God’s breathed new life into us more than once.”
Jonathan Steingard, lead singer of the band, Hawk Nelson, says the very existence of their 15-year-old band is nothing short of a miracle. They’ve garnered multiple nominations for the Dove Awards, and now they have a Grammy nomination — what every artist in the industry hopes for.
“… there are thousands of other miracles — stories of God moving in amazing ways, both big and small,” said Steingard.
But sometimes, you have to have some setbacks before you can see the miracles. And recently, for Hawk Nelson, those setbacks have been serious health issues for two key members: Depression wreaked havoc on Jonathan Steingard, and bassist, Daniel Biro, was surgically treated for a leg tumor.
Everything Closed In
“Two years ago, I spiraled downward into depression,” said Steingard. “It’s been a process coming out of that debilitating emotional downturn,” he said.
Steingard remembers episodes of depression in his teen years, relating to his parents’ ailing marriage. He said the episodes were short-lived. But this time, it paid a lengthy visit.
“… these past couple of years, the weight of everything seemed to close in on me … I wasn’t certain I could go on.”
He said he wasn’t suicidal, but he definitely lost hope.
The Wheels Came Off
“I felt my personal life unraveling and career crumbling,” Steingard admitted. “I was doing everything poorly and nothing well — not as a musician, friend, husband or father.”
Ironically, the wheels began coming off after a season of success, he said. Professionally, the band was writing songs for the latest album; the previous one had been hailed as one of their most artistic achievements to date.
“That’s often the case isn’t it? A mountaintop experience followed by a let-down. But, for someone with depression, that valley is hard to come out of again,” Steingard related.
Not only was Steingard trying to write songs that would meet expectations that were now higher than ever before, he was also completely sleep-deprived. He and his wife had recently welcomed their first child.
“We were overjoyed, but he didn’t sleep — for months! Which meant neither did we! Sleep-deprivation is a tough on anyone. But it’s an all-out emergency for someone prone to depression,” Steingard stated.
Daniel Biro, Hawk Nelson’s bassist, noticed Steingard’s emotional state and asked for the songwriting to be put on hold.
“These guys I get to share music with are like brothers — and they come first as individuals. Family should always come first,” Biro added.
Putting the album off wasn’t an easy decision. But it’s not completely foreign to Biro, who had experienced the weight of putting his career on hold for health reasons.
God Grabbed Our Attention
While touring with their previous album, Biro was diagnosed with a tumor in his leg.
“It was such a relief, and I’m beyond grateful that it was benign. … I underwent several surgeries, which resulted in a total knee replacement,” said Biro.
While the nine-month recovery took its toll, making Biro ask for help from many others, he said it gave him a unique opportunity to meet with God.
“God grabbed our full attention with this health scare. This gave me time to be still with Him,” Biro said.
But with a key member off the tour for months, the band wasn’t certain they could continue. Biro said that’s when working in a Christian industry really blessed him.
“Bass players in the bands we toured with stepped in for me. They totally had my back. It was God’s favor that Hawk Nelson continued at that point,” he stated. “Now it was my turn — our turn as a band — to give Jon the respite he needed — for as long as he needed.”
Depression Is a Liar
Steingard said he feels deep gratitude for the support his band mates gave him. But it was a slow road ahead.
“I had this sense that it was never going to get better. I was stuck thinking it would always be bad — that I’d always feel helpless,” Steingard said. “And that’s the lie depression tells us.”
Looking back over the past two years, Steingard sees the turning point was gradual, but steady. He said he first had to let go of the expectation of success.
“I finally just decided to make something that I’d be proud of, not something that measured up in the eyes of the world.”
That’s when God began to reopen the floodgates of his creativity, and the lyrics started to flow.
“I started writing for no one but myself, and it was authentic,” Steingard said. He vividly recalls when the words began to come. And he said that’s where the song, “No Such Thing” (as Helpless For A Believer), started.
“The tone is filled with angst, but the words are full of hope. And that was the truest expression of my heart at that time — hurting but hopeful. It’s a lyrical expression of breaking through depression,” Steingard said.
Surrender Leads to Miracles
“Oh, and about this time, our son started sleeping better too! That didn’t hurt — but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that when we surrender our agenda and our journey, God still does miracles,” Steingard said.
The band agrees the album is a reminder of God’s character.
“He is faithful, and His track record is perfect,” Steingard said. “We can call these things accidents, but they stitch together in a pattern that feels like God to me.”
Hawk Nelson is a Grammy-nominated Christian rock band. Their eighth studio album: “Miracles,” was released in April 2018. For more on the band, visit their website.