Kevin Max

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Kevin Max
Kevin Max in July 2008
Background information
Birth nameKevin Max Smith
Born (1967-08-17) August 17, 1967 (age 51)
OriginGrand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
GenresChristian rock, alternative rock
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Years active1988–present
LabelsNorthern, ForeFront, Motion, Blind Thief Recordings
Associated acts

Kevin Max (born August 17, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, and poet. He is best known for being a member of the Christian pop group dc Talk. As a solo artist following the band going on hiatus, he has recorded nine full-length studio albums, one Christmas album, and eight EPs. From 2012 until 2014, he was the lead singer of the band Audio Adrenaline.


Early years[edit]

Born Kevin Max Smith, he legally shortened it to "Kevin Max" in 1997, as a tribute to his adoptive father. Kevin was himself adopted by the Smith family and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His adoptive brother was named Derek. Kevin showed incredible vocal and musical talent early in his life. Renowned for his unusual vibrato and multiple octave range, his voice grabbed attention immediately. His talent grew while at Grand Rapids Baptist High School (now known as NorthPointe Christian High School) and later at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. While at Liberty, Max started a band called 'Connection' and was known around the campus as 'the rock singer.' Max was dismissed from Liberty University for unknown reasons following the first semester of his freshman year. He returned the following semester and shortly thereafter joined the Christian music group dcTalk. Max also shortened his name to avoid confusion with Kevin Smith, the filmmaker.

dc Talk years (1989–2001)[edit]

While at Liberty University, he met fellow DC Talk bandmates: Toby McKeehan ("tobyMac") and Michael Tait. They formed DC Talk and went on to achieve great success in both Christian and mainstream music. The band went on to win 4 Grammy Awards, 16 GMA Dove Awards, and other recognition. However, they decided to take an extended "intermission" in 2000.

Going solo (2001–2012)[edit]

Max's first solo album, Stereotype Be, released on August 28, 2001, was praised by Allmusic for "[combining] pop, rock, and world music to create a versatile and intriguing project.".[1] Artists Adrian Belew and Tony Levin of King Crimson, Larry Norman and drummer Matt Chamberlain contributed to the album along with Max's collaborator Erick Cole. It became a turning point in Max's career, as the project was a foreshadowing of Max's own brand of style and alternative music. He would become known as the 'enigmatic' and 'independent' voice of the band, creating work that would take on many different directions that skewed far from the initial sounds and lyrical content of the dctalk music.

While Stereotype Be has developed a considerable cult following, it wasn't well received in the Christian music market. Soon after its release, Max was dropped from his Christian label, Forefront Records. Undeterred, Max began to slowly build his solo career through live shows and word-of-mouth. He released independent albums via his website, including an EP entitled Between the Fence & the Universe and a spoken-word collaboration with Adrian Belew entitled Raven Songs 101, both in 2004.

In fall of 2004, Max's word-of-mouth strategy finally began to pay off. He played the title role in the Visalia Theatre Company / Hutson-Cavale Productions revival of the classic Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Later that year, he signed a new deal with Northern Records and released a second full-length album, titled The Imposter, said to "contain...a sound that recalls the passion of early U2, the soul of Jeff Buckley, and the ambiguity of Blur," on October 18, 2005. He released a Christmas album, titled Holy Night, in time for the 2005 Christmas season.

In April 2007, Infinity Music announced that Kevin Max signed onto their label for his next project. The Blood was released on December 26, 2007.[2] According to Max, "The Blood is not a classic hymns cover project or a white/homogenized version of black gospel or soul music. It's a sensitive and stylized adaption of the music that was at the root of rock and roll, blues and popular culture."[2]

In February 2008 Kevin Max starred in the independent film The Imposter.[3] Kevin plays a character named "Johnny C", a singer who becomes addicted to OxyContin and loses his family and job as a Christian music star. The movie also features Tom Wright and Troy Baker.[4]

In 2009 Max released Crashing Gates through dPulse records and was critically praised as returning to his experimental side in the rock and pop genres.

Like Lennon, Max was formerly part of one of the premier bands in his particular genre (and, similarly, sometimes thought of as the most outrageous member), and has faced the task of becoming a solo artist in his own right with a degree of artistry and creativity that has eclipsed that of his more commercially-oriented former band-mates. Crashing Gates, a seven song EP, is a half-hour (give or take) of streamlined, hard-hitting, intelligent, well-informed rock and roll flavored with a dash of Euro-pop and plenty of soul. The music has a similar energy to Lennon’s classic Plastic Ono Band solo project, which also featured a stripped-down rock unit of drums, bass, guitar and keyboard. Crashing Gates starts off with Jonathan Smith’s opening drumbeats on the lead track, “Traveler,” a tight, punchy, economical song and a good introduction to this band (it sounds like a band project) which powerfully delivers seven songs featuring the distinctive Max factor of Kevin’s signature vocals and intriguing lyrics."-Soul Audio

Early 2010, Max began to change the direction of Cotes d' Armor ( a remix project) with label dPulse records and included UK Electronica band PWEI (Pop Will Eat Itself) on production, announcing a double vinyl and disc selection. The single 'On Yer Bike' was produced by industry veteran Tedd T known for his work with alternative rock band Mutemath. Currently the project boasts remixes done by Graham Crabb of PWEI and members of 3kStatic.

