Our mission is to challenge listeners to step outside of the box and understand why Jesus died, the singer says, referencing the primary premise of Jonah33s sophomore CD The Strangest Day. No matter what youve gone through, no matter how bad its been or how little hope you think you have, were here to tell you theres Someone who can save you from that life.
To supplement this idea, The Strangest Day is meant to incite a spiritual revolution of sorts amongst listeners. Beyond just the title track, members seek to communicate what its like to have a genuine relationship with Jesus throughout ten cuts of eye opening material. One main problem theyve found both in and outside the churchs walls is the concept of apathy and the fact that people are comfortable resting in either a complacent faith or their problematic circumstances. But to the soundtrack of razor sharp guitars and neck snapping rhythms, they seek to ignite a flame within fans faith life.
We want the new disc to bring people to the point where theyre opening their spiritual eyes for the first time, Lichlyter enthuses. We want them to realize its not just a religion anymore, that they need to wake up and discover for themselves what faith really means to them instead of taking it verbatim the way it was handed down. And for those who dont believe to begin with, we want them to know its not based around rules. Even though there are moral guidelines, faith is all about the relationship.
And more than just a general message of motivation, this is a concept Lichlyter can certainly relate to first hand. After running away from home and spending most of his teenage years on the Seattle streets diving head first into the drug culture, the singer is a living testament that miracles do happen while apathy abolishment, deliverance and redemption can turn a life around.
From the ages of 13-19, I was more interested in pot than in my parents, so I moved on the streets and my drug habits got progressively worse, the bandleader confesses. What started as pot moved into hallucinogenics- acid, mushrooms, crystal meth- and then I moved in with a crank dealer. It turns out his main dealer threatened to kill him and everyone else he lived with over money. He bailed, left a shot gun on the table for me and told me to fire first or suffer the consequences.
After burning all previous bridges with friends and family (he emancipated himself from his parents at age 17), Lichlyter knew he hit the end of the line and suicide seemed to be the only option. However, in that moment of truth, with a loaded shotgun in his lap that he put to his head and mouth several times, a still, small voice within the angst ridden addict caused an unusual course of action. He called his parents and within two days, was on a plane to their new small town home in Arkansas for what would be the beginning of an entirely new life. After sleeping for three days straight (and simultaneously detoxing through slumber) he was met with compassion and kindness from his folks, who shared how they accepted Jesus during the estrangement and prayed for Vinces healing. Though it would take an ample amount of time, an eventual meeting with their churchs youth pastor and a series of lengthy conversations about faith, the youngster eventually gave his life to the Lord.
We want this record to show people that course of action is possible in their lives, but we want to unveil it in a real and honest way, Lichlyter muses. When Jesus called the twelve disciples, He didnt lead them through The Sinners Prayer. He said, look, heres the deal. Im the son of God- the way, truth and life- and Ill make you fishers of men. They operated totally off faith and literally left behind everything they had, surrendered and just followed Him. We want The Strangest Day to have the same sort of effect of those walking through their life or faith comatose and for the music to really wake them up and show them where they need to be.
The project is the latest in a long musical lineage for the leader and his band mates. After his conversion, Lichlyter formed a band called Front Line Revival and toured the country, followed by a stab at a solo career stating in Memphis legendary Ardent Studios. But what first began as an individual outing quickly developed into a band concept and Jonah33 was formed with a combination of new found friends and seasoned musicians. The results were a self-titled debut CD on Ardent Records that unfurled with furiously heavy rock romps and nu-metal nuances.
When we put our first record out, we wanted to see what was hitting big in the mainstream and that was the direction we decided to take, says the singer of the Nickelback/Three Doors Down inspired album. It was a cool record for the time, but things have progressed and times have changed both musically and where were at in our lives.
After touring tirelessly behind that project, the guys returned to the studio for the December 26 release The Strangest Day (Ardent/S/R/E) which mirrors Lichlyters aforementioned explanations and further unfolds with unapologetic, ministry-minded lyrics. In fact scorching alternative rock cuts like Burning Clean and This Is It (You Instead of Me) are both wrapped around the gospel being applied to daily reality. Solution screams of the need for Christians to step up to the plate and really put their faith into practice, while the blazing Mystery traces the fact that theres a whole lot more to God than non-believers will usually give Him credit.
This album comes across more direct, both in what were saying and what we sound like, Lichlyter notices. Weve been listening to a lot of Foo Fighters and Blindside, plus we also have a lot of respect for P.O.D. and Switchfoot. Its developed from a mixture of playing live for so long, gaining a greater musicality as a band and cultivating new issues and topics that stem from our travels.
Even more moving is the lead single Tell Me, a blistering Tool-like track that tries to bridge the gap between believers and those who despise the faith in general without any particular reason. Need To Let Go is about moving on from loss, Desensitized traces the sexual state of society through it pleads for purity, while Father Song was inspired by Lichlyters little son and his hope to always be a proper parent. The melodic crunch of the title track is especially powerful, tracing the need for authenticity within the church and breaking out of ones comfort precincts.
The more time I spent in the Bible, the more I learn that faith is more than air conditioned churches, padded pews, youth groups and numbers, observes Lichlyter. Its about being so passionate and on fire that you can change your circumstances and those around you, just like the twelve disciples and those who were martyred for the faith. We want people to get past the fear of leaving what theyve always known and embracing wide open what Christianitys supposed to be.
Besides promoting such positivity on record, Jonah33 takes to the road this winter, first with label-mate Todd Agnew and then with renowned speaker K.P. Westmoreland on whats being dubbed The Strangest Day EXPERIENCE (featuring rock, acoustic and worship sets, plus speaking).
Gods given Jonah33 the knack of being unashamed for the Gospel, but in relevant ways that relate to kids, summarizes Lichlyter. Were not saying everything in the same way its been said before. We totally believe in giving this uncompromising message and the goal is to get it in front of as many people as possible.