Audio Adrenaline's Kevin Max Says 'Christian music in general is definitely behind the times' (Interview Part 2)

Kevin Max Discusses Music as Art and Evangelism, and how to avoid temptation.
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(PHOTO: MergPR)Audio Adrenaline group shot, 2013.

With Kevin Max at the helm of Audio Adrenaline, he is taking the band's music into the future by helping to continue their message of love, hope, and just plain old having fun in the Lord spread to listeners who have desperately needed their fix since they disbanded in 2007.

Max chats with the Christian Post to discuss his view of Christian music, music as art, temptations, and evangelism.

Read part one of the interview where Kevin discusses becoming the new front man of Audio Adrenaline, and the band's message here.

While in DC Talk, Max shared the stage with two others, TobyMac and Michael Tait. As a solo artist, he rocked with a band, and even though that is what he viewed it as, most people considered him a single entity. Max is now the front man of a "band" in the sense of the group being well known, not just players on a stage.

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(PHOTO: MergPR)Audio Adrenaline's album cover for "Kings & Queens."

"It's a great feeling. I've fronted other bands in the past on side projects and in between. Even when I was solo in LA I had a band of guys behind me. This doesn't feel too dissimilar," Max said regarding the step up as lead singer. "The great thing with Audio Adrenaline is that there's a common ground beyond just the music, and I think that's what we try to get people to know at our live show. We are a band that has a definite mission statement and a band that is trying to reach the least of these. We are trying to let people know the reason for our faith is the reason we continue to keep making music."

Max is very much focused in the now for the direction of the band. He is aware of the long past of the band, and is looking to just try and do Audio A justice in the present before trying to create a legacy.

"I think that legacy is a tough word. To a modern standpoint of what we are at, we take it day to day. We aren't looking at it to create a legacy but rather, 'Hey we have a really great job to do' and we love doing it, and I love creating. One of my biggest roles in the band beyond the singer is to be the creative guy. Be the voice of people out there who kind of feel like a misfit, or that they don't really fit into a group, or don't quite understand Christianity in the shapes and forms it is out there. People who have been let down by the church. Time will tell, we only have one album under our feet," he said.

Max is also very much trying to add his own flare to Audio Adrenaline. He knows that vocally, he sounds nothing like his predecessor, founder Mark Stuart. He's also not trying to be like him.

He shared a story of the time he tried out to be the lead singer of the band Foreigner. Although they loved his voice and were interested in him for the job, they asked if he could sound more like their former singer.

Taken a back a little, he replied "No, I can't. It's not possible. This is my voice."

Max said it is incident's like this that make taking over for a different singer so hard because people have expectations. He compared it to an opposite example where the new singer sounds like the old singer.

Audio A opened for Journey and new singer, Arnel Pineda, sounds exactly like Steve Perry.

As far as music as evangelism, Max feels the message needs to be real and straight forward, and coming from an approach that humans are imperfect and need a Savior.

"I think it's a great way to evangelize if it's done correctly, and when I say that I mean I think that when songs are open and real and can show that Christianity is about people and human beings that are willing to say, that they are not perfect and they need a Savior in order to survive everyday. I think that's a great place to say what you believe. I don't think there's anything wrong with it but when it's done in a way that manipulative or condescending or judgmental, I wouldn't want to be a part of it," Max said.

Max said he does not feel music has anywhere else to go, but to God.

"There's not really anywhere else to go when it comes to the mystery of life. We've written about everything we can about the human condition and our fleshly needs, now it's more interesting to write about God," he said.

Max also feels a lot of Christian music is severely lacking because the artist uses to many clique ways to praise God. He believes if musicians tapped into their creativity to express God, the music would be more widespread and would not scare people off.

"I feel like Christian music in general is definitely behind the times. I feel like it could be much better from a production level, sonic level, lyrical level, live performance level. It is a very small group and industry compared to the general market. Because of that there's going to be things that take longer in development," he said. "I've always maintained that music is music and God owns it all. I think when your lyrics are obviously exposing your faith where you want other to people to know it's a great thing, then it's somewhat labeled."

He gives an example such as the band U2. He said that although Bono and U2 are sometimes "spiritually active lyrically," what message are they trying to convey?

"Is Bono and U2 trying to get other people to believe in that as a platform or is it just him expounding on what he believes. I feel like there's a difference and a line that is kind of drawn where you can be open about your spirituality and beliefs but when you say this is what you need in your life and bring the evangelistic part to it, that changes it from being general market to Christian in my opinion," max said.

"Is Audio A a Christian band? I think it is, because we are asking people to make a commitment. We are also not trying to cram the gospel down people's throats. It's a very interesting topic, and it needs to be talked about and pondered over it. I think the more we talk about it the more some of these walls will be broken down," he continued.

In much of the early 90s, Max was able to experience the celebrity of a musician while in DC Talk, and although he my experience that to an effect now, it is undeniable, especially being younger, that temptation will come your way.

"I think it's the same for a guy that's in a rock band to a guy that works in an office, to a guy that might work in a school or a church. You have different things that are going to tempt you or take your attention off what you want to do. In music it's a little more obvious, people are screaming your name all day long and women are coming up to you after shows, people are wanting to get to know you…I get a lot of people on the road that really want to get close to me and talk to me and get to know who I am. But the thing is, that's part of my job, and I get that," he said.

"I have to separate what's my job and what's personal life. I think it's just maintaining a balance between what's my personally life and what's my job and keeping it real and not letting one take over the other."

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.