MercyMe's Bart Millard enjoys touring with his bandmates, but he doesn't enjoy sitting around all day and waiting for that night's concert.
So Millard came up with a solution: He stays up all night and sleeps the next day.
"I'm not lying: There will be nights we will stay up till 4, 5, 6 in the morning just so that we can wake up at 5 p.m.," Millard told Christian Headlines. "That's when everything's fun – dinner to the show. Because the days get so long sometimes."
MercyMe, which just released its 11th studio album, Always Only Jesus, is currently on a 19-city tour that ends in late November. In December, they'll embark on a winter tour with Chris Tomlin.
"We still like being around each other. We still get along great," Millard said. "... The only time you get to hang out with other people who do this stuff that are your dear friends is if you're on tour with them or it's an award show. ... The hanging with them, the community, is my favorite part. ... If I lose my voice, it's the worst thing ever.
"But when everything's hitting on all cylinders, there's nothing more exhilarating than connecting with the crowd," he added. "All of these songs are written for other people and to be sung in front of people. And so that part's great. The parts I don't like are saying goodbye to my family."
In order to better balance family time with their touring schedule, the band schedules most of its shows around the weekend -- Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That gives them a few days home each week before they hit the road again for the next round of cities.
"We only do about 50 shows a year," Millard said. "... We kind of keep it to where our families love us, and we still love touring."
With 48 No. 1 radio songs, MercyMe is climbing the charts again with the album's first single, Then Christ Came. It's No. 14 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart and No. 11 on the Christian Airplay chart.
The song predates the pandemic. A 55-second demo (early version) of the song was included on the band's 2021 album, Inhale (Exhale).
"We had a ton of songs left over from Inhale (Exhale), and one of them was Then Christ Came, which we just couldn't quite figure out in time to make on that album," Millard said. "... And then we knew that would be the next single on whatever [album] was coming next."
MercyMe experimented with different styles of music on Inhale (Exhale), including making a collaborative disco-sounding song with Gloria Gaynor. On Always Only Jesus, Millard said, the group is returning to "their roots."
"Always Only Jesus sounds like it could be MercyMe from 10-15 years ago," Millard said. "This album feels like a warm blanket, if you will. And it made me appreciate it more like, 'Oh, we do this, and we do it well. And so let's lean into it for this record.' And that's probably what I'm most excited about."
Photo courtesy: ©Fair Trade, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.