Thousand Foot Krutch is a diverse musical machine of a band that turned twenty this year. Trevor McNevan, the front man and founder of TFK, talked with CM about his passion for faith, fans, and music. Thousand Foot Krutch is not your typical Christian Rock band; they look and sound like rock stars and they easily walk between the worlds of secular and non-secular bands. McNevan’s enthusiasm for his music, beliefs, fans, and family are infectious and our interview was like catching up with a familiar friend.
Christian Musician: Your new album Exhale released on June 17th. What inspired you?
Trevor McNevan: The concept for Oxygen: Inhale and Exhale was to get rid of parameters. Inhale would give us a chance to play our lighter side of who we are. Exhale was always supposed to be the exact polar opposite that would really allow us to run full tilt into the more aggressive side of the band that we truly are musically. This record was just super fun to make, it really really was! We’ve been chomping at the bit to get this to our fans, so hopefully everybody feels the way we do!
CM: Since the release of your music video for “Running with Giants” in February of this year it has had over 400,000 views. Why do you think it has produced such a response?
Trevor: It’s amazing and kind of humbling experience to see that kind of support for a video. When you release new music in a two-part story showing two sides to a band, there’s always some risk involved. We are 100% independent as of about 5 years ago, so that was the point to be able to grow this organically and walk life together with our audience, and it’s been a really cool journey and this is the next step in that.
We’ve been blessed to have people kind of grow up with this band. They keep walking with us and now they have kids and they’re walking with us together as a family and it’s cool! We do the same thing live as in the videos, spending time with people to hear the stories of what God is doing in their lives. And regardless of faith and lifestyle, we love to have those kind of real conversations after a show or before a show.
Trevor: We connected with our long time illustrator friend Ryan Clark, who also fronted the band “Demon Hunter.” He and his brother Don have an amazing graphic branding and design company called “Invisible Creature.” I brought him the visions for the albums saying, “Here is Inhale, and here is Exhale, and here is the vision in the painting the way I see it.” So we try and work within our own gifts and what God blesses us with. It was really important as a band to release four or five songs ahead of time before the record came out, just to give people music more often as a kind of instant gratification to build up to the story of the record. So then we started talking about doing single covers so each single that gets released gets its own.
CM: As a band that launched out of Ontario, Canada in 1997, did you ever dream of the success you have attained with songs in video games, major league sports, ESPN, and streaming views and album sales in the millions?
Trevor: I believed in that calling from a young age and that God called me to do that, but I had no idea how to do it. I just kind of decided that I was going to be obedient to this and I left home to do it and trusted in Him the entire time. So it’s been an awesome journey, but I can’t say I looked ahead and said, “I really hope we achieve this.” It was more of what my faith is. It is my lifestyle, along with the guys in the band, and it’s who we are, and it’s about believing in that calling. “God, if you’re in this, we believe that we can communicate through music as You have communicated to us and shaped us and our lives.”
To answer your question: yes I believed in it the whole time. I believed what it could be. But I never felt that if we didn’t achieve this then we would have failed.
CM: TFK is known for great live shows. How will Exhale translate in this arena?
Trevor: We were just talking about this during rehearsals and we are so pumped to play this stuff live. The more aggressive side of the live band has always been a lot of fun for us. The live shows are really a big part of who we are as a band and we put it all out there because it is our passion. It really translates well, and we share that energy with each other and sweating on each other, and it’s real and it’s raw. I think it’s going to be such a natural progression with these songs. We are huge music fans, just like we were when we were ten years old, and we try to build dynamics in the set list and try to introduce them to new songs.
CM: In a recent interview on “Running with the Giants” you stated, “The faith steps in our lives define our journeys, and that’s what this song is about.” What did you mean?
Trevor: To me those are defining moments in our lives, and there have been many times in my life where I have had to look back and face that. A faith step is one of those moments when you feel called to, or drawn to, and you feel very strongly that this is what you need to do. But it might make no sense to your head, and it might make no sense on paper. And your first inclination is going to be, “Oh man, what will people think, and how do I explain this if I do it?” It’s those moments when we put our full trust in Him, in God. You have to step over your fear, and those are not easy moments. They’re exciting! And I firmly believe that His plan is better than mine, and I’m thankful for that. But it’s very honest to say those moments can be terrifying also. Faith steps determine our path from here on out, and they stretch our faith and kind of grow our faith along the way. The more of those steps you take, the more you realize, “Hmmm, I would have never pictured that, but I’m so glad that we were obedient because God had other plans.”
CM: Have things been better or worse for TFK since going independent in 2012?
Trevor: It’s a huge risk and a lot of work, and you talk about the timing . . . and you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and everybody is learning again. It was a faith step and we had some enablers and a record deal with a bunch of dollar signs attached to it that were on the table . . . it was very enticing. But we knew strongly where we felt the Lord was calling us. So we just said, “Lord, we’ve followed You to this point and we’re just going to keep following You. You’ve always been faithful, and for us, that’s the whole point.”
CM: Some bands seek ways to make more money from their fans, but TFK gave away the song “Born Again” as a free download. Why?
