By Seth Barnes, Jr. and Kevin Max
After dropping his car off at the shop, Kevin Max (formerly of DC Talk) took the rental and started toward Starbucks. A short delay by a cop on a bike giving him a ticket, which Kevin comically attributes to the sensitive accelerator pedal, and he was off again. In the drive-thru at Starbucks, he called for the scheduled interview with Wrecked about his new album, The Blood.
You’ve been working on a new album called “The Blood,” scheduled to release in October. Can you tell me a bit about it?
It’s an old gospel and spiritual cover record. It’s in no way, shape, or form really typical. We’re basically taking a lot of different styles of music, but we’re trying to stay away from mainstream, really popular music and do something new.
What made you decide to explore the old roots of rock and roll? Do you have specific bands that you’ve been studying or modeling after?
I’ve basically put together 11 songs, maybe 12, that I feel have influenced the gospel category. We’re doing stuff from Blind Johnson, and as current as Prince and Stevie Wonder. There are a couple of old gospel greats. It’s old blues. It’s country. It’s grassroots. It’s lots of fun.
How did you decide to go back to the roots?
I’ve always been interested in gospel music. The old gospel music. I’m not really big into Christian music per se. I’m a big fan of old gospel music, though. When I was out in Los Angeles we started this project together, with the recording company in L.A. But when I left there, I brought it to Nashville. I think it’s relevant with this market and it’s really something I want to do, it’s a lot of fun. This is kind of a way I can just do what I want to do, which is write good music. They’re all covers, except for this one song I wrote. It’s a country song. Joanne Cash sings on it, and Vince Gill will be playing with me. In fact, I wrote it with her in mind. It sounds like an old Johnny Cash song really.
Personally, I think this has got a lot of potential, what with a lot of older styles of music making a bit of a comeback.
There are a lot of people making gospel music today who don’t really know where it came from, and so it’s kind of a history lesson, but the songs I picked I feel have a lot of influence on this type of music these days. We’ve been working on it for about a month now and the problem is I had my friend John Painter working on it, and he had to put it on hold for something else he had to work on. So, we had to go with someone else. So William and I are producing it ourselves.
Tell me about the interesting new contributors to this album.
On one track, I believe it might be the new single, it’s got Mike and Toby on it. It’s the first time with us in the studio together since Toby’s record. I’ve got American Idol’s Chris Sligh. As we speak, Mary Mary is in the studio singing. Rumor has it Amy might make an appearance.
How has it been doing stuff on your own? Do you ever miss the old days with DC Talk?
It’s been great for me. To be totally honest, I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do for the last several years. I couldn’t ask for more and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. As long as I’m making music I’m a happy man.
What has God been teaching you lately?
He’s been teaching me the same stuff he’s been teaching me all along – patience, and a lot of times he just impresses upon me the needs I have for him. I’m one of those guys that likes to do it on my own. He knows I struggle with wanting to control things and being isolated, but with Him…I’m still learning to give it all to God.
Would you like to present a challenge to the readers?
My challenge first and foremost would be to read Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? because it really gets to the belly of how we as artists can make great art. It’s one of my favorite books. The greatest challenge would be to be involved in scripture. To really get into the word consistently. That’s one of my greatest challenges.
Kevin Max is most well-known for his days with the band DC Talk. He traveled the world selling over 8 million albums to date. In recent years, Max explored his art and his faith with several critically-acclaimed solo projects and live performances worldwide. Listen to the Stevie Wonder cover “They Won’t Go When I Go” (unmastered) on his MySpace.