Embracing “The Girl With The Tiger Eyes” by Kevin Max

I was talking with a friend recently and he brought up the point that radio stations like KLOVE and AIR1, unfortunately, are defining what is considered acceptable in the Christian marketplace by controlling such a large market share, but, exposing such a narrow template that artists who hope to be played must adhere to in order to even have a chance to survive. Because of this fact, artistry in the Christian world is on a very short leash and it is a disturbing reality since, as Christians, we are not called to reach other Christians, but, to reach the world. How can we do that when we encase ourselves in clean, pre-fabricated plastic molded for optimal marketing potential?

I truly appreciate several of the songs that I’ve heard, so far, from the forthcoming Kevin Max album, PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW, and the fact that Kevin Max is doing what he does.The video for “Girl With The Tiger Eyes,” while it may raise a few eyebrows in some circles, is an articulate metaphor for the demons that so many of us carry around. Whether hidden in a basement or exposed for all to see, the skeletons in our past (and often our present) are most often neither pastel-colored nor family friendly. There is value in remembering and acknowledging the dark that we deal with – a therapeutic aspect. It is only when we stare down our own brokenness and sift through our own ashes that we can submit to grace and let the rebuilding begin because, if we’re only willing to reveal our surface-level, kid-glove veneers – our Sunday best, we’re lying to ourselves, to God, and the world around us. We’re offering no value. If we can’t affect others at a gut-level and reveal the holes and traps that we’ve fallen victim to, ourselves, we may not affect them at all due to our own vain hypocrisy. There’s an entire world full of drunkards, junkies, victims of abuse, prisoners, and thieves out there that Jesus sought out to spend time with. I’m glad that there are Christians like Kevin Max out there ready, willing, and able to bridge the gap between reality, art, and God in a manner that so many out there on the Road Show/KLOVE/Winter Jam/Hits Deep circuits fail to even attempt due to the fact that they know they won’t get played on Christian radio. There is most certainly a place for clean, family friendly lyrics of praise and pastoral landscapes. The bible instructs us to focus on these things in our personal lives. But, we’re also called to tell the truth.

Unlike His followers, God specializes in those with the deepest wounds. I think we’re often scared off by the possibility of becoming uncomfortable or even being inconvenienced behind our white picket fences. As a parent I know that I get very nervous when it comes to thinking about who or what my kids’ attention is being drawn to when they’re not within my reach, so, I get that. But, I also think that there needs to be a distinction drawn between youth group Christianity and mature Christianity. We need to engage the youth demographic in learning to be thoughtful and critical of what they are listening to, watching, doing, who they are spending their time with and why. I don’t want to cut my kids off from exploring various forms of art (whether music, visual, etc.), but, instead I want then to learn to think critically about it instead of rejecting everything they see and hear in a conditioned knee-jerk manner.

I believe that, if I can effectively raise my kids with that perspective, they will be more equipped to be mature Christians that aren’t driven by fear, but, instead, by truth and confidence in faith and so that they can be free to reach out and consistently show love and respect to those who are different and who may not know Christ on a personal level. If Christians could make an effort to do this as a whole, I don’t think there would be a “religious right” in American politics and Donald Trump wouldn’t have the following that he as (not that the religious right and Trump are always one-in-the-same). People tend to love less when they fear more and the current political climate is capitalizing on that fact.

Kevin Max, to me, represents an important aspect of the mature Christianity that I’m talking about. I wouldn’t say that his entire catalog of poetry and music is representative of it, but, who he is and the art that he produces is certainly a part of the spectrum. Life and the potential that each of us has to affect others and live out our faith happens, most often, off church grounds. Our art, our deeds, our thoughts, and actions should, likewise, be rooted in God (and nurtured in devotion privately each day – as well as with other believers), but, focused in an outward direction and articulated in a way that engages those on the fringe and the outside instead of scaring them off with our Christianese clique subculture.

Max’s forthcoming project, PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW, I believe, is exemplary of the kind of artful, thoughtful music that is well underrepresented in Christian music and, for that matter, music in general. Thankfully, there are enough people who get it and value the role that his music, and other music like it, plays in the real-world daily lives of so many and the potential that it has to engage those just outside in a way that is as relevant and articulate, in not more so, than anything out there, Christian or secular.

Learn more about how you can support Max’s new project,  and get eight new songs including “Girl With The Tiger Eyes”, here: PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW.

