There’s a familiar verse in Ecclesiastes that says “to everything there is a season.” In the life of every believer, there’s a time to seek answers and a time for action. For Third Day, it’s time to Move!
“For us, there was a wake up call right after we won the GMA Artist of the Year a few years back. It’s like ‘Okay, what do we do with this?’” Third Day bassist, Tai Anderson, says of the band taking home the industry’s top honors. “We’ve been given this platform and we feel like God wants us to use that. It’s really about putting our faith into action and that idea of motion.”
From its extensive work with World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, the One Campaign and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, which aids farmers in Rwanda, to its own Come Together Fund, Third Day has long been about putting its faith in action. On its new Essential Records project, Move, Anderson, lead vocalist Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and drummer David Carr, encourage others to take the next step in their walk with God. The songs on Move are a natural follow-up to Third Day’s last album, 2008’s Revelation. “That was a record about prayer and about really asking for direction,” says Powell. “Some of these songs are about receiving that direction, moving on that and going forward.”
“The lyric on ‘Revelation,’ [says] ‘tell me should I stay here or do I need to move?’” adds Lee. “We’ve given everybody a couple of years to marinate on that and now we’re saying, ‘Go, move!’”
Third Day issues the challenge in the song “Make Your Move,” an in-your-face Americana rock anthem that makes it impossible to remain inert -- physically or spiritually. “Make Your Move” is the equivalent of throwing down a musical gauntlet, and while the song’s soul-shaking intensity washes over the listener in sonic waves, the penetrating lyric is a call to action that encourages believers to share the hope of Jesus with the hurting world around them.
While lyrically the songs on Move are a progression from the prayerful introspection on Revelation, musically the album throws a few curves, starting with the first single “Lift Up Your Face.” “This is a song that we actually worked on with the guys in NEEDTOBREATHE,” says Powell. “We were on the road and playing in Charleston, where they lived, and we needed a studio…. and they were the band for us. We had the basis of the song already down, but they pepped it up a little bit. We love those guys and it was cool to be able to work with them.”
In finishing the song, Third Day enlisted the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama for an extra measure of soulfulness. As a result, “Lift Up Your Face” is rock-meets-gospel in a gritty clash of guitars, voices and drums. Powell delivers a captivating vocal performance that starts as a soulful growl and slips effortlessly into his upper register and back again as he reminds the listener that no matter how far they’ve fallen, there is hope and “salvation is calling!” Carr describes the song as “definitely dark, but the message is hopeful. It’s about encouragement through hard times.”
Sharing hope and truth through music has long been Third Day’s mission. The band was founded in Marietta, Ga., by Powell and Lee, who then recruited Carr and Anderson from other local groups. After releasing a critically acclaimed indie album on Gray Dot Records, the band signed with Reunion Records and its self-titled major label debut bowed in 1997. Since then Third Day has populated the church and Christian radio with such memorable songs as “Cry Out to Jesus,” “Call My Name,” “Born Again,” “Come Together,” “My Hope Is You” and many others.
The band has earned 27 No. 1 singles and sold more than 7 million albums which reflect 2 RIAA Platinum and 9 Gold Certifications. A recent Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee (2009), Third Day has garnered 24 career GMA Dove Awards from 42 nominations, 4 GRAMMY Awards (with 11 career nominations), an American Music Award (11/24/2008 - during its Revelation promotional window), 3 American Music Award nominations and multiple ASCAP honors for songwriting. Third Day’s memorable “Call My Name,” off its Revelation project (7/29/08), was even selected by Keith Urban as a bonus track on his Defying Gravity project.
For Third Day, this latest musical adventure began while they were on the Winter Jam Tour in early 2010. “If we weren’t on stage, we were working on songs,” says Anderson, describing how the band would set up equipment in venues and begin fleshing out the songs that would become Move.
“We had a conversation on the bus about what kind of record we wanted to make and what kind of producer we wanted to work with,” says Lee. “We wanted somebody who was very organic. So, we had a conversation with a guy at our record company and talked to some of our management folks and they sent us some stuff to listen to and out of that, Paul Moak, just really -- to all of us -- stood head and shoulders above the rest. He had done an album that came out last year [Matt Maher’s Alive Again] working in the slide guitar, hand clapping and foot stomping; it was just the kind of rootsy feel that really captured what we were hoping to do.”
