Jake Luhrs has fronted Pennsylvania metalcore heroes August Burns Red since joining them in 2006. He is a devout Christian and the founder of online mental health charity HeartSupport.
What’s the worst thing about being in a band?
“The time away from family and friends – missing birthdays, celebrations and holidays. Getting sick on tour is incredibly stressful. It sucks when one person gets ill, because that spreads through the bus fast – there’s no chance of dodging!”
OK, so what’s the best thing about being in a band?
“Honestly, using my gifts and tools to help and encourage people; knowing that what I do helps breathe positivity into other people’s lives. The gifts each individual has are meant for community – building people up and bringing some sense of positivity into the world.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“The most important thing to help grow a band’s business isn’t money, it’s relationships. Don’t try to buy your way onto things; build relationships, because ultimately success – and I’d definitely say this for ourselves – is achieved through a body of people using their skills toward a common goal.”
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When was the first time you felt like a rock star?
“The first time anything like that hit me we were playing this festival in Germany called Summer Breeze in 2013. This festival only has one stage, so when we came out there was just a sea of people waiting to see us. The stage was absolutely massive – the size of a warehouse – and I couldn’t see the end of the crowd. I was blown away.”
What’s been your worst experience on drugs?
“I don’t do drugs, so I’ve not had a worst experience. But, I have drunk so much wine once that I literally shit the bed. I mean, I was young and in a hotel but still! It was in the early days of our touring and we were doing some brutal tours at the time, for like three months straight. When we got a day off I just wanted to relax and have a drink… only to wake up letting it loose in the bed!”
When was the last time you were truly happy?
“A couple days ago I had a vision of something that means it’s time to take action. I’ve had visions of this thing before when I was 24 and it’s meant giving it my best shot. Right now it follows the natural progression of my life – if it goes well it’ll have a lot of synergy with other things I have going on… but I’m not ready to share it because it’s not tangible just yet!”
In 2011 you founded HeartSupport (opens in new tab) – an online mental health support network. What has been your proudest moment since its formation?
“Seeing how many people go to it, to be honest. We have over half a million visits to our community a month through social media, our page and interviews; it makes me proud to see so many people using it and making it home for themselves – it’s not just the Jake Luhrs show, you know?”
What advice can you give to people struggling right now?
“Take action. I think it’s important to recognise the authority we all have to choose who gets influence us every day; words can be great in supporting us to do things, but they can also have a damaging effect and so we should be mindful of who we let influence us. Taking action in even small ways can help to improve our lives, because small steps build towards big steps.”
What was helping you stay safe and sane during the lockdown?
“My faith and time for meditation and prayer. Being at home and just being thankful for that – I’ve not had much time for it these past 15 years – has given me a lot of gratitude for what I have and the little joys of life, every day; that I’m alive, not sick and that I can play with my dog… things like that colour my perception of this whole situation. I don’t want the fear of what’s going on to dictate how I live my life.”
You guys recently released your ninth album, Guardians. What message do you hope fans take from it?
“We need to focus on unity and coalesce; move away from being judgemental or selfish. It’s a message that’s especially important with what’s going on with this pandemic. After this is all said and done you’ll be able to go anywhere in the world, to any nation with any language, and know you have something in common with them – we could do a lot with the power of that connection.”