The Latest Kevin Max Project Is In The Works: Starry Eyes Surprise

Enigmatic. It’s a word that many have used to describe the musical journey of Kevin Max, DC Talk member and former lead vocalist of Audio Adrenaline. Since the legendary contemporary Christian music group DC Talk’s “intermission” some 15-20 years ago, Max has charted a course that resembles more of a multifaceted, obstacle-laden pinball game table than that of a carefully curated recipe for profitable longevity in the Christian music industry. His back catalog includes: a world music/pop explosion that was STEREOTYPE BE (2001); the critically acclaimed rock and roll of THE IMPOSTER (2005); a timeless Christmas staple – HOLY NIGHT (2005); an amazing gospel covers album – THE BLOOD (2007); the wildly experimental/electronic COTES D’ARMOR (2010); critically acclaimed missionary pop rock as lead singer of Audio Adrenaline – KINGS & QUEENS (2013); and a profound collection of pop-rock/nu wave spirituals – BROKEN TEMPLES (2014), in addition to a number of other EP’s, side projects, books of poetry, and the writing of his fictional novel FIEFDOM OF ANGELS.

Kevin Max’s journey has led him all over the place, but, that fact is much more a testament to his relentless creative energy and artistic integrity than it is a knock on his ability to make a buck. He could have easily just continued in lock-step with Christian music industry protocol and secured a steady and more-than-comfortable income, but, he’s never been content with the status quo and with that in mind, he has, yet again, ventured in a different direction.

STARRY EYES SURPRISE, the project he is in the process of recording and gathering support for through his second Pledge crowd-funding campaign pays homage to the classic voices that have and continue to influence his love and performance of music: Nat King Cole, The Smiths, Frank Sinatra, etc. It is a project that, thematically, lends itself to notions of evening romance and reverence for the crooners of the past. The musical arrangements of the songs that have surfaced, so far, are remarkably played  (with instrumentation and backing vocals being provided by John and Painter and Flemming McWilliams) and are reverent to each song’s original history while, also, lending a creative nod to Max’s own experimental instincts. It’s an interesting project that is definitely worth lending an ear, and possibly, your support to. I’m really hoping that he continues in this vein for a new Christmas album. HOLY NIGHT is an amazing album, but, I’d love to hear him take on classic Christmas songs as performed by Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Burl Ives.

Check out what he has to say about it and learn more about how you can get involved in STARRY EYES SURPRISE.

4 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Get On Yer Bike”

Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.


Stream the new album BROKEN TEMPLES at New Release Tuesday


Somebody new to the music of Kevin Max, or somebody who knows him only based on his work with dcTalk and Audio Adrenaline, may not be aware of the edgier and more experimental music that he released from 2008-2010 on releases such as CRASHING GATES and COTES D’ARMOR. Lyrically and musically, Max stretched out the landscape that listeners had grown used to hearing by diving deeper into the valleys of life’s experience while simultaneously reveling in the lack of constraints afforded to him as an independent artist. It is, in fact, this aspect of his music that appeals to so many that have grown tired of the worn-out clichés and generic phrases that characterize much of our culture as a whole, let alone the Christian subculture that exists in America today. He was less concerned with playing it safe than he was with pushing the envelope. Today’s feature, “On Yer Bike,” (from COTES D’ARMOR) is a straight-forward rock and roll kick at the confines of those who’ve sought to box so many aspects of our lives up into neat, tidy packages. You’ll likely never hear “On Your Bike,” or any of the other tracks from either of the aforementioned releases, on mainstream Christian radio, but, they represent an element of the human existence that, for many, has been essential in their own personal prodigal journeys: a boundary-testing season after which many of us hit a breaking point and realize how helpless we are to find peace on our own.  Max has described the theme of his forthcoming album BROKEN TEMPLES as being an acknowledgement the role that our brokenness plays in “allowing the light to find its way in.” I’m thankful, for his sake, that it has. I’m thankful for our sake that he’s releasing an album about it.


Join Kevin Max on NRT Live on release day, Tuesday, March 10 at 6PM PST/9PM EST

Read about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out how you can get a digital download of the new project BROKEN TEMPLES (with two bonus tracks!) before the official March 10 release!




5 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Consume Me” & “Save Me”

6 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “21st Century Darlings”

7 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Just Between You And Me”

8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Kings & Queens”

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “When He Returns”

10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Day By Day”

11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Existence”

12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way”