Grammy nominated and GMA Music Award winning band Day of Fire is on a mission to rock the world with their sophomore release, Cut and Move. The album comes from a deeper faith gained from two years of touring and being on the road, bringing the passion and the intensity that has defined Day of Fire to fans around the world.
As the band finds themselves in the middle of a thriving and growing ministry, our resident interviewer Angel sits down with lead singer Joshua Brown to talk about what life with Day Of Fire as been like and how losing one's life has provided tremendous opportunities to start again.
Hi Joshua, and welcome back! It's great to have the opportunity to interview you once again for NRT! I'd like to start off this second interview by asking you to briefly share your personal testimony again. I want to give anybody who didn't read our first interview, and those who aren't yet familiar with Day of Fire, a better understanding of your background.
I was formerly the lead singer of the rock group Full Devil Jacket, and while we were together we made a decent amount of money touring with many big bands. I started doing drugs at age 15, so by the time we signed a huge record deal, at age 22, I became a hard-core drug addict. Even though I had everything in my life that I thought would bring me happiness, I realized my life was empty. All the drugs I was taking, all the money in the bank and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle couldn't bring me any peace.
Eventually, I overdosed on heroine and went into rehab. I did get sober, but a year after I came out I started to drink and take pills again. I knew something was drastically missing in my life. So, I started to look toward God for some kind of sanity, and I found the peace I was searching for in Him. After making a decision to follow Him, I started to read the bible and go to church, but I still didn't have the power yet to break free from the cycle of drug-addiction.
About six months later, I attended a church service where God touched me, and He set me free from my addiction—completely taking away my desire for drugs! After that I walked away from Full Devil Jacket. Over the next few years I slowly began to get back into the music business. God opened up the doors that needed to be opened, and that's when Day of Fire was formed!
Your sophomore release Cut and Move is an aggressive, hard rocking album with powerful lyrics. You tackle painful topics such as abandonment, abuse and addiction and you have the amazing ability to connect with your listener on a deeply emotional level. Can you explain what this title means?
"Cut and Move" is the title track on the album. This song is about a person caught in a lifestyle they desperately want to get out of. It's a cry for help. "Cut and Move"—it's kind of a double meaning. The album's title deals with cutting yourself away from the shackles of life and the past, shaking those things off, and beginning to run the race of life.
I read in your bio that the song "Love" was inspired by a girl you met at a show while you were on tour with Third Day. Her arms were full of cuts from a razor blade, and she desperately needed someone to reach out to her. Can you tell us more about this experience?
There are people out there who have a hard time connecting with anybody because they have been hurt and abused in life. We went on tour with Third Day, and most people who attend a Third Day concert are Christians that have experienced the love of God. During this particular show, I met a teenage girl, and I think she was wearing either a Slipknot or a Coal Chamber t-shirt. I see people involved with that type of music and lifestyle, and I reach out to them because I have been there. I started talking to her and she told me she goes to a youth group and attends a church, but it just seemed to me that nobody was connecting with her. What we have to be aware of is that sometimes the people that need the most help are right beside us. It could be the person on the side of the road or just the person next to you. And it's these people Jesus came to save. Of course He came to save the world, but He also came to save those that everybody else has given up on.
I meet a lot of kids in similar situations. I've found that it's hard for them to trust anyone because they've been so abused. What they need to know is that God loves them, and He would never hurt them. They also need to put their trust in Him. I know there are many people going through difficult situations in life, and your lyrics really reach out to meet people where they're at.
Right! What we have to realize is that we're responsible to reach out to the world with God's love, and it's this message that the lyrics to "Love" are inspired by! I look at the people in the world that Jesus died for and it's so easy to get into an "us versus them" mentality of "we know Jesus, we're the righteous, and everybody else is going to hell." The truth is, we're responsible for our brothers and sisters in need. I look at the homosexual community, the drug addicts, the prostitutes and the terrorists of the world knowing that Jesus died for everyone—including them. I feel like we have to get to a place where we realize this and we begin to love people with the love of Jesus, whether they choose to follow God or not. There are so many groups of people that organized religion has turned its back on, but Jesus has never turned His back. Jesus is right there for them.
Sometimes we want to love people in our own safety zone, and I am guilty of this. When I first came to know the Lord I engulfed myself in the "church world." That's a good thing, because there is a time where we need to get built up and be with our brothers in those environments. But, I only wanted to love people that would be in my environment, which was my place of safety: "Hey, if you come to church on Sunday and Wednesday, and if you will stop cursing and quit doing this and that, then we can hang out." Then I read the bible and realized they called Jesus a "drunkard," because He was hanging out with all the people that organized religion had turned their backs on. I look at that example and I see how things have changed. It's almost as if we want people to come to us.
I think some people really believe one day the whole world is going to start coming to church on Sunday and Wednesday night, and this big revival will occur [laughter]. The fact is, I've met many people that have been scarred by man-made religion. When you start throwing around the word "Christian" they think of the people that have hurt them, or the scandals and the bad things that have reflected on the Church. A good friend of mine who is a road pastor once told me, "Christianity brings division, and Jesus brings life." We need to lift up Jesus through loving people. That way people will come to know Christ, not by trying to promote a religion called Christianity, but by lifting up Jesus, focusing in on Him and making Him the focus through our actions.
