BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
In its 20-plus year existence, Third Day has sold more than 7 million albums and attained nearly 30 No. 1 hits on the Christian charts.
While the Georgia band – drummer David Carr lives in Roswell, guitarist Mark Lee in Marietta, singer Mac Powell in Dallas and they own The Quarry studio in Kennesaw – is renowned for its deft mixture of muscular rock and insightful messages, its current album, “Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship,” returns the guys full circle.
That the release climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart, No. 5 on the Top Rock Albums chart and No. 20 on the Billboard 200 is testament to their diverse appeal.
On Sunday, following the Braves/Marlins tilt, Third Day will perform a post-game concert at Turner Field.
Earlier this week, Carr chatted from home about the new album and the band’s future.
Q: You’re playing after the Braves game Sunday. Are you guys fans?
A: We are. But you’re talking to the least sports fan of the band (laughs). You can’t not be somewhat of a Braves fan in Atlanta. (Sunday) we played at the Reds game, right after the game. Unfortunately the Reds lost so we had to give them something to cheer for, but it was a lot of fun. (Post-game shows have) become a popular thing in music and seem to be a pretty big draw.
Q: Do you do anything different with your set list or show when you know you’re playing to a diverse group who might not know you’re a Christian band, or do you look at is a prime opportunity to show people what you’re about?
A: We’ve done it both ways over the years with similar opportunities at games or state fairs. Yes, we’re a band that sings about our faith and we’re not ashamed of it. But you kind of have to meet the audience where they are. But that the same time, we find that it seems to work when you’re honest. You don’t have to get up there and be preachy and talk about politics, but you can at least share a message of hope and love and that’s a universal thing- no one is going to argue with that.
Q: Who is playing bass for you now? Is the band still friendly with Tai (Anderson announced in January he was stepping away from the band to prioritize his family)?
A: Tim Gibson, he came suggested from several guys we know in the music biz in Atlanta. It’s been a great fit; he’s a Southern boy. The band is strong. We’ve also had Harvest (Parker) out with us. She’s a phenomenal singer and is on the new album. We’re hoping she’ll come to Braves.
With Tai, it’s a transitional thing. He needed to be home with his family. He’s got six kids and a lot going on at the home front. When you’ve been doing it as long as we have, I’m surprised we’ve stayed together as long as we did. We’ve had it really good and have the ability to travel more easily than some bands. But after a while, priorities have to shift for some guys.
Q: The new album is doing well and the single “Soul on Fire” has been on the charts forever.
A: Eleven weeks, and still holding strong in the Top 5! That’s a big feat for us. You have hopes, but you have to have realistic expectations. There’s a lot of great music on the radio and a lot of great artists doing wonderful things.
Q: What prompted the band to return to worship songs this time around?
A: We talked about it for years. Probably the last four albums we made before this, at some point we said, ‘What if we made a worship album?’ But it never felt like the right time. Worship music was so popular; we didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon
Q: Do you think the next album will circle back to rock?
A: We are enjoying this season a lot, but it’s funny, we have several fans who have expressed in no uncertain terms that they really miss the rock stuff. I think it remains to be seen what the next album will hold, but there’s a chance it will skew back.
Q: Has Mac been able to comfortably insert his country side project without interfering with Third Day time?
A: He puts more work on himself than the rest of us! He’s done a great job of being able to live that out without hindering this. We all want each of us to be able to do that and pursue other hobbies. I’m into photography. I love to be able to get out and do that.
Q: You guys are on the road until the end of November. Does road life suit you?
A: We’ll hit it hard October and November and then go back out in the spring. The machine is rolling right now to promote this album. It doesn’t feel like promotion because we’re having these nights of worship and celebration with people. Bands weren’t made to sit and think about business all the time.
Post-game after the Braves/Marlins (first pitch is 5:10 p.m.) Sunday. Concert is free with paid admission to the game. Fans also can purchase a Field Pit Pass ($10) to watch the performances from the infield or have a behind-the-scenes experience with a VIP backstage pass ($250). Turner Field, 55 Hank Aaron Drive S.E., Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, braves.com/concerts.
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