Embracing The Moment
By Alan Sculley
It’s no secret that Third Day has long harbored ambitions of breaking beyond the Christian music scene and into the mainstream rock market.
That sort of crossover has happened from time to time since the group came on the national scene in 1997, but never on the kind of scale that would make Third Day a household name beyond its core
“I’m grateful to say that Third Day, it seems like we’ve transcended that many times, where we’ve got a lot of fans that I don’t think would even call themselves Christians, but for whatever reason, they like the music,” drummer David Carr said in a recent phone interview.
On the group’s 2008 CD, Revelation, Third Day took another stab at breaking into the mainstream in a big way. Working with high-profile producer Howard Benson (known for his work with Daughtry, My Chemical Romance and Papa Roach) and premier mixer Tom Lord-Alge, the group went for a big rock/pop sound that could fit in on rock radio.
But Carr acknowledges that, while Third Day made exactly the album it wanted with Revelation, the big crossover again eluded
“I don’t know if it grew our audience tremendously,” Carr said. “But I feel like it’s one of those albums that we can always look back on and we can always put it in a CD player 20 or 30 years from now and go ‘Man, that was good. We nailed it.’ There’s a confidence in just knowing you did well. And I don’t say that to boast or be prideful about it. But it’s good to have confidence in that and to know you put your best foot forward.”
The failure to expand its audience has caused Carr to wonder if maybe mainstream stardom just isn’t in the cards for Third Day.
“We often use the term glass ceiling,” the drummer said. “It feels like there’s a glass ceiling for a band like Third Day, where we know that there are bigger heights that we could explore, but it feels like we can’t really get to that place. And I really think the Christian thing is what causes that. So we’re not going to renounce our faith and we’re not going to compromise our integrity and our belief system or anything to pursue what may or may not be above the glass ceiling.”
The realization that the mainstream may never embrace a Christian rock band like Third Day and that, with 27 number one singles and more than seven million albums sold over the course of 14 previous CDs, the band already has an enviable career is reflected in Third Day’s soon-to-be-released CD, Move.
Instead of continuing to pursue the big and polished sound of Revelation, the group didn’t concern itself with crossover ambitions and went for a more organic feel that reflects the group’s live sound.
“What you hear is pretty much what we played, and there wasn’t a lot of fixing and polishing and manipulating,” Carr said. “It still sounds like Third Day, and I don’t want to give anybody the illusion like we’ve taken a new direction…But we really dig it. I think our fans are really going to enjoy it.”
Move indeed sounds very much like other Third Day albums. It continues to find the band working the rootsy pop-rock territory that has typified its music. Within that framework, the group finds considerable variety, rocking hard on “Make Your Move,” shifting into sturdy mid-tempo rock mode on “Trust In Jesus” and “Lift Up Your Face,” while also including a few big-bodied ballads, such as “Children Of God” and “Follow Me There.”
Third Day also didn’t try to camouflage its Christian message on Move – something that has been a consistent characteristic of the group’s albums over the years.
“It’s a pretty blatant album,” Carr said. “There’s no doubt that we’re a Christian band when you hear this album.”
Third Day will be playing primarily to its core Christian audience this fall on its first run of concert dates in support of Move. The band is one of three major Christian acts – Michael W. Smith and TobyMac are the others – on the “Make A Difference” tour.
Sponsored by the humanitarian charity World Vision, the goal of the tour is to generate 25,000 sponsorships through World Vision of underprivileged children. Another centerpiece of the tour will be conversation and prayer by best-selling Christian author Max Lucado.
As for Third Day’s show, it will be short
“I think each artist plays for 40 minutes,” Carr said. “So there’s a lot to squeeze into a 40-minute set when you’re trying to give them the best of who you are, which for Third Day includes a lot of rock stuff and worship stuff and ballads and just things; we’ve sort of tapped into a lot of different modes of music, and all of it sounds like Third Day. But we want to give people a little bit of everything that we are in our 40-minute set.”
Third Day will perform as part of the Make A Difference Tour Saturday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the Nutter Center, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Fairborn. Tickets are $27.50-$118. For tickets or more information, call (937) 775-4789 or visit online at www.Ticketmaster.com
Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at email@example.com