Trevor McNevan: "No matter what you believe or how you were raised, at some point in your life, you will face the same burning questions that all of us ask: "Who am I? Why am I here? What is life really about?"
Thousand Foot Krutch first found an audience with the hip-hop centric debut, Set It Off, and then deftly edged into full-blown rock territory with Phenomenon and The Art of Breaking. In just a few years, the group has sold half a million records, shared stages with a wide mix of headliners (Switchfoot, Korn, The Roots), and landed adrenaline-rush songs like "Rawkfist" and "Move" on nationally televised sporting events—all of this achieved relatively under the radar.
Their latest release, The Flame in All of Us, offers youthful hip-hop and alternative rock to combine into a more universal, sometimes pop-shaped framework to create a deeper, fuller experience for artist and listener alike. All told, every detail behind The Flame in All of Us indicates another step in the right direction for Thousand Foot Krutch.
So what does frontman/songwriter Trevor McNevan think about The Flame in All of Us, and what inspired the instant hit singles off the new album? Trevor talks with NRT's resident interviewer Angel about the songs, the themes, the recording process and how he's survived wild fans and . . . crazy allergies? Come and grow with Thousand Foot Krutch as the flame in all of us continues to burn.
Can you tell us about the title-track off the new album?
I was reading a book called Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, which talks about human nature as well as the similarities that we share. In the past year, this book just sparked an interest on that topic, and it became the underlying theme of this record.
"The Flame In All of Us" is talking about the common thread that we share as people. No matter what you believe or how you were raised, at some point in your life, you will face the same burning questions that all of us ask: "Who am I? Why am I here? What is life really about?"
What are some of the other themes on the new album?
One of the first singles off the new record is called "What Do We Know?" The song starts with a person who wakes up on the morning of 9/11. Then it specifically talks about events like Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech tragedy, and some of the major catastrophes that have taken place over the last few years that have made us all—no matter what you believe—just stand back and say, "Wow, we're not in control here."
Our first rock single, "Falls Apart," is about the glue that holds us together. The message on this song conveys that things will start to crumble when we get our priorities out of whack. This song encourages people—just as it does for me—to take a step back once in a while and check ourselves by looking at our priorities. Sometimes it can be the things you're passionate about—the things you feel you're called to do—and without even knowing it you can let your priorities end up somewhere else because you continue to focus on one thing.
I read that it took only three weeks to record The Flame in All of Us. What was the recording process like, and where was it recorded at?
We started to laugh when we got to the recording studio, because we didn't even know the name of it until we got there. The studio is called "The Firehouse," and it's located in Old Pasadena, California. We recorded our latest project with Ken Andrews, our producer, who has worked with many different artists including Chris Cornell (Audioslave), Beck and Pete Yorn. It was a pleasure and just a great union when we hooked up. He was really into the songs even before we started, and it ended up being a really good mesh of what each of us do.
This record is very unique for us in a lot of ways, because our approach to the recording process was entirely different this time. We've always been a live band. That's always been our focus, and it's something that means a lot to us! So we were always searching for a way to capture the energy that happens on stage in our recordings, and I feel like we came pretty close. Ken had this idea to try to record our record more like they did in the '70s. Back then, when they recorded a classic rock album, they'd record the drums, bass and rhythm guitar in the same room while everybody played together. Afterwards, they would do vocals and overdubs, so that's what we did. We just went for it, and it was a pretty natural process. We got the energy we were looking for. It's funny cause it seems when people hear that their like, "Wow, it must be a pretty raw sounding record," but actually it's the biggest record, sonically, we've ever made. We're really excited about it, and I think that's the approach we're going to take from now on.
That approach definitely worked well for you. I recently listened to the project and I loved it! Did your producer know what the name of the album was before you went into The Firehouse studio or was it merely a coincidence?
It was literally an uncanny coincidence. Ken had booked the studio, but he didn't know the name of our record until we were just about finished recording. It's a great studio; it was actually an old fire station at one time.
Many people want to be a professional musician, but they don't realize just how much hard work is involved. Did you have to make a lot of sacrifices to get where you are today?
We feel so fortunate to still be making music and to be able to do this after 10-plus years. I'm from a really small town and started the band during my last year of high school. Actually, I'm the only original member from back then. When I first started out, I was at a point where I loved music, but I didn't know anything about the music business. It wasn't an option on career day, and we didn't have a counselor that could guide you through the process of becoming a professional musician.
It's been an incredible journey, and I feel like we're just getting started. When you're a musician, and that's the career you want to pursue, you have to take some of the worst jobs out there. You're looking for a job that will give you nights and weekends off so you can practice and play shows. It's a pretty unique spot to be in, and it's really, really hard to get a band off the ground. It's a lot of sacrifice and dedication—you will make a lot of mistakes—but you will learn from them.
So often we take for granted the amount of time we have available to spend with our family and friends. You know, all the normal life stuff like family reunions and weddings—we pretty much miss all of that. It's definitely a different way to live but it's incredible. I think if you love what you do—and you feel called to that—you should pursue it 100 percent.
I understand you had a lot of allergies as a child.
I was born with a lot of allergies—it was a pretty crazy thing! During the first year of my life, my parents realized I had approximately three hundred allergies! They had a three-page list, front and back, of everything I was allergic to. I couldn't have milk, peanut butter, jam, sugar or bread. I was allergic to just about anything you could think of—even newspapers. My mom and dad had to special order powdered food and milk for me, and it was a crazy process I had to go through. The thing I had to eat the most was regular unseasoned rice cakes. [Laughs.] It was very difficult for me during Halloween and my birthday, since I couldn't eat candy or cake.
Then one day my parents took me to a convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was a guest speaker at that event who asked if there was anybody who would like to come up and pray to receive a healing in their body. I was really young, I think I was probably ten at the time, so I went up and we prayed and agreed together for my healing. From that day on, I've been completely healed—I'm not allergic to anything!
You can eat anything now?
Yes, it's pretty amazing and I'm so thankful for many different reasons. If God didn't intervene, my life would have been very different. I honestly don't even think I'd be able to tour, because there would be no way I could keep up with everything.
Praise God for your healing! You've obviously been through some crazy times then. I was wondering what was one of the wildest things that has ever happened onstage?
We were performing at a large arena, in Chicago, for an Acquire the Fire event, and at the front of the stage, there was a huge wall of security with these big, big guys. Somehow, during one of our songs, a tiny, little girl busted through the security line of these huge guys and came right for me. Apparently, she was running up to give me a hug, I guess? She ran up from the right side, but I was looking the other way. That's when she "football tackled" me while I was singing on stage and I fell down. [Laughs.] It was hilarious! So the band kept on playing, and I just got up and kept on singing. Then all these huge security guards came and grabbed this tiny, little girl and took her away. We were just laughing at the fact that she actually made it through this big line of guys. It was pretty funny, and we even have it on video tape somewhere.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans before we go?
Thank you! We really appreciate the support and can't wait to see everybody out there!
Switchfoot: Life on Display Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 Switchfoot talks about one of the most frenetically paced seasons of their lives, and the ultimate values and goals driving the Fading West project that birthed it.
You chose the right person to interview there...| Posted September 08, 2008
Great interview, NRT! I learned a lot about the band and about Treavor. And praise God about how He healed Treavor from his 300 (!!!) allergies as a child! Thanks, Treavor! Thanks, NRT!!!