Josh Brown from Day of Fire : 2005-04-11I had a great time at GMA with Josh Brown, lead singer from Day of Fire (formerly of Full Devil Jacket).
Randy: Josh, I just wanted to talk a little about your background. I imagine, say in 2000 it would have been a little hard for you to imagine sitting at a Gospel Music event sitting in a suite talking to someone who writes for the Christian music scene. That probably would have been the farthest thing from your mind going back five years. A lot of us know your story from what's been out there, but just real briefly talk about those experiences coming up through the Full Devil Jacket days leading to how you ended up at GMA.
Josh: I started playing music and doing drugs at age fifteen. I just had those rock and roll dreams. I saw Guns'n'Roses on MTV. I was like, "Man, I want to do that." I saw that party lifestyle. It was attractive to me. Age sixteen I started playing in bars and stuff like that. That was like, really really cool. I thought I made it at that time. I wasn't even old enough to get into bars, and I was playing in bars. That made my hunger to play music grow even more and I just started making decisions in my life that made me more rock and roll. I started partying more, caring less about school and more about music and started surrounding myself with people that played music and party, and that's what I wanted to do. My first band broke up, and I decided I was going to get serious and really pursue this music thing.
Randy: Still in high school?
Josh: Still in high school. By that time, I just hated school. I wanted to be at the bars, playing at clubs. At seventeen I got in this band with some older guys that were serious about getting a record deal. We started working together and writing songs. We started playing gigs. It was those core of guys that ended up becoming Full Devil Jacket. The deal is, we worked for about seven years in our local town and the surrounding areas to build up a buzz and somehow break into the music industry. We didn't know how it was going to happen, but we were going to make it happen. If there was any way, we were going to do it. We continued to party, continued to do more and more drugs, and eventually we ended up making some connections because we'd been around long enough, people saw that we were serious. We ended up hooking up with a producer, and this producer saw that we had some raw talent there, that if it was honed in upon, possibly we could get a record deal. So he invested some time into us and made some connections for us. He hooked us up with a studio so that we could make a demo, hooked us up with a lawyer. We made this demo, and eventually we hooked up with the guys that managed Creed, and they had the big name at that time in the industry, and so they got us some major label interest, and we ended up recording a record. We got a big fat record deal, put money in the bank and toured the United States living the "American Dream."
Randy: Stereotypical rock and roller lifestyle?
Josh: Exactly! That was what I dreamed about. People all my life told me, "Nobody makes it." I was determined I was going to make it, my own way. I just started going out and... the deal is, by the time we got a record deal I was already shooting up. Started with snorting coke and taking acid and taking pills. I was doing it all, man. I was doing all of the drugs.
Randy: Looking back do you see it affecting your ability to perform? Was it at the time that you were so involved in your lifestyle you really didn't connect that or...?
Josh: In my mind, it made me perform better. At that time I seriously thought....
Randy: You deluded yourself.
Josh: Right. I was like, "If I can do the right combination of drugs, man, my shows go awesome!" In my mind they did because I actually had no idea what was going on. I didn't know if I sounded good or not. That was the way I thought. So I continued to play the shows, I continued to do more and more drugs, and it just got to the point where the drugs had completely taken over, and it was like... I just ended up overdosing on heroin. This is why the drugs took over: because in my mind, I had written out this equation. It was like, if I add a record deal with my life, then it will equal fulfillment.
Randy: That was the goal.
Josh: Exactly, and that was the thing that was unattainable. Everyone was telling me "You can't get a record deal, you can't get a record deal." So in my mind, it was like, "Well, if I could attain this thing that's unattainable, then..."
Randy: Top of the mountain.
Josh: That's right. It was just hit the big time, and then I'm there. It got to that point. It was like, man I figured out I was still the exact same person I was when I was playing the bars in Jackson, except that I had a record deal. There was absolutely nothing that changed except I was more unhappy. I was like, "What's wrong with me? I got a great job, got plenty of drugs, I got women, why am I not happy?"
Randy: Everything you thought would bring fulfillment when you were in high school you had and yet something's missing.
