With four Grammy Awards, eight gold albums and two platinum albums, Third Day should theoretically be among the most well-known bands in music today.
Turns out, they are.
What's that? You say you've never heard of them?
Chances are you aren't listening to Christian rock music, or else the name Third Day would ring familiar for more than sounding like punk rockers Green Day, with whom they have nothing in common.
Third Day, which comes to the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell on Saturday night, formed in Marietta, Ga., in 1991 when lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and former member Billy Wilkins got together. Bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr joined a year later. Wilkins left in 1993 but the quartet has remained intact.
What's the secret to Third Day's enduring success?
"You work really hard," Anderson told me in a phone interview last week. "Every year, we do 100-plus concerts. A lot of acts only recently said, 'Record sales aren't what they used to be, we need to tour more.' We've always built it on touring. It's a grass-roots approach for us."
And while mainstream rock acts work their way from club to theaters and arenas, Christian rock acts take a different path. "The church serves as our club circuit with a lot less of the urine smell," Anderson said.
And as the band kept plugging forward, the awards and accolades started to come along with the album sales. Third Day won Grammys for best rock gospel album of the year in 2002 and 2005, best pop/contemporary gospel album of the year in 2007 and best rock or rap gospel album of the year in 2010. It picked up an American Music Award in 2008 for favorite contemporary inspirational artist and has won a whopping 20 Dove Awards at the Gospel Music Awards.
"The funny thing about Third Day is, if you ask five people, if we're not their favorite band, we're their cousin's favorite band," Anderson said. "It's not like Aerosmith, but we're out there, we're working and people keep buying records. We'll take it. We've had a great career. We have great fans and we continue to work hard to make new fans."
If you're going to the Lowell show on Saturday night, expect to see a lot of families in attendance. "It's a great night of music that I think is positive for a lot of people," Anderson said. "There are a lot of atmospheres where you can't bring kids to a show, but you can bring kids to this one. It's family friendly. It's great music. I'll even offer a money-back guarantee. If you come out and don't like it, I'll give you your money back."
Third Day performs at the Tsongas Center on Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m., with Colton Dixon of American Idol and Josh Wilson. Tickets are $77, $37 and $27 and can be purchased at www.tsongascenter.com, by phone at 978-934-5738 or at the box office.