Former DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline front man Kevin Max is solo once more and is gearing up to release his much anticipated album Broken Temples. Often labeled "eccentric," Max spoke to BREATHEcast about being an "outsider," the meaning of Broken Temples, and his PledgeMusic campaign.
This is the second article of our series with Kevin Max. Read part one here, where he talks about his departure from Audio Adrenaline.
Max has described Broken Temples as a journey through the human condition and finding a way to get back to God. "Like a darkened looking glass, the light cannot penetrate inside without it first being fractured," he wrote on his PledgeMusic site. When asked about the interview, Max had a bit more of a personal take on it.
"I've always kind have been an outsider in Christian music even though I was in one of the biggest bands in Christian music. I'm always a guy that's kind of constantly looking in from the outside, and when I do look inside I seem to be looking outside," he revealed. "I'm never ever completely comfortable in my surroundings. I write a lot from that place."
Max feels like people in Christian music specifically need to hear more about the "story of struggle, more about the truths of being fragile, fallible, broken as opposed to constantly singing and writing about how great life is, and how wonderful God is." He said while God's awesomeness is true, he feels like God meets "us in our struggle, in our tension." Sometimes the best lessons God can give us comes through the hard way.
"It's a constant everyday struggle through the mundane or the horrific situations that come up," said Max. "It's when we are in that valley of indecision, doubt, and fear that we are most connected with Him. That's when we are fragile and surrender all of ourselves...These songs are little bit about that."
Max has never been someone to shy away from crafting unique and different music, and yet still let Jesus come across in the message. Taking a look through CCM, often the formula is cut and dry. This is not the case for the Cotes d' Armor singer who often infuses equal parts John Lennon, Radiohead, David Bowie, and pop driven rock (The next article will explore this idea more).
"I really don't toe the line. I don't feel obligated or forced to change what I do for the Christian culture, but I feel led to create stuff that mirrors and exposes my faith whenever I create."
He said speaking about faith is something that comes naturally, "I don't feel like I have to fit a certain formula when writing songs about my faith."
However, Max recently discovered something about working on his own – sometimes it takes another voice to really get the most out of a song. While with Audio Adrenaline, Max was asked to collaborate with a few different writers and producers. It is now something he enjoys as he brought the mindset into creating Broken Temples. He also said his next few projects are going to be "completely collaborated."
The songs of Broken Temples were written by Max, and then he "took them to different people and finished them out."
"Broken Temples is definitely me but it's a great amalgamation of a bunch of people."
Another learning experience for Max that involves letting people into his musical world is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding helps now more than ever especially for an independent artist. As a member of DC Talk, the group was supported by the funding of a big label and distribution. An independent artist does not always have the luxury of a big bank to create, market, and distribute their material. This is where sites such as PledgeMusic, Kickstarter, and IndieGogo become such a great go to for artists.
"It makes it interesting and now the fans can really get involved and know what they are getting" he said of this platform to raise money, "People can get what they want as opposed to having to wait on a label to hand out whatever they want to give."
Currently Max's campaign is sitting at 50%, but he still has over a month to go. Max opted to use PledgeMusic because their team is hands-on watching and monitoring the process to help artists achieve the best experience for not only the artist but the fans as well.
Max did not find it difficult to come up with the incentives for this project. He worked with his manager Bryan Ward to think of what he would want from his favorite artist if he pledged. One of the cooler perks is getting a golf cart ride around his neighborhood and then watching a movie at a private club house theater. Max will bring dinner, discuss the movie, and probably take requests to sing songs. Some other choices are vinyl, an audio book of "Fiefdom of Angels," shirts, and signed merch. The big $10,000 perk lets the buyer create their own package along with getting a producer credit.
"Ok, so $1000 is crazy money but if you're able to be a part of something...I'm a huge fan of David Bowie. If David Bowie gave away for $1000, I get to hang out in a cab with him all day and then I get to pick a movie and we get to sit there and watch a movie with him and his wife...I'd pay for that in a quick flash," he said laughing.
"Plus I'm neighbors with people like Matthew West and Haley from Paramore... so it'll be fun," he said.
Check back with BREATHEcast on Friday to hear what Kevin Max has to say about his buddies in DC Talk and about his thoughts on the Beatles. Read part one of the interview here.
Max's PledgeMusic campaign has an unknown goal and is currently around 50% funded. As a Christmas gift to his fans and pledge supporters he released clips of the new album with the help of his kids.
"42% of the goal met, with 40 days left to go…. if we can make 1% a day happen, we have got this wrapped… and it only means the best product and extra material for the listener…. Thank you to all who have supported thus far… But we need your help to push through to the end!!! please consider telling your friends, or if you haven't already, choose something to Pledge for and we will make sure that you are not disappointed. Peace to ALL" he wrote on Facebook.
That snippet of Broken Temples can be seen here.