CCM Band The Afters on Upcoming 'Live on Forever' Tour, Story Behind Chart-Topping Single 'Battles' (Interview)

Jan 24, 2017 05:06 PM EST

Dove-Award winning Pop/Rock band The Afters will be hitting the road next month, bringing their "Live on Forever" tour to the West Coast.

The tour, which will also feature Jason Gray and Jonny Diaz, will be in support of The Afters' fifth studio album of the same name, Live on Forever. The album debuted September 2016 and features the band's encouraging, chart-topping single, "Battles".

Through their latest album, the band, comprised of Matt Fuqua, Josh Havens, Jordan Mohilowski, and Dan Ostebo, seeks to remind listeners that even in the most discouraging of times, God is faithful; He is always with us and promises to fight our battles.

The Afters lead singer Josh Haven recently spoke with The Gospel Herald about the upcoming tour, the story behind the band's latest album, and how The Afters have grown and changed since entering the Christian music industry over a decade ago.

GH: Your latest album, Live on Forever, talks about pain and loss in a very deep and real way. What is the story behind the development of this album and how did it get its name?

JH: While working on this record over the past couple years, we experienced a lot of pain and loss in our lives. We had friends who were going through horrible diseases like cancer and facing really tough battles. We lost loved ones; I had a number of close relatives who passed away during that time. Our drummer was dealing with anxiety - it was a dark season in a sense.

And so, when we started writing songs, we wanted to provide hope to people who were in a dark place. We wanted to encourage people who were in the middle of a battle that they're not alone. Even in the darkest moments, God is still there. Even when life is painful, God is still there, and He's still working our our behalf. We wanted to write an album that was full of fight songs and anthems of hope. We called it Live on Forever because we want people to be eternally minded; life is so different if we live eternally minded. One of my favorite quotes is from Francis Chan. He says, "People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth."

I love that idea that we should be focused on eternity and not just our time here. Our time here is important, too, but the things that we do on this earth can have an impact beyond this world.

GH: The song "Battles" is particularly powerful. Have you heard any stories from fans of how this song has touched them, emotionally and spiritually?

JH: Absolutely. We hear stories about that one every day from people facing all kinds of battles. There was one woman who came to a show and said her husband was in jail and that her kids and her would go visit him, and "Battles" was her family's theme song. We make these wristbands that say "you're fighting my battles" and make them available at our shows. She said, "I'm getting one of these wristbands for my husband as a reminder that God is with you fighting your battles. You can overcome addiction through Him."

That's just one example - we hear stories about that song all the time. One couple we know, the wife has stage four cancer, and that song is her and her husband's theme song. They'll sing it as they go in for chemo treatments - praying that over their lives, "God, you're fighting my battles."

GH: What is your favorite song on Live on Forever and why?

JH: That's hard - that's like, asking who's your favorite kid (laughs). Each song is close to whoever writes it. I'd say I really do like the opening track "Shadows". It's a little different for us; that one was really fun to record. I also really love "Eyes of a Believer", which is a real hopeful song and kind of an anthem to overcome any struggles that you face and have faith that God can help you make it through anything.

GH: What can you tell us about your upcoming tour?

JH: I'm so excited - it's a headlining tour of the west coast, and we're bringing in Jason Gray who is phenomenal. He's a singer/songwriter, and when he plays his show, you'll know so many of his songs because he has so many radio hits. Jonny Diaz is a singer-songwriter who is great, too. We're bringing the best show that we've ever played. We have some surprises planned, and it'll be worshipful and encouraging. It'll be great night for the family, for friends, it's going to be really fun.

I pray that, through our shows, we can amp up people and encourage them in their faith and let them know that God is right there with them. We hope people leave knowing they can face anything. Our concerts are full of hope and encouragement.

GJ: Throughout your career, you guys have received a number of awards and multiple no. 1 singles. What would you say your biggest accomplishment as a band has been?

JH: The biggest accomplishment for me is when I hear people tell us our songs changed the course of their life. There was one man who came to a show, and told us he had served in the military and had PTSD. He was really depressed and was going to take his own life. The day he was planning on taking his own life, he heard a song in the background - he didn't even know where it was playing. It was our song "Broken Hallelujah" playing on a Christian radio station, and he stopped in his tracks and went and got help instead. That night, he came to the concert, and brought his five-year-old daughter. When we sang that song, he looked down, and she had her hands raised high and she was singing every word. He said, "It occurred to me that if God hadn't used that song in that moment, I wouldn't be here to witness my daughter worshiping to that song tonight."

That to me is what it's all about. When God can take these little songs that we write and do great big things with them. That's the most exciting part of the process.

GH: How have The Afters grown and changed since the release of your first album over a decade ago?

JH: We're always trying to get better. We don't want to get stagnate, we always try to push ourselves and try to make better music. I hope that, as people listen to our records, they can tell that we've put a lot of hard work into them. This new one, we poured our hearts into it. It's a real passion project for us. Our goal is to always push each other to not be mediocre, but to give it our best.