Josh: Exactly. Something big, because I felt horrible about my life. I hated myself, I hated life. I didn't enjoy life. I didn't want to get up every day. The only thing that brought me a little bit of joy was when I scored a large amount of drugs, and when I was doing the drugs. When the drugs were finished, I hated life. Then I was looking for more drugs to do, because I had to have them in my hand, I had to be doing them. That lifestyle almost literally killed me. Like I said, I overdosed. After I overdosed everybody in my life told me I had a drug problem. I still didn't think I had that bad of a problem. In my mind it was just something that happens when you do drugs. Anyway, I ended up going to rehab because I got arrested the night I overdosed. It was like I was trying to go to rehab so I'd have something good on my record to show the judge. Really I wanted to get back out and tour again. It was like if I could show the judge I've already gone to rehab, maybe he won't send me to rehab or give me any jail time. I went there for that reason and it was in rehab I think I finally had time to breathe and reflect on my life a little bit. I remembered I'd asked Jesus into my heart when I was like somewhere between eight and ten. I remembered that he loved me, that God loved me. I was kind of talking to him in rehab. I was like, "God, I know You're alive and I know You've always been alive," and I apologized for the life I'd living and asked Him to help me get off the drugs. "I'm going to depend on you to get off the drugs, God."
Randy: At that point you realized drugs had been messing up your life.
Josh: Totally. I had time to sit there and look at the path of destruction. Everywhere I went in my life, you could clearly see where I'd gone. There was just a tornado path. There was destruction everywhere I went. Everywhere. It was like "Wow. That's bad." The deal is I wanted God to help me get off drugs, but that's all. I didn't want Him to do anything else, I didn't want to give Him anything. I was like, "God, just help me get off drugs so I can get out and get back on tour, because that's what I need to be doing." [Chuckles] I think He kind of helped me. He helped me stay sober for that time, but I was still unhappy. My life still was horrible.
Randy: Were you out of rehab by then?
Josh: Yeah, I got out of rehab, then I went on tour with Creed right after rehab, playing for like 60,000 people a night, tour bus....
Randy: Mentioning Creed, of course, it's interesting with Scott Stapp going through similar things as far as having exposure to Christianity when he was younger and then leaving it behind and then reevaluating some things. Did you ever get a chance to talk about anything spiritual with him at all, or was there none of that going on there?
Josh: Not really, but at that time, even though I was kind of talking to God, I didn't listen to Creed's music because I thought it was Christian music. It's weird. I just never connected with it because... Creed's music always had elements of hope in it.
Randy: Yeah. There's always his Christian upbringing in there even when he wasn't living it.
Randy: You didn't bother with the hope in Full Devil Jacket.
Josh: Yeah. Hope--it's like for some reason I was against it and anything that had it. But at the same time I was dying.
Randy: Because you knew you didn't have it.
Josh: That's right. Exactly! It's so weird, man, the way the enemy tricks your mind.
Randy: So you're out with Creed, you're doing pretty well on the drug side of things, but nothing else is really shaped up in your life.
Josh: Yeah. It's horrible. I mean I've got a girlfriend, I've got money in the bank, I'm on tour with the biggest band in the world, and I still hate life. I still feel like less of a person. I could not figure it out. I could not figure it out. I thought I was just made wrong. I thought I was just a messed up person. I thought, "Evidently, there is absolutely nothing that can fix me, because I'm still messed up. I don't understand it." I started drinking a little bit again, started to party a little bit again, doing more drugs--I was just always teetering. It was like I'd stay sober for a little while--a few days, a week, a couple weeks--then [explosion sound], but I never went full-blown again. That was hell, man. I was going insane. It's like..... that was when I really started crying out to God. It was like, "God, I hate life. Show me a different way, help me, or something." I started reading the Bible a little bit. I felt a little bit of peace when I read the Bible. It was just so distant for me, still. I just kind of put it on the back burner again and I was like, "Look, I'm going to try to do this rock and roll thing, try to say sober, try to be happy. Surely there's still happiness in it." Went back out on tour and was still miserable. So, it's like, I started thinking, man. Like in rehab they said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I was like, "Maybe I need to change something in my life. I'll just try... I'll see what Jesus says about stuff, and try to do it his way." I started tithing and stuff, I started thinking about my sexual life and my girlfriend. I looked into my future and all I always saw Adriane, my wife with me. As I thought about myself as an old man, I thought about myself going through life, Adriane was right there in my head, in my vision. We were having problems. It was like.... Adriane's father told her, "The reason your relationship isn't working is because you're living outside of God's will. It's never going to work unless you--"
Randy: Her parents were Christians?
Josh: Yeah. So we got married, gave it to God, and man, we were happy. We were like, "This is awesome." Then I started thinking, "It's the marriage. If the marriage is going good, then..."
Randy: Everything will click.
Josh: Yeah, it's fine. "I can just have fun and be married." I started depending on that. Then, of course, as soon as I started depending on my marriage to get me happiness, we started having troubles. I was like, "Man, this isn't working either."
Randy: Another dream falling apart.
