BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Seventh Day Slumber: God's Love in Any Language
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
NASHVILLE -- Seventh Day Slumber is a Christian rock band known just as much for their powerful altar ministry as they are for their music. Over the past four years, SDS has seen more than 50,000 people accept Jesus Christ at their shows and have ministered to more than half a million.
In addition to receiving numerous awards and accolades including a Dove Award nomination, BMI Award, and numerous hit radio singles, the band is now reaching out to the Hispanic community with their latest release “Rescatame”, a collection of rock songs recorded completely in Spanish.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with lead singer Joseph Rojas and bassist Josh Schwartz to discuss why they opted to record their new album in another language, the spiritual progression of their music, and what it means to be finally awake.
You have a new album coming out in Spanish called “Rescatame” which is a reworking of “Finally Awake” as well as a few of your prominent songs from the past. With the exception of Jaci Velasquez this is not a very common occurrence in Christian music. Why did you decide to release a Spanish record?
Joseph Rojas: I’m Hispanic but I don’t speak Spanish fluently. However, I sing it without any accent. You wouldn’t have any idea that I didn’t speak it fluently. The title means “To Rescue Me”. I picked the songs that I wanted to release and it is being released as a brand new record. It is not like a greatest hits album because no one has really heard these songs in that manner. We are excited. It has ten songs on there – “Caroline” is on there. “Awake” is on there. You know, we just felt like we wanted to get this message out to the masses. The Latin American population is huge. Anywhere there are Spanish speaking people we wanted to be able to reach them because I could actually do that. We may not stop at Spanish. We may venture into other languages but we want the message of Jesus Christ to be heard loud and clear.
The Spanish album is your fourth. Usually, a band seems to hit their stride as artists just about now. Have you seen a progression in your music from the first record until where you are today?
Joseph Rojas: I feel like we just mature with every record – musically and with the way we connect with our audience. That is a process too. You find ways to make yourself more relevant to people. I feel like our music has progressed in a big way. I think we are a lot less “we have to do this by ourselves!” Now we are like, if there is a producer and he is going to give us advice and help us than we have matured enough to know that we need to listen.
Your last album was called “Finally Awake”. What is the significance of that title?
Joseph Rojas: The reason it is called “Finally Awake” is because … it was about the awakening that I had … that we have all had. For me, for Josh and I, we have two completely different testimonies. Mine is that I was a drug addict. I had a $400 dollar a day cocaine addiction and I was an atheist. I didn’t believe in God. Josh was raised in church his whole life. But what we have come to find out is that pain is universal. As a Christian, being raised by missionary parents, Josh came to a point in his life where he felt that he didn’t even know God. It wasn’t until he dropped to his knees and said, ‘Jesus, I want to know you, not just through my parents and not just through my church. I want to know you personally.’ That was his awakening. For me, I tried to commit suicide. In the back of an ambulance after having a heart attack at 22 years old, I gave my life to Jesus. That was when I was “finally awake”. It is when you come into the fullness of knowing that God loves you and that He is really alive. That is what “Finally Awake” symbolizes.
For both of you, where was that turning point for you where you were “finally awake”?
Joseph Rojas: When I was in the ambulance that was the first time I realized that maybe I was worth something – that I wasn’t worthless. For a guy I met not too long ago, he had a $400 dollar a day heroin, cocaine, and whatever else you can imagine addiction. And he was healed immediately and never used drugs again. But for me, healing was a process. It took me a year and a half to get off of it completely. It was that year and a half that was a period of being “finally awake” for me. It was a process. Then, as that process happened, one day I just realized I wasn’t addicted to drugs anymore. The “finally awake” moment happened in the back of the ambulance but it was a year and a half long process.
Josh Schwartz: For me it was a matter of going through the motions but now it was a life filled with excitement and passion. That is why when we started the band that was the only reason for doing it – that being reaching the lost. I just had the passion to try and change the world.
What advice can you give people who don’t feel awake in life?
Joseph Rojas: First of all, I would say that I understand because I know what it means to feel that way. I would give them this advice: there is hope and here is how you get to that hope. You need to surrender completely. You need to quit being the victim. I don’t mean that in a rude way or a harsh way. I am saying that sometimes we want to be the victim and we don’t allow ourselves to have any freedom. Even some Christians will still stay the victim. But I would say to that person that just feels like there is no hope, my advice is to quit being the victim. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Quit sabotaging your own happiness. Surrender completely to God and see what He will do. I will make you a promise on top of the advice I have given. If you will do that God will take you to places that you never even imagined were possible. I am living proof of that. I went from being a drug addict to now being a husband of nine years to my beautiful wife, and being the father of three boys that love their daddy and want to be just like me. And I love my kids. Today, I can say that wanting to be like daddy isn’t too bad of a thing to want to be.
What do you feel is the most important element in your music? What is that certain something that you guys draw from that you feel is the key to everything you play live or in the studio?
Joseph Rojas: For me, the most important element that drives me and gives me great excitement is that I know for a fact that God is who He says He is. I know for a fact that He really did this in my life. I want to tell you that you have got to have something in your life that you know that you know that you know that God absolutely did for you in your life. You’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have that one thing … search your heart and find that one thing that you know that it was absolutely know it was God. I have that and because I have that I can speak freely about what God can do for your life because I have seen it.
Josh Schwartz: When we play shows and do ministry and seeing lives being changed … that drives me. Knowing that what we do has purpose. I wouldn’t be doing music if it wasn’t for the ministry element. I would rather be home with my wife doing ministry in more familiar surroundings. I don’t want to travel all the time. But when you get emails from kids saying ‘I was going to kill myself but because I heard one of your songs or attended one of your shows, I gave my heart to Jesus,” that is what keeps me going.
Final question, what is God teaching you guys these days?
Joseph Rojas: God is teaching me patience. Just slow down Joseph. Just let me handle this. Slow down. God has given me these visions and I want to do them all right now. It is like, ‘God you are moving too slow.’ But God is saying, ‘No, you are moving too fast and I am the boss, so chill out.’
Josh Schwartz: For me, it’s spending more time in the Word. Sometimes you get caught up with the business of life. I just want to dig deeper and trust God more. We talk about that but sometimes when you do talk about it things happen in your own life. It is easy to try and get a hold of it but God is teaching me to put everything in His hands. He has it covered. He already has it planned out. Don’t worry about it. Just trust Him.
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