Remember when bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day were considered alternative-only, their respective rap and punk roots too radical for the masses? Then the sea changed, and as their artistry broadened and matured, each found an uncompromising place in the Top 40.
Although not exactly comparable in musical style, a similar thing is happening with intensely energetic Toronto act Thousand Foot Krutch. Started by frontman/songwriter Trevor McNevan back in high school, the band first found an audience with the hip-hop centric debut, Set It Off, and then deftly edged into full-blown rock territory with Phenomenon and The Art of Breaking. In just a few years, the group has sold half a million records, shared stages with a wide mix of headliners (Switchfoot, Korn, The Roots), and landed adrenaline-rush songs like “Rawkfist” and “Move” on nationally televised sporting events—all of this achieved relatively under the radar.
Now, the September 2007 release of The Flame in All of Us looks to be that noticeable turning point for Thousand Foot Krutch, when the youthful hip-hop and alternative rock sensibilities uniquely coalesce into a more universal, sometimes pop-shaped framework to create a deeper, fuller experience for artist and listener alike.
“I feel as excited about this record as I did about music when I was a kid,” Trevor says. “There’s definitely a new energy. It feels like we’re just getting started. We feel that way as a band.”
Thousand Foot Krutch also features McNevan’s childhood friend Joel Bruyere on bass guitar and drummer Steve Augustine; all three originally hail from Ontario, Canada.
Indeed, there is a theme of unification throughout the new album beginning with its title and opening track, “The Flame in All of Us.” An ambitious rocker elevated by a stop-in-your-tracks chorus featuring strings and a softer melody, it illuminates the idea that everyone was created to figure out his and her reason for being on this earth amidst all its tragedies and triumphs.
“The common thread really interests me,” Trevor says. “No matter what you believe or how you were raised, you have the same core group of burning questions as the next person: Who am I? Why am I here? What is life really all about?”
As their fans know, the members of Thousand Foot Krutch address such matters from a spiritual perspective, singing to and about God in a way that doesn’t intimidate anyone who might not think exactly like them.
“I’m a fan of music that doesn’t say everything in black and white,” McNevan admits. “We talk about life in a way anyone can relate to, always focusing on the hope factor. I believe that’s what God would have us do.”
The musical discussion continues on first singles “Falls Apart” and “What Do We Know?” The former is led by a classic-sounding, arena-ready guitar riff and lyrical antidote for hopelessness.
Everything around me falls apart when I walk away from you, declares McNevan in a voice that sounds inviting and relatable even as it roars atop the track’s rock fury.
“What Do We Know?” should be a landmark song for Thousand Foot Krutch. Easily accessible, it’s a “What’s Going On”-type of sing-along anthem for the post postmodern world that is equally haunting and hopeful in its memorable use of a children’s choir.
Trevor explains, “The song starts out waking up the morning of 9/11, and it specifically talks about things like Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech tragedy, the major catastrophes that have happened in the last few years that have made us all—no matter what you believe—stand back and say, Wow, we’re not in control here.”
Elsewhere, The Flame in All of Us rewards the band’s longtime followers on heavier cuts like “InHuman” (inspired by McNevan’s love of superhero films and “crunchy rawk anthems”) and the darkly humorous “My Own Enemy” where the singer manages to laugh at his shortcomings.
In between are bridge-building songs like “Broken Wing” about an addiction-addled relationship and the most compelling “My Favorite Disease.” Another hit in the making, the latter is built on an all-around exceptional intelligent pop performance from McNevan, Bruyere, and Augustine plus a beautifully and brutally honest lyric about the struggle to live as God wants us to: Sometimes I feel like a monster. At times I feel like a saint.
All told, every detail behind The Flame in All of Us indicates another step in the right direction for Thousand Foot Krutch. The band chose to work for the first time with producer Ken Andrews (Chris Cornell, Pete Yorn, Tenacious D) at the last minute after attempted sessions with other producers fell through. He booked the guys into a California studio coincidentally known as The Firehouse, challenging them to record together live rather than separately in order to better capture the energy of what they do onstage. In just three weeks, the project was complete, and the band was tighter than ever.
“In more ways than one this is the most refreshing record we’ve made,” Trevor says. “It was a uniting experience that took a lot of faith to get done. My favorite albums are the ones with lots of contrast that you can listen to front to back, that take you on a journey. And I believe the strongest bands are the ones that a listener can grow up with.”
Come and grow with Thousand Foot Krutch as the flame in all of us continues to burn.