Josh: Exactly. Another road I'm going down and it's just not bringing me peace. So I went back to Jesus and I'm like, "God, my life is in shambles. I'm trying to record another record, I've got a wife, I've got all these things I hate to do and I hate my life completely." I was out in LA, trying to record our second record. I was still addicted to pornography, I was still struggling to stay sober, and I was just having a rough time with life. I was watching TBN one night, and T.D. Jakes came on, and it was like God read my mail to me over the air. Through T.D. Jakes he was like, "Josh, I know what you're going through. I know you've gone down every path, but this is why your life is the way it is, because you live a lifestyle separated from me. The penalty for that is what you're going through." I knew about Jesus and that he died for my sins, but I didn't know what that meant. That night I realized that Jesus died for my sins so that I could live with God and that if I had a life with God, then I could have peace, I could have sanity. My separation from God was what kept me from that peace.
Randy: It was the root of all the insanity.
Josh: That's right, exactly. And it actually made sense to me.
Randy: It kind of clicked that night. That was while you were in the middle of recording? You guys were working on the second Full Devil Jacket album?
Josh: Yeah. I was trying to, I just couldn't do it. We were trying to put out another record and that night is when I gave up. I was like, "God, I will follow you if you can make me sane. If you can fix me, I'll do whatever you want me to do."
Randy: What is this? About 2001?
Josh: Yeah. About 2001. That night I actually gave up. I determined in my heart... I knew that God was real and that He was really speaking to me. I determined in my heart that I was going to be willing to try life the way He says to try life. After that night, people said something was different about me.
Randy: Friends in the band and stuff noticed there had been a change.
Josh: Yeah, there'd been a change. And I noticed it. I was telling them, "I said a prayer last night, and I think something happened in my life. I don't know what it is, but I feel a little bit different today." It was cool.
Randy: Little more hope when you got up in the morning kind of thing.
Josh: Yeah, maybe there's just something to it. Maybe there is a way for me to find peace and become normal, or at least somewhat normal. They were like, "Okay, cool. That's really neat, Josh." And "blah blah blah." I started reading the Bible a little bit more and it made a little bit more sense to me. Then I started just getting into it. The more I prayed and spent time with God, the more peace I had. When I would go do the Full Devil Jacket stuff, it would just all go away. It would just all go away. So I got to where I was spending more time with God. I ended up going back home and going to church with my wife...
Randy: Startle a few people the first Sunday you walked in?
Josh: Oh, yeah, dude. I was still a wreck. I asked Jesus into my heart, I knew he was real, but I was still a wreck. My life was a wreck and you could look at me and go, "That guy is going through it." Because it's written all over my face, man. I still didn't have joy completely. I knew that Jesus was real, but my lifestyle... I was caught up in all these things. I still had the fear and depression and insecurity all over me. That controlled me still. So I started going to church just looking for hope. God could still fix me. It's like "I believe somehow something's going to happen to me. I believe God can fix me." It was my only hope. They had a service at this church, and they prayed for me one day, and God touched me. He showed me how real he is. He physically just... washed through my body.
Randy: Like the scales coming off your eyes. You could see.
Josh: Totally. It was like that experience Paul had. When he came in contact with the living God--God changed my heart and mind right there. It felt like a living water pouring through me and welling up inside of me. As this water was welling up inside of me. All of it--depression, insecurity, addiction, failure, and memory--all these things were being washed out by the Spirit of God until I was full of the Spirit of God. When I asked Jesus into my heart, I felt the Holy Spirit come into my heart, but when I came into the presence of God, He filled me up in such a way that all that stuff that was in me no longer had power over me anymore. It was gone. So I walked out of that church with the power to step away from my life.
Randy: New birth.
Josh: That's right.
Randy: It's a process for you, but it's just like with kids. I've got five of them, and you have a baby there but it takes a few months before they're ready to be born and it takes a process for them to be born, and some are quicker than others, and I think it's the same way spiritually. Sounds like your journey was stretched out a little bit in some ways, but when God gets a hold of you, He doesn't let go.
Josh: That's right. Dude, that's exactly it, man. I've never heard it put that way, but that is exactly it. It was a birthing process. Even though it was like instant when he changed me, it took me some time to step away from the habits. You know what I'm saying?
Randy: Yeah. You spent years building them up.
Josh: Exactly, man. It was like I'd go back and I'd watch porn or something like that and I thought, "Man, this isn't fun. I don't like this." I was like, "I used to love it and now it sickens me."
Randy: Looking through new eyes.
