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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trevor McNevan Interview

Thousand Foot Krutch has been a staple in the Christian music industry for nearly a decade.  Fronted by Trevor McNevan, Thousand Foot Krutch has released five full length albums, sold over 800,000 records and scored 11 No. 1 Christian rock singles.  The group also recently released a special fan themed version of their latest full length, Welcome to the Masquerade, which serves as a thank you to their long time fans.  The album features Welcome to the Masquerade in its entirety, as well as pictures of fans and three unreleased songs.  In his spare time, McNevan also fronts the pop punk side project FM Static, alongside TFK’s drummer Steve Augustine.  The group released their fourth album entitled My Brain Says Stop But My Heart Says Go earlier this year.  On November 3, 2011, I had the chance to speak with Trevor McNevan about Thousand Foot Krutch’s new fan album, the new musical style on FM Static’s latest record and TFK’s decision to leave Tooth and Nail Records.

Webb:  You guys just released a fan edition of Welcome to the Masquerade.  What inspired you to release a fan themed album?

McNevan:  We just feel so blessed to have the support that we do.  Honestly, we had three bonus songs that we loved from the last record.  We wanted to save them for something special.  At the end of the day, we felt so humbled by the support.  In the meantime, before this new record is out, we would love to put out more of a thank you and appreciation to the fans, have a fan edition with those three bonus songs on it.  Also, have them [fans] send in pictures of themselves wearing the masks on the record, so that we could make a collage inside the artwork.  That’s what we did.  It’s been a really cool thing. 

Webb:  Could you tell me a little bit about the story behind each of the three new songs that you released with it?

McNevan:  Yeah man.  “Shook” is a song that is a hard-hitting, high octane kind of tune that was originally going to be a single off the last record.  I think a lot of bands put out B-sides and rarities that will hold people over until a new record comes out.  We really wanted to put out something that we believed in just as much as any single that we put out or any song on our record.  So we kind of held off, so that we could put something like that on this new edition.  It’s about the craziness and commotion, from my point of view, that my life feels like sometimes.  I know it’s something that everyone can relate to in their own way.  Just kind of needing my faith and trust in God to keep me centered, especially in those crazy storms.  Sometimes it seems like everyday.  That song is just about my need to be grounded.  I guess a bit of a humble statement about I am not strong enough to do this on my own.   

“Take It Out On Me” is a song I wrote from a perspective of talking to someone that I love, whether it is your best friend, your wife or someone in your family.  Whether it is from the way we grew up or from stuff we have been through in our life, some of us carry a lot of baggage.  Anger, pain and a lot of these emotions we keep them bottled up sometimes, instead of dealing with it in a healthier way basically.  Letting it out, talking about it and being able to seek counsel and share.  This song is kind of from the point of view of talking to that person, and saying listen, ‘Don’t do all of these things.  Take it out on me.’  It’s more of God’s heart of saying give your burden to God on this.  Take it out on me if you want to, but don’t drink yourself to sleep.  It’s not so specific to say those things, but the general idea is talking to that person.

“Anyone Else” was a song I actually wrote for the Daughtry record.  It’s the only time that’s ever happened on one of our records where I have written for someone else, and then we ended up wanting to use it.  We kept it for our stuff.  It meant something to me as more of a classic love song when I wrote it to pitch for him.  It still rings true for us.  It’s definitely more of a traditional love song than TFK usually does.  It’s a little platonic too in a sense that it is open to the listener; whoever that is to you, whether it is a friend, a loved one or on a spiritual level something to do with your faith.  It’s more of a traditional love song.

Webb:  You are in the studio right now mixing your new album.  I know it is still early, and you can’t release a lot of information.  But, could you give a little preview of the new album? 

McNevan:  Absolutely man.  The new record is called The End is Where We Begin.  That title rings true to us in a lot of ways.  We’ve been through a lot of transition as a band in the last year, from getting new management and switching that up, to finishing our record deal.  We really said no to all of the offers that we got in as far as signing another deal.  We just felt like this was something we wanted to do ourselves.  We really wanted to do it independently, and be able to connect with people on a closer level than we can when we are on the label.  We have chosen to do that.  Yeah, we are literally doing this one on our own.  We feel like in the state of the music industry right now, we didn’t want to be still handcuffed.  We wanted to be able to put out music more often, more reasonable and reasonably priced.  Give away free music if we wanted to, and just have the options to do those things. 