Anderson says Moak (Mat Kearney, Matt Maher) was a good fit for Third Day. “I was really impressed that he let us be the band,” Anderson says. “He let us arrange the songs, let us lay it down…He let us be Third Day. We’re good at doing the drums, guitar, bass guitar and vocals and we’re good at having ideas for the other stuff, but by the time we’ve done the drums, bass guitar, vocals, we also like to get on back to the house, so Paul I think has been really strong at being a
While Revelation was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Howard Benson (Flyleaf, Daughtry, Hoobastank, P.O.D.), musically Move takes the band back to its Southern roots. “We were really proud of what Revelation was for us,” says Anderson. “It was definitely was a career record for us, but we couldn’t just make ‘Revelation Part II.’ It needed to feel different. Though that was a great record for us, this had to be something different and we started leaning toward it being a little more American rock, a little more of the Atlanta sound coming out and that was kind of the starting point.”
Move is the first album Third Day has recorded at the new studio the band members built in Georgia. “We recorded 90 percent of the record in Atlanta,” Powell says. “In sports they talk about having a home field advantage and for us, having just done a record where we had flown out to LA and we were completely out of our comfort zone, there is something positive to be said for that -- getting out of our comfort zone to do something different -- but there’s also a whole lot to be said about being in a comfortable, creative environment where the four of us could get in a room together to do what we do. I feel like with this studio, that’s what we have.”
Even though they had recorded in Atlanta before on other albums, the studios were often far from their homes, but the new studio is conveniently located and made it easier to spend time with their families while working on the record. “All of us are 20-30 minutes away from the studio,” Lee says. “So if there was a break, we’d go home for a while; it was just really cool.”
That sense of contentment and creative freedom make Move one of the most musically stimulating and lyrically diverse albums in Third Day’s sonic arsenal. Yet, nestled amongst such pounding rockers as “Make Your Move” and “Surrender” are new songs that sound like instant Third Day classics, including the beautiful “Children of God” and the compelling “Trust in Jesus.” “It’s a hopeful song, but at the same time, there’s a lot of truth in Scripture that is not pleasant to hear,” says Lee.
“I call it the happy little ditty about the end of the world,” adds Powell with a smile. “The song starts out [saying] one of these days we’re going to be standing before God and that’s a scary thought, but then you have to grab hold of the hope that we have. Even though we’ve sinned, we’ve placed our trust–not in the things that we’ve done–but in what Jesus has done for us.”
Hope is a recurrent theme in Third Day’s music. “The main theme overall of Third Day has been this message of living an abundant life that God offers us,” says Powell, “but I think even more than that is hope. There are so many songs about hope, about hanging in there and not giving up and knowing that there’s a God in heaven that loves you and wants to hold you.”
Carr says fans are quick to tell them how Third Day music has impacted their lives. “Every night there are fans who tell us ‘This song saved our marriage,’ or ‘This song got me out of this addiction.’ It’s easy to think ‘How can a song do that?’” he muses. “It’s amazing, the power of music and the power of the gospel in music, which is what Third Day has always tried to bring. Sometimes we do that in a very serious way, like ‘Cry Out to Jesus’ and ‘Tunnel,’ and sometimes in a fun way. We have a lot of songs just about life. We don’t want every song to be an epic, drive-this-point-home kind of song, but they all don’t have to be that to mean something to someone.”
Move is filled with songs that will uplift and encourage believers, yet there are songs that offer a different perspective too. “From a lyrical standpoint, I feel like there are two views of the church,” he says. “There are a lot of songs as a believer talking to people outside of the walls of the church and then there are several songs from the perspective of people outside of the walls of the church looking in through the windows of the church, trying to see what’s going on and asking those questions like ‘Do you really believe this? I need you to prove this to me because I want it to be true, but I just don’t believe it right now.’”
The members of Third Day want to reach those who have yet to understand or embrace the gospel. “This is music that people can share with friends who aren’t necessarily Christians,” says Anderson, “but when you talk about light and darkness, this room is adequately lit. If you light a candle, it doesn’t add anything to the atmosphere, but if you go where it is dark and you light a candle, then it’s beautiful and you can appreciate the light. I feel like that’s what our role is a little bit more. Our candle is lit. We’re trying to bring hope.”
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