Josh: Exactly, man. I began to push more stuff away that God was showing me, "Josh, the reason you feel this way is because you're doing this. If you quit doing this, then you won't feel this way." "Oh. Cool! I won't do that anymore."
Randy: Your wife must have noticed a difference.
Josh: She totally did. She wasn't ready for it. You know what I'm saying? It was weird for her, but we got through it. Eventually, God began to show me that if I was going to follow Him, I'd have to give up my whole life. Not just the porn, not just the drinking, not just the tithe, I was going to have to give it all up. I fought with it for months--about the Full Devil Jacket thing. I was like, "Surely you're not going to ask me to give that up." I thought, "It must be the devil, because God wouldn't ask me to give up something this big.”
Randy: Were you thinking about the messages in your songs at that point, as far as from a Christian perspective about what you were getting up there and singing?
Josh: Totally, and I remember I was trying to make this album about how depressed I was, used to be, whatever, and then 9/11 happened, and I was like, "How important is it really, that I do a record that shows the struggles I had growing up? It's not really that important. What does that have to do with the world, and people and God? How's it going to help anybody if I just talk about the struggles that I'm going through, and nothing else?" That was a wake-up call then, and then my wife got pregnant, and it's like God kind of showed me, "Josh, if you continue with Full Devil Jacket, my blessing can't be on your family. You're just going to have to settle for whatever you can keep together."
Randy: [Chuckle] You knew your track record.
Josh: [Laughing] That's right! That's right, man! It wasn't good. My wife didn't want me to give it up because it was our only source of income. I was about to get a lot of money for the second record, because of the contract. Without any money in the bank and without any job opportunity, I quit the band. Wife pregnant, no place to live except for my mom's house, so we went back to live in my mom's house. Got a minimum wage job.
Randy: Humbling after you reached your dreams.
Josh: Yeah, it was humbling, but man, I liked it.
Randy: Because you knew you were being obedient to God.
Josh: Yeah. It was my choice. There were a lot of people that were there because they didn't have choices, and I went there because I wanted to. I went and washed dishes at a nursing home, and I was full of joy. I was like, "Man... this is great! I love my life."
Randy: Did your old bandmates think you were nuts?
Josh: They did think I was nuts, man. It was hard for them because I was their lead singer. It all kind of just ended right there. That was the thing, man. There was a point where everybody had turned against me--like I don't want to say they were against me, they were against my decision, my family didn't understand, my band sure didn't understand, my wife didn't understand, but God understood. Me and Him--we understood. We just walked together--me and him. I just let it all go. What I read in the Word it's like "I'll repay you a hundred times as much in this life and the life to come for anything you give up for me." To me, that wasn't just talking about money, that was talking about like... "Josh, if you don't give this up for me, you're going to miss out on what you were created to do. That's part of the reason why you're so unhappy now--because you're doing stuff I never made you to do. If you're doing what I made you to do, you'd have success in it." I was like, "Man, that makes sense to me." So now I've just got to figure out what I'm supposed to do.
Randy: And at one point it was washing dishes.
Josh: That's right! Exactly, man. I was like, "This washing dishes thing isn't bad." But I always knew, just like I know now. I know there's more, and I know there's a greater calling. I know there's different things I'm supposed to be doing. Right now, I think I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, but I know there's another level. So, I gave it up and I lost the ability and the desire to do music and I just quit. I didn't think about it again. Other people kept telling me, "You need to get back into music business." I couldn't do it. I didn't have the desire to do it. God kept on showing me through the Word, through circumstances, for probably a year, I never even thought about it, maybe a year and a half. I never really thought about it. He began to show me after that eventually I'd be back into music. I was like, "I do not see how that's going to happen, God, because I hate playing guitar, I hate trying to sing in front of people.”
Randy: It reminded you too much of the old days?
Josh: Oh yeah. That's what it felt like when I picked up the guitar. I felt like the most uncomfortable.... it's just like holding a dead fish. You know what I'm saying? A cold, dead fish. I was like, "Man, I don't want to do that." But, He kept on putting people around me that were like, "Josh, that's what God's called you to do. You're going to end up doing that," but I just wanted to follow God. Period. Eventually, God had some people at Essential Records call me, just out of the blue. It had been two years since I had talked with anyone in the industry that could help me get a record deal, and I didn't even call them.
Randy: Had you started writing any Christian songs or anything, or were you just still avoiding the whole thing?
Josh: I'd go grab my guitar every once in a while, and it's like I'd pick it up, and it felt like write about anything because automatically I tried to write the way I used to write. That was just all I had to go by. Still, writing praise songs and stuff like that, to me... that wasn't me either. That felt contrived.
