Thursday, November 15, 2001
Often dubbed "Christian music's bad boy," Kevin Max knows what it's like not to fit in, to make mistakes and to be seen as "out there." So, the dc Talk vocalist feels well-qualified to encourage both seekers and today's youth.
In his new book, "Unfinished Work," Max offers straightforward encouragement to Christians struggling to be real. He shares personal stories from his life as a musician with behind-the-scenes photographs.
"But even though the book is about me," Max told Crosswalk.com, "I hope people can see something in it that they can relate to. There are a lot of issues that are discussed in the book, a lot of things that I feel very passionate about, that I've never been able to discuss before."
Max says the book answers questions about what he stands for, why he is in the music business, and why he writes books. Fans of dc Talk will likely enjoy it, because it reveals reasons why Max, Michael Tait and Toby McKeehan decided to do separate records. It also talks about why they got into the band in the first place
"But, more importantly," he adds, "I think it's also for the person who's just not a believer. If somebody does not believe in the teachings of Christ, I think they can pick up the book and they'll still be interested."
According to Max, the book "looks outside of the Christian bubble a little bit. I think it's going to open a lot of people's minds up to different perceptions of what a Christian artist is all about and why he does what he does."
One section describes how certain Christians believe everything they are told from a pastor or parent, but never investigate the Word on their own. Max tried to stress to those readers that in order to find out who you are, "sometimes you have to go on an individual journey. The individual journey is how we find out what we're made of and why we're here, why we do what we do."
Max also incorporates lessons from his own life. "One of the things that I talk about, that I think is pretty important today, is the area of premarital sex and how it affected me. I don't think kids realize, a lot of people don't realize, the responsibility that comes with it and the things that can go wrong when you tamper with it."
Using the songs from his solo recording, "Stereotype Be" as an outline for topics, he speaks honestly of his marriage to Alayna - of the struggles, the joy, the learning process. He also talks about the use of alcohol, searching for his birth parents, his own spiritual journey. "There's a lot of different subjects," Max explains. "One of them is how we as believers sometimes shun people of different religions too; we don't want to listen to what they have to say.
"So that gives you kind of an idea," he adds. "There are some meaty topics. It's not fluff, it's not fluff at all. In fact, it's very honest."
Max's first publication, "At the Foot of Heaven," is a book of his poetry. From musician to poet to author, he taps into an assortment of creative outlets and tends to gravitate toward kindred souls. "I think that my favorite kind of artists are people who can do a lot of different things. I don't know why, but I've always been attracted to people who are multifaceted. Someone like a William Blake, who not only was a painter, engraver and sketch artist, he was also an amazing poet and an amazing writer.
"I don't think he carried a tune though," Max laughs. "But really, I think that when you segregate yourself to one field of artistry, it gets a bit predictable."
He says that is why he writes poetry - "because it's an ever-evolving art form. But I also think it's been an art form that kind of died in the early 20th century. The beatniks brought it back a little bit, but it's not been something that's resurfaced in a big way.
"I love that about poetry," Max continues. "It is so mysterious and it's got that honesty to it." He says he is also beginning to dabble in painting.
Max told Crosswalk.com he is finding the publishing world "very different than the world of rock and roll. I'm used to being treated as a musician, and when you go into the book world, it's a completely different thing. I think it's a bit more thought-out, whereas music tends to be more off-the-cuff."
He says he finds it "a strange segue to talk about myself. I'm not really good at just talking about me. It makes me squirm a little bit. I'd rather do something like create music or write a poem."
But with all the dc Talk fame, isn't he used to being in the spotlight? Max admits that's true, but on stage and as a musician, he "plays a character." Now he has to "really talk about who I am. But I think God's opening people up to the idea of becoming more and more transparent. The truth is though, the more transparent you are, the more responsible you have to be."
He thinks about that quite often. "God has put me in a position of leadership for these kids, and I take that very seriously," Max adds.