Before they were “The Afters,” lead singer Josh Havens worked tirelessly to come up with that perfect, elusive, original band name. And he thought he had it:
“The Screaming Mimes.”
Surely, no other band had laid a claim to that name. Right?
“The whole idea of living your faith out loud,” Havens said, explaining the “Screaming Mimes” idea.
But there would be no need for white gloves, face makeup and a trapped-inside-a-box routine. The name “Screaming Mimes” was already taken.
So what about “Blisse?” Spelled with an “e.” Now, this had to be a keeper.
“We thought spelling it with an ‘e’ was protecting us,” Havens said. “But apparently, even if it sounds like another band (you can’t use that name).”
So back to the “lists and lists and lists” of names they had brainstormed, filled with “all sorts of crazy stuff,” Havens recalled. “When you’re looking for a name, every term or word is taken. It could be ‘Delicious Mudpies’ and I’m sure there’s a band out there called ‘Delicious Mudpies.’ “
Well, according to Wikipedia, no.
But ultimately, the band kept coming back to “The Afters,” a term used in the UK to describe an “After Party,” for all the people who weren’t invited to the formal banquet or lavish wedding.
“We love what it represented. Everyone’s invited,” said Havens, whose band The Afters will be playing at Rock the Lakes on Aug. 20 in Milwaukee and Rock the Range on Aug. 27-28 in Denver. “It’s non-exclusive. We love the idea that everyone’s invited to the table. That’s how God is to us.”
‘Music For Everyone’
And it’s that “music for everyone,” appeal that has sent Havens and The Afters rocketing up both the Christian Billboard.com and iTunes Christian and Gospel charts.
Their single, “Light Up the Sky,” hit the top spot on both measuring sticks in September and their album by the same name has been praised as “unrelentingly uplifting,” by Christianity Today and “worth listening to over and over again,” by CCM Magazine.
“Light up the Sky is a song about seeing all the signs God gives us to show us He’s here,” said Havens, whose band has “been through quite a bit … seems like one challenge after the other.”
Most devastating was losing their long-time manager, close friend and mentor to a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The band’s drummer also had his best friend pass away suddenly.
“A lot of our friends are dealing with losing their jobs, losing their homes,” Havens said. “Through all of it, we were looking for ‘Where’s God in all these things?’ And just seeing how faithful God really is. Always looking and seeing those signs God gives us.”
The Afters’ latest hit single “Lift Me Up” is also making a strong impact, climbing to its highest spot (16th) on this week’s Billboard.com Christian chart. And recently the band returned from a European tour, playing shows in places like Belgium, Holland, Norway, Copenhagen and Denmark.
“The church is in a very different place over there,” said Havens, who is half Dutch. “We have a great fan base in Europe. We’ve been blessed to have kind of cool thing going on.”
‘More Than Just Making a Splash’
The Afters are no strangers to working with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The band was involved with the 2009 Rock the River Tour and the FM419 Youth Training Event at Rock the 2010 River-West in Fraser Valley. Havens also traveled to Haiti to help with the relief efforts and contributed to the Healing4Haiti benefit CD project.
So when they were asked to be involved with two festivals on back-to-back weekends in August, there was no hesitation.
“When they called and asked if we would do it, we didn’t have to think about it,” Havens said. “We were really excited to be apart of these events, because we’ve seen how they work and the impact they have.”
The Afters will be part of the Saturday night lineup in Milwaukee and playing both Saturday night and Sunday evening in Denver. Sunday’s event is geared more toward families as Michael W. Smith will also be playing.
“We’ll probably make a couple tweaks (for Sunday), but we have a pretty family-friendly set as it is,” Havens said. “There’s a lot of fun parts and also some worshipful parts.”
The band is immersed in a U.S. tour and according to their website, will be playing 54 other concerts all across the country between now and Dec. 4.
“We turned down shows for August because of (the BGEA ‘Rock’ events), but for me it’s totally worth it,” Havens said. “We’ve always had a great experience working with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We’ve made some friends that turned out to be really great, close friends.
“And I just love the way you set up the events, the way you think long term. The way you try to get people connected to the local churches. It seems like so much more than just making a splash in a day.”