The End is Where We Begin definitely stands true to that.  With the state of music right now, that title really speaks to me as far as that and the transition that is going on in music.  On a spiritual level, [it] always kind of made sense to me with the idea of die to self.  That’s the title.  This new record, I am so excited about it.  It’s got some fresh flavors for TFK.  It also has some songs that bridge what we have done on our last record to this one, kind of doing that stuff a little better.  There are a handful of songs on this that I felt really inspired to go back to our roots a little bit.  There’s a little old school influence of TFK on a couple of these [songs] that we are really excited about, and had a lot of fun with too. 

Webb:  Do you have a tentative release date for it yet?

McNevan:  We are hoping either the last week of March or the first week of April is the tentative release date.

Webb:  If you could sum up the new record in one word, what would it be?

McNevan:  That’s a great question.  What’s the word I am looking for?  I would have to say insane [laughing].  It’s loud and crazy, but it is also beautiful.

Webb:  You mentioned this a couple questions ago, but I thought I would hit on it.  Does that mean you are no longer with Tooth and Nail, and you are an independent band?

McNevan:  We are indeed man.  Tooth and Nail has been incredible.  We love them.  They are still family and they always will be.  But, we have been thinking and praying about it for awhile.  We were very blessed to be in a position where we had deals from all the labels.  That was a great spot to be in.  But, at the end of the day, we just felt the need to grassroots a little more.  We want to do it bigger and better, that’s for sure.  It won’t affect any of those things.  We just want to connect with people a little closer again than you are able to sometimes when you are in those situations.  Just be free to release music in the fashion that we want to.  If we want to release music sooner, we can.  We can put out EPs; we can give away some free music here and there if we want to.  Our fans have supported us, and that is such a humbling situation.  They have supported us with such a strong hand, that we want to give back.  This will allow us to do that a little more.

Webb:  Since you have been on Tooth and Nail Records for a quite a few years, are you nervous about this new phase or are you excited about hitting the music industry on your own as a band?

McNevan:  We are excited about it.  Yeah, there is a little bit of nerves in there.  It’s a risk and a new frontier for us.  I work with bands all the time and these labels all the time outside of TFK.  The guys do other things as well.  We’ve been fortunate enough to learn a lot about this business through the years we have been in it.  You learn how it runs, what it needs to run and who you can trust.  We have been very blessed to find the right people to be able to do that with them.  We are excited man.  We are definitely trusting that people that connect with this band can work with us on this, and we can do it together.  That is what we are most excited about. 

Webb:  Is FM Static going to stay with Tooth and Nail?

McNevan:  We haven’t made a decision as of yet.  As FM Static, we finished our deal with Tooth and Nail as well.  It’s kind of up in the air.

Webb:  Speaking of FM Static, I do want to ask you a couple of questions about your side project.  You released your new album earlier this year.  I absolutely loved it.  My personal favorite song on the record is “Black Tattoo.”  I was wondering, when writing the song, how did you come up with the symbol of the black tattoo to represent the song?

McNevan:  I actually have a pretty substantial black tattoo.  On my right arm below my elbow, basically the size of a pretty legit wristband, is a solid black tattoo.  I got thinking about this song and just the idea of it.  That played into it.  I hear this all the time when people ask you questions about your tattoo.  You kind of realize that if you are going to get a solid black tattoo on your arm, it is a bit of a statement.  It’s not something that you take very lightly.  So, that’s what it was kind of symbolizing in the song.  It was more of a statement. 

Webb:  I also want to mention the song “Lost In You.”  Do you view that song as a worship song? 

McNevan:  Yeah.  There is no right or wrong here.  But, I think a lot of Christians look at worship as Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin, which is traditional worship and incredible.  I shouldn’t say traditional worship; it sounds bad to say that.  I mean those guys are out of the box in a lot of great ways.  I love what they do.  I think worship comes from the heart.  To me, for FM Static or TFK, some of these songs like “Breathe You In,” “This is a Call” and a couple songs on our new record, those are worship songs to us every bit as much as “Blessed Be Your Name” and some of the classics.

Webb:  You guys changed up your sound a little bit on this new album.  What was the inspiration to go with a more Top 40 sound than your previous FM Static records?

