A lifetime is a long time to do anything. Yet, the four members of the JJ Weeks Band are certain they’ll spend forever praising God with their lives and their music. On their seventh full-length project—and first for Centricity Music—the JJ Weeks Band musically commits to telling the world about Jesus for as long as they can breathe.
Comprised of lead singer/songwriter JJ Weeks, bassist David Hart, drummer Jon Poole and guitarist Cody Preston, the Macon, Ga., based band may be new to the Centricity roster, but they are far from a new act. The group originated when Weeks—then a worship leader at his hometown church—needed a band for a local worship night. Hitting the road, the group began amassing a loyal fanbase throughout the southeast. To date, they’ve opened for everyone from MercyMe and Casting Crowns to labelmates Unspoken. In addition, their music has been featured on the official soundtracks for high-profile films God’s Not Dead and Four Blood Moons. With the debut of their first national release in 2013, the group earned a Top 10 single with “Let Them See You,” a song that remained on Billboard’s National Christian Audience Chart for 29 weeks.
“I would sing that little chorus to God every single morning for years before it ever became a song,” Weeks says of the band’s biggest hit to date, adding that he was surprised with how widely it resonated with fans. “God obviously saw fit to do something different with it, and we’ve been blown away by what God’s done. It’s been cool to see it climb the charts, but the emails and the Facebook messages we’ve gotten is where it all really just hits home.”
For Weeks and his bandmates, the stories they hear from fans are the crowning achievement of their vocation. “Making a difference in people’s lives—that’s really why we do this, we want to be a vessel,” the frontman asserts. “We can sing for two hours, and it will not change anything, but God can move in a moment and change everything. That’s just how big our God is,” Weeks maintains. “Our central message is ‘Come to Jesus,’ because He loves us more than we can ever understand.”
It’s this core idea that floods As Long As We Can Breathe, a brand new collection of songs that remind listeners of God’s peace and presence through a thoughtful mix of lush balladry and groove-inducing hooks. Throughout 10 fresh tracks, the JJ Weeks Band reiterates their complete commitment to Christ. “I feel like a lot of times, as Christians—counting myself—we cower down and back away from just being who we are instead of saying, ‘This is who I am. This is who God’s created me to be,’” Weeks muses. “We’re going to sing; we’re going to worship; we’re going to be what God wants us to be ’til the day we don’t breathe anymore.”
With Weeks as the primary lyricist, more than 40 songs were written for this album. Although in the past the veteran frontman has generally written straight from melodies in his head, the creative process for As Long As We Can Breathe matched him, for the first time, with numerous other songwriters. The 10 songs chosen for the final set were results of co-writing sessions with Benji Cowart, Michael Farren, Mia Fieldes, Seth Mosley and Travis Ryan, among others, with Jonathan Smith (Tim Timmons, Sidewalk Prophets) helming production.
“Most of the time, I’m writing [songs] out of desperate times and sometimes out of moments where I’m just like, ‘God, if You don’t show up, I don’t know what I’m going to do,’” Weeks explains. “I’m not big on using songs that I didn’t have a part in writing, because I like it to mean something when I’m on stage and to come from a personal experience, that way I can sing it from my heart.”
Weeks co-wrote six of the tracks that round out As Long As We Can Breathe. As for the four he didn’t write, he felt an immediate personal connection with each one that made the record.
Powerful ballad “Count Them All” may not have been born of Weeks’ pen, but the cut voiced the very things he was feeling the moment he first listened to the song demo. He was picking up some sound gear when he heard “Count Them All” for the first time. The song reminds listeners to be grateful for life’s blessings, big and small. “I seriously began to cry in that garage,” Weeks remembers. “Everything it said, it felt like it was just explaining me.”
The label brought “In The Name Of” to the table, and the rhythmic pop sheen of the track fits seamlessly into the band’s original repertoire. “I can face any storm in the name of Jesus. Bring it,” Weeks declares. “Come what may, I can stand through it all.”
This kind of bravado extends to numerous additional tracks on the project, including lead single “Alive In Me,” which celebrates the power believers possess because of the One who lives within us.
“Rooftops” contains similar confidence with thickly layered vocals and an unrelenting chorus that shimmers all the way through a fitting cameo by Tedashii. Meanwhile, “Higher” is a mid-tempo call for listeners to lift their heads up to Christ instead of looking down at their circumstances. “The song just reminds us to look higher, to look at who [God] is and how faithful He is,” Weeks affirms. “One thing goes wrong and all of our attention goes to that one thing, and we totally forget the overall greatness of what God is doing in our life… He’s bigger than the mess we go through, and I think it’s good to be constantly reminded that He is the One who’s controlling the storm. At the end of the day, He’s got it in His hands.”
“Rest Now,” a personal favorite of Weeks’, was written in a time of overwhelming frustration when the singer felt like everyone in his life wanted something from him, except his kids. As he began to pour out his emotions on paper, he was reminded how his heavenly Father views His children. “It’s almost like God was painting a picture of the way He feels about me,” Weeks says. “God doesn’t expect anything from us but to rest in Him.”
For the JJ Weeks Band, the songs on As Long As We Breathe have set fresh wind to their sails, refreshing the four men in ways they didn’t even know they needed to be refueled. “After 12 years of being a band, we feel like it’s a brand new rebirthing of the JJ Weeks Band, and we couldn’t be more excited,” Weeks shares. “It’s the best album we’ve ever crafted, and we’re just thankful that God let us be a part of it.”