Winter Jam 2024: A Conversation With Crowder

Des Moines, are you ready to jam? More specifically, Winter Jam? If so, get ready. 

The nation’s largest annual Christian music tour — Winter Jam — is set to bring its heavenly night of song and worship to the stage at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines this Friday, Feb. 2. 

Tickets will be available at the door for just $15. 

The 2024 version of Winter Jam will feature headliner and crowd favorite Crowder, as well as hip-hop artist Lecrae; rockers Seventh Day Slumber; Cain; Katy Nichole; and tour founders NewSong among others. 

ListenIowa sat down with the seemingly always affable Crowder frontman David Crowder to get his take on the tour; his new single, “Grave Robber,” and more.

David, where does your sense of humor come from? You have a great one.
I think my dad was legitimately funny. My mom? Not funny. (Laughs) But Dad? Funny. Must be some humor in the DNA. If I’m going to be having a good day, I have to be laughing. Joy is a biblical concept. 

You dropped a new single a few weeks back called “Grave Robber.” What’s the story behind that song?
Growing up, I had a speech impediment. I couldn’t say “r”. The hardest word to pronounce was “robber.” I remember my speech therapist pointing to a picture of a robber, the guy who had just come out of the bank with all the gold bars, and asking, “What is this, David?” And I’d be like, “A wobba.” So now I’ve probably gone and wrecked the song for everyone. Sorry. But actually it’s based on my favorite story in the Bible — Lazarus. It’s a crazy story. Jesus comes into town, and Lazarus has been dead for four days and in the grave. His friends were already there and were like, “Man, if you’d have been here sooner ….. We told you he was sick. Why didn’t you come sooner?” And then Martha goes, “But, I know you can do anything, so just do what you’re gonna do.” And then he calls Lazarus by name, and Lazarus comes out of the grave. What I’m trying to do with the song is say, “It doesn’t matter what you’re up against, or how intimidating it seems, this is the guy we follow. He (Jesus) rolls into town, and four days later calls the guy by name, and he comes out of the grave. That’s the guy you follow. That’s what the song is about.”

Have you debuted it live?
We haven’t played it out loud yet. We’ve practiced it, but as it turns out, it’s a deceptively difficult song to pull off live. The funny part to me is that my band, who I live and travel with, I didn’t even tell them that we were going to release it as a single. And one of the guys in the band came to me and was like, “Uh, I just heard ‘Grave Robber’ on the radio. Do you think we should start learning it and start playing it?” (Laughs) And I was like, “Mmm…yeah, probably.” (laughs) We’ve been practicing, but you probably won’t hear it until Winter Jam. 

Is “Grave Robber” a precursor to a new album, maybe?
It is. I love to get to do what I’m doing, and I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m sure I say this every time, but I’ve never been more excited about the songs that are happening. The songs are insane to me. I can’t believe I get to sing this stuff out loud. The stuff we are about to roll out is amazing.

Your music has featured such a wide variety of musical styles over the years. At this juncture, what’s left to cover, if anything?
There’s some heavier stuff. “Grave Robber” is a little bit of a glimpse. It’s a little more aggressive than we’ve been recently. We’ve still got some sensitive stuff, but I think I’ve accumulated all the instrumentation that I need to enunciate what’s happening inside of me. It’s still got that Appalachian organic instrumentation to it, but right alongside the urban 808s. That bass is still heavy. We’re still kicking on the beat side of things. I feel like we’ve got porch music and city music all in the same place at the same time.  

How many times have you been a part of Winter Jam tour?
Man, I don’t know, but I miss ‘em like crazy. The last time I was with them was in 2020 when we got sent home and had to isolate from each other. We were in Louisville, Kentucky, and everybody had already loaded in, soundcheck was done, and everything was ready to go. And then about mid afternoon, someone came on our bus and said, “Hey, tonight’s not going to happen, and the rest of the weekend isn’t going to happen. You guys just go home.” We asked about the next weekend and they said they didn’t know that either and were going to play it by ear. Well, we didn’t do anything for about a year-and-a-half after that. So I’m wound up. I think the most powerful thing about Winter Jam is that the demographic is really diverse in the same way as what’s happening on stage is really eclectic. The crowd is young to old, and across the spectrum the room. But you know that everyone who is there knows who this Jesus guy was, and wants to be a part of an event that reframes what reality is, and puts it in perspective that Jesus is the whole point of it. That part I miss like crazy. And it only costs $15, which is cheaper than a Big Mac! (Laughs)

You’ve been out touring for awhile. What are you seeing out there on the front lines right now in our society?
The message is simple. It’s almost dumb simple. We spend so much time consuming things that have been made by people who don’t care about Jesus at all. It isn’t even a thought for them. News, or TikTok, or whatever. All of it. None of it has in mind what the point is of this whole thing. What people long for are answers to the big questions. “Why am I here?” “Why do I exist?” “What’s the point of all of this?” And what I love about getting to do what I do is that you get to reframe reality and say, “You DO exist for a reason, and the reason is to glorify God.” If the things you’re made to do have the tip of the spear as God, everything will be reframed. It can be difficult to do that. So I say, just get into the Scripture. Read the Bible. It’s the funniest, most life-giving thing I’ve ever read in my life. Read it. Every year. Be in Scripture every day, and your day will be different. I promise. The Word will not return void, and it will reframe what you woke up with that morning. Just know that you’re part of a bigger story, and you’re in it. And He needs you in it. If you reframe it that way, it gets good. The plot thickens. 

For the uninitiated who might be seeing you in action for the first time at the show, what can they expect?
By the time we get up there, you better have your voice would up. All we’re trying to do is make the room sing, so if we’re singing together, we’re having a great time. Come ready to sing. I want it to feel like we just had a great meal together and wound up on the front porch and started singing songs to God. That’s it right there. 

What: Winter Jam 2024
When: Feb. 2, 2024
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Tickets: $15