By Caroline Lusk, CCM Magazine
With the release of their first studio project in over three years, the band is now markedly diverse musically, a change reflected in the album title Something Different (Fervent Records, August 28, 2015). [Read the CCM review] The group, comprised of co-founding members David Frey (lead vocals) and Ben McDonald (rhythm guitars), along with Cal Joslin (bass), Daniel Macal (lead guitars), and Justin Nace (drums), has experienced change due to growth in each members’ spiritual walks — changes that unequivocally impacted the direction of their work as a band.
For Sidewalk Prophets, this story began with creative brokenness. After a challenging season, the band made a monumental transition to become self-managed, primarily under the creative direction of Ben McDonald.
“God isn’t afraid to give us tests,” McDonald says. “You learn so much about life through any circumstance and we are now emerging from the other side. We’ve weathered our storms to see what has remained, and from this we have refined and rebuilt. The superficial went away, leaving us with only Christ at our core. As Christians, there is that something different — it’s the continual and underlying current of Jesus’ grace.”
With painful personal battles adding to the stress of professional changes, David Frey says he experienced a heavy-hitting reminder that his strength is found only in the Lord.
“Recently, I had an engagement fall through. In addition to that, my parents had been going through a divorce. The circumstances shredded me and also rippled through to the band. However, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Jesus knew exactly what was happening and was holding on to everything from His eternal perspective. I was at a point at which I had nothing but Christ — the very place where He needed me to be.”
Through persistent resilience the band sustained, growing stronger through Jesus despite continued personal and professional struggles.
“We had to search for a perspective during some of our recent challenges,” Frey says. “We often wondered if we would ever recover from them, but God was constantly longing for us. Once we completely surrendered to that, we were in agreement that even though things seemed bleak, Christ was going to stand us up even stronger than before.
“We had to latch on to our faith, and be reminded that God is in control and does work all things for good,” he continues. “He’s the one giving us love when we feel unlovable. He holds the sky up when it feels like it’s falling down. He’s the difference. We want people to look at us, with all of our scars and mess, and think, ‘Wow. I want whatever it is they have.’”
This focus on inspiring people and growing alongside of them is evident in their unwavering passion for human connection, McDonald explains. “The heart of this band has always has been about connecting with people.”