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?
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.
Some tornados had just come through Jackson, Tennessee. The downtown area of our city was just ripped apart and me and Greg, we go to this church called the Family Worship Center of Jackson. It's the body of Christ in action. And the moment that these tornados touched down, the church got together and we actually bought a hospital. That day we got into a hospital that had been vacated and we formed The Dream Center. It was a place where food could be distributed to all the houses that had lost power. And after working there a few days I was praying that morning over the city that those who had lost their homes, that they would be able to come to a place like The Dream Center and be able to find Jesus through that disaster. [That song] was just a prayer. A prayer for the city.
What would you tell people who think Christian rock is cheesy? Do you think it's evolved over the past few years?
I'm new to it. I think it has evolved though. The message of God is hard for anybody to take, especially if they're not looking for it. There's probably been a lot of cheesy Christian music, but there's been a lot of cheesy regular rock music too. So I would just ask for people to look for some really good bands and check them out before they judge it. The deal is, a lot of the music that has been put out hasn't really been up to par to regular rock and all that. But I really think over these next ten years it's really going to evolve and it should be just looked at as music. Christian music is like in its own religious bubble and God is not inside the bubble. I mean, He created all the music and He created the world. And he desires to have music to go out into all the world instead of just staying in this little bubble.
When you were in Full Devil Jacket and touring with Creed, did you ever speak with (lead singer) Scott Stapp about religion?
I've talked to him a few times but we never really talked about that. And when I was on tour with them, I didn't even like their music. I thought they were Christian, so I didn't want to listen to their music. And later on, as I was coming out of that lifestyle, out of the drugs and all of that, I really started listening to their music. And man, I love it! I just think they're great song writers. Their music really spoke to me as I was coming to know God.
Do you ever miss your old lifestyle? Is it a struggle to keep on your faith journey?
Well there's always your flesh, it never dies. It's like your flesh always wants worldly things and the more you feed it, the stronger it becomes. But you've got to always feed your spirit and constantly stay in the Word, stay around godly people and keep going forward. But I think it's a struggle for everybody. I think every moment of every day it's like either you can choose life or choose death and you've got to fight. It's definitely a fight.
What do you do when you find yourself slipping?
I have some people in my life that are straight up walking with God-older men who have been walking with the Lord for a long time. And I've got to get around people like that who have been there and done it and just kind of lean on them.
Do you ever hear from your fans about how your transformation has affected them?
Yeah, I'm starting to. A lot of people that knew about Full Devil Jacket are just learning that I'm coming back into the music industry. Honestly, most of those people don't even know yet. The mission is, over these next two years, to reach those people and tell them my story, tell them what God did in my life and let them take it from there.
Tell me about your TD Jakes connection. I've read that you heard him speak on TV and that affected you in a big way.
The day that I really gave my life over to God, the day I submitted to God, it was about 3 in the morning. [I] was in LA and we were recording the second Full Devil Jacket record. Jakes came on TBN and was preaching the gospel, but it was like he was speaking directly to me about what I was going through in my life. It's like God used him to speak to me.
Was this before or after you overdosed?
This was after. I had gotten out of rehab, and I asked God to help me through rehab, but really I just wanted him to help me stay off drugs. I didn't really want him to help me do anything else. I just wanted to not do drugs and live my life.
Late last year you were opening up for Third Day on tour. How was that?
It was great. They are grounded in the word of God. All of them are really great, godly people. And those are the people you want to hang around with. They kind of help you build your faith.
Do you listen to mainstream rock anymore?
I do. I listen to U2. Really anything that's good, but I don't listen to it like I used to. But I can't really listen to the message a lot. When I listen to regular rock, a lot of it makes me think of my old lifestyle, whether it's talking about that stuff or not.
So what bands do you listen to now?
I listen to some Nirvana. I got the new Switchfoot record. There's this guy named Jason Upton I like to listen to a lot. I like Pink Floyd. Shinedown. I think they're really cool. And Crossfade, I think they're really good.
What do you think about the direction mainstream rock is going in?
To me, it's going in the same direction it's always gone in. To me music is about the message. I hear kids singing about the same depression and emptiness that they were singing about when I was growing up. To me, it's pretty much the same.
Kids are looking for extreme music. No matter what it is-rap, rock, whatever. And that's how God showed himself to me. He's an extreme God. I was literally about to die in my sin-in my drug addiction-and God came into my life and he ripped apart the destructive lifestyle that I was living in and pulled me out of it. That's what I want my music to show, the intensity of God. I never saw that part of God when I was growing up. All I saw was some dead, stale religion and I was not attracted to that. I needed something that was on the edge. That's what I want Day of Fire to be--I want it to be God's music, but I want it to be on the edge because that's where God is. That's where God wants us.