I was able to have a conversation with Joseph Rojas the singer of Seventh Day Slumber. They’re debut record “Once Upon A Shattered Life? was released in February.
CCM: For those who don’t know who are the members of the band and what do they do?
Joseph: Our bass player is Joshua Schwartz. Our drummer is Ray Fryoux. Lead guitar is Jeremy Holderfield. I sing and my name is Joseph Rojas.
CCM: I know that you had a pretty rough childhood you even suffered from a cocaine addiction. At what age did you accept Christ as your saviour?
Joseph: I was 21 years old.
CCM: Were you in a band or playing music before you found Christ?
Joseph: I played in a bunch of different bands. Not in a particular band but I played in a bunch of different ones. Just kind of wherever jammed in some heavier bands. I listened to a lot of Rage Against the Machine so I played that whole style growing up. Just garage bands.
CCM: The record “Once Upon A Shattered Life? was recently released on BEC. Was there a specific theme you were writing for here?
Joseph: Actually I don’t know there wasn’t a theme I was writing for man I just wanted the record to make a difference dude. Not just another rock record but make a difference in someone’s life man. There’s alot of kids that are hurting and they need a lot more than a good rock record. They need a lot more than a good rock show and man you know there’s kids dying across American. There’s kids dying. They’re putting a gun to there head and they’re pulling the trigger. They need to know that there’s hope and that their life is worth more than they can imagine. The title is not “Once Upon a Messed Up Life? or “Once Upon a Tough Childhood? but it’s SHATTERED and that means you have been through some things in your life man and i have. I had a 400-dollar-a-day cocaine habit. I was molested I had a babysitter that beat my brother and I and we couldn’t tell our parents because we were scared. I was the fat kid who never got picked for any teams. I was never accepted man and I always wanted to be accepted. I would do nething to be accepted! I grew up without a father. My mother left my father after he beat her bloody. That’s my only memories of my father him beating my mother up. I grew up poor being raised by a single mother and so it was tough. I had a shattered life it was tough. So when we make that statement “Once Upon a Shattered Life? that’s the past tense. That part of me is gone. I had been through those things but Jesus Christ made me absolutely brand new and he loves me. People need to know that they can be brand new as well. They’re not broken or something to throw away. That their life is meaningful and that God can use them and God can restore their life. So when I was writing the record I wanted God to believe. I didn’t worry about the style of music our whole band just started writing. If it was rock it was rock. If it was slow it was slow. If it was heavy it was heavy. I didn’t try to conform just write a record where every song meant something.
CCM: Possibly my favorite song on the album is “Caroline.” What’s the inspiration behind the song?
Joseph: Actually “Caroline? was written and inspired by my mother in law. That’s kind of weird because most guys that are married and have a song that’s about their mother in law probably have a song that’s a little different but we have a great relationship. Basically after 32 years of marraige her husband just asked her for a divorce. This was only a year and a half ago. It broke my heart because I looked up to the man. My wife it broke her heart that her father would leave her mother like that. Anyway my mother in law moved in with us and she was so sad everyday. She took a job at a grocery store. Now this was a woman who had basically her own business and now I’d see her come home at 50 years old and “where do i go from here?? was the look on her face. I just thought that she needed to hear how amazing she is how beautiful she is and definately most importantly how awesome and beautiful God knows she is. I was intimidated to talk to her I didn’t know what to say to her. She’s been a Christian for a long time and I had only been a Christian for like 8 or 9 years so I didn’t know what to say to her. So then I decided to write a song and call it a different name than my mother in law and hopefully it would touch her life litte did I know how much it would. There’s also parts about me thought. Caroline is not just guys it’s also girls. Jesus tells u “I will always take you back you haven’t let me down.” I mess up so bad how could u take a guy like me back? But he spoke to my heart and said “I love you and I?m not sitting up here with a whip ready to beat you when you mess up. I love you and I want you here with me.”
CCM: Which song on the album is the most personal for you?
Joseph: “Masquerade? is the most personal song to me. They’re all very very personal every song was written from a personal experience but the two most personal are “I Believe? and one called “Masquerade.” “I Believe? was my first song ever written as a Christian song. Originally it was called “I Wanna Believe in Something.” It was about suicide because I didn’t believe in God or anything and I just wanted to die. Then after Jesus I changed the lyrics. The old lyrics were “Now I?m living with these old lies and I?m stuck back here in yesterday.” Now the song goes “Now I?m living with a power and I’ve never felt this way before.” So it’s such a different song now. It talks about how God has changed my life and it was my first song every written as a Christian.
