8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Kings & Queens”

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.


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2013 brought the announcement that Kevin Max would be teaming up with Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss to relaunch another legendary band in the history of contemporary Christian music, Audio Adrenaline, in order to build awareness and support for the band’s non-profit organization, The Hands & Feet Project. The Hands & Feet Project cares for about 100 orphaned and abandoned children at Children’s Villages in Jacmel and Grand Goave, Haiti.

The lead single and title track of the new album, “Kings & Queens,” not only made a huge impact on Christian radio (rising at #4 among Christian songs), but, it also fulfilled the band’s objective in bringing the plight of orphans and the beauty of the children of the Hands & Feet Project to the attention of the world and, in doing so, helped to propel the work of the organization forward in their mission to continue the fight against the orphan crisis in Haiti.

From the first “woa-oh” that can be heard at the beginning of the track to the final triumphant chorus, Max delivers a characteristically unique and powerful vocal to a song that will surely stand the test of time as an anthem for the Christian call to care for orphans of the world in their distress (James 1:27).

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HANDS & FEET PROJECT HERE

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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!

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Pre-order BROKEN TEMPLES

Purchase and Download the music of Kevin Max on iTunes

 Kevin Max on iTunes


OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:

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”

Audio Adrenaline Resonates With KINGS & QUEENS (music review)

KINGS & QUEENS Audio Adrenaline Out 3/12/13

KINGS & QUEENS is a delicious first offering from the remixed line-up of Audio Adrenaline. At once it is a respectful nod to the legacy of Audio Adrenaline with light, pop ringers like “He Moves, You Move,” and “King Of The Comebacks,” but, also, a bold step forward breaking new ground for the band with songs such as “The Answer,” and “Seeker.” Both tracks are delivered skillfully by Dave Ghazarian (guitar), Jared Byers (drums), Jason Walker (keyboard) and original Audio Adrenaline member Will McGinniss, in an arrangement with a vibe that fits new lead singer Kevin Max like a tailored Italian suit. While the album as a whole is well done, “20:17 (Raise The Banner),” and “I Climb The Mountain,” passionately communicate hope and inspiration in a manner that is sure to resonate with many listeners. The lead single “Kings & Queens” is currently rising through the top ten on the Billboard Christian Songs chart and rightfully so. It raises a flag of hope and awareness for the orphaned and once abandoned children in Haiti that are now being served, fed, sheltered, and educated through the Hands & Feet Project, an organization founded by Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss in 2004. In fact, the entire Audio Adrenaline relaunch is an integral part of The Hands & Feet Project’s effort to raise the awareness and support necessary to expand so that they can care for more children in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, where the need for such care is so desperately critical. Put together cooperatively by original singer Mark Stuart, original bass player Will McGinniss, and the rest of the 2013 Audio Adrenaline line-up, this project delivers cleanly on a musical level and definitely has the potential to deliver on a humanitarian level for the orphans of Haiti through The Hands & Feet Project. Those two factors alone make this one of the most important albums to pay attention to in a long time. The legacy of Audio Adrenaline is alive, well, and moving forward.

Music Review: KINGS & QUEENS by Audio Adrenaline

2013 brings what, to many, is a bit of a surprise. After disbanding a few year’s ago, Audio Adrenaline is back, but, with a new line-up, a new voice at the front, and a new sound. Their album, KINGS & QUEENS, is due out March 12th and the leading single “Kings & Queens” is currently working its way up through the top ten according to Billboard’s songs chart for Christian music. I’ve been soaking in the album preview stream for several days (available to anyone who pre-orders) and I’ve included my take on each of the tracks here.

“He Moves You Move” – A springy vibe that reminds me a lot of “Get Down” – classic Audio Adrenaline. A pop tone that almost defies the gravity of the message carried by the lyrics. A nod to the notion of dismissing the naysayers in your head that prevent so many of us living in the moment and following the spirit when it strikes. Sometimes God’s will doesn’t make sense to the purists who don’t see the bigger picture (i.e., cynical contemporary Christian Music fans decrying the reformation of Audio Adrenaline). I think I’m willing to give Kevin, Will McGinness, Mark Stuart, The Hands & Feet Project, and everybody else involved in this Audio Adrenaline reboot the benefit of the doubt going forward.

