2016-06-30
The Christian boy band Plus One have more on their minds than tuning up the frenzy of their female fans. Having performed over the past year everywhere from the Democratic National Convention to "Live With Regis and Kelly," the quintet (Nate, Nathan, Gabe, Jason, and Jeremy) capped a truly amazing year by winning the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award for Best New Artist of the year. Beliefnet's Ellen Leventry recently sat down with the boys.

You’re involved with Habitat for Humanity. How did that get started? Do you feel it helps bring the group closer together?

Nathan: About a year ago, we were in Selma, Alabama, for a whole week building a house. We sang at benefits and stuff like that. We plan on doing more when we have the time.

Is it harder to put together an album or a house?

Jason: Probably a house since we’re singers and not builders.

Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and other artists are talking about not only their Christianity but their stances on premarital sex, virginity, etc. Do you think that motivates teens, or is this an issue to keep private?

Nate: I don’t think it’s a private issue at all. In church, people will get up and say, "I used to do this, and this, and this," and it’s very personal. But once they’ve been changed, they know their testimony can help somebody else out. I don't think that it has to be shared, but I don’t think it’s wrong if it is.

Jason: I think it's definitely something that can be addressed, especially when you're an artist. That’s what your testimony is. Definitely [people] have a right to know if they’re going to listen to your music.

I read that talking with secular media was a little different for you guys, because they were asking you questions about being a virgin and dating...

Nate: Yeah!

Nathan: I’m open. People can ask me whatever they want. People ask me if I’m a virgin. I am a virgin. That’s probably one reason that I’m comfortable talking about it. I think we want to be careful in not offending others who feel like they have messed up. If you talk about it too much, you may [sound] condemning to the people who aren’t. Everybody messes up, no sin is greater than the others.

What kind of misconceptions do you run into?

Jason: People are always curious if this is real. Like, if we’re really Christians, or if this is just a marketing thing. We get that a lot--are you guys serious about this thing, you guys don’t do certain things? We’re for real.

Jeremy: The only misconception [is] that because we’re Christian artists, we're not going to stumble or go through real-life problems.

Gabe: Most of them think that we’re really judgmental and really conservative.

So, if a Hindu girl wanted to go to your concert, is she going to feel alienated going to your concert or will she feel like this is great music and I’m having fun?

Gabe: Definitely, yeah. Our message is for anyone. We don’t want to bring it just to a Christian audience or just certain people. Our ministry’s still going to be the same. We still speak our hearts and talk about God openly, and you’ll also hear it through our music.

Nate: There are the girls who are attracted to us because they saw us in Seventeen and think we’re cute or whatever. But God uses different things to attract people to himself. And once they get past all the hype, they’ll see what we’re really about.

You were created as a Christian alternative to the Backstreet Boys and 'NSYNC. Do you listen their music?

Nathan: Who doesn’t listen to their music? I’m not an avid listener, but I do check them out to see what’s going on.

Jason: I think they’ve got some good music and I love some of the production on their albums. I think they’re very talented guys. Some of the content--whoa! what was that last line about something sexual or talking about a girl in a certain way! We just choose as Plus One to live a higher standard. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect them as musicians and artists.

Is it difficult to be characterized that way, as the Christian Backstreet Boys or N'SYNC?

Jeremy: We feel like we have our own identity as a band. We feel chosen to do this. That’s first and foremost the main reason why we do it. Everything else just kind of falls into place. It’s not like we feel like a knock-off.

 

There are family groups that have criticized Britney and Backstreet Boys for sending contradictory messages, saying they’re Christians and virgins, yet their clothing and lyrics seem to say otherwise.

Jeremy: I’ve never heard anyone but one of the guys in BSB talk about Christianity. I just heard this thing on a DCTalk album, and it really put myself in check. It says the number one cause of atheism is Christians, those who proclaim Christ with their lips and deny him with their actions.

Do any of you have interest in studying other religions?

Nathan: I’d like to, and I think some of us have. Gabe used to get on the net and look at other websites about religions. I’ve done that, too; read certain books just to see why people believe certain things. I’m not searching, but it's be nice to be aware. The Bible says to be a good steward of your time and learn things. Why not better your mind and know what other people think? That way you can talk to and communicate with them better.

Nathan, you were homeschooled. How do you go from that to being a huge pop star?

Nathan:I started homeschooling in second grade. My mom was a music teacher at one time and wanted to homeschool. In high school, she said we could go to a normal school, a private school. I went for 10th grade for three months and said, this school isn’t what I want to do, I have to find more time for playing piano. I think homeschooling opened up doors to do my music and writing, and I got days off to go up to Nashville, and if I was in school I wouldn’t have been able to.

How do you find time to spend quality time with God with such a busy schedule?

Nathan: In the beginning it seemed like once a week we could come together and have like a Bible study and keep each other accountable by saying, what’s going on. During the tour, there’s a lot of down time. A lot of that time is spent in a bus or in a car. Instead of listening to a CD or watching TV on the bus, take out the Bible and just pray and create that time.

Jeremy: Really it just comes down to, does Jeremy want to pray today?

Have you ever had a crisis of faith?

Jeremy: I went through a time where I allowed my heart to get so cold that I was desensitized to the Word. I could sit through any sermon or altar call and not feel conviction. Once you know Christ, once you know the truth, no matter how much you resist it or how cold your heart becomes, I think it's only going to last so long because you're going to hit a bottom, and that's what I think I did.

How do you deal with the whole sex symbol, hottie label?

Nate: We bag on each other all the time. We sang for 3,000 cheerleaders at a competition; all these girls were making a huge deal. It was almost embarrassing. It's not because we're anything special. It's because you put anybody on a CD and give them cool hair, and people are gonna scream for them. [But] I think it's made us more confident as a group.

What are your thoughts on the mainstream success of Christian bands like P.O.D.? It's interesting how teens are embracing them.

Gabe: I think it's cool. They managed to keep their faith and keep strong. They're not preachy at all. I think they're making a good stand.

Nate: Especially P.O.D.

Jeremy: I'm really happy for them. God's using them in the same way he's using us, just in a different genre, to touch people. They're probably able to reach a lot of kids that we would never be able to play to or reach.

Do you think when other bands talk about God and being Christian, it makes it easier for you to go mainstream?

Nate: We're kind of trusting God. If he wants this thing to blow up mainstream, then it's going to happen because we honor him first.



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