Staying true to themselves, Thousand Foot Krutch frontman Trevor McNevan, bassist Joel Bruyere and drummer Steve Augustine have carved an independent path that continues to rack-up accolades well beyond its major label successes. The aggressive follow-up to the band’s 2014 album, OXYGEN: INHALE, EXHALE went on to hit No. 1 on iTunes’ Rock Top Albums chart (No. 3 overall Albums) in the US with Top 5 overall albums chart placement in Canada, Russia, Australia, Finland and more. The album also became the band’s third consecutive No. 1 on the Top Christian/Gospel Albums chart. With EXHALE, TFK are back to the aggressive side of the dial. The album released independently worldwide on TFK Music and with marketing, sales and distribution through Fuel Music. Available at iTunes and other digital and physical retailers internationally, the acclaimed new album is shaking stereo speakers and earbuds, all the while being crafted to be fully experienced live. Taking the new anthems and fan favorites on the road to see their extended family of fans, TFK is one of the featured bands on this year's Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. We talked with Trevor backstage at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh about the success of EXHALE and a live DVD that is in the works.
We would like to start by talking about the recent release of a free three song Winter Jam EP! Can you walk us through the motivation and thought process behind that surprise release?
Trevor: Long story short, we’ve been around quite a while. We chose to go independent at the end of our record deal in 2010/2011. So from then until now, the journey has been us being able to walk this road with our audience wherever God leads. So it’s been a fun and exciting journey. We are so appreciative of their support that when it came time for something like Winter Jam, we were trying to decide how to say thank you. So we started thinking that we had an acoustic version of one song we haven’t released, and a couple remixes we haven’t released. So we decided to take one song of the new record, “Push”, which was our last single; an acoustic version of “Let the Sparks Fly” off of ‘The End Is Where We Begin’; and a PHENOMENON remix of “Untraveled Road”. We just thought it would be fun to put these together and call it the ‘Winter Jam EP’ and make it available to anyone who wanted to check it out. Our way of saying thanks.
Your latest album, EXHALE, saw immediate success climbing to #1 on iTunes’ Rock Album chart and continues to find much airtime today on radio. What do you think is so special about this new record that is really connecting with fans?
Trevor: Well over the years we have made a lot of records, so the idea with ‘INHALE’ and ‘EXHALE’ was always to dive deeper into the lighter side of this band with ‘INHALE’. We’ve always had those quieter moments and it’s always been a part of who we are. We love that stuff, but we are probably more well-known for the aggressive side. So we just went places we haven’t been able to go. And ‘EXHALE’ being the part two to that was kind of the same sort of thing. We just opened the gate a little and focused on inspiration that way. It was a very inspired idea for us. And God was doing some really cool stuff in and around that, so it feels really good to finally have ‘EXHALE’ out. Because I think there were some people who might not have heard the story to preface this, with ‘INHALE’ being the lighter side and thought we had just taken a hard left. So part of the reception for ‘EXHALE’ is the understanding that we hadn’t lost sight of the band. But it’s just been a lot of fun to make this record and get it out there.
Is there any possibility of future remixes being released from the INHALE or EXHALE collections?
Trevor: I think so. We actually have one done – “Oxygen” off of ‘INHALE’ - that I really love and we haven’t released yet. There’s also some talk of doing some stuff off ‘EXHALE’ that I think would be a lot of fun as well. We did 'Metamorphosiz I' and 'II' that were remixing the whole ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ record and the hope is to be able to continue that forward with 'Metamorphosiz III' and 'IV' with the new records. So we’ll see what happens. But we just started this tour, so our focus is here. And also on a new live DVD/album. I would love to call it “Untraveled Roads” and we’re hoping to be able to shoot on Winter Jam, but we are still finalizing the agreement. And also we are trying to capture more of the stories: of people in this lineup and what God is doing in this music. That part of any of this is so much bigger than the band or the music; it’s just the heart of it to us, so we would love to capture more of that.
The same week in July that EXHALE went #1, you and your wife also welcomed baby girl Jade into the world. What was that week like? And, how is she doing
Trevor: I couldn’t have planned that in a million years. Two births in one day. It’s so cool to have a little girl too; I didn’t grow up with any sisters or anything, so it’s really special to have a little girl. Our little boy is 3.5 years and she just turned 7 months old, and we are just having a blast. It does make it harder to be away, that’s for sure, but they are doing amazing.
Here we are in Pittsburgh, about to wrap up the third weekend of the Winter Jam 2017 Tour. How have the first few shows been?
Trevor: It’s been great! The first weekend of something like this is always fine-tuning of sets and figuring out what you are getting when you go out there each night. But I feel like everyone is dialed in and feeling good about that now. Most importantly, you’re finally learning everyone else’s names. There are like 180 of us out here; it’s just a really cool family vibe. Just the culture of this tour is one of my favorites for this reason. We all have church together Sunday mornings; just more like living life together. There’s no competition. We just get to stay in our lane and do what we feel called to do. We’re just cheering each other on, and it’s really refreshing and inspiring. And even though there are a ton of dates on this tour, it can be very strenuous, but you leave here filled up as opposed to depleted.
What is your favorite song as a band to perform live right now?
Trevor: It always changes. But right now, we are doing some new stuff. My favorite at the moment is probably a song off our new record called “Different Kind Of Dynamite.” It’s a lot of fun in these rooms and in general, it’s fun to play new stuff as a band.
Thinking even more broadly than just this tour, you guys spend a ton of time on the road. How do you stay grounded and keep refreshed concert after concert?
Trevor: That’s a great question. I think through the years it’s become a lot easier to. Outside of keeping each other accountable as guys on the bus, these days you have a million apps where I can watch my home church and connect as much as you can by tuning in. You can connect in those ways and awesome devotionals. Just trying to read books too that just feed and teach and keep yourself centered. And I think that’s the same for any of us in our lives as a daily focus.
You mentioned briefly about Jam Church. We wanted to ask a little more about what those experiences on Sundays have been like?
Trevor: Honestly, it’s the only tour we’ve ever been on in 20+ years that everybody has church together Sunday mornings. There’s a tour pastor, Pastor Bobby Joiner, and he’s just walking around loving people. And if you need to talk to him about anything, he’s there to pray with you and talk with you. And there’s the speaker on the tour, Tony Nolan, who we’re just getting to know. So either he or Bobby will speak for a bit, and then we all take turns doing worship. There’s no show involved, just people going to church. It’s special for sure; it definitely recharges us out here.
When fans leave Winter Jam, what is one thing that you hope they take away from your set or the night overall?
Trevor: I just wish they see the hope in Jesus. Whether you are NewSong, or us, or Crowder, we all love the same God and worship the way we do in our music. I just really hope they leave here with no doubt in their mind that God has a plan for their lives and they were created in His image. And there’s hope for you and for me and our generation in His name. A common thread with our last couple records is emphasizing that just one voice is enough. It takes just one of us to stand up and speak the Truth and create change. At the end of the day, we hope people leave feeling inspired, filled, and refreshed.
A fan favorite from EXHALE is the fast paced "Adrenaline." Is there a possibility you would perform "Adrenaline" on stage in the near future?
Trevor: It will for sure! I’m really excited to do that live. On this particular tour, it’s not in the set as of now. But with the DVD in the works, I think we’ll be working in different songs.
One final question: how was it performing with Skillet on the Unleashed Tour last year, as well as joining for "Monster," live?
Trevor: It was awesome. Those guys have been really good friends for a long time. And it’s so exciting to see them doing so well. God has just been blessing what they are doing and their platform. Genuine, awesome people. Great music. We love playing shows with them.