Finding God on the Edge
Day of Fire frontman Joshua Brown found God after a near-fatal drug overdose. Luckily, God still wants him to rock.
BY: Interview by Dena Ross
Singer Joshua Brown had tremendous success with his former hard rock band Full Devil Jacket, opening for bands like Creed and Train. But, after years of hard partying and drugs, his wild lifestyle caught up with him and in 2000 he almost died after a heroin overdose. Now he's putting his creative energy to work, along with a strong Christian message, with his new band, Day of Fire. The band was recently nominated for 3 Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove awards, including New Artist of the Year, Rock Album of the Year, and Rock Recorded Song of the Year for their single, "Cornerstone." Currently on tour, he spoke with Beliefnet about his tranformation, his new band, and how God "hooks you up."
In some of your old songs with Full Devil Jacket, "Screaming Jesus" and "Cardboard Believer" you talk about faith in a dark way. In "Cardboard Believer" you sing, "Would it take too much to save me? I watch my life pass by." Were you angry with God at that point?
I was shooting up cocaine during that album. For some reason, at one point I felt that fame and money would bring me peace--especially when I was writing that song. I always knew that God was there, but I thought he was mad at me. I thought he was pushing me down. I thought every time something good would start to happen in my life, God would punish me because I wasn't living the way I wanted to and he just pulled the rug out from under me.
Why did you feel that way?
I don't know. I guess because I knew I wasn't living the life that He wanted me to live. And I thought He was just angry at me. But I wasn't really angry at Him. In the song "Full Devil Jacket" I knew that at some point, it was all going to have to turn around. I knew that at some point I would have to give my life over to Him and I just wasn't ready to do it.
Can you tell me a little about your faith background? Did you grow up in a religious household?
No, not at all. I grew up in a divorced home. It's not that my parents were against God. They knew about God, we just never really pursued him. I grew up in my mom's house and we knew God as religion. We thought God was a church service. And we really didn't come to know him until the last couple years, so growing up with no religion in the house, I started partying at 15 and, started doing drugs, and eventually I just figured out that I couldn't go on any longer that way and that's when I started looking toward God.
Can you talk a little bit more about your overdose? Do you feel like it was God's doing?
I don't feel like God did that to me, but I feel like God let me do it to myself. It says in the Word, God turns all things to good for those who love the Lord. And God took that horrible situation and he brought good out of it. He put me around some of the right people, one being my future wife, Adrianné. She resuscitated me after I OD'd until the ambulance came and picked me up. And her family was a really godly family. I started dating her and hanging out with her family and they kind of just loved me into the kingdom of God.
Do you feel like had you not OD'd you'd still be doing drugs and living a wild lifestyle?
Yeah. I probably would have died. Before I went into rehab, drugs were my God. I loved drugs, I loved the lifestyle, I loved everything-- the rebellion of it. And if that wouldn't have happened to me right then, I'd probably be dead. My best friend overdosed two years ago and died. That was really in my cards.
How did you come up with the name Day of Fire? It sounds apocalyptic.
It does, but it's totally not that. When we were in LA recording the record, we didn't have a name for the band. I was just sitting in my bed thinking of the day God delivered me, the day that God healed me of drug addiction. And I was also thinking of the day of Pentacost and the day the Holy Spirit fell upon the earth and gave people the power to step away from themselves. And that is what Day of Fire is to me. It's the day that your heart gets ignited and set on fire for God. And it's the day that God ceases to be a religion and he's actually a real person in your life.
Church cannot change somebody's heart, a religious system, a book of morals, none of that can change somebody's heart. It's only the living God, it's only the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ that can. That's why I'm back into music. Because God showed me that if I will use whatever talent I have, whatever He's given me, to tell about Him and what He has done in my life, then He will give other people their own personal days of fire. And I've seen that.
Do you find a lot of your fans like your new music because they're interested in the hard sound before the lyrics or do you think they're attracted to the message first and the music second?
I think it's a little bit of both. When we recorded the album our goal, our mission, was to make a real rock record that we would enjoy listening to. And the deal is, when somebody builds a house, whether they're a Christian or a non-Christian, they want the house to be good, period. And when people ask them, 'Why is this house so good?', the one who worships God will say, 'God gave me the talent, God gave me the ability and that's why it sounds so good.'
The reason why I write in the first place is to send out a message of hope and to spread the Gospel. I'm not going to make a rock record that doesn't have to do with God because really that's all I have and that's all I know. That's the only thing that's ever worked for me. That's what message I want to spread.
What was it like working with such big names in the music industry as producer Scott Humphrey who's worked with Metallica and Motley Crue, and Chris Chaney of Jane's Addiction playing on bass, among others, on the last album?
It was awesome. Those guys are professionals and they really know how to record and play music.
I think it's good they were able to help you keep the mainstream sound.
Yeah, I agree. That's the way God is. He hooks you up with the people you need to be hooked up with. He's awesome.