McNevan:  I think with pop music in general, that genre can have some bad connotations to it.  I have just always been a fan of huge hooks and pop rock, from the Beach Boys to the Beatles and all that good stuff.  I think it’s whatever you feel inspired to do at the time.  It wasn’t really a conscious decision to change the sound.  It was more of let’s take what we are doing and re-skin it a little bit for this record, and have fun with it.  I came up listening to a lot of hip-hop, and I love a lot of the old school stuff.  Yeah, I think the influences and the programming and loops, kind of felt natural.  It made sense timing wise too. 

Webb:  I know you have worked with some hip-hop artists like Manafest and KJ-52, and you even had a little bit of a hip-hop on the new FM Static album.  Do you ever want to put some more hip-hop stuff in your music, whether it is Thousand Foot Krutch or FM Static?

McNevan:  Yeah, it’s funny.  It’s something that is very honest to me.  When I was 13, I actually did a full on rap demo.  At the time, it was a tape [laughing].  It was a rap tape, which sounds hilarious.  When I was 16, I put out another record.  The drummer for Three Days Grace was in my band.  We kind of grew up in the same town.  That one was half hip-hop and half rock.  I started getting more into the rock stuff when I was like 15 and 16.  The little town that I grew up in only had a classic rock station.  That was it.  I grew up listening to mostly just hip-hop.  Between those two influences, it kind of drove that.  I have always been rhyming.  It has always been something that meant a lot to me, as much as singing does.  I think it is honest to say that it could very well come out on this TFK record a little bit.  A little old school TFK love. 

Webb:  Do you ever find it hard trying to balance your time between Thousand Foot Krutch, FM Static and even your personal life?

McNevan:  Yeah, it’s a bit of a constant juggle.  Those things are part of my passion.  They are what I feel drawn to, and just love to do.  I am very blessed to have an incredible wife who is very supportive and understanding.  It is a constant juggle. To be totally honest with you, of getting some healthy time that you need for yourself once in awhile, [having] the habit of being a good husband and as a perfectionist trying to do what I love the best I can.  It’s a juggle man.  But, thank God he is stronger than I am. 

Webb:  Have you thought about doing any music videos for Welcome to the Masquerade or My Brain Says Stop But My Heart Says Go?

McNevan:  Yeah, we talked about some for the new [FM] Static, and there has been no decision made yet.  I think because there has been so much transition going on with the label with TFK.  It was bypassed a little bit.  We will see what happens there.  But, with the masquerade record with TFK, we actually did record a video for “Fire It Up.”  We didn’t like it.  Long story short, it wasn’t what we signed up for.  We didn’t want to put it out.  I think it was released.  The label did release it on a soft release kind of thing.  I am sure you can find it on YouTube.  It was not something that we intended to portray that song.  We ended up not really being able to [do a video] after that.  I wish we could.  That is one thing that I would love to go back and do on that record, but unfortunately I don’t think it is going to happen.  Now that we are free there, maybe we can put something out and not have to explain it.

Webb:  As a musician, which do you like better?  Creating songs in the studio, or playing a live show?

McNevan:  I honestly can’t really pick one.  I love writing songs.  I love working in the studio.  I do it all day long, even when I am not with the band on tour.  But, you can’t beat live.  It’s something as TFK, and for all of us, it’s a big part who the band is, and who we are as people.  The record is one thing.  That’s really the other side of us is our performance and what we do.  We give it 200 percent, and just love the live aspect of it.  You can’t beat live as long as you have a chance to do it.  But, I do really love the studio aspect, and it’s just a different pace.

Webb:  Speaking of your live show, do you have any touring plans in the future with Thousand Foot Krutch or FM Static?

McNevan:  FM Static, no.  With making this new TFK record, it has been impossible to find time to tour that one [FM Static album] right now.  But, hopefully in the future.  With TFK, we are doing a lot of spot dates, a lot of fly in dates right now.  We just got back from Switzerland and Germany.  Yeah, we have a bunch of U.S. shows coming up here, and we just finished a Canadian tour as well.  We are heading out in March and April with Red and a band that I have been working with for a couple of years that is just coming out called Nine Lashes.  It’s going to be great.  It’s going to be an awesome tour.

Webb:  I know this is a little bit of a loaded question.  But, I was wondering how do you think God uses rock and roll to win people for the kingdom?

