From its indie beginnings at the tip of the 2000s to debuting on BEC Recordings in 2005, Seventh Day Slumber has continuously raised the bar of alternative rock excellence coupled with an unabashed gospel message. It’s a tightly wound dynamic that’s not only seen the band’s last two albums land on the Billboard Heatseekers charts (at #10 and #6 respectively), plus a string of Top 10 singles (including the smashes “Caroline” and “Oceans From the Rain”), but it’s also quite literally saved lives. As the group prepares to release the worshipful Take Everything, the story of front man Joseph Rojas’ delivery from depression and a $400 per day cocaine addiction has already been well circulated. But many might not be aware of the fact that his previously estranged father came to Christ as a result of a recent Seventh Day Slumber concert.
“My father called me out of no where after he’d been following the band online and asked if I would be interested in meeting him and I said ‘absolutely!’” recalls Rojas, even withstanding early memories of abuse and subsequent divorce. “He told me his brother had died and his three nephews were weeping at the casket, which made my dad pose the question ‘would my kids cry for me if I died?’”
Following the conversation, the front man flew his father to Nashville, reconnecting for the first time on a significant scale since childhood. From there, the senior Rojas took a road trip with the band during the summer festival run, including a faithful day at the Alive extravaganza where Joseph gave an altar call.
“It had started to rain, but I still saw about three hundred kids come forward to accept Christ,” he remembers. “In the crowd of people running to the altar, I saw my father coming forward and he wound up giving his life to Christ at one of our concerts! Now my father and I actually have a relationship, and while we don’t get to talk as much as we should simply because I’m on the road so much, it’s a pretty awesome addition to the story.”
More than being merely an anecdote, the experience was one of the many catalysts behind Take Everything, which finds the group specifically centering its content around a praise motif, but in a remarkably unexpected way. Instead of merely copying the current cuts on Christian radio and cranking out a few cliché-drenched copy cats, the project puts a fresh coat of paint on familiar favorites, enriched by three original cuts that find Rojas and company at their most spiritually vulnerable and intimate.
“We wanted to make these songs more appealing to some of the youth and teenagers out there,” he says of staples like “How Great Is Our God,” “I Can Only Imagine,” “Famous One” and “Nothing But the Blood.” “They’re all really amazing songs and are obviously known by millions of people, but we wanted to record them in way that wasn’t wrapped around the traditional arrangements. We wanted people who wouldn’t normally listen to worship music to hear it in a way that’s relevant to them.” Considering BEC falls under the Tooth & Nail/Solid State umbrella, inspiration from label mates like Underoath, Demon Hunter and Anberlin wasn’t all that far behind, not to mention Seventh Day Slumber’s pre-existing alternative centering. Basically the guys kept their iPods on shuffle, allowing the intermingling of these worship cuts to channel themselves through osmosis into rough necked rockers.
“We wanted to come up with something really interesting, taking the same lyrics and basically the same melodies, but putting a completely different spin on them,” he echoes. “So there we were going through our iPods listening to a heavy riff from Underoath one minute and “How Great Is Our God” in a standard worship format the next and subconsciously started taking those traditional worship songs and making them heavier.”
As noted, in addition to nine covers, the collection boasts three stirring originals, starting with the title track. At first, Rojas admits thinking “okay, I gottta write three songs for this worship album and I want to give the label something they’ll be excited to hear,” though that mindset quickly shifted to a much more spiritual centering.
“I opened the book of Psalms and starting copying what David had written down, but I began to feel convicted as I heard God asking ‘is that all you’ve got for me?’” he ponders. “I also felt Him asking ‘why were you writing a song to your label instead of a song to me?’ and my heart began to sink. So I grabbed my guitar, began to pray and told God He deserved more from me, and at that point, I just literally told him to take absolutely every part of me. It’s one thing to live some mediocre Christian lifestyle, but I want God to have every piece of me and that’s exactly what this record is about.”
“Carry Me” is another attention-commanding new cut that is once again steeped in surrender, specifically geared towards people hurting from the aftermath of divorce and growing up without one of their parents. A stripped down version of the previous hit “Ocean From the Rain” brings Seventh Day Slumber’s journey of praise full circle, reminding listeners that no matter how severe the storm in their life, healing and hope are always attainable resolutions.
As Rojas and his band mates sit back justifiably proud of the project, there’s also one untapped angle that has the leader particularly pumped. Now that the singer’s a family man himself, he notices the songs on Take Everything resonating with his three young sons in an extremely meaningful manner.
“They’ve sang daddy’s songs before, but these songs aren’t just about my hurts, pains and addictions,” he adds. “They’re singing to God Himself, which is something I didn’t really have growing up but wished I did. These songs let them know that there’s more to life than toys and they also let me know there’s more than my own situations and problems. He’s the ultimate source of our souls finding hope and rest, which after seeing it happen firsthand with my own life and now my father’s faith walk makes me even more excited to sing these songs than ever before.”