?Masquerade? uh man I wrote that song in the middle of the night. I was crying dude I was balling my eyes out just because I just felt so far away from God. I mean I play in a Christian band I talk about Jesus to anyone I come in contact with but I felt like I just was so far away from Him. You know I was sitting upstairs at my house and I just wanted to be close to God but I felt like I couldn’t be close to him. I remember all the things the industry wanted me to say and do. “Go more mainstream do this do that.” This is the CHRISTIAN music industry and they’re saying that we need to apeal to this or that. I didn’t try to appeal to anyone. Christians or not. I just wanted to write what’s in my heart and it just so happened that I?m madly in love with Jesus. Anyway I don’t know what to think about myself anymore. Maybe I?m just the same as always. Maybe I haven’t changed God and I?m sorry. Maybe I am the same old broken man. I need you and that was the first verse. People asking me to tone down our lyrics saying “You can’t just be talking about Jesus and so that’s where the chorus came from. “I am not afraid of anything anymore the masquerade has ended and I will stand for you even if I lose it all. Nothing else matters you’re all that matters.” It’s the most personal. It’s the anthem of my band it’s all that matters. I want anyone that reads this to know that there’s nothing more important in their life than a relationship with Jesus. If you have that then everything else will fall into place.
CCM: Is there a real-life Chris behind the song “Chris? Letter??
Joseph: Absolutley. Part of it is a real life suicide letter. That was a tough song because you know it reminds me of something I don’t want to be reminded of. And one thing you’ll know about me I?m transparent and it’s what keeps me honest. The truth is that we made it a rule that no one gets on the bus and we don’t go anywhere until all the kids are prayed for and talked to each night. We know those kids need help and someone to listen to them and our bus driver had just quit. I?m the ony one who knows how to drive a big rig and so anyways. I was driving our bus I not only sing but I?m the bus driver. Whatever I can do to help these guys. I love the guys in the band so I drive the bus. I had been driving the bus for like four months at that point and we had to do a fifteen hour drive with one day to get there. So we drove all through the night in El Paso or somewhere. We drove and I hadn’t slept so as soon as I got there we jumped on the stage then did a soundcheck then interviews then my wife was there so then I talked to her for a little while then I wanted to lay down but I didn’t get a chance to because we had to play. We did an altar call and a lot of kids got saved and it was awesome and we prayed for them and then we waited for the other band to play. So this kid walked up to me and his name was Chris and he said “I?m working your merch table.” It was a secular place not a Christian venue. He said “I wanna talk to you. I know it’s kinda loud. Can we talk after this?? Well by the time I woke up the last band had finished playing and I was getting ready to start the bus. Then i thought about the kid Chris thinking “Man the kid really needed to talk to me.” Then I started thinking about how I needed to drive four hours and then I thought about Chris and then the drive and so I got into the front of the bus and started it up and thought “I?m just gonna start the bus and maybe Chris isn’t even here anymore.” This is the only time I’ve ever done this and man I?m ashamed even telling you this. So I open the door I see Chris and he goes “Forget about me?? I said “No dude I just started the bus. I was getting ready to come out and talk to you.” It wasn’t the truth. He goes “Well can we talk here?? I go “Sure.” He began “I just wanted to tell you my father leaves on a trip at midnight and my father and mother got a divorce and I have written a suicide letter i was gonna commit suicide. But tonight I gave my life to Jesus and I just wanted to know if you’d pray for me and give me some advice because I just feel like it wouldn’t matter if I was dead and no one would even come to my funeral.” That’s the first time I ever did that and now I don’t care how tired I am. I don’t care how bad it gets. Every kid will be accounted for. I still drive the bus hopefully we’ll get a driver when we can afford one but man I?m teling you. Nothing matters music is a way to be able to communicate how much the kids are worth. These kids Jesus loves them. I love playing and it’s fun and it’s awesome and I love to jump around and rock out man. But if God isn’t glorified or someone’s life isn’t changed. Even if we play every note perfect it means nothing at all. Nothing! And maybe some bands don’t feel that way and that’s fine. But for Seventh Day Slumber we’re not gonna play one concert or play one time without God being glorified. Period!
CCM: What albums are you listening to right now?
Joseph: My favorite record is Demon Hunter. Ryan actually designed the album cover. So I never had listened to them and when I was recording I was talking to Ryan and he was just kinda talking us. Like “What are you thinking you need for your cover?? People were like “You need to listen to their band.” The owner of BEC hooked us up with BEC and Tooth and Nail cds and I fell in love with that record. It’s really heavy but the guy has an amazing voice. Demon Hunter and Anberlin’s new cd. I listen to those my two favorite cds. I love all kinds of music. I have a friend who plays in a band called Story of the Year and i love their band. Phil he loves Jesus and he is just a great guy. Story of the Year is one of my favorite bands right now.
CCM: In one sentence what is the mission of Seventh Day Slumber?
Joseph: We wanna change the entire world for Jesus Christ. Period. Like we’re crazy enough to believe that there’s enough people in this band to change the whole world and that’s our goal.