel that music, except for any type of hate music, is a way for people to come together and be better than who they were as individuals. It gives them a community that they may not have had before and others to relate to. This goes for pop music, rock, metal, punk, blues. It really doesn’t matter the style or genre. And heavy metal, punk, and the heavier styles of music actually are very tight communities that are, for the most part, very accepting of all types of individuals. They tend to be the ones who were considered outcasts as youths. When they find a common bond of music with others, they tend to hold onto those bonds and form a community of like minded friends. Anyone who is into heavy metal will sit down with almost any other metalhead and talk for hours about music. The music means that much to them. As for compassion, metal music gets a bad rap at times because of a few stories or some bad individuals. But, if you have ever been to a concert and seen what happens in the pit, there is always people helping each other out. If someone falls, you pick them up, pat them on the back and get back in the pit. And there are a lot of organizations founded by metalheads that support equality and peace like Metalheads against Racism among others.

photo courtesy of dobrotek on DeviantArt

Looking back, what are some of the first few songs that you remember helping you or being influential in your life?

I am someone who is more affected by albums than individual songs, but there are songs that I would consider influential also. There are just so many for so many different reasons. I think Metalica’s “Ride the Lightning” album  helped me quite a bit as a teenager and gave me an outlet for pent up anger as a youth. The same can be said for Black Flag’s “My War”.  Individual songs off of them would be “Fade to Black” and “My War”.
Probably the most influential album for me would be Suicidal Tendencies’ “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow”. The entire album is full of angst, talk about depression, asking why should I get up anymore?, not waiting for others to make your life better, and ultimately finding the strength to live and believe in yourself. I can say that album saved my life when I felt the world was piling up on my shoulders. I still listen to it today and get the same feeling from it.

Other albums that have helped me during times of trouble are: Mushroomhead’s “XII” after my brother passed, Consecration’s “Aux” around the time my stepdad had passed and we were dealing with a lot of financial and personal problems, In Flames’ “Siren Charms” inspired me while working on setting up Don’t Let the Music Stop, and Nothing More’s self titled album this past year while dealing with the loss of many family members.

If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

Okay, this is probably the hardest question for me to answer. I really don’t want superpowers. The whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing. I guess if I could it would be to be able to time travel. I would love to be able to go back in time and have conversations with some amazing people. It would be hard to not change history and try and save those I love or who have influenced me. But it would be so amazing to have conversations with some artists, philosophers, musicians, and people like Martin Luther King Jr or Alan Watts. Imagine the knowledge you could gain.

Define “hope” in your own words.

Hope is hard to describe. For each person it is different. For me hope is love and knowing that there is always an answer to every question. It may not be apparent to you at the moment, but it is there. Knowing that there is a possible answer is sometimes all we need to keep holding on. I have seen and been though almost every tragedy from loosing those I love, to financial ruin, to feeling all alone with no one I can talk to, to wanting to end my life. And what I have learned from everything I have been through is that there is always an answer, there is always a solution. You just have to hold on, trust in yourself and those you love, and never give up. That is hope to me.

People say art spawns from tragedy do you agree with this? Why or why not.

Actually, believe it or not, I don’t agree. Art comes from inspiration. Sometimes inspiration comes from tragedy, but not always. As human beings we tend to remember the bad times over the good times. It is in our nature. Those times tend to stick with us and we need an outlet to release the negative energy. Art is a great way to do this. In my own experience, I have used my artwork to get out those things that were tearing me up. Even when I didn’t think so at the time.

Leap of Faith
American Dream (Nightmare)










Some of the greatest artworks and songs ever created were actually inspired by love, and some by tragedy. It is whatever you need to express that becomes art. As long as you are passionate about what you are creating it becomes an amazing piece.

What would I like those who are dealing with mental illness or going through a difficult time in life to know?

Never give up. Find that which you most cherish and hold onto it during your times of need. Whether it is music, art, family, friends. What it is isn’t as important as what it does for you. When we are hurting we tend to push those things away that, in the end, can help guide us out of the darkness and into the light. Hold on tight and know that there is always an answer, there is always hope. You are important. You are loved. This is the idea that Don’t Let the Music Stop was founded on.

What songs would I add the the “Hand Picked Playlist”?

There are so many to pick from that it is hard, but if I will have to go with two it would be Nothing More’s “I’ll Be OK” and Suicidal Tendencies “The Feeling’s Back”.

“I’ll Be Okay” really defines my way of thinking over the past few years as I have changed my way of thinking and started the healing that was long overdue. It is all about the fact that nothing matters in this life except for who you love and how much you love. “When all is gone, the only loss is to not have loved at every cost. When you can say. and I can say, we loved with every step we take, I’ll be ok.” It also talks about forgiving those who have hurt you, including yourself. This was the hardest lesson to learn…to forgive myself for losing someone who meant so much to me. “I can forgive and be forgiven by learning to heal with a heart wide open.”


“The Feeling’s Back” is the final song on “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow”, and as I had mentioned in a previous answer was an album that literally saved my life. It is a song that could not have ended the album any better. It is so empowering and gets you so pumped up with positive vibes that you can’t help but get motivated to make something of yourself. “I’m gonna breathe I’m gonna live-that’s right-nothing’s gonna stop me. I’m gonna shout I’m gonna scream-that’s right-nothing’s gonna stop me. I’m gonna run I’m gonna fly-that’s right-nothing’s gonna stop me. I’m gonna fight I’m gonna win-that’s right-nothing’s gonna stop me. Nothing’s gonna stop me, nothing’s gonna stop me now…cause the feeling’s back and you gotta love the feeling!”


I would like to thank Amanda and Austin from Saphyre Rain, Aaron from The Host Club, Brandon from To Live as Wolves, Maximus from Stealing Eden, and Dom from under[base] for all taking part in this article. Please read their interviews in our interview section and follow them on your favorite social media site. 

If you are a musician, no matter your fan base, and would like to share your story or be interviewed by us, please use the contact form at the top of the page. We would love to hear from you. And if you are someone who has been helped by music in your life, we would love to hear from you also. We can help you share your story, publicly or anonymously. Your story could be the reason someone makes it through another day.

Never give up, never give in. You are needed, you are important.

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