Since their formation in 1997, Thousand Foot Krutch have gone on to become one of the most successful hard rock acts ever to emerge from Canada. With well over half a million records sold, a slew of chart-topping songs, countless accolades, and the unwavering dedication of an immense worldwide fan base, it’d be reasonable to assume the members of TFK have developed a bit of a rockstar ego. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. The group have maintained a clear-sighted mindset throughout their career, which has allowed them to survive, and even thrive, throughout the mainstream music industry’s irrevocable demise. Their latest album, entitled The End Is Where We Begin, has boldly reaffirmed the group as one of the most impactful bands in their genre. Frontman Trevor McNevan took the time to speak to ThisConnect.ca about the band’s new music, and their entire career trajectory, as he and his bandmates were preparing for a summer run as a part of this year’s Rockstar Uproar Festival.
You guys left your longtime record label Tooth and Nail, and declined several lucrative offers in order to release this new album independently. What inspired you to do this?
Honestly, a few things. Those guys are an incredible label, and they’ll always be family, and we saw a lot of growth there. But at the end of the day, this is something that we’re very passionate about, that we wanted to be able to do hand in hand with the people that support this band. At the end of the day it was a faith step that we knew was the right thing for this band, and we trusted it, and it’s been an incredible thing. I think with any big move like that, we’re kind of trailblazing a little bit. It’s new territory; it’s always exciting and scary all at the same time. But it’s been great, it’s been an incredible journey so far, and we’re so thankful for everybody who’s so supportive.
The End Is Where We Begin charted at #14 overall on the Billboard Top 200. That’s an especially impressive achievement for an album that was released independently. Did you expect this record to see sales like it did?
We put so much work into this record, you know, and we’re so excited about it, I think that as an artist you can only hope that it’ll achieve some of the goals that are out there. It’s not something that you can really know, but yeah, I really believe in this record and we want to get it out there. We want to share it with everyone we can. So I think it was a surprise and a blessing, and we’re just so thankful for the response, man. We’ve never had the #1 hard rock record on Billboard either, so there’s a lot of firsts this time around. And the support has just been incredible. It’s been great.
In order to pay for the recording, distribution, etc. of this new album, you guys enlisted the help of your fans through the website Kickstarter.com. Where did the idea for this come from, and how did it end up working out?
Well, when we chose to go independent again along with our management, Tony Patoto, we formed a really great team of people. Just kind of passionate people who wanted to fight for this music, and believed in it like we do. So yeah, we formed a great team of people who worked for different labels and different things, and we do everything in-house, so through that the idea of Kickstarter came up. And at the time, it was a really new idea to us. It wasn’t something we had heard much about, and I think whenever it comes to anything to do with asking for money, everybody’s a little hesitant, you know? It’s not the heart of the band, it’s not what we’re about, you know, it can be a little awkward. You’re not asking for money essentially; we’re able to create all these unique packages with custom TFK guitars and limited edition vinyl, and we’re able to create a bunch of these packages that you can’t get anywhere else. And then people have a choice if they want to pledge for some of these unique packages. So yeah, it really is kind of an amazing thing, and it blew us away, man. We had no idea we were going to get that sort of response on there, so we’re still kind of in awe from that. And it definitely has helped fund a good portion of things going forward with the new record, and obviously it’s a very expensive process, and we’re doing it all on our own, but that was a big chunk of that, man.
Have the members of the band always been highly involved in the business aspect of the job? Or is that something that just became a necessity in order to adapt to the present-day music industry?
We have always been very hands-on in this band. We didn’t hire a business manager, that’s something we’ve always been a big part of, with our management and with our label, and we were independent for six-plus years before we signed with EMI, even. It is in the beginning just out of necessity; you play music because you love music, not because you want to get into business, you know? And then through the years, as things grow, you can hire people to kind of help you with that, or you can kind of pay attention and want to learn that, and there’s a lot of different offshoots of that. We as a band have always been a big part of that, and just always enjoyed being a part of that. It’s been beneficial, for sure.
You guys have been active since the late 90’s. What do you think has allowed Thousand Foot Krutch to continue to thrive after so many years, while many of the peers that you came up with have called it quits?
It’s a privilege man, every time I think about that. We’ve seen so many incredible bands come and go, and sometimes you just kind of look around and go, “Whoa, we’re still here!” [Laughs] And honestly, I think our heart has always been the same. We love music, our faith is who we are, it’s our lifestyle, and our music is our music. We make it for everyone, and I’ve always just loved everything about it. And I think the goal has always been, and always will be, to make music that’s honest and that’s inspiring to us. And hopefully other people feel the same way. And at the end of the day, you strip everything back, and I really hope that people can hear the message of hope in our music for this generation, and that’s our heart, man. And yeah, I can’t really answer that, you know? We feel very thankful, and don’t take it for granted for a second. But as long as we have been around, I started the band in Peterborough, Ontario in high school – like 1997 – and I still feel like we’re just getting started. We got a second wind with this record, so we’re excited.
