It's been 10 years since The Afters won the Dove Award for New Artist of The Year following their breakthrough album I Wish We All Could Win. While the band has ventured into new stylistic territories since their debut, The Afters have never strayed from the uplifting, optimistic lyrics that set them apart from the beginning.
With three Top 10 Christian albums, three Top 5 CCM radio singles, and an additional GMA Dove award to show for it, The Afters' fresh approach to each album since their debut has kept fans wanting more for over a decade.
Fortunately for the fans, The Afters released their fifth album on Sept. 9--Live On Forever. I spoke with the band's frontman, Josh Havens, about the scriptural inspiration behind the album's singles, the album's musical direction, and the message that the album conveys.
Your new album's title track "Live On Forever" is out now. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind that song?
Josh: Absolutely. "Live On Forever" is a song about heaven. There's a passage in Revelation that I love which describes heaven as a place where there's no more pain, no more suffering, no more death, no more crying, and it says "these things will be gone forever." And so "Live On Forever" is about that promise, knowing that the pain of this world will not last forever but that God has a perfect place for us.
Earlier this year you had the opportunity to perform "Live On Forever" at the K-Love Awards. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience there?
Josh: Yeah! That was so much fun. We brought in some incredible string players. Jonathan Chu who used to play violin for Skillet--he's amazing. And I brought in a buddy of mine from Phoenix. He's a cellist from a group called Simply Three. It was so fun. Those guys are incredible. With those live shows, especially award shows, you're basically hoping that nothing goes wrong. You don't want to be the band that's up there when something goes wrong, and fortunately everything went smoothly.
Can you give us an idea of what to expect with the new album coming out in September?
Josh: This has been a passion project for us, and we've put everything we have into this record. We've spent the last year and a half writing and recording it--which in the music world, that's a long time to spend on a record. We wanted to make sure it turned out just right, and we are excited about how it turned out.
We have a new single out called "Battles," and it's one of my favorite songs on the record. It's a song about facing fear and knowing that we are not alone. In any situation that we face in life, we are not alone. God is with us, and he actually goes before us, working on our behalf and fighting our battles.
There's a story in the Bible about Jehoshaphat. It comes from 2 Chronicles, and it's one of my favorite Bible stories. He is the King of Judah, and there is this huge incoming army. His people think that there's no way that they're going to be able to stand up to this giant army. And so the Lord comes to Jehoshaphat, and He says, "You're not going to have to fight this battle. I've got this." And God instructs him to have his people sing and praise.
So basically Jehoshaphat tells his people: "Trust and praise." He instructs his generals to go and sing. They end up praising the Lord, and God actually sets out ambushes and defeats the invading army for them. So I thought that was a great analogy of what God does when we face battles in life and a great reminder that we're not alone in our battles but that God is on our side.
What can fans expect musically on this album?
Josh: It's fresh. It's different. If you like the way "Live On Forever" sounded, it's a little more in that vein, but for us I feel like we're pushing to be fresh and to challenge ourselves and to make better music.
Well what is something that you want fans to walk away with after listening to the new record?
Josh: I think a lot of the theme on this new record is about standing up to fear and knowing that you're not alone. If there's one thing that you take away from this record, I hope it is that no matter what you go through in life, that God is with you. He is for you. He is never going to fail you. No matter what you face in this life, you don't have to carry that on your shoulders alone. The God who made you loves you, and he is right there with you.
Passionate about music as a means to point others to Christ, Doug Battle is an Alabama native studying Management Information Systems (MIS) and Entertainment Media at the University of Georgia.
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