by Matt Conner
For 7eventh Time Down, it truly is a Brand New Day.
Typically an album title applies primarily to the set of songs within it, a representation of the themes explored lyrically or some musical ideas that emerged. For 7eventh Time Down, the band’s new album is aptly titled because everything from the band’s line-up to the musical style to their very mission has been turned upside-down.
According to front man Mikey Howard, the changes haven’t necessarily been easy on the band, but they have been centering for the now-trio. It began as lead guitarist Eric Van Zant decided to follow God’s call to leave the band to make music on his own.
“Obviously it wasn’t 7eventh Time Down back then, but I was playing with Austin and Eric at the age of 12 or 13-years-old.” Says Howard. “I mean, he’d been standing to my left playing guitar for decades. When he left the band, I really felt like we lost a strong pillar of what we did. He had a signature guitar sound and that’s what we sounded like. It was a huge part of who we were as a guitar-driven band.”
From there, Howard says the remaining members of the band—Cliff Williams and Austin Miller—decided to step back and take stock of their entire mission. It’d be easy to blindly move forward hoping to replicate the success hits like “Just Like Jesus” or “God Is On The Move,” but instead the band reconsidered their own calling as individuals in order to come back resolute in their musical mission.
“For me, moving forward, there was a moment of remembering why we started this and it was to reach people for Jesus. It was to go to the marginalized and create disciples there in that space. I think for a little while, we may have sidetracked from that original vision of people coming to our shows and having a church experience. So it really changed the way we tour and the way we wrote these songs. It’s not just the band. I think the three of us as humans, as followers of Jesus, on separate pages got more serious about telling people about Jesus,” says Howard. “Then that bled over into the music.”
Howard says each member of the band reconnected personally with the Great Commission as they wrote and recorded the songs for Brand New Day. The end result was an exciting new soundscape for longtime fans and an evangelistic bent that can be found in all of 7TD’s activities.
“This time made me reevaluate who I was singing to and what I was telling them,” says Howard. “It made me really, really reevaluate whether or songs were pointing people to Christ or not. With these new songs, more than anything, I wanted to point the hearts of people to Jesus—like marginalized people, lost people. I want to direct their attention to Christ.
“We’d been doing that, but we’d been doing that for Christians,” he continues. “We were taking people’s hearts who were already positioned toward Christ and focusing on that. But their hearts are already there. We’d forgotten why we started this band, which was about reaching lost people.”