“Kings & Queens” – Majestic, dramatic, and sweeping. “Kings & Queens” inhales and exhales with the core, biblical message of the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. Indeed, the message of the song is an apt declaration of the backbone of The Hands & Feet Project, the organization started by Audio Adrenaline in 2004 to provide care for orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti. The first single and title track of the album, it is garnering a good bit of airplay and rightly so. The accompanying video for the track is beautiful and, certainly, lends to the impact of the song. For the arrangement, for the message, and for those that the awareness brought by this track will benefit, “Kings and Queens” is a home run on so many levels.

“Believer” – Lyrically, “Believer,” is one of the less interesting tracks on the album. At least, that was my first impression. But, what catches my attention midway through the song, is the vocal passion of Max. “Oh, here I stand, all alone, waiting on you….” It really redeems a song that, in general, is a fine tune.

“King Of The Comebacks” – Instantly, one of the two songs that I go back to the most on the album. Lyrically walking the line between the rightful interpretation of Christ’s second coming and the more tongue-in-cheek perspective focusing on the bravado of a Kevin Max/Audio Adrenaline comeback, “King Of The Comebacks” is an undeniably catchy song that, much like “He Moves You Move,” bounces along on a pop hook that keeps the song on a loop in the listener’s memory long after it has stopped flowing through the speakers. Bittersweet certainly seems like an appropriate term to apply to the cameo appearance that Mark Stuart’s voice makes on this track. While the arrival of Kevin Max as the lead singer to carry the torch of Audio Adrenaline and The Hands & Feet Project forward is, indeed, a welcome development, the reminder that Stuart’s role, as the frontman for the band broke down the way it did (due to vocal cord damage), is at once, a moment of assurance and sadness. Assuring because of his integral and central role in the reformation of Audio Adrenaline, in a new form, and  sad because of the undeniable personality, charisma, and energy that he brought to the band. With few live performances to judge from, so far, the ability of Kevin Max to drive the live show, as well as the music itself, forward has yet to be seen. That being said, if history is any indication, he will have no problems. He’s, quite distinctively, not Mark Stuart. But, all indications are that he has a tremendous amount of respect for the legacy of Mark Stuart and Audio Adrenaline and that he will honor that legacy while driving the band forward with a level of artistic integrity that is sorely lacking in much of the current contemporary Christian music realm.

“Change My Name” – Stylistically, “Change My Name” caught me a bit off guard at first. But, the story in the lyrics drew me in quickly. Perhaps, because they’re so applicable personally. I’m not sure who the bulk of the lyrical credit goes to, though, I know that Max and Stuart were both involved in several songs on the album, but, the lyrics are believable on this one. “You called me on a broken line,” relates so well to me as, I’m sure, it does to others. A sure favorite of mine on the album.

“20:17 (Raise The Banner)” – With a beginning characteristic of an epic cinematic battle scene, “20:17 (Raise The Banner)” celebrates the lesson of faith embodied in the story of King Jehoshaphat, and those that lived in Judah and Jerusalem, according to 2 Chronicles 20. Recorded by another, this track could have turned out to be a fairly generic sounding song, but, as done here by Kevin Max and his new Audio Adrenaline cohorts, it is a triumphantly well done track. The rhythm section forms a strong backbone on which the song stands tall with overtly inspirational lyrics championing the notion of fearlessness through faith in the face of adversity.

“Fire Never Sleeps” – An obvious nod to the influence of U2 from lyric to arrangement, and even, in moments, the manner in which Max sings – seemingly channeling his inner Bono and, in doing so, accomplishing a great track.

“Seeker” – I love the opening guitar on this one, hearkening back to the early 90’s Red Hot Chili Peppers song, “Under The Bridge.” It would be interesting to hear how the song might work if it stayed with that opening tone more throughout the song. Lyrically, it refocuses the course of the album on the overall theme of the album and the mission of The Hands & Feet Project: giving hope to those who are most vulnerable and who, otherwise, wouldn’t have any. The short spoken word segment about two-thirds of the way through is well done as a change-up to the ringing, hopeful chorus.

