The guys in Sanctus Real have been around the rock and roll block enough times to see their bus catch fire and burn up on a Pennsylvania highway.
That's what 16 years grinding away in the music business will do, but don't think the unfortunate vehicular immolation is a metaphor for the Toledo Christian rock band's career. Not even close.
As Sanctus Real prepares to hit the road for a late summer tour that starts in Bowling Green on Saturday night, guitarist Chris Rohman said the group is as optimistic and upbeat as ever despite losing their bus in the fire earlier this year.
"It's fun getting to travel with your friends to different cities everyday. I'm not going to lie; it's a blast," he said in an interview from his Sylvania area home.
Even though the band is easing up on two decades together and polishing up their sixth album for release early next year, the core members are only in their early 30s and, more important, they still love what they're doing.
"It's like half my life," said the 32-year-old Rohman, who is married and has two children with another one on the way. "It's wild. When we started back at [Toledo Christian] high school, we had no idea that this is what we were going to do as grown adults. It's weird that in some ways people are just hearing us for the first time. That's pretty neat."
Original members Rohman, singer/guitarist Matt Hammitt, and drummer Mark Graalman -- all from the Toledo area -- are joined by Dan Gartley on bass and Pete Prevost on guitar, both of whom are from Nashville.
Rohman said the band has leaned on veteran Christian music performers such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, and Audio Adrenaline through the years for advice on navigating the music business, balancing business and friendship, and maintaining their core values.
"For me personally it's never been about, 'Let's go play as many shows as we can for as much money as we can.' It's been more like, 'Let's just keep doing what we did when we were 16. Let's just do what we love.' "
He described Sanctus Real as a "band of brothers. It hasn't turned into this ugly monster."
The band has released five albums on Sparrow Records and was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2011 for the album "Pieces of a Real Heart" and in 2008 for "We Need Each Other." Their sound combines elements of power pop, hard rock, and balladry with hopeful messages that reflect their spiritual beliefs.
Rohman said the band's success, not to mention that there are videos on YouTube showing fans in their bedrooms playing songs he wrote, is humbling.
"It's crazy to think people buy our music in the first place," he said.
"If you really think about it, this last album scanned 300,000 units. I can't wrap my head around that, let alone there's people out there that take the time to learn our songs and record them on YouTube. It all comes down to the songs and I feel blessed that we have songs that connect with people."
Sanctus Real will perform Saturday night at BGSU's Stroh Center along with The Afters and Southbound Fearing. Show time is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for reserved seats, and $15 for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets, visit ticketmaster.com, visit the BGSU Ticket Office at the Stroh Center, or call 877-BGSU TICKET.
Contact Rod Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6159.