Sidewalk Prophets is an incredible band that has been around for 17 years. If you've ever listened to Christian radio, I can almost guarantee that you've heard one of their songs. From "Prodigal" to "The Words I Would Say," they have released hit after hit.
While the band was out on their Smile Tour in Las Vegas, I spoke with Sidewalk Prophets' lead singer Dave Frey about their new upcoming album, The Things That Got Us Here, and much more.
How did Sidewalk Prophets get its start in music?
My buddy, Ben McDonald, and I started the band in college. When college ended, we moved from Indiana to Nashville on a hope and a prayer, just the two of us.
We put an ad on Craigslist looking for other band members. We had a bunch of summer camps lined up, and we needed some band members to play. Cal Joslin answered our Craigslist ad about 14 years ago. We started to tour, and we were blessed to get signed to a record label. Not too long after signing with the label in 2009, we started having songs on the radio. That was such a blessing.
Dan Macal is our lead guitarist right now. He joined us about six years ago through YouTube tryouts. Our previous lead guitarist stepped down to spend more time with his family and to pursue other things. So, we needed a guitarist. We decided to use YouTube to find one. We had 100 people try out. Dan was the winner. It's been awesome to have him rocking the guitar, ever since.
Blake, our keyboardist, joined us about three years ago. We found him on Google. It's amazing how God can use social media and the Internet to bring people together. It's been awesome.
You guys have a new album coming out in a few months. Could you tell us a little bit about that project?
Sure. It's called The Things That Got Us Here. It's our fourth studio album, technically speaking. I count it as our fifth album because we also did a Christmas record. We're excited. It's been about four years since we've had a new record.
We wanted to write an album that you can drive to. When I first moved to Nashville, I listened to a Jars of Clay record. I didn't have a GPS and didn't know where I was going. I got super lost because the songs were so good that I just kept driving. I remember I had to stop at a Sonic Drive-In to ask how to get back to my house. That's the record we wanted to write. Something you can put in your car and drive to with the windows down.
Our new album is a collection of stories of where we've come from and where we're going. There's a lot of joy in it, but there's also a lot of wrestling with doubts and fear. There's also a realization that Christ is the only way we can overcome and have any sort of hope in this world. We're just so excited for people to hear what's been on our hearts for the last four years.
Congrats to you and your wife, Harmony, on expecting your first child. Has it been hard being on the road without your wife?
Absolutely. Harmony did merchandise for us. She was our merchandise manager for the last two-and-a-half years. So, I've been able to be on the road with her. This is day 27; it's the longest that we've been apart. But, we make time together. I try to call her in the morning. We talk about what we read in the Bible together. We catch up. In the evenings, I try to give her a call as well. I think quality time is so important; Making sure you make time for each other, I think that's the key.
Having her on the road before was a blessing because she knows what we're doing each and every day. But, man, I'm missing her and my little guy. He's not here quite yet, but I can't wait to meet him.
It's so exciting that you guys are going to be playing a sold-out show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I know it was recently delayed, but what are you guys most looking forward to at that show?
The Ryman Auditorium is so historical. Anytime I've ever had a favorite band come through town to play at the Ryman, I made sure I saw them there. It's such an intimate venue.
For us, having the opportunity to play at the Ryman is a crazy blessing. We get to play on the same stage that Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Theodore Roosevelt were on. It's almost surreal to think about it.
This is a free show. It's our way of saying, "Thank you for over 10 years of supporting us and loving us" to our fans. Unfortunately, the Ryman event has been postponed to July 5th, 2020.
"Smile" just recently made its way to radio. What's the story behind that song?
The key lyric in "Smile" is "There's always a reason to always choose joy." Sometimes, we muddle joy and happiness together. But, the truth is happiness is in our control. Whereas joy never is. Joy only comes from the Lord. And, I think that "Smile" is all about realizing that. God's joy is always there for us on our best day, on our worst day, and every day in between. There's a reason to reach out and hold on to the joy of God. And, when you do, even on a rough day, it makes you smile.
Just out of curiosity, did you actually pull random people off the street to play ping pong in the "Smile" music video?
Yeah, absolutely. We did the band portion of the video earlier in the morning. Then, from 10 all the way until 6 in the evening, I randomly asked people if they wanted to play ping-pong. Construction workers and people randomly passing by. It was great.
We're nearing the end of the Smile Tour. How has the tour been going?
It's been awesome. We're super excited to be in Las Vegas. The last time we were here, we had our trailer fire. Our minds were going crazy, so it's great to be here again. It's the second to the last show. All across the west, we've had so many incredible crowds.
We have a little gameshow we do before we play our concert, and people are laughing and cutting loose. I think that's important, as Christians, to laugh and cut loose. It's so important to take time to laugh with each other and give God praise in that way. That's what we wanted to do on this tour.
I'm wearing yellow shoes, and I have a palm tree shirt on, because why not? Let's have some fun. Our goal is to make sure that the joy of Christ is being captured.
Finally, how can we be praying for you guys?
Pray for traveling mercies. Because we're getting close to being home. Pray for brain mercies. Because we have so many things going on in our brains with the Ryman show. We want to make it as good as possible. We're gonna play the whole record, so there's a lot to think about and a lot to do.
Even though the tour is ending, we still have a lot more to do, with the new album release and all that. Please pray everything goes according to God's plan with the new album and a baby, both coming in May. I'm never gonna sleep again. So, pray for me, and for all the days before and after.
Grace Chaves is a fan of all things Christian music, and is one of NRT's youngest writers. She's homeschooled, and loves concerts, Jesus, and songwriting.
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