“I can honestly say…”

As the mouthpiece of modern rock quintet Sanctus Real, Matt Hammitt simply can’t mince words. In keeping with his band’s namesake, he has to keep it, well, real. After all, he’s the front man, the poster boy, the one who stands front and center at all times, whether it’s a routine photo shoot or a can’t-sit-still live performance.

As with other leaders, audiences look to him for answers, and their expectations are high. The role of his bandmates is mostly to keep to their instruments and rock as hard as they can, but not Hammitt. He’s the leading man, the spokesperson, the point guard, the actual face of his group. He’s the voice.

“In all honesty…”

New bands come and go, but Sanctus Real’s tireless work ethic has kept them in business for longer than your average, up-and-coming faith-fueled rock band. With only four albums under its belt, the band has managed an enviable portfolio of No. 1 singles, awards, sales success, and high-profile slots alongside some of music’s biggest acts, and the group’s momentum just keeps mounting.

In fact, members of Third Day caught the five-piece in concert last summer, and they were so impressed by their performance and their hearts, they simply had to invite them to tour with them this spring. Third Day bassist Tai Anderson puts it succinctly:  “I was blown away.”

“To be honest with you…”

But those are just facts and figures anyone can rehash from a press release. The band’s true pride and joy in recent memory was The Face of Love, its most mature effort at the time. From the onset of their career, the group’s light-hearted spirit, colossal hooks and power-pop tendencies made it a favorite of the youth group crowd. In a way, it was as if the band was conflict-free.

But The Face of Love was different. It was forged in the fires of trials, loss and grief, so the songs were naturally more emotional and intense—melancholy even. Today, the band says it’s turned a page.

“All these questions that we had about what was happening in the band, all the heartache from losing loved ones, we’re on the other side of that,” Hammitt says. “We feel more hopeful than we did at that time. It’s a new season.”

Hammitt really means that. No, he really means it. He’s not mincing words.

“I’m being really honest here…”

The more CCM probes into the breeding ground of Sanctus’ new album, We Need Each Other (Sparrow), the word “honesty” keeps coming up one way or another. The first few questions were met with generic, softball answers, but as Hammitt is pressed for more depth, honesty has a way of prefacing each of his responses, as if serving as a caution to whoever reads them.

“I had been selfish to want to take time or energy to communicate things that I was hurt by other people, and I was holding it against them,” Hammitt confesses. “That’s when I realized, ‘I don’t want to be alone at the end of all this.’”

Mind you, this is the same man who sang “I’m not alright/I’m broken inside” on The Face of Love’s achingly honest first single. But the dissimilarities between that album and We Need Each Other are like night and day. The disc finds the group performing soaring, larger-than-life pop/rock of the highest order, coupled with a message of unity, interdependence and understanding among believers.