I love the raw sound on Day of Fire’s sophomore release, Cut & Move, but I was tempted to junk the whole thing as part of Christian ghetto jingoism when I heard that the band had been featured on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club.
The album is a throwback to the days of grunge and flannels with the intense hard rock of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Screaming Trees, and yet, Robertson and 700 Club is very contrary to all that rebellious honesty. Plus, theologically and politically I have trouble seeing how Robertson in enacting the Gospel as he emphasizes a dangerous interpretation of prophecy that includes calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. How could Day of Fire encourage a connection between their outward-focused music and a closed, right-wing, knee-jerk reactionary?
Graciously, Day of Fire’s lead singer Josh Brown agreed to a phone interview with Music Spectrum, and fortunately, I calmed down before our conversation. Yet, I still asked Brown, “In press releases, it’s noted that Day of Fire has appeared on the 700 Club. In wider circles, this might seem like an odd choice considering Pat Robertson’s reputation.”
Brown showed his mission focus, his understanding of the Gospel, and great tact as he answered saying: “[The 700 Club did an interview about my testimony. I try not to have too many opinions about other people’s views. When I got saved, came into the light of God, I was changed. I saw everything as pure. I didn’t question people’s motives or theology.”
That got me back into my place, realizing that Brown was focused on serving God and not jumping to judge someone too quickly.
However, Brown also seemed to allow that Robertson’s approach doesn’t match his own. “You can be very offensive if you say your beliefs without understanding. You say the word Christian to a Muslim or homosexual or Jew, it means something different to all of those people. You start reading the words of Jesus, you think about what it means to love your enemies, to spread the love of God in this world, and sometimes it doesn’t always end up with what the religion of Christianity says is right. Our mission is Day of Fire, and we just try to show the love of Jesus. All of those people who have been hurt by Christians, they start to wonder about why we can love them where they’re at and the religion hasn’t.”
That was enough differentiation for me. Day of Fire is not the 700 Club. In fact, Brown also seemed to be saying that the band doesn’t represent Christianity as a religion, but rather, they show themselves to be followers of Jesus. That emphasis on a relationship with Jesus and a focus on showing the essence of the Gospel to people who have been hurt by the Church are both qualities of the emergent church, which in my mind launched Day of Fire back into the heavy rotation of rockers in the mission.
Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to catch the band’s set at Lifest in nearby Oshkosh, Wisconsin. However, seeing them at a Christian festival was related to another fear I had about Day of Fire: are you content staying inside the Christian ghetto?
Once again, Brown came back with a mission focus that slammed my preconceived notions to the ground. Noting that Sony Red is now working the mainstream distribution of Cut & Move, Brown commented, “The music we’re doing, it’s a vehicle to get us in front of people who are hungry for something. It’s almost impossible for a rock band like us to survive just playing for the choir. But that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing. God gave me these gifts so that I spread the light, spread the love. If you’ll go where people where they’re at, if you’ll love them, the opportunity of what God gives you to do is much, much greater.”
Musically, Cut & Move never lets up. There’s no throwaway praise & worship ballad that’s cookie cutter music (CCM). Brown mentioned that this album came out of the band really working more together, finding “dirtier tones,” because “life is not always pretty, so we just want to write music that shows that.”
This shows up on “Wake Me,” a story song like Soul Asylum’s “String of Pearls” where the song takes you through a series of scenes of people and in one verse about each you see the great need in their heart. “Wake Me” includes a reference to a girl sexually abused by her father and now living on the streets working as a prostitute.
Is CCM ready for a song with such a vivid picture of a prostitute? Brown again comes back to his mission focus, “That’s our whole message: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just for the people who have it together enough to get to Church on Sunday and Wednesday. Jesus is for the drug addict, the prostitute, and the homosexual. The way I treat the person on the street is the way I treat Jesus.”
Brown backs up that idea with the chorus of “Wake Me” which says, “Wake me when it’s over/Pick me up, I’m on the ground/Wake me when it’s over/Show me where the light is found.”