I interviewed Trevor McNevan (vocals, guitars) and Steve Augustine (drums) of Thousand Foot Krutch on Monday at GMA 2004 in Nashville.
Randy: Let's talk about one thing that makes you kind of unique. I think most of the people here (at GMA) only have one current band interest, although my previous interview was with the Supertones, and of course they had Grand Incredible, but that was just a quick project, not an actual touring entity--they did one show as Grand Incredible. You guys have the double thing going on. Talk a little bit about how that came about and how that's working.
Trevor: It's been awesome. We've been having so much fun with it. We were talking about this on the TFK bus, talking about how much fun it would be to produce something in a totally different style, more of a pop rock kind of thing. We mentioned it to Brandon at the label and he seemed really behind it and was kind of like, "Alright, let's do it!" So, we just kind of went ahead with it and here we are.
Randy: Now, you're the only two that are in both bands, right?
Trevor: Yeah. It's just been crazy really, because it started out to be something we're like "Let's just put it out." We told the label we were only interested in maybe playing 15, 20, 25 shows a year 'cause we were just so busy with TFK. It just became more than that kind of on its own. We were so surprised at the responses and stuff like that. It's been a huge blessing. We played almost every show with TFK.
Trevor: Nutty, but fun.
Randy: One thing that kind of surprised me a little bit--I mean, obviously there are some songs that fall into the TFK genre, if you will, and songs that fall into FM Static. It seems like it's a little more targeted to the high school and hallway kind of thing, which is cool--it's probably why my daughter enjoys it--but there's obviously songs like Crazy Mary that can go a lot wider range than that. Do you see a specific demographic, more like guys gonna be liking Rawkfist, and girls that are going to be FM Static fans…are you finding that kind of thing going on?
Steve: Static seems to be pretty wide. A lot more than we expected. TFK's a little more focused that way.
Trevor: I think it's changing a little bit in music. It used to be that there weren't a whole lot of girls into hard rock, but it seems to be kind of more accepted now.
Randy: I was at the Tooth & Nail showcase, and I think the thing that surprised me a little bit was that the FM Static set was a little heavier than I expected. TFK was right where I thought it would be, but the FM Static wasn't a pop rock set. It was loud. The vocals were pretty down in the mix. The drums and bass were really up there. It was definitely a heavier set than I thought the FM Static set would be. Was that just kind of there, or is it normally a little heavier live?
Trevor: Yeah. The album would have been more toned down. Festival Con Dios was the first we did with FM Static and TFK, and we were still kind of feeling out the live show…I think the last couple, we did a tour in Canada and then we did the Sea of Faces tour, with both bands as well. I think it's just starting to grow its own legs.
Randy: So, is FM Static moving in a little heavier direction? If there's another project, will it be heavier, or is it just the way the live show turns out?
Steve: I think it's just the way the show turns out.
Trevor: There's a lot of bands that just seem a little heavier live, with a little more edge into it.
Randy: Well, yeah. Almost all bands are a little heavier, but this was dramatically heavier than the album.
Trevor: Thought so?
Steve: Part of that may have totally been the mix, too. To a point.
(Trevor leaves for another interview.)
Randy: How long have you and Trevor been playing together?
Steve: Four years.
Randy: So it's pretty recent, then, really.
Randy: How'd you guys hook up?
Steve: Different bands in Ontario--where we're from.
Randy: Are you both from Toronto?
Steve: Yeah. Actually he's from Peterborough, I'm from Hamilton. About four years, and we've had a blast. TFK's been going for all of that time, and we started the FM Static over a year ago.
Randy: I had heard of you guys, but hadn't actually gotten a hold of your material until I guess Phenomenon. I've only been reviewing a little over a year. I haven't heard your earlier stuff. Is it basically similar to that in terms of--
Steve: Very different, actually. Right before that was Set It Off. It was a little bit more.... kind of blending a lot more styles. A lot more of the funk and the hip-hop influences, and a little bit of rock.
Randy: Not as heavy, then?
Steve: For sure.
Randy: How's Phenomenon been received?
Steve: Really well.
Randy: Obviously Rawkfist is on secular markets, mainstream markets, it's getting big.
Steve: God's been great. All glory to Him. We haven't done anything different. Just writing tunes and playing them.
Randy: Having a good time. Who does most of the lyrics? Trevor?
Steve: Trevor writes most of the lyrics.
Randy: Talk a little bit about some of your other Toronto bands. I know you guys have kind of taken some of the kids, like Thousand Foot Krutch, taken them under your wing a little bit, kind of discovered them.
Steve: There's a whole bunch of bands in Ontario that we're just kind of managing. We're helping out a band called Fighting the Fall. Trev mostly was with the Hawk Nelson thing because they're from Peterborough. We took them on tour with us a couple times. We sort of introduced them to Brandon, and then Trev sort of helped them write some of their tunes as well. He did some pre-production with them, too. So, basically he co-produced their record. There's a ton of bands. I'm helping out a guy named Kristy Nichols (?) from Ontario. He's a solo artist. Tons of music out there. As far as music goes, it's just booming right now.