Can you tell us about the song "Hole In My Hand"?
"Hole In My Hand" is a song about God's mercy and repentance. It's about when you come to a place in your life where you have experienced the love of God. You know He loves you, and you know Jesus is there for you, but you still turn away and follow your own evil desires. Sometimes business or a romantic relationship can come in front of God—it could be anything that you allow to take the place of God—but you come to a place where you wake up realizing you need Him, and you ask Him to become number one in your life again.
That's a beautiful song and one of my favorite tracks on the album! There is another song called "Wake Me," that's about growing up in a broken home and living out on the streets. Can you tell us more about "Wake Me" and what influenced you to write it?
A lot of the lyrics to "Wake Me" deal with certain experiences that my brother, my mom and I went through while I was growing up. Then, another part takes you to a story of a girl who has been abused sexually by her father. If you look at the prostitute on the street you may say, "That's a terrible thing to do! How could anybody do that? What a horrible decision this person has made!" What we have to realize is, no one at 4-years-old says, "I want to be a prostitute when I grow up." That happens because people get hurt! Sometimes people are abused sexually growing up. So they make bad decisions trying to deal with these painful experiences and that's what "Wake Me" deals with.
What is the very first part of the song about?
The very first part of the song is about child abuse. The child is saying, "Wake me up when this nightmare is over!" The girl that became a prostitute, she comes to a point where she realizes that her life has gotten out of control. She cries out, "Hey, wake me up when I can find some peace. Show me the way, show me the light!"
I grew up in a broken home, and I know there are so many people out there, like me, who can really relate to the verse in the lyrics that says, "Where are the fathers of the fatherless?" What inspired you to put that verse into "Wake Me"?
I just put myself in other people's shoes. When I look at a prostitute on the streets, I don't see a person that disgusts me. I see somebody that is desperately in need of mercy, peace and love! We have to realize the person on the streets needs the love of God, too!
They sure do! Personally, I know that having an abusive father, or just not having a father, can leave a deep void in a person's life. And only Jesus can fill that void. God is a father to the fatherless, and He's the only father I've ever known. That song really spoke to me, and I am sure it will speak to the hearts of many more people!
How did you come up with the name for your band, Day of Fire?
It's about the day Jesus saved my life, and when Jesus touched me and set me free from drug addiction, that was the day my heart was literally set on fire with the love of God! After that, I started to read about how God poured the Holy Spirit out over the world during The Day of Pentecost [Acts 1-2]. I had a personal Day of Pentecost—like it was my Day of Fire! About two or three years later, when we needed a name for the band, I started thinking about the day God delivered me and that name just popped into my head.
Can you define what success meant to you while you were in Full Devil Jacket, and then can you define what success means to you now that you are in Day of Fire?
Back then, during the Full Devil Jacket days, I would have said money and fame would be success.
Everything you had when you were in Full Devil Jacket?
Yes, that's what I thought success was back then. Nowadays, I would say success is having peace knowing I'm doing what I'm called to do in life. Success is knowing I was the best father and husband I could be. Seeing my two daughters grow up with the love of God in their hearts—that would definitely define success for me. I would also consider it successful if people were physically fed through the money that God brings in through Day of Fire. All this would define success to me!
Joshua, that's an amazing answer! You know, our previous interview (November 2004) is still receiving phenomenal feedback. Your testimony of where you've been in life and where you are now has captivated the hearts of many people. It made me wonder whether you have ever considered writing a book about your life story and all the good things God has done for you?
I thought about writing a book, but I don't know when this will happen. I would love to write a book that explains where I've come from. You know, I would like it to be a book about Jesus that anybody could read. I think it will happen soon.
You've dedicated the song "Far and Gone" to your wife, Adrianné, and your two beautiful daughters, Cadence and Carmynn, who you leave at home while you're out on the road touring. How do you balance life as a father, a husband and a musician? Do you find it difficult at times, and can you tell us more about the song "Far and Gone"? (Written by Joe Pangallo.)
I'm learning how to do that. Right now, I have been putting in so much time touring. I have no idea how to balance all of this yet—it's hard. What makes it better is that I know I am being obedient to God at this moment in my life. [I also recognize] the benefits that come with this. I may be gone for two or three weeks at a time, but when I come home, I'm home. I don't do anything else.
When you go on the road, how long are you usually gone?
It's been about two and a half weeks since I've seen my family. I'm driving back tomorrow to see them. I usually don't go more than two or three weeks without coming home to be with them.
So, you're usually not gone months at a time then?
Oh no, I can't do that! The longest I was ever gone was like two months.
Was that hard?
Oh yeah! That was like crazy hard, and I won't do it again! "Far and Gone" is really a letter to my wife and kids, my mom, my brother and their family. The things that I do out here, I do for my family. More than anything I desire to be obedient to God, and I want to give my family a life; I want to give them everything I can. At this point, this is what I feel I'm called to do, and when my daughters grow up, I want them to do what they're called to do. I also want them to see somebody walking that out in front of them.
