sidewalk prophets

The Sidewalk Prophets have a new Christmas record. “We’ll play some songs off that,” said Dave Frey, lead vocalist. “Other than that, we’re just excited to come back to Olivet. We’re going to hopefully do it bigger and better this time around.”

The Sidewalk Prophets are blessed for all it has accomplished and is grateful to its devoted fans.

The band has sold more than 740,000 albums, 1.5 million digital singles, played more than 2,000 shows and garnered five No. 1 singles, nine top-five radio hits, and a RIAA-certified Gold single, “The Words I Would Say,” according to its news release.

Once again the popular Christian band is embarking on a Great Big Family Christmas Tour that was a huge success in its first run in 2018. The Sidewalk Prophets will make a stop on Dec. 14 at Olivet Nazarene University in the Hawkins Centennial Chapel on its multi-city tour that begins Friday.

Just like 2018 Olivet student musicians will tour with the band, comprising a horns and strings section to add some depth to the music.

Dave Frey, lead vocalist and co-founder of the band, did a phone interview with the Daily Journal earlier this week. The following is an edited version of the conversation, where Frey talked about the band’s journey and interaction with its fans.

What keeps you coming back to Olivet Nazarene University?

Olivet has treated us so well for so long. Actually, every time we come we’re just blessed by the people that are there. Last year when we did our Christmas tour, we rehearsed at Olivet. They allowed us a place to take over for a few days.

The reason we keep coming back is just the hospitality and the love they show the band and supporting our ministries. We even use some of the students from Olivet Nazarene will compose with the band. Having students from the university to fill out and make the band sound awesome is such a blessing too. We always love coming up to Bourbonnais.

How did the collaboration with using the Olivet students come together?

It was really through Shine FM [radio] and Brian McIntire and him coming in. We’ve been friends for a long time. … My buddy, Ben [McDonald], is our manager, and he’s the one reaching out and making those connections, but it just seemed like a good thing to do.

It was already there, this relationship, this friendship and maybe we could work together and promote Olivet Nazarene and at the same time, we could have the band come out with us and help each other out. It’s been great.

Will the Olivet students play at each concert on the tour?

Every show. It’s going to be tough to be on the road, especially in December, but they can get a little taste of that for the 10 or 11 shows that we’ve got. You know, we’re on the road all the time, but it’s fun to have those new eyes looking at the road of life. The road can be long and hard but when you can get some young kids coming out, it rejuevnates everybody.

Do you enjoy playing college campuses?

We play a lot of churches, we’ve played arenas and we’ve played coffee shops. When it’s all said and done, wherever we play we honored to be there. But to be on a college campus, there’s a built-in audience of young folks.

That’s who we want to hear and for them to know Jesus. … That’s really our goal. Playing on college campuses, there’s a little more excitement. … We love it.

What can fans expect at the Olivet concert?

They can expect stories immeasurable. We have little surprises like that, prizes that we want to give away. We have an offering at the end of the night that goes to a family in need there. The last time we were there we gathered around the gazebo and sang to this family, and it was such a beautiful moment.

That’s what we want, people wanting to give because I think Christmas, Jesus’ birth, what a gift to give. That’s what we want to do — give, give, give so people will be inspired to go out and give the gift of love this Christmas.

How long has the band been together?

My buddy, Ben, and I started the band back in 2001, so it’s been going on 19 years. We actually got signed to our record label 10 years ago. We kind of celebrated our 10th anniversary of our first album, first major release. It’s been quite a journey, almost 19 years of being a band and 10 years of being a major record label artist. What a journey it has been.

What’s been the secret to your success?

Perseverance. I think God gave us this gift, and we knew even when we were playing in coffee shops to three people that didn’t care, but we were just going to keep going. We were going to give it our all. There were many times when we were on the brink of giving up, and God would kind of open the door.

There’s been so many times that we looked around at other people that seemed more talented than us, more gifted in these different areas, and they went on to do other things. We’re grateful to God kind of said, “This is what I want you to do. Keep plodding, keep going. There’s definitely going to be some hard days.”

That perseverance, and trying to count our blessings at every turn. There’s definitely going to be days when the world seems to fall off, and you don’t know if you can even go on. But making sure you have an attitude of realizing how blessed you are even in the midst of the worst days.

It always helps us pull ourselves out of whatever funk we’re in to keep going. We’re doing this for a reason bigger than just music. We’re doing this for God.

Do you feel you’re able to get your message across to the audience?

Oh, yeah. It amazes me. A lot of people do their jobs, and don’t always get thanked for what you do. You don’t hear how what you are doing is helping people.

But man, we realize how blessed we are. We get to hear at our shows, “Hey, man, your song, I heard this during a hard time. I got diagnosed with cancer. I heard your song, and it changed my whole outlook.” … Man, that is why we keep doing what we do. There’s a lot of hard days on the road being away from family and friends, but to hear that your song might have done that to help people, that is awesome. That is one person, and that is all it takes. It’s really a blessing.