Randy: Another band I ran into here from that area is OneCross (now Manic Drive).
Randy: I was talking to the guy last night and he's basically that same general area, isn't he?
Steve: Yeah. We've had some shows with them.
Randy: How would you contrast the Canadian versus the American music scenes when you're touring?
Steve: It's pretty similar.
Randy: It seems like in Canada, Christian bands are a lot more likely to get recognized in terms of some of the award shows, and some of the things there. It seems to me in Canada, artists like Bruce Cockburn and people like that were kind of not as isolated from the mainstream as the whole Christian sub-culture in the states and got more recognition with things like Juno's. Do you see that as well?
Steve: I see that to a point. Yeah. The touring side of things is so much harder in Canada, because everything's so far apart.
Randy: A lot of driving.
Steve: Yeah. I think we just…for us, it was just weird. We just got show offers in the states, and that's how it sort of happened.
Randy: Have you ever toured western Canada?
Steve: Yeah. West to Toronto, but we've never gone east.
Randy: Have you been through the prairie provinces at all? To Winnipeg, Regina?
Steve: Lots of times. Just recently.
Randy: Cruising down the Number One [highway]?
Steve: Yep. All the way!
Randy: Then you've driven through Virden, which is about twenty miles, which is about twenty miles from the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. It's right on the Number One. That's where I went to high school.
Steve: Oh, wow.
Randy: That's pretty much your last gasp before you get well into Saskatchewan because it is empty farm country.
Steve: That whole drive from Winnipeg to Toronto is the worst. Twenty-four hours of nothing. The biggest city is probably Sault Ste. Marie. Until you get there, you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere.
Randy: Not to mention if you tour in wintertime, you've got the weather to contend with.
Randy: Do you have any horror stories of life on the road in wintertime?
Steve: We've gotten stuck before. On a mountain one time. We drove up one side of it, and then they closed the road. It just started pouring. I mean, there was three or four feet of snow.
Randy: Where was that?
Steve: I think it was Colorado somewhere.
Steve: We got totally stranded for a day and a half. We had to buy chains for the tires on our truck and they finally let us go. Kind of nuts.
Randy: Pretty crazy. We get some major snowstorms there when they do hit. Last year there was one, where it took me a day of digging to get my van out where I could drive in the street. That's only happened that bad once in fourteen years of living in Denver, so I can't complain. I have a lot of winters where I don't shovel my driveway. I just have to push a little snow out of the way, not to where I can't go to work.
Steve: We get lots of snow, but it's not so bad. It's pretty consistent.
Randy: You still based in Toronto?
Randy: Do you go to Seattle for recording?
Steve: The FM Static record was all recorded in Seattle. We did pre-production and everything there. We went down there for a month and a half. We did two weeks of pre-production in Seattle for the TFK record. I was getting married ten days after we finished pre-production. I flew home, recorded the drum tracks in Toronto all the way up to the day before I got married. We flew the record down to Seattle to the other guys, then I went on my honeymoon. We tracked the bass guitar and I flew back for vocals.
Randy: Got it all done. Pretty hectic pace, getting married and getting everything done.
Randy: Your wife seems like a pretty good sport about the whole thing.
Steve: Oh, yeah. She's awesome. She was actually out west while we did the FM Static CD in British Columbia. I kind of got to go back and forth and visit her during the day. It was cool.
Randy: How'd you meet her?
Steve: Through church.
Randy: Toronto area girl? Was it Hamilton you were from?
Steve: Yeah. She lived in Hamilton. We met each other at a church group and got to know each other over three or four years.
Randy: So you knew her before the whole TFK thing took off?
Randy: Probably best that way, right?
Steve: Definitely (laugh).
Randy: Don't have to worry about someone wanting to land someone in TFK.
Steve: Yeah. We're not at this huge level or anything, but at the same time, there is that whole idea of, "What do you like about me"?
Randy: For the time being, she's going to be touring with you and doing the merchandising and helping out the band?
Steve: Yeah. It's been awesome. It's just nice to have her out.
Randy: Well, you're married, it's nice to be able to see your wife, right?
Steve: Yeah. For sure.
Randy: So, long term eventually that's probably not going to work out. Do you foresee staying with the band as long as things are going good, or do you guys have anything mapped out?
Steve: We'll all be together until it's over.
Randy: Ride it until the ride doesn't work, and then find whatever God's got for you?
Steve: Yeah. Exactly. Which will probably still be music.
Randy: How do you see the ministry side, as far as with kids? Do you guys like to spend time talking after shows to kids and see that as kind of a key part of the band?
Steve: The biggest part. For sure. We've had kids saved at shows and all kinds of different things like that, even from the stage, but the base focus for us is definitely afterwards hanging out with kids, so they can kind of actually see who you are. We hung out until every kid is gone after every show. Definitely the biggest part for us of the ministry.
Randy: Excellent. That's good to hear. Thanks, Steve!
Steve: You're welcome!
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