On the 20th anniversary of its Grammy-nominated album debut, Pray For Rain, on Sparrow Records, Dove Award-winning Christian rock band PFR has reunited and is prepping for the 12 in 2012…And Beyond Tour, their first national tour since 1997. Concerts will take the band to Portland, Ore., Kansas City, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, and the Arizona cities of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff. For the tour, the legendary band has partnered with ChildFund International to encourage sponsorship of special needs children throughout the world.
PFR chose to work with ChildFund, in part, because of bass player and vocalist Patrick Andrew's personal story as the father of two special needs children. Because ChildFund utilizes a unique organizational structure, there is only one donor per child, so each donor is able to build a personal, one-to-one relationship with their sponsored child.
"This is so hard on a family to go through, and we have the best doctors, hospitals and equipment," explains Andrew, whose youngest son, Samuel, fights an autoimmune disease, and oldest son, Everett, lives with autism. "I can't imagine what it is like for a family in a less fortunate part of the world to watch their child go through an illness and not be able to make sure that they have the best care. ChildFund has offered us the opportunity to offer sponsorships for special needs kids, and that's really exciting for me."
"ChildFund is excited to partner with PFR," says Anne Lynam Goddard, president & CEO of ChildFund. "This partnership will introduce new audiences to ChildFund's work in 31 countries and the life-changing impact of sponsorship."
The new tour is a tribute, the band members say, to their friendships and music of the past two decades.
"It's been 20 years since we released our very first album, Pray for Rain," says frontman/guitarist Joel Hanson. "This new tour feels like a really good way to celebrate the music and the bond that has held us and our fans together all these years."
"We've had this conversation about touring again for several years," adds drummer Mark Nash. "Occasionally we've gotten together to do a show. We're still really good friends, and when we are on stage that same chemistry and energy is still there."
PFR burst onto the music scene in 1992 with one of the most explosive debut projects in contemporary Christian music history, Pray for Rain, which earned the band a Grammy nomination and won a Dove Award for Rock Album of the Year. They continued refining their sound on their subsequent albums, including Goldie's Last Day, Great Lengths, Them and The Late Great PFR, winning new fans and solidifying their position as one of the most popular artists on the circuit. Fans embraced the PFR sound, with its infectious Euro-pop proclivities that inspired favorable comparisons to the Beatles.
"The PFR sound is a blend of everything we were listening to," Hanson explains. "There was kind of a Brit-pop vibe and it was very radio friendly. Patrick got turned on to the Beatles through Aerosmith. I listened to a lot of the British invasion bands when I was growing up because my dad loved them. Mark grew up listening to everything. Patrick and I did a lot of dual vocals, which was similar to John and Paul, but that was never an intentional thing. The Everly brothers did the same thing. We were three green kids from Minnesota. We didn't know what we were doing, and we were surprised that radio played us at all."
In 1996, the band members decided it was time to take a break from the road, and PFR ceased to exist…at least in theory. While each member pursued their individual callings, there was a bond that kept them together. They never really broke up; they just stopped making music together for a while.
A fundraising concert for Andrew's son in November 2011 brought the former bandmates together, "the catalyst," Hanson says, to booking the 12 in 2012…And Beyond Tour.
"So we thought we'd play the numbers game — 2012. Twenty years since our first record, 12 shows," he says, "but then we realized (and we are happy to say) that there seems to be interest out there, so we decided that we are going to keep going — 12 in 2012…And Beyond — as long as the requests keep coming in."
With the new tour in the works, Hanson, Andrew and Nash find themselves recharged and re-energized with new music and old favorites to share with their legion of fans.
"This is our chance to play all the songs that people loved and it gives us the opportunity to share our story," Hanson says. "Things have been beautiful and things have been difficult, but we're still here, walking out what we believe."
"Looking back over 20 years of making music, one thing that is important for us to convey is that God's word is true," Andrew says. "It was true when we wrote those songs, and it is true today. Even in our naiveté, we sang about truths that were Biblically accurate. People's lives were changed by some of these songs, but it wasn't because of us; it was God speaking through us. We were just a bunch of kids having fun."
To learn more of the story of the 12 in 2012…And Beyond Tour, view PFR's video at vimeo.com/42889832 or visit pfr12in2012.com. Booking inquiries should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo caption: PFR band members Patrick Andrew, left, Joel Hanson, center, and Mark Nash, right, have reunited for the 12 in 2012…And Beyond Tour.
Originally founded in Minnesota in the late 1980s as the Joel Hanson Band, the band changed its name to Pray For Rain and later shortened it to simply PFR. They earned both a Grammy nomination and a Dove Award for their 1992 Sparrow Records debut, Pray For Rain, and went on to become one of the most popular bands of the decade, sharing the stage with such artists as Jars of Clay, Petra, Cindy Morgan and others. Christianity Today magazine calls PFR "one of Christian music's most enduring bands." For more information about PFR, visit myspace.com/officialpfr.