Originally created 04/15/04

Christian rockers' latest album presents a powerful message

Caught between a tight schedule in 2002 and their expanding families, members of Christian rock band Third Day decided to slow down last year.

The leisurely pace ended this month when the musicians joined tobyMac and Warren Barfield on tour. The artists will perform at 7 tonight at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, 601 Seventh St. Tickets cost $25.

While Third Day drummer David Carr watched neighbors and church friends try to negotiate Atlanta's choked streets on their way to work the past few months, he grew philosophical about his own time on and off the road.

"We were created to work," he said in a phone interview from his kitchen while his 2-year-old son, Ethan, was playing nearby.

Most people would love a chance to hang out at home, and he has. But "after a while you can start feeling you don't have any purpose. You are just floating," said Mr. Carr, who teamed up with Third Day in high school.

No one had any idea they would succeed, much less reach the level they have - they were just five guys in a basement trying to make music, he said.

The band has been a consistent winner at the Dove Awards for the past five years and is a contender for multiple awards this year, including Group of the Year honors. Dove winners will be announced April 28 in Nashville, Tenn.

Love Is in the House, from tobyMac's ReMix Momentum album, is a contender for the 2004 Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year award, while its song Get This Party Started is nominated for Rock Recorded Song of the Year.

Third Day's albums, such as Offerings: All I Have to Give, and the earlier Offerings: A Worship Album, are "vertically focused," that is, worshipful. But all Third Day recordings have those moments, Mr. Carr said.

Fan response to that is growing. They seem to "crave it. ... I hate to say it, there has been a bandwagon, so to speak, of worship," he said.

To avoid getting too commercial, Third Day sticks to its own music or picks up obscure worship songs, such as Saved, written by Bob Dylan about 25 years ago.

Songs on Wire, an album due out May 4, are "more powerful" than earlier titles, Mr. Carr said. Wire "is coming from a place of real-life experiences."

People today are living in serious times. To reach them, the message has to be clear, artistically and creatively. Both Christian artists and the fan base want the message spelled out, he said.

"It can't be watered down. It can't just be cool," said Mr. Carr, who hopes the church will again lead the arts, especially in music.

He expects that Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ will open the door to more crossover opportunities for Christian artists, though many people now tend to write Christian music off as a niche market, Mr. Carr said.

While Third Day sees its work as a calling, the members also are striving to achieve musically and reach their full potential without taking themselves too seriously, he said.

"We are a rock band. It is fun. It was meant to be fun," Mr. Carr said.

At the same time, he understands the term "Christian rock band" needs a little explanation.

So he finds himself saying to the person sitting next to him on a plane or wherever, "I sing songs about Jesus."

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or



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