Before the fall of the Soviet Union, American missionaries would set up Christian radio stations along the Soviet border and transmit the Gospel into the communist territory. Religion was seen as a threat to the Soviet leadership, so the government would try to jam the frequencies. But—as it tends to do—the message of the Gospel would still come through. People listening closely and at the right times could hear the good news of Jesus broadcasting through the radio. Gospel songs. Sermons. Testimonies.
For the four brothers of the Russian-born band Everfound, who immigrated to Denver, Colorado when they were young children, this is part of how their parents learned about Jesus Christ. Their ancestors’ commitment to their faith resulted in hardships that are difficult for the band, who have spent nearly their entire lives in the United States, to imagine but now serve as their primary inspiration. Their great-grandfather spent 20 years in prison for owning a Bible. They grew up with their dad sharing stories of how his youth group was harassed and chased by police dogs after being discovered hiding in the forest for weekly Bible studies. These stories drive the band to be bold about their faith through the music they create.
Today, just one generation removed, Everfound can be heard on radio stations all over the world. They tour across the US and around the world, boldly singing the Gospel each night at full volume—without fear of prison or oppression. Although their ancestors were not legally allowed to profess their Christian faith, Everfound has sung freely and clearly about Jesus on four independent albums, and they will do so again on their major label debut with Word Records.
“The fact that our music is clearly heard all around the world,” said Nikita Odnoralov, the band’s lead singer and keyboardist. “It’s truly humbling.”
Although they never experienced the kind of oppression that their ancestors did at the hand of the Soviets, Everfound has been shaped by the experiences of previous generations. They know that writing songs about their faith in a free society and without fear of oppression is a privilege and not something to be taken lightly. Their life-story is proof that anything is possible.
They know that they have a responsibility to the generations that came before them. A responsibility to make the most of their freedom and carry the torch of faith. A responsibility to be stewards of their talents. A responsibility to look forward and chase big dreams.
Although the band’s oldest member is still in his early twenties, Everfound plays like a band that has been together for decades. This is probably because they have. “We never set out to be a band, but music was in our genes,” says drummer Yan, the third oldest brother. Born in Russia and raised in the United States, the brothers grew up on an eclectic combination of Russian music and Americans bands like The Killers, 30 Seconds to Mars and Foo Fighters—giving the band a unique and dynamic sound.
“We’ve been working on our live show since we were 10 years old,” adds oldest brother Ruslan.
They recently rediscovered an old family movie of them when they were young kids. The oldest three brothers—youngest brother and bassist Ilarion was still a baby—were huddled around the piano, all playing together while lead singer Nikita tried to write a song.
“There we were—four or five years old—fighting over the piano,” Nikita says.
For the four brothers—Nikita (lead vocals/keys), Ruslan (guitar/keys), Yan (drums) and Ilarion (bass)—music has always been a family affair. Two of their grandparents worked professionally in musical theater, and their parents always encouraged a love of music.
“Playing piano was required in our house,” says Yan. “As soon as you turned seven, Mom would set you up with Grandma for your first piano lesson. We all took classical piano for four or five years before we learned any other instruments.”
A few years later, their family attended a church that had a large youth group but no worship band. Their parents bought a few instruments—an electronic drum kit, a saxophone, a keyboard—and the brothers began playing. A little while later, they played a battle of the bands that was next door to their church. After that, they started getting calls from local churches and other bands, and things slowly started to happen.
As Everfound started playing more often, they were initially not well received by the Russian- American community who were not used to such bold and public displays of faith in the form of contemporary art such as rock music.
“The Russian church has always been very traditional,” Nikita says. “So when we started to play music, and our faith began to come out in our music—particularly outside of the church walls. We got a lot of negative feedback from other Russian Christians.”
“We love the Russian church, but with them not initially embracing our music we felt that we’d become misfits within our own community,” Ruslan adds.
They funneled all of this into their music, and it built a new bond between the band and their fans. “When we wrote songs about those experiences, people connected to them,” Ruslan says. “People began to write us letters telling us, ‘I feel like a misfit in my class’ or ‘I’m not accepted by people in my school.’ We started to get more and more letters. Through this, God started showing us what we were supposed to be doing.”
Those letters fueled the band, and they still do today.
“We exist today because of those letters,” Ruslan says. “That’s the heart behind our band. ”
Nikita agrees. “As Christians, what do we exist for?” he asks. “Jesus said love your neighbor and love God. If those kids didn’t write those letters, we wouldn’t be here.”
As they began to see the impact God was making through their music, Everfound became inspired and adopted a tenacious work ethic. With Nikita serving as booking manager, they began booking shows anywhere and everywhere. In fact, prior to partnering with Word Entertainment, Everfound found themselves playing more than 150 shows per year and saw their influence grow quickly as they invested in their live show. “We want to provide an experience for our audience that’s impactful,” said Nikita. “We want to take them on a journey with us. That’s why we strive to give 110% every night on stage. At a show, we want our fans to feel and experience the low valleys and the high peaks that inspired our songs in the first place.”
With Ruslan serving as producer, the band recorded a series of four independent albums. Their parents—having already taken a great risk to bring the family to the United States—continued to make sacrifices in order for the band to tour, record and spread their music.
By the time they signed with Word Entertainment, they were at a place where they didn’t need a record label, but they took the opportunity because it would enable the band to take their music and their message to places all over the world. All that they have accomplished so far is just preparation for what is yet to come.
“If we were just trying to be famous, we would have signed with a label a long time ago,” Nikita says. “But those labels didn’t share the vision for our band. When Word came along, they got it. They let us be ourselves.”
For their new self-titled album, they wrote 75 songs and narrowed it down to the best 12, including the lead-off hit single “Never Beyond Repair”. “Every song on this record is about something that we’ve gone through ourselves,” says Nikita. “The struggles, the defeats, the victories, peaks, valleys and everything in between – all written with the goal of reaching people with the love of Christ.” While these songs are intensely personal, they were written with the a generation in mind. Everfound’s goal was to write songs that would serve as the soundtrack to people’s daily lives. They were recently involved in the hugely successful miniseries The Bible on The History Channel. Their song “What Love Means” was included on its inspired-by soundtrack. They played a huge kickoff event with producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.
Afterward, Rick Warren tweeted, “Mark my word: This band is going to be HUGE!”
Everfound’s family history has taken them from being imprisoned for owning a Bible to appearing on the soundtrack for a show based on the Bible. From having to hide and listen to the Gospel being illegally transmitted into the Soviet Union to now having their songs literally reaching the world with the message of God’s love. Some would chalk it up to coincidence or simple irony, but for Everfound this is a legacy and a calling to follow in their ancestors footsteps and boldly live out their faith. The brothers don’t know specifically where their next chapters will lead, but they know that the future is bigger than they can imagine.