“I Climb The Mountain” – Like “Fire Never Sleeps,” this one has a strong U2 influence. If one is to incorporate a strong a strong and distinctive influence into their own music, there are certainly worse bands to use. But, again, the influence is very clear. The song is well done, overall, with a strong chorus and hopeful tone. Like one or two others on the album, it falls short only in comparison to other cuts on the album. This song could easily be picked as a single if it came from another album that wasn’t so well-stocked in terms of quality cuts.

“The Answer” – A well chosen closer for the album. Lyrically, coming from Max, it’s believable and, personally, at this point in my life, it’s very relevant. Its a story of somebody who’s racked up hundreds of miles walking in the wrong direction who is happy and grateful to simply be a beneficiary of grace. On top of that, it simply sounds great. Parts of the song, the stylistically appropriate and tactfully done rap, for example, remind me of “Unbelievable” by EMF. A strong finish to a strong album.
“The Answer” seems so appropriate coming from the lips of Kevin Max because of the path that his creative endeavors have taken in the years since the “intermission” of dcTalk. Personally, artistically, and perhaps even spiritually, he seems to have explored a wide spectrum of possibilities with little to no regard for what the critics, particularly in the Christian music industry, would think.

One characteristic that he’s always kept in tact, though, is his integrity with regards to taking each corner and turn in the road proactively. Instead of responding to the world, he took steps he wanted to take and let the chips fall where they may.

It is that manner of integrity that he’s shown in the past – to be rather than to seem to be – that gives me hope that the spiritual optimism and hope communicated through the lyrics in these new Audio Adrenaline tracks is truly sincere and that the themes of redemption and hope championed here are tangible to their audience in 2013 and beyond.

Aside from musical arrangements, lyrics, tours, and photo-ops, the real issue at stake here are the day-to-day realities and futures of abandoned and orphaned children in Haiti who, through increased awareness and financial support built up with this Audio Adrenaline album and tour, could be taken in by The Hands & Feet Project. Surely, the potential is there, with an album as solid as KINGS & QUEENS, for there to be a significant level of success for Audio Adrenaline in 2013 and beyond and, in turn, the potential is also there for lives to be changed as a result.

I’m all in for this album.

Life Lost And Found: Connecting My Past With The Hands And Feet Project

Anyone who knows me personally knows that the last couple of years, and the last 12 months in particular, have been a rough time for me. My Dad’s 16 month decline and ultimate passing due to a stage four glioblastoma brain tumor shook my life to the core. My wife, my kids, and I all had our happy, normal lives thrown into a hurricane spin that, nine months after he passed away, we are still in the middle of trying settle back down into some sort of rhythm.

Coming to grips with the idea that all of the conversations my dad and I have had throughout my life are now in the past is a rough, ongoing process. I always had a lot of questions for him and he always listened and did his best to answer. While the questions continue the lack of a response is painful each and every time my mind turns back to him. The only thing I can do now is to think back to what was important to him, what he loved, what he wanted for me, for my family, for his grandchildren, and honor him in that way.

He had a heart for those in need. I know that he, along with my mom (divorced as soon as I finished high school) both took a step

My dad (1940-2012) preparing breakfast for guests at the local homeless shelter

forward in faith with a willingness to adopt me when I was about a month old from a mother who I never met, but, from the accounts of those who knew her, simply wasn’t capable of keeping me. Throughout my life I watched him visit and help neighbors, elderly and otherwise, whether by making repairs, taking garbage to the dump, building something, or just visiting. Even in the last five years of his life, after moving south from New York to be with us and provide daycare for his new grandson, he continued to be a helper and a friend to his new neighbors and, on many Saturday mornings, he would pick me up around 3 o’clock in the morning so that we could go to Wal-Mart to buy and prepare food to serve to the entire population of the local homeless shelter.