McNevan:  I think music has always been a major communicator to all of the generations really.  I think, when I look at how music speaks to me as a person and how it communicates to me, I connect with it.  I always have.  I think a lot of people connect with music in their own way.  Some people can receive something through the message of a song or through the lyrics of a song, that you couldn’t just walk up and tell them.  They wouldn’t take it from you that way.  But, it could be communicated to them or to their hearts through music.  So, it’s not like someone is sitting there trying to preach at anyone.  But, the heart of it is that you talk about life and what you are going through, just the way you see it as a songwriter in your songs; no matter what you believe and what your faith is.  Yeah, we are Christian guys.  That is our faith and our lifestyle.  I am writing about the stuff that I am going through and the way that I see it.  Talking about God, life, love and sometimes hate, just real life.  I 100 percent believe that music can communicate, not better than anything else, but in a different way.

Webb:  Since you have been a musician so long, could you talk about one or two things that you have seen change in the music industry over the years?

McNevan:  One of the big things is a glaring issue in the music industry right now.  That is one of the reasons why we are so excited to kind of be able to do this on our own.  It has just become almost impossible to sell music.  Without pointing any fingers, just obviously a mass amount of people are stealing it and not buying it.  That is the most glaring one.  It affects all of us as artists.  I see a lot of it everyday, from the biggest artist to the brand new ones.  It affects us all in a massive way the amount people are stealing music.  When you do that, you are not supporting the artist.  Just as someone who loves music, I really hope that people can support it in that way again or realize how much they are affecting it.  It is just like movies or anything else.  It takes money to put a record together and a movie together.  Those budgets are becoming slim to none.  If you love music, support it.  I would encourage you to. 

Webb:  In a little bit of a different note, you have collaborated with a ton of artists over your career, writing, producing and even doing some guest vocals.  Do you have a favorite collaboration or one that really sticks out in your mind?

McNevan:  They have all been fun.  I have a blast working on music with people, and feel honored to work with the artists that I have.  Some of them have been like a day, and some of them have been months and months.  I’d have to say the ones where I got to spend more time with [are my favorites].  We just have more memories, and more fun times in those projects.  Hawk Nelson, getting to work with those guys for so many years, with those first few records.  They’re still family.  Those guys are incredible.  Manafest is a good, good friend.  I love all of that stuff.  Working with Toby was a lot of fun.  I just think about Toby as a person.  He is definitely one of those guys who is the real deal.  I remember sitting there when I was tracking his vocals for a demo we were working on.  Just sitting there and thinking, ‘wow this is so funny.  When I was in youth group, I would probably be freaking out right now [laughing].’  You have those moments.  But, I feel blessed and so fortunate.  God is so good.

Webb:  Do you have an all time favorite Thousand Foot Krutch or FM Static song?

McNevan:  Man, that is a tough one.  I love them all.  I really do.  With TFK, I can’t even pick one.  FM Static is almost as hard.  I think because the record never really got as much push, and it is just a heartfelt song to me about a family member.  I think the song “Tonight” off of our second FM Static record called Critically Ashamed.  Yeah, I would have to pick that one.

Webb:  You have already mentioned this a little bit already.  Besides your new album and your upcoming tour with Red, do you have any other plans in the future with Thousand Foot Krutch?

McNevan:  There are a million things going on with this new stuff that we are doing.  We are going to be doing a huge pre-sale campaign coming up.  Offering tons of different packages, from all sorts of merchandise packages to early listening and early downloads of the record before it actually comes out to a private listening party to a Skype call.  We are just getting really creative, and having fun.  Like I said, just more ways to connect with people and getting to share this with them.  Yeah, that is going to be coming out in the next few months before the new record comes out.  We will probably have a new single out in January.  I really hope you guys dig it.  We are excited.  We have got a second wind.
Webb:  Do you have any last comments that you want to share?

McNevan:  I appreciate your time.  If anyone gets the chance, you can check out thousandfootkrutch.com.  That would be fantastic.  Also, you can check out Live At the Masquerade.  We released a live CD and DVD.  We actually released that independently.  Just really encouraging people to check it out, it’s a great live portrayal of who we are.  We brought tons of fire, and got crazy.  It was a blessing.  

Below, is the official lyric video for Thousand Foot Krutch’s song, “Shook.”


  1. Man, this is such a great interview! I heard they were leaving Tooth and Nail to go independent a while ago, but this is the first time I've heard any details about it. I'm so excited to see what's next for TFK. Sounds like it's going to be great.

  2. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it! I had heard rumors too about them leaving Tooth and Nail, but nothing concrete. I really appreciated that McNevan shared all the information that he did. Yes, I am really looking forward to the future of TFK, especially their new album!