A lot of the younger bands that I’ve talked to have said that they feel that the days of rock stardom are basically over, and that to become wealthy through playing music is now an extremely unrealistic aspiration. Would you agree with that sentiment?
Yes and no. It depends what your goals are. If your goal is to get into music to be wealthy, then you’re crazy [laughs]. But I think for a lot of people out there, when you start your business, so to speak, from scratch, if you’re getting into it just for the money and just trying to seek out wealth in your life, then it all can be looked at as pretty crazy. Like I was saying earlier, I think that if you pay attention, and you learn how the business side of your art works, then you’re more equipped to be able to protect it along the way, and you’re more equipped to kind of look at what’s going on and be like, “No, I actually don’t agree with that, there’s a way that we can work together and do this in a better way.” So it all depends on the band, if you’re hungry enough to want to be a part of that and learn how it works, and kind of take those faith steps even when the ground’s not there, because you believe in what you do, then I think it’s entirely possible. I think that if you’re a band that just wants to play once in a while, and thinks that everybody should just love what you do, and you have that sense of entitlement, then yeah, you might as well hang it up now.
While you’ve had plenty of success with secular audiences, the band was enthusiastically embraced and supported by the Christian music scene. Was having a strong presence in that world something that the band wanted to accomplish from the beginning?
The best way that I can put that is kind of what I was saying before. Our faith is our lifestyle. It’s who we are; it’s not what we set out to be our genre of music, because we just want to make music for everyone. And that’s always in our hearts. So I think, was that the plan? No. We’ve always made music for everyone. But it’s a market that we feel very blessed to be a part of. I don’t even like calling it a market, you know, I feel like music should just be music regardless of your faith, but it exists and we feel very blessed to be a part of it, and embrace it with open arms. They’ve been very supportive of this band, the Christian market in total, and we love being a part of it, for sure.
You guys have experimented with your sound quite a bit over the years. Has there ever been any backlash from listeners because of this? Or have the majority remained supportive of the band regardless?
I think that the core audience has been very supportive of it. That’s something that as a songwriter for TFK, I’ve always been so thankful for: People who listen to and support TFK just being so willing to hear new things from the band and our new directions, and kind of new versions of where we’ve been before. But you know, you’re always going to have that, you’re always going to have people who only want to hear the first record, or only want to hear the third record. Or only want to hear those moments that they liked, and kind of want to keep you there, and I think that as a songwriter, it’s kind of up to you to follow what’s honest and inspiring, and embrace your identity as a band – who you’ve become, and help find that. And my favourite records as a music lover have always been records with variety, something that I can listen to front to back, and just bands that weren’t super 1-D – just kind of more three-dimensional. So that’s always inspired our records, you know, and yeah, it’s definitely a variety on each record. It’s a journey. And we hope that people will take the time to take it.
Your music has been featured in many high-profile projects over the years, such as Smallville, the G.I. Joe movie trailer, and even the Super Bowl. What has been the most surreal instance in which you’ve heard one of your own songs played?
A few years ago, I’m a big scary movie fan, and the scream awards were on TV. It’s kind of like the sci-fi, scary movie, big awards, like their Grammys or Academy Awards. And there was a moment where Harrison Ford got called up to talk about one of his new movies, and he was getting a lifetime achievement award, and all this stuff at the same time. And he walked out to one of our songs called “Scream”, off of our last record. Yeah, that was pretty epic for us. We were just like, “Whaaat?!” I love seeing those two worlds collide, man.
You guys will be embarking on the Rockstar Uproar Festival in August alongside Shinedown, Godsmack, Papa Roach, and many others. What are you expecting this expedition to be like?
Man, we can’t wait! I think its going to be a rock and roll circus with a bunch of great bands who just want to tear it up, so we’re thankful to be part of it, and can’t wait to get out there, man. There are a lot of great bands on this tour.
Are there any words you’d like to leave with fans who are going to be reading this?
Yeah, man! If you get a chance, check out www.thousandfootkrutch.com, and that’s where you can go to catch any updates, links to Twitter, Facebook – we like to connect with you guys in any way possible. And we’re looking at shooting a video right now. We got a couple remixes of songs off the new record we’re working on, with some dubstep and some dance remixes, that’ll be out soon. We’re going to give those away for free. And yeah, we hope to see you guys on Uproar, come and hang out!
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