He was the constant model of Jesus, to me, yet he never attended church. Fortunately, in his final months and days, he accepted Christ. It was because of this acceptance that, I believe, he finally let go of the brain tumor-induced agitation that fell like a dark and ominous blanket of pain onto his home in the final couple of weeks.

His mind and his ability to cope with the stress of the position he was in started slipping just before the tumor robbed him of his ability to form words. His thoughts and his needs were trapped in his head and, for me as his primary caregiver (as well as his brother who was also there for the final two weeks), it became frustratingly difficult to understand what he wanted, needed, and was going through, just as his needs for comfort and understanding surely hit their most critical peak.

The result was a lot of guesswork regarding what to do in various situations, consulting with doctors and hospice nurses, and, surely, a number of mistakes in how I handled things. There were times, I’m ashamed to admit, when I didn’t want him to know that I was in the room because I knew that I couldn’t help him and I didn’t know how to handle it. In fact, over the past few weeks there were distinctive moments when it seemed like my presence there was irritating him. My memory of those final days and moments continues to be heavy burden that I am struggling learn how to carry. Though, I know, I am making progress, it is slow and I have a long way to go.

What I can find comfort in is the way he responded, on the final afternoon that he was with us, after being particularly agitated and uncomfortable, when I said something to the effect of (not sure that I can remember the exact words), “Uncle John and I are doing everything we can to make you comfortable Dad. It’s up to Jesus now and he’s going to take care of you.”

It was the last thing that I said to him while he was awake. Fairly immediately, he calmed down and, before long, fell asleep. He slept for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening until, just after midnight, with my arms around him and my head on his chest, I listened to his heartbeat slow to a stop.

He had given his life for my benefit from the moment I was adopted until brain cancer robbed him of the happy life that he was enjoying as a Grandpa (my kids were undisputed joy of his life), living a mere ten minutes from our house in North Carolina so that we could spend time with him almost daily. He lived a simple life. He was selfless and he was happy. Until brain cancer ripped it all away.

Matthew 25:37-40:

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

John 15:13

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

James 1:27

 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Currently I’m in a stage of my life where I’ve never been more aware of the blessings that I have had and continue to have surrounding me on a daily basis. As somebody who was adopted into a life that prepared me to grow and develop, albeit with bumps, bruises, miscues, and detours along the way, into somebody that I know my Dad was proud of, I recognize wholeheartedly the difference that a helping hand can make.

After disbanding due to Mark Stuart’s vocal issues several years ago Christian band Audio Adrenaline has reformed, with the stellar voice of Kevin Max supplying lead vocals, with a new album and tour to come in support of expanding the orphanages that they originally established in Haiti to care for “the least of these” in 2004. In addition to the relaunch of the band, several members of Audio Adrenaline, along with others, are participating in a marathon in Las Vegas in December 2012 in order to raise funds.

When I first read about the marathon effort, as somebody who just started running in the last two years, I was intrigued. The prospect of supporting such a noble organization, that addresses the exact need the bible instructs Christians to address, by doing something that I’ve grown to love such as running really appealed to me. But, the timing, injury issues, and distance between North Carolina and Las Vegas ruled me out from participating. Since learning about the Las Vegas effort, though, I’ve learned that they are also planning a similar effort for the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in April 2013 which I am committed to taking part in.

It is because of the example set by my Dad to help others, in combination with my love of running (albeit, slowly), the biblical directive given to all Christians, and my admiration of the guiding principles of The Hands And Feet Project that I am making this commitment to participate.

If you would, please read about the Beards, Hands, & Feet Project that I am launching in an effort to raise at least $500 to fulfill the requirements of becoming a Hands And Feet Project team member in the 2013 Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Please at least read through it. Then, if you are inclined to contribute toward this effort, please do so!

The Beards, Hands, & Feet Project: Growing Whiskers In Order To Support Haitian Orphans

‘Like’ The Beards, Hands, & Feet Project Facebook Page

Check out the making of the video for the new Audio Adrenaline single “Kings & Queens” which provides a good deal of insight into the mission of The Hands & Feet Project

View the video for “Kings & Queens”