  3. Great Interview! Alot of new and exciting stuff going on with TFK. I can't wait for the new abum!!! Oh and you asked great questions too!

  4. Thanks for reading! I am really excited for the future of Thousand Foot Krutch. I think their new album could be their best yet. Once again thanks for reading and commenting! God Bless.

  5. This was really interesting to read! TFK is probably my favorite band, ever. Trevor is really, really talented. It was nice to read some of the things he thinks personally. :)

    1. Thank you so much. It was simply an honor for me to have an opportunity to speak with Trevor. I am with you; I absolutely love Thousand Foot Krutch and FM Static.

  6. Hey, could you confirm me, is this a REAL Christian band? Not only an individually christian like switchfoot, right? Just have to know it, please, I heard war of change and seen a black dressed woman, why black? And also the lyrics, can someone explain me correctly all these things?

    1. Absolutely, Thousand Foot Krutch is a Christian band. All of their members profess to be followers of Christ. Even in this very interview, Trevor McNevan openly speaks about his faith.

      Also, I am not for sure exactly what you mean about Switchfoot. They too are believers and followers of Christ.

      Yes, I have seen the official War of Change music video. You are right, the video does a feature a woman dressed in black. I think the main reason that it is used is because the video is shot in black and white, with a little bit of gray thrown in. So, the color of her dress is not a big deal. I think it just fits in with the overall color of the video.

      Below, I have included two links for you. The first one features Trevor McNevan speaking about all the songs on their latest album. He goes into detail about the meaning of the War of Change song. Also, the second link just talks about their faith in more detail.

      So, I hope this helps. I am glad to answer any more of your questions that you might have. Without a doubt, I definitely believe that Thousand Foot Krutch is a group of firm Christians. God Bless.



    2. Thank you for your answer friend! God bless you too. I abandoned listening to Switchfoot since I have seen a "horned hand" made by a member (there is a picture of it: https://es-es.facebook.com/switchfoot/photos/a.150008566678.144467.6224991678/10151851574551679/?type=1&theater ). And also Skillet, "The older I get", in some parts, you can see the same. Well, so far I can't get it, if they're christians, what is that expression about? It isn't very transparent for me, I won't do that since I know I could hurt God feelings, I have heard the rumour that it is not a satanic expression, that was introduced by a singer many years ago. But still, how can you be so sure? If so, isn't the same thing to go and listen to metallica (singer is atheist according to wikipedia) or megadeth? They of course make that expression... thank you for your time, I make all of these kind of annoying questions because I have doubts and want someone to explain and clear them. I am not american also, so if you are maybe you can explain me what does church say there about that sign, about the meaning, or about the history. Bless!

    3. As I said, I am more than happy to answer all of your questions. I always appreciate people who are interested in Christian rock music and who are willing to learn about different things.

      First of all, I freely admit that I am not an expert in this topic. I am sure there are more knowledgeable people out there than me. But, in all of my personal studies, I have been able to at least receive some pretty good information about it.

      For this horned hand, it can mean different things in different cultures. I noticed how you said in your response that you were not an American. So, this symbol may mean something entirely different in your culture, than it does here in America.

      But, here in the United States, this hand gesture largely has two different meanings. One, this symbol can represent a sign for satan. Some bands have used this hand gesture to further implant their hearts and minds into a praise of the devil. Sadly, many heavy metal bands have especially used this gesture for those purposes.

      But, in the overall context of the horned hand, it has slowly, over the years, turned into a simple recognition of good rock and roll music. So, many people today will use this gesture regularly. But, they will not use it for satanic purposes. Instead, they will use this gesture to show how they are enjoying themselves by listening to good music.

      Like so many other things, I believe it all comes down to your heart and inner motives. Obviously, you can use the horned hand for satanic reasons, but you can also use it just as a way to tell people that you are having fun at a rock show. In mentioning Skillet and Switchfoot, based on all of their interviews and songs, I think they were just using this gesture for fun. They were not meaning it to have any derogatory or devilish motives.

      In mentioning the church, I am not familiar with any outright stance on this issue. Probably if you spoke with different pastors or leaders, they would give you different answers. But, this symbol, more than anything else, is just seen as cultural issue within America.

      I hope and pray that this helps. I also admit again, that my response was entirely taken from an American perspective. I am not for sure what your culture says about this topic. Also, don't worry about your questions. They are not annoying at all. But, on the flip side, I greatly appreciate them! God Bless.