When you left Full Devil Jacket you gave up everything. You went from having a major record deal, a lot of money, a video on MTV, and touring with many well known acts such as Creed, Type O Negative and Slipknot to washing dishes in a nursing home. What was that experience like, and was it worth giving it all up for Jesus?
It was totally worth giving everything up! The truth is you will find real peace when you're not holding onto anything. When God begins to give you these gifts—He gives you a nice car and a good job you like—it can actually be more difficult as you go on. You have to continuously let these things go because if He's not first place in your life, those gifts will keep you separated from Him.
When I walked away from all those things, I realized there was nothing there for me that could bring me any peace. You know what I walked away from? I walked away from nothing! When you don't have Jesus, you don't have anything! It doesn't matter what you have in your hands. It doesn't matter whether you have a car, a job, girlfriends or a lot of money in the bank. All those things can never bring you the peace God can give you, but when I was washing dishes at the nursing home, I had peace. I was there because I decided to give up my life, and that's a good thing. It was a very humbling experience. Since then, I've learned that it's important to be responsible with whatever God has given you and to keep Him first.
I've been learning that when you put Him first in your life, then that's when you will find your most peace. I wrote this scripture down: "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." [Matthew 16:25] I've found that when a person gives up everything to follow God, that's really when they will find a life worth living for.
That's true. And you know what? You have to do it a lot! It would be cool if it was just a one-time thing, but it's not.
[laughter] I never heard anybody say it quite like that, but it's so true! In our last interview, I mentioned that I knew Day Of Fire was going places. Since then, you've accomplished many things most people only dream about. You were nominated for a Grammy; you won a Dove award; made an appearance on CNN; and literally toured most of the world. What has God shown you during this incredible journey?
I've realized that Jesus came for the world, and the love of God and His mercy is not limited by a person's actions. More than anything, God has shown me this: "You know what, Josh? I love you despite all the stupid stuff you do. I'm working it out, I'm changing you, and I'm teaching you to become a better person." He's also saying: "I love that Muslim guy over there just as much as I love you. Now, somebody needs to go and show him love, because he needs to know who I am." God loves the world, so we have to love the world—not the system of the world and not the flesh. But we must not hate the sinner because of the sin. We have to love people because truthfully, God loves the guy who is persecuting the church and burning the bibles exactly as much as He loves me. The only difference between us is that I realize only Jesus can cleanse me, and I depend on His mercy. All the somewhat good things I've done are still not good enough [to God], and if you were to take Jesus out of my life, then we are the same.
Jesus showed me the love of God and the mercy of God. Now it's my job to show all of mankind that love, without judging them toward their sins. That's it right there; It goes back to [the fact that] there is no us and them. There is only us! There is only the human race. God has given us the gift of mercy and the gift of life—not so that we can become proud, arrogant and separated from the very people that Jesus came to die for. But we're supposed to be among them and love them as Jesus did.
When I first met you, I saw you standing at the front gate of the Sound Advice Amphitheater talking to everybody who wanted to speak with you. I was completely amazed by your passion to connect with people, since most artists wouldn't do that. By now, I'm sure you've met many people who have been touched by your music. Can you share a few testimonies that really stand out?
So many times, just by hanging out with somebody and listening to them, and then speaking hopeful, encouraging or loving words to people, God uses that and does amazing things out of it. And you know what? It's just my personality; not everybody has that type of personality. I like to hang out and talk to people, and let them know I appreciate them coming out to our shows, and God translates that into something great. He will do that for anybody if we will do what we are created to do.
We believe God gave us the creativity to play rock music and we write the lyrics, we feel, He's called us to write. But it's God who translates the message to speak to a person's heart. The whole thing is to figure out what you are created to do in life. Then recognize that it's God who gave you your gift, personality, and talent to love people with. When you love people, no matter what, you are glorifying God, and people will come to know Jesus—when we love people with our actions.
The other day I met a girl who told me that Day of Fire was the first Christian rock CD she ever bought. I just hung out with her, and I spent some time talking to her. After that, she wrote to me over Internet and said, "It's awesome to meet somebody like you that just doesn't get up there and speak about these things, but you really talk to people and give them your time." I also communicate with people all the time over the Internet. They tell me how God used our music to speak into their lives. I even had people contact me and say they accepted Jesus through listening to our record. I thought that was amazing! I can't do that...only God can!
That's awesome! You're planting the seed, and God takes it from there!
That's right...and that seed is love!
What are your tour plans?
We are doing a few shows in Europe, then we'll come back and start touring the states. We look forward to hitting some cool venues. We will be rocking on the Shoutfest tour shortly, and you can go to www.dayoffire.com to check out our tour schedule. We also have something going on with mainstream rock radio pretty soon, and we are even going to play more rock 'n' roll shows in bars.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
I would ask them to check out our new record, and come see us at a rock show!
Josh, Cut and Move is an amazing album. Thank you once again for the incredible opportunity to hear, first hand, how you are taking the message of Christ's love out to the world. We wish you all the best!
Angel, a concert photographer and writer, frequently conducts artist interviews for NRT. She loves Christian music and currently lives in FL with her husband.