The voice. That other worldly, “stop you in your tracks”, “goose bump” raising voice put the stamp of distinctiveness on the music of DC Talk. A voice only rivaled in the history of rock music by Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury. Kevin Max is that once in a generation voice.
With that voice and a probing, experimental heart Kevin Max has carved out one of the most enigmatic, controversial solo careers in Christian music. The eccentric, attention-seeking member of the CCM trio DC Talk, Kevin Max turned almost certain superstardom as a solo artist into an underground solo career marked by experimental forays into French pop, electronic, gospel, blues and crooner pop. Kevin Max came out of DC Talk as the voice that ruled the hit records, turned his back on the CCM machine by moving to L.A., adopted a “rock diva” stage persona and very quickly alienated his traditional audience.
Stripped of the pressures of CCM superstardom Kevin Max proceeded to build a solo career of experimental pop music, spoken word creations, published poetry and stage and film roles. In the process he has worked with rock icons Andrew Belew, Larry Norman, and Van Dyke Parks.
“On everyone’s personal journey they’ve got to get to the truth,” says Kevin Max. “Without that, they’re living a lie. It’s getting outside the box, stepping outside our comfort zone when we really start to live.”
Kevin Max started singing when he was young. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, lived on a farm and rode horses and motorcycles. He was adopted as a baby by Max and Elaine Smith, and named Kevin Max Smith. He became popular in high school, to a degree, by singing in theatrical productions. He liked the sound of Bryan Ferry and Freddy Mercury’s voices. Kevin Max wrote poetry and enjoyed the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. He was fond of watching The Smiths videos. Kevin Max became a founding member of DC Talk, was kicked out of Liberty University and released form his first post DC Talk label, Forefront Records. He was asked to be the lead singer of Journey and declined. Kevin Max performed as Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and played the lead character in the film “The Imposter”.
Kevin Max is a maker of art.
Let’s set that record straight right now. Kevin Max is a man of so many different talents and facets—including but not limited to seven full-length albums and three EPs, so stylistically different that it hardly seems possible that they could have poured out of the same person; five studio albums with his former band DC Talk; four books of poetry; a memoir; a children’s book; stage and film performances; live shows and spoken word collaborations—that it is often difficult not to view Kevin Max as some sort of Frankenstein monster of various talents and abilities, all thrown together by some brilliantly mad scientist in an effort to create a perfect patchwork of wild talents.
But make no mistake—Kevin Max is a passionate musician constantly toiling away in his workshop, always pushing his music and his lyrics into new directions and higher heights. He has been heralded with titles that range from “the bad boy of Christian music” to “the next Peter Gabriel,” but Kevin Max eschews any such stereotypes by constantly recreating himself from album to album and refusing to be pigeonholed.
Now, back in Grand Rapids Michigan, Max is settling in on his graphic novel series titled ‘Fiefdom of Angels.’ A soundtrack is being assembled to coincide and the novel which started it all is being edited and ready to send to publishers. The graphic novel series starts with the teaser issue which is unveiled this year during Art Prize 2001. Max plans to follow up the introductory comic with a three volume series, which will then be followed by the novel itself. There are further plans for ‘Fiefdom of Angels’ to be written into a screenplay and stage production. Max is currently releasing the first single from the soundtrack as a free download during Art Prize week, titled ‘Take A Bow.’