Trevor: One of the beautiful things about being independent is that when we get creative and a song means a lot to us, we can say, “Thanks!” to our fans. It makes our hearts happy to be able to say thanks, and I’m not diminishing anyone else’s platform, but it means a lot for us to be able to say. “This is the lifeline of what we’re doing and we want to give it to you.”
CM: Major record labels would probably not be fans of this methodology . . .
Trevor: I consume music, and I found myself not preordering music from my favorite artists but just waiting for the album to come out, and we [TFK] were experiencing the same kind of frustration. Although there is risk involved I don’t think we lose by giving people more music more often. It’s about doing this together with our audience and the people supporting bands, and it is tough when you feel your hands are tied on the creative side. Some people love getting their hands dirty in the creative side of this, and some people don’t. A record label can be a great thing, but it has been a blessing for this band to be independent, that’s for sure.
CM: Do you consciously try to include faith-related messages in your songs?
Trevor: No, it’s not really a lean to either side of the fence when it comes to lyrics. My prayer has always just been, “God what do you want to say and how do you want to say it?” And that’s the honest truth. As far as lyrics go, our faith has always been our lifestyle, that’s who we are. It’s never been separated from the music or one or the other. Whether we’re playing with Rob Zombie and Disturbed, or Newsboys and Third Day, we’re the same band and we love each of those guys and respect them for what they do. Both forms of music are great as long as you are true to who you are.
CM: You’ve composed songs and lyrics for a diverse cross-section of artists. How has that worked out?
Trevor: It’s been such a blessing! I love that stuff, and even now I’m working on a bunch of songs. I enjoy the fun musicality of it, and it constantly keeps you guessing and keeps it interesting. There’s always an exciting boundary to push musically with an exciting melody or hook. It just makes me smile; it never ever gets old.
CM: Do you have a special writing regimen of any kind?
Trevor: I used to have notepads all over the place. Then I went to a voice recorder for a long time, and now I also use my iPhone. I’m always just filling up my voice recorders and most of my phone is filled with ideas. It’s the best way for me to capture it so I can remember it right in the moment. Case in point: I have all of these recording setups I built to use wherever I am on the road, and I was in New York City doing press interviews for Exhale when I got a call from a friend with Paramount Pictures. They were looking for a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie theme song and I had nothing with me. So I ran over to Guitar Center and rented this great mic and a bunch of gear and I took it back to the hotel in this great room off of Times Square. I built an Isolation Booth out of pillows. Now you’ll hear this song in the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie on the end credits and you’ll know I recorded that in a hotel room.
CM: So when you’re building a hotel studio, does the composition of the pillows matter… like is it better to have foam or down filled?
Trevor: (Laughing) It just requires all of the pillows. It was like a fort. I wish I had duct tape… it was hilarious. It was turtle power baby for the sake of the turtles!
CM: Since the name of your band is “Thousand Foot Krutch,” do you feel that God is still your crutch as you continue this journey?
Trevor: That was a common misconception with the name, which I totally get. It was never to actually use God as a crutch. To me, it always just represented the support system that our faith gives to us. And not a day goes by that I don’t continue to rely on that faith and support system. There are a lot of those overwhelming moments where you just know that you can turn to that peace in His name and just know that He’s walking with you the whole time.
CM: What are your main instruments on stage?
Trevor: I’ve always been endorsed by PRS guitars. I love their amazing guitars and I’m using the FC250 (my favorite) and the 245, and several of their baritones that hold tuning really well for Drop D stuff. Our live guitarist, Andrew, is playing ESP. We have the SE Angelus PRS acoustics we use also. Joel, our bass player, just signed a deal with a new company. We also use Yamaha drums (maple customs), Sennheiser microphones, and Shure mics for all of our wireless stuff and on the kit and amps. We also have some Line 6 pieces up there on stage. Amp wise, we currently have Marshall 800’s on stage, or if we are renting out on the road it’s easy to rent a Mesa Boogie dual rectifier and a Marshall 800 and we can get what we want out of them. In the studio amps are all over the place. I’ve been representing Revv Amplification for a while, and they make one of the best amps I’ve ever heard: the Generator 100, It’s just unbelievable. Line 6 HD 500 is what we’re using for effects right now.
CM: Who’s your favorite hockey team?
Trevor: This is going to sound funny as a Canadian, but I gotta go with the Nashville Predators. I’ve lived in Nashville for a little while now and one of my high school buddies and a friend of the family is Mike Fisher, who was traded to the Preds. We’re rootin’ for the Preds baby! It’s probably the loudest audience in the league.
CM: When you aren’t touring, writing songs, or recording what do you do with your free time?
Trevor: My family and I just chill. My little boy is three now and his gain knob is turned to 11 all the time! I’m just trying to keep up with him, and he’s got me runnin’. We play tons of imaginary games. He loves monster trucks, and we check out some monster jam events and get some Toy Story time in there. We try to spend a lot of time outside and limit the screen time the best we can. You try your best to have a healthy life balance.
All social access, tour dates, and of course music for TFK can be found at www.thousandfootkrutch.com and they also have a free App in the App store for the band. Thousand Foot Krutch proves that you can still be Christians and provide heavy rock and roll with meaningful lyrics that feed us all. Here’s to the next 20 years for TFK!