Nineties rock gave Josh Brown a muse, a voice and stardom. Then it nearly killed him.
Brown grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, where he picked up songwriting and a serious drug habit at age 15. Two years later he became the frontman for Full Devil Jacket, and at 22 he scored the big-time record deal.
"I started writing music at 15, and started doing drugs at the same time. I had big dreams of becoming a rock star. For the next five to seven years, I played in bands around Jackson, TN., where I grew up, and worked really hard to get a record deal," Joshua says. "As my band started getting bigger and bigger, so did my addictions."
"I thought I was Axl Rose for a short time there," he laughs. The band toured with Creed and Nickelback and made a splash at Woodstock '99, but on his way to major success, Brown had a major crash: a heroin overdose in an Orlando bathroom put his career on hold while he rehabbed and rethought his life.
"I went to rehab after that and got cleaned up. As soon as I got out of rehab, I went on tour with Creed, playing the biggest shows of my career. I had money, I had girlfriends, I had everything I thought I needed, but I was still empty inside. I was still feeling just as insane as when I was doing drugs."
It was in the middle of preparing a second Full Devil Jacket album that Joshua finally started listening to that small voice inside him that beckoned him out of the darkness.
"I started looking other places to find peace. I started reading the Bible a little bit, and God started speaking to me through that," he says. "I tried to do both for a long time - be a rock star in Full Devil Jacket and serve God. But eventually, I quit reading my Bible and trying to serve God, and everything got worse."
"We flew out to L.A. to record, and while I was out there, I pretty much had a nervous breakdown. I couldn't play, I couldn't sing, I couldn't write, I couldn't do anything because I was still trying to live both lives," Joshua continues. "Eventually, I got to the point where I told God I'd do anything it took to find sanity. I said, if You want me to quit this band, I will. Anything you want me to do, I'll do it.'"
"Right in the middle of the recording process, I flew back to Jackson to collect my thoughts and myself. I started going to this church, and after about three months, God began to really work on me. He began taking away my addictions, began taking away my depression, began taking away my insecurities. I quit the band before the second record was finished. I turned away from the record deal, the publishing deal, all of that, and I just started running toward God," Joshua says.
Joshua withdrew completely from the music business, sharing his experiences and newfound wholeness with anyone who would listen. "I started going into jails and telling people what Jesus had been doing in my life. I started really concentrating on what the Word of God says to do, and my life began to radically change," he says.
After several years out of the spotlight, Brown had a burst of inspiration, re-emerged with a new slate of songs and assembled Day of Fire — guitarist Joe Pangallo, his brother Chris Pangallo on bass, and drummer Zach Simms.
"God just started giving us songs. We realized He wanted us to spread His message through whatever ability we had," Joshua says.
Musically Day Of Fire is the perfect blend of aggressive rock mixed with the message of hope. The band's national debut release is produced and mixed by Scott Humphrey (Rob Zombie). They appeared on various festivals throughout the summer and will open for Third Day on first leg of the fall tour.
Brown penned most of their 2004 self-titled debut in his mom's garage and the band wrote and recorded its follow-up, 2006's Cut & Move, during a brief break in touring. The two albums sold more than 150,000 copies combined, and a few short years later Day of Fire inked a new deal with Razor & Tie, and released Losing All in 2010.
For Day of Fire, Losing All isn't about despair and endings, but hope and fresh starts. In the two years the band has been working on the album, everything changed: their business relationships dissolved, and Brown's eight-year marriage nearly ended, too. "This record was written from a real place, and everybody goes through this at times in life," Brown says. "I've gone through it a couple times where I've felt like I've lost everything."
But even when Day of Fire was at a low point, somebody cut them a break: Chris Daughtry, who had opened for them a year before his career-changing stint on American Idol. Daughtry invited Day of Fire on tour and co-wrote three tracks on Losing All, including the chugging, melodic "Hello Heartache." "He's the real frickin' deal," Brown says.
Ultimately, though, Day of Fire's true strength is their sincerity, honesty and ability to grab audiences by the heart. "We have something to say. It's about love," Brown says. "We all go through dark times, but we can go through them together – that's what rock & roll is about to us."
Listen to Day Of Fire Here
|Day of Fire||2004||Essential Records|
|Cut & Move||2006||Essential Records|
|Losing All||2010||Razor & Tie|