Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red
Talks Ministry, Touring, and Temptation

Writer and Entertainment Journalist Josh Belcher - Rocking God's House (Cropped)Jake Luhrs is the lead vocalist of my favorite metalcore band August Burns Red. I recently had the awesome experience of seeing them perform in Nashville at the Vans Warped Tour on the Shark Stage. Of all the bands I saw that day, August Burns Red was the best, not because I am biased, but because it is the truth. They held the attention of a massive audience — an audience of mud and rain-soaked people of many diverse backgrounds. They had everyone hopping, singing, and having a blast.

And this might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a show. There was a circle pit in which I saw (truth, no joke) a 6’6″ mountain of a young man run through the mud, slip and fall, and then slide through the mud; and, at the same time while he was sliding through the mud after his fall, a very small, petite young woman jumped on and attempted to surf on his back. She did for several yards, and, from my view, it hysterically reminded me of Piglet trying to ride Winnie The Pooh.

Where was a camera when I needed one.

Jake Luhrs August Burns Red Interview At Rocking Gods HouseJake, alongside the rest of August Burns Red — a group of phenomenal musicians who have honed and perfected their craft with 10+ years of vigorous touring — still perform like it is brand new to them, same mentality and same energy, and they are devout Christians.
They have a new album, “Found in Far Away Places,” with a song I particularly love titled “Martyr” that is amazing, and, at one point, I was all lined up to interview the band about the exciting new album.
But, because of thunderstorms and the subsequent rescheduling of bands’ performances, I was not able to link up with them as quickly as I had hoped.
However, thanks to the press wrist band, I got to watch their entire performance two feet from the speakers and almost got an opportunity to get my picture with drummer Matt Greiner. But he hopped on a bicycle after their performance (also no joke) and when on a Tour de Nashville, apparently.

And then, thanks to Heather at Fearless Records — a sweet lady working in L.A. but from Texas — I got to speak with Jake and discuss his very awesome heartsupport.com, August Burns Red, being a Christian touring with many secular bands, his work out regiment (he’s built like a NFL middle linebacker), and what keeps him motivated in his faith and music career:

I love what you are doing with heartsupport.com and would like to make people more aware of it. Could you give us some more detail about it?

Heartsupport.com started five years ago basically because I go to the merch table and talk to my fans after every show. They will tell me about their struggles and just things that they were able to overcome through listening to my music.

For example, a guy told me he was a heroin addict for a few years and has been clean seven months because the songs I compose are really helpful. I hear stories about drug addiction, being sexually assaulted, cutting, depression, suicide, so one day I was thinking, talking out loud and praying and I was asking God basically you know you have given me this life and you have given me all of these things and have me touring the world and I am so thankful and blessed that I get to live out my dream as a career — how and what can I do to give back?

And then that is when Heart Support was started — all of these ideas of what heart support was going to be and trying to structure it how to build it. So I wrote it all down and sent the ideas to one of my buddies, gave him $1,500 bucks. and he made the site for me. Initially it wasn’t called heart support, it was called “your life ministries,” and then I met a phenomenal guy named Craig Gross who runs XXX Church, which is a non-profit fighting against pornography and helping people in the porn industry through Jesus. And he had taken me under his wing and said if you don’t mind I really like your vision with heart support and I could teach you how to build it into a non-profit with the vision that you have. So that is how it came together. It has been on Warped Tour three years now — just this year I think we have handed out 800 Bibles and books on sexual assault for free.

Jake Luhrs Of August Burns Red At Rocking Gods HouseYou guys had an amazing performance at Warped Tour in Nashville, you kept the audience engaged and entertained tremendously through out the set: how do you guys keep an audience captivated show after show?
For me I really enjoy going to the gym and working out; that is kind of part of it. If you want to run around on stage and act all crazy and scream, you have to be relatively fit. So for me working out, exercising and eating healthy, getting a lot of sleep. I get about eight hours a night to give my voice rest. I can’t just scream 50 minutes on a headlining tour on four hours of sleep. I have to get myself prepared mentally and physically to be in a good place for the show. We have been doing this for 10 years and we practice a lot, we know what it takes for us to be all together and to make this the best we possibly can as a band. I spend about an hour before we get on stage: I stretch, I pray, I warm up my voice and I’ll listen to the songs I feel maybe I am not as tight on so I can prepare myself to perform them when we get on stage; and most importantly, we take our performance very seriously. On Warped Tour that’s our 35 minutes on stage, so we want to give the best show we can, blow the other bands out of the water; we are entertainers not just artists. We want to always do the best we can .
Speaking of exercise, you were, like, really swollen on stage (physically fit) like an NFL line backer. Out of curiosity, what is your bench press?
[laughs] Thanks, I appreciate it. I can rep out 205, but my PR is 225. [PR = personal record]
During your set at the end you said “God Bless” to the crowd; do you feel that has an impact on so many diverse people in a crowd at Warped Tour?
I do believe that it does make an impact. In certain sets like in the song “Memory” where I get on my hands and knees and I am praising Jesus and there are certain songs where I worship God but I don’t like to personally put that down people’s throats because as a kid someone did that to me at a show and I was extremely offended by it and I walked away from them. It drove me further away from God than actually bringing me closer. For me personally I would like to do it on stage in action and then offstage with these
kids and the band. Every band on Warped Tour knows I am a Christian, that’s not a secret of my faith and my message within my band. That’s why I like to share my beliefs through heart support. A woman came to our merch tent and said aren’t you a Christian? I said yes I am. She said are you a Christian band? And I said, well, no not really because I don’t preach the gospel on stage. I don’t use my stage as a pedestal to preach the Gospel necessarily. But I am a man of faith and my lyrics are definitely faith-based. She said well can’t you preach in another way like these guys in heart support? And I said yes [laughs] that’s mine — I founded that. I think there are several ways that we can deliver the Gospel. For me it is more actions and not words. It is easy for us to talk about Jesus, but it is a lot harder to live like Him.
How do you deal with being the vocalist of a very popular band and touring with many secular bands? How do you deal with temptations while on the road touring?
I think when it comes to temptation and things you really have grace for yourself because you really need to accept and embrace grace. If you don’t you become very religious [in a Pharisee kind of religious way]. Because you are trying to dot your i’s and cross all your t’s and that’s a performance. And that’s not Jesus; Jesus is not a performance. He is love and He is a relationship and He has grace and mercy and forgiveness. So there is a process of repentance, process of transformation, and a process of sanctification but it doesn’t look like a list. So yeah I definitely struggle on tour. I mean, you put a man [in that setting] — because that is what I am in, an environment where I am praised everyday by thousands of people and I am surrounded by the party lifestyle — yes, it’s going to get to you. But you know what you do, you get up off your knees, you brush them off and you repent, you pray to the Lord, you ask for forgiveness and you move on.
Jake also told me a great story of praying for his enemies, and how Jesus calls us to love people. He shared a personal experience about a conflict with another band on tour. Out of respect to the story I will keep it between me and him. It was very inspiring to me and maybe if you catch him on tour and stop by the heart support tent and speak with Jake you may get lucky and he will share it with you also.