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1883 Magazine
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Kevin Max has been active in the entertainment industry for the last 30 years. He started off being in the Christian rap and rock group, DC Talk, which gained massive success and won 4 Grammys. Once the group went on hiatus, Kevin jumped into several projects including his solo music during which he released eight albums with a ninth one on the way, poetry books, novels, and films. He’s dabbled in it all with no hint of stopping.

We sat down with him at the Roxy Hotel in New York City to discuss his projects, upcoming album AWOL plus we have the premiere of his new track ‘Moonracer’.

You were in the band DC Talk and you guys got massive recognition before going on hiatus. What’s the status on a reunion?

The band has definitely been on hiatus for 15 years. We got back together last year and did a reunion-type cruise. Next year we’re doing the same thing. We’re getting on a big boat and going to the Bahamas with the thought of doing a reunion tour in 2020. All three of us went in separate directions as solo artists, and we’ve all been busy as solo artists. So putting that band back together is kind of a difficult process. I mean two of us have a ton of kids. I have four kids and the other guy has five kids. It’s pretty intense.

That is pretty intense, but it’s awesome that you guys are back together. I’m sure your fans are really happy about that.

They are. We have a lot of happy fans and we have a lot of angry fans because not everyone can get on a cruise ship. I guess there is hope at the end of the tunnel. It took a little time for us to get back together and decide that we wanted to do it. The thing that we did last year was very successful. We had a great time and it was natural coming back together, playing songs from years and years ago. I mean, we’re talking ‘90s. A lot of the songs still hold up. As a solo artist, I’ve been making music up until right now. It was a lot of fun.

Is your faith something that you express through your music?

I don’t really consider what I do to be faith based music. I do alternative music and I tend to throw spiritual thoughts into it as well and anything else that I’m dealing with at the time. The way that I come to it is a very natural process. If I’m going to write a song about a relationship, or a song about a place or memory, I might do that. If I’m writing something that has spiritual aspect in it, I will throw it in there. I don’t feel encumbered by anything. I just sort of do what I want to do. I’m not really focused on these things specifically.

How does your solo music differ from your previous work with the group?

It is very different. My first solo album in 2000 was a record called Stereotype Be and it was a very alternative record for the time. Adrian Belew helped produce the album. He was David Bowie’s, King Crimson’s, and Frank Zappa’s guitar player. It was a very progressive, alternative album. It kind of had some world music elements to it, but still kind of European pop. It went in a very different direction than what DC Talk had done musically. I’m extremely different as a solo artist compared to DC Talk, it’s almost kind of like night and day. Right now, I’ve continued to progress and my passion for what I like in music is kind of ever-changing. At the moment, I’m kind of hovering over a new age, classic alternative ‘80s thing.

Which of your works are you most proud of?

I really like all of them. There’s really not an album that I feel I missed the boat on it. I tend to do what I believe in. If I think it is crap then I just toss it. I don’t put anything out there that I don’t completely, 100% believe in. Each record I’ve done is very different. I put out a record called Starry Eyes Surprise. It was almost kind of a jazz fusion record. With my new record AWOL, you can definitely term that as classic alternative. Everything from rock ‘n roll albums to electronic albums. I kind of like a little bit of everything. Except for country, and I don’t think I’d be a very good hip hop artist either.

Tell me about your new record that’s coming out. What kind of songs can we expect from it?

The new record is called AWOL. It’s a military term that means Absent Without Leave. I’m kind of experimenting with the thought of I don’t like to be conformed to any scenario. I tend to walk away from anything that has a formula attached to it. That was really the basis for the idea of the title. The music came very quick - fast and furious, for a lack of a better term. And I wrote all these songs in my studio in Franklin, Tennessee, and some of the songs I did with my friend Kieran Kelly here in Queens, New York. So half of it was in Franklin and half of it was in New York City. I think it’s a classic alternative album, definitely new wave inspired. It was a fun record.

What was it like shooting the music video for your single, “Moonracer?”

It was so easy for me. I showed up and they shot me in front of a white screen. The idea that me and the director had was that we wanted it to look like 1960’s Italian sci-fi. I thought it turned out really great. We had a girl named Haley, who is a dancer in Nashville, to play the part of the nomad. It’s really a story of time travel, possible reincarnation, possible “question mark, question mark.” Because I really don’t know what the song “Moonracer” means. I performed it last night at a Sofar event in the city and I played the song acoustic, and I had told everybody that I really don’t know what this song means, but I wrote it one night at my farm in Franklin and, honestly, it came out so quickly that it just became what it was.

You’re also a poet and have released several poetry books. Are you planning on releasing any new books soon?

The poetry is a constant. I still write a lot of poetry, but none that have been published in a couple of years. The last published book was a few years back, but I still write. And there’s an interesting way of continuing to do that, which is, I do a lot of spoken word in my shows. If I feel that I’m not inspired musically then I’ll just go straight to spoken word. I really dig that. I don’t know too many artists that are doing spoken word in the middle of a rock show. After Jim Morrison, it kind of went down the tubes.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?

The only thing that I haven’t done that I’d love to do 100% is to get my novel Fiefdom of Angels get made into a graphic novel then made into a movie. That’s the only thing that I have left on my list of things to be done.

That’s interesting!

Exactly. How often have you heard artists say that I want my sci-fi novel to be a graphic novel first and then a film? You know, it’d be nice to have David Lynch do it, maybe.

Kevin Max’s new album, AWOL, is available now!

Interview Naureen Nashid
@naureenn

Photography Sanjida Bintekamal, NYC 
@sanjidawesome

 

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