Randy: Feeling like you thought you should do it, rather than it coming from the heart.
Josh: Exactly. I thought, "Christian music is this. These words over these chords. That just doesn't feel right to me." So I got this phone call that Essential Records wanted to meet me. It was like a phone call from God kind of thing. When I got the call it was like I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me. It was like [knocking].
Randy: Pay attention.
Josh: Yeah. "This is me, Josh. This is an opportunity." It wasn't like He was saying, "Josh, I'm about to hook you up with a record deal." It was the Holy Spirit going, "Walk through this door. Go see what's on the other side." So I ended up going up here to Franklin, Tennessee. I just played some little pieces of songs, just all that I had written, which was nothing. I gave them my testimony because in Jackson I had made up this testimony that said, "What happened to Josh Brown, former lead singer of Full Devil Jacket?" Because in Jackson, I was like a rock star.
Randy: You grew up there.
Josh: Yeah. I was the hero because I had toured with Creed, and all that stuff. I just handed those testimonies out to everybody and everybody would read them because they'd all heard of Full Devil jacket. I gave Essential my testimony, they read it, I met them, told them about what God was doing in my life. They were blown away by what God was doing in my life. They were like, "Man, you don't have any songs, so we can't really do anything with you." I was like, "I know." I was just as happy as could be. "I don't have any songs!" I kind of got this idea. "God's opened this door, do why don't I go back to Jackson, get a band together and get a record deal?"
Randy: Were you already friends with Greg at that point?
Josh: No. I met him through a guy that gave him a testimony at the movies. I just started hanging out with him. I'm trying to write to get this record deal out and assembled four or five guys. I was like, "Look guys, a record label's called me, I feel like I can get a record deal. Let's try to do it." So we tried to write and tried to write and tried to write, but it still felt like a cold dead fish in my hand—the guitar. That didn't work. Eventually those guys disbanded and, me and Greg just tried to do it. We were like, "We know Greg is talented, we know God gave him talent for a reason, we know God gave me the talent for a reason, we know God opened the door for me for a reason," so we got together and just tried to write for a couple of months, just nothing happened. It was like a brick wall, because we had the wrong motive. We were writing to try to get a record deal. Inside that time period--over a year--God showed me why I was supposed to play music. He showed me that if I used what he'd given me--Moses was given a staff, the guitar was my staff--if I used that staff to bring deliverance to people, if I played music unto God for the purpose of setting people free, connecting people and introducing them to God, then he would open the doors I could walk through and other people could walk through. With that motive it's like, "Oh, yeah. The reason why I write music that kind of sounds like the music that I used to play is because that's the people that I'm talking to. My desire was to talk to people that had gone through the lifestyle I'd gone through and show them a different way. It was like, "Wow. I can speak into these people's lives because I know how they feel, because that's me."
Randy: Been there, done that.
Josh: Yeah. It just totally made sense, so I started writing music, and me and Greg started writing music, and it was like God broke it open that day. Really, we went and said, "Look, God, we've got this much talent, and we now know why we're supposed to play music, so take this, and multiply it if it's your will for us to play music." That week, straight up, God broke open the songs. We'd been trying to write for three or four months, and it's like, here they come. We called Essential Records up, we had two songs, and we said, "We'll be down there in a month with four songs."
Randy: Was Cornerstone one of them?
Josh: Cornerstone was probably about third. Through the Fire was one of the first ones, a song called Cut and Move which will be on the next record, Cornerstone, and this other tune called Hold My Hand, which might be on the next record. We went and played these tunes for Essential Records, and the presence of God went before us, and they were blown away. Me and Greg sounded like crap. We sounded horrible. Straight up. He couldn't play in time, and I couldn't sing in tune. The presence of God went before us and seriously everyone in the room was like, "Wow." Because when we played, that deliverance was in the room. The Holy Spirit was in the room, and still is when we play today the Holy Spirit comes into the room. We began going to jails and playing this music, right in the middle of jails, grown men just weeping and snotting and crying because God--
Randy: Was it just you and Greg?
Josh: Me and Greg with another group of men that went there all of the time. We went to another record label, because we felt like God was telling us not to sign with Essential or Provident. I don't know why, but we just felt like he was. So we went somewhere else and the same thing happened. The presence of God went before us. It was like God was showing us, "Josh, it's just not about whether or not you're good enough to get a record deal. This is about me and what I'm doing." So, we ended up going back to Essential, met up with Terry Hemmings, and Robert, and we felt like God gave us the okay, so we ended up signing there.
Randy: I appreciate your time, Josh.
Josh: No problem!