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Audio Adrenaline has let their message of love, hope, and just plain old having fun in the Lord spread to listeners for over 25 years, and as the band disbanded in 2007 due to co-founder Mark Stuart's failing vocal health, a fellow 90s big name helped the band return to form.
Enter Kevin Max, the "Rock" from DC Talk's "Rap, Rock, & Soul," and now Audio A has its voice back with new record Kings & Queens and can reach a new generation of believers and non-believers with Stuart hanging out behind the scenes every step of the way.
Audio A had a whole personnel flip as the only original member left is Will McGinniss, co-founder and bassist. However, Max put it in perspective for those who are skeptical that Audio A is the same band.
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"It's the most obvious route to go for me. A lot of people are hung up on that and I don't understand why. For me if the band was going to change direction from what they were saying and what they stood for, then yeah do something different," he said. "Audio Adrenaline still retains the original mission statement and still retains two of the original members even though Mark can't sing."
Max said he and Stuart approached both Ben Cissell (former drummer) and Tyler Burkum (former guitarist and second vocalist) from the get go. The two of them were really interested but could not get away from other jobs that they already kind of committed to since the disbanding in 2007.
"We from the beginning never really wanted to alter what Audio Adrenaline was. From our standpoint we are continuing on from a past that has already been laid down and we want to go further with that and if we wanted to deviate from that, then we would change the name," Max said.
The whole process of Max become the new vocalist was based off of the successful experiment of his former groupmate, Michael Tait's transition to the almost 30 year band, the Newsboys.
"The same management that thought Michael should be the lead singer for Newsboys thought I should be the singer of Audio Adrenaline," Max revealed. "From a management standpoint it's extremely smart to ask Michael to do it. The fact that he's an African American in an Australian band, I think it break down stereotypes. Michael got a lot more backlash in the beginning than I did. Now when you think of Newsboys you rarely think of the old group, you think of the group out there touring right now. It shows that over time people will move on if you do it correctly."
"If it's done incorrectly and it doesn't make sense I would think you'd have enough sense to bow out gracefully," he continued.
Max said becoming the new singer of Audio A was not necessarily the hardest part of the transition. He felt the toughest obstacle was dealing with the emotions of a very good friend, Stuart, and how he felt about the change.
"Obvious concerns of how he felt about it personally. When somebody is losing their voice and they are a lead singer, it's like losing your legs and you're a championship runner," he said. How do you go to somebody, 'Hey this is gonna be fun, I'm taking your place and you can't sing anymore. I mean we've been friends for years, but how do you feel about this?'"
He continued, "At the end of the day he reassured me in many ways that he was wholeheartedly behind it, and he was really resolved that he won't be able to sing anymore. We show a video clip every night of Mark saying he wished he had his voice back, but now he's the voice of the orphans in Haiti. I think it's a really great redemptive story that Mark has to share. That God is still using him in unique ways."
After close to a 100 shows, and currently on the Kings & Queens tour, Max has settled nicely into the groove of things with the band. They have already had a lineup change concerning a few members but he feels this group is just right at the moment.
"I feel like we have the right team to do what we want to do live," he said.
As far as him fitting in as a replacement, he has a few thoughts on that as well.
"I'm not perfect in anyway for the job. My voice is obviously much different than Mark's. It would be like Mark taking my place in DC Talk. It's just different. Do I think it's perfect? No. Does it work? Yes. It's taken people awhile to get used to. We've not heard anything bad, any backlash. They think I'm naturally put back in this scenario," he shared.
Concerning the differences about he and Mark's voice, fans wanted to know how their favorite classic Audio A songs were going to sound, or if the new lineup would even do them.
"The stuff that I relate to for Audio Adrenaline are not what everyone wants to hear. My favorite songs aren't "Big House," "Never Gonna be as Big as Jesus," or "Get Down," he said. "I like more of the rough edge stuff off Bloom and I kinda like some of the songs off Lift. Going back to some of the earlier records like Don't Censor Me and things like that, I'm kind of like, 'hmmm, that just seems a bit dated to me.' But we have to play Big House and Get Down. I feel like once we get a few records then those songs will go away."
Lastly, when asked about doing some DC Talk tracks Max was hesitant. TobyMac does "Jesus Freak" and "In the Light" at times, while Tait has done "Jesus Freak" and even rerecorded with the Newsboys featuring KJ-52.
"It's not really on our register, we thought about it," he said.
"We've actually done "Supernatural" a few times for the heck of it but it didn't really fit what we were trying to do. It felt awkward to me, and when I feel awkward about something I usually veto it pretty quick. Yeah, we aren't doing any DC Talk songs in the set anymore. Audio Adrenaline has enough songs of their own, we are just trying to push ahead these new songs."
Audio Adrenaline is synonymous with the hey day of Christian music as their mixture of alternative and catchy message filled pop rock tunes helped lead the forefront of 90s bands that shaped what we hear today.
Audio A has nine studio albums since, two live albums, and four compilation albums since 1992.
In that time they have managed seven No. 1 CCM singles, two Grammy's, and five Dove Awards.
Part two of this interview coming soon. Max talks about the stigma of Christian music, evangelism, art, and the legacy of Audio Adrenaline.