In February 2011, Max had formed a supergroup with Broadway singer Tony Vincent and longtime collaborator David Larring. The band is tentatively named "Bad Omens"; the three were writing songs when Tony Vincent decided to drop out to pursue theater interests, leaving the new band in a state of pause. A song of the band titled Control can be heard on Max's SoundCloud.[5][6]

He is featured in Atlantic's new CD of Shadows and Scars.

February 27, 2012, Max released Fiefdom of Angels-Side One, the first of two EP's to coincide with the forthcoming novel series of the same name. The overall project were chosen covers of well known 80's rock songs, with one Kevin Max original and a Muse cover set to lush orchestration. Ology Magazine describes the work as "a new wave mix-tape played at full volume through the Sistine Chapel".[7]

Audio Adrenaline years (2012–2014)[edit]

In August 2012, Max became the new lead vocalist in a reunited Audio Adrenaline.[8] He continued with the band until June 2014 he was replaced by Josh Engler, a former member of the band Abandon, due to the band going on different creative directions.[9]

Max also performed vocals on Michael Sweet's solo album, I'm Not Your Suicide, on the track "This Time".[10]

Return to solo career (2014–present)[edit]

In late 2014, Max released two singles, "Infinite" and "Light Me Up". On March 10, 2015 the album Broken Temples was released.[11]

In 2015, Max released another studio album of covers of pop standards titled Starry Eyes Surprise.

In 2016, Max released another studio album titled Playing Games With the Shadow. With his Duran Duran 80s inspired tunes, releasing his very popular song upon fans "The Girl With the Tiger Eyes". The album was also the first and so far only album Max wrote all songs by himself. Max says it was a night-time record, meaning he wrote all of the songs late at night on his Casio keyboard.

In 2018, Max released his released his ninth studio album "AWOL". Writing most of his songs at his now former farm. He also proceeded to release "Romeo Drive", a collaboration EP with Service Unicorn. Service Unicorn and Max released a rare EP back in 2015 titled "Same Wavelength". The song "Are Friends Electric?" was featured on both EPs.

Poetry and writings[edit]

Max is also a poet and an author, and several of his albums feature performance poetry. He has published four books, three of which are poetry books: At the Foot of Heaven (1994), The Detritus of Dorian Gray (2003) and PO.ET.RY (2005). The other is an autobiography of sorts titled Unfinished Work (2001), an in-depth look at the meaning of each of his songs from Stereotype Be. In addition, Max has a spoken-word EP that accompanies his first poetry book At the Foot of Heaven, released in 1994 by Starsong Productions. In 2004, Max included poems from the book The Detritus of Dorian Gray in the spoken project with Adrian Belew titled Raven Songs 101 which was eventually distributed by alternative independent label dPulse records. Max's poetry is consistently found in his recording projects including DC Talk projects Jesus Freak, Supernatural and several of his own solo projects, particularly Stereotype Be and Crashing Gates. He is currently working on a novel and graphic novel Fiefdom of Angels depicting the origins of angels before the creation of earth.

Personal life[edit]

In 1997, Max married Alayna Bennett. They divorced in 2003. In April 2005, he married Amanda Lynn MacDonald,[12] but stated in an interview that earlier the two had "a secret wedding and marriage vows were spoken and we had binding agreement together in front of a spiritual leader, but we decided to go with the public ceremony a little bit later."[13] Their daughter, London Ava Kay Max, was born on October 7, 2005.They lived in Hollywood, California, until July 2006, when Max and his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.[citation needed] In December 2006, Max announced on his website that he and Amanda were expecting the birth of their second child (a boy) in June 2007. He was born as Wilder Liam Max at 7:00PM on June 6, 2007.[citation needed] Kevin Max and family have moved back to Nashville where Max secured a new recording contract. On March 24, 2009, Kevin Max and his wife Amanda welcomed their third child, Knightly Christobal Max.[14] In August 2010, Max and family moved back to Grand Rapids Michigan as a result of discovering that their second child, Wilder Liam, was diagnosed with low spectrum autism. The Grand Rapids Press covered the story on the front pages of the entertainment section, explaining in further detail, the reasons for Max returning to his home state. Fourth child Lady Charlotte Max was born on October 7, 2011, sharing a birthday with older sister London.[15]

In recent years, Kevin Max has attempted to create a name for himself apart from DC Talk. While he does not shy away from vocally defending his faith, he has expressed a desire to create art with a universal appeal. He insists, "My music is for a Christian and a Buddhist to pick up and still enjoy, as well as for an atheist. But it is there to prod and ask questions: What is my worldview? What do I believe in, and why do I believe it?"[16]



With DC Talk[edit]


Studio albums


With Audio Adrenaline[edit]


Guest appearances[edit]


Year Single Album
2001 "Be" Stereotype Be
2005 "Seek" Between the Fence & the Universe (EP)
"Sanctuary" The Imposter
2006 "Confessional Booth"
2007 "Run on for a Long Time" (featuring Chris Sligh) The Blood
"The Cross" (featuring DC Talk)
2009 "Traveler" Cotes d'Armor (True Rebels)
2010 "On Yer Bike!"
"Unholy Triad"
"Exorcist" non-album single
2011 "Take a Bow" Fiefdom of Angels: Side One (EP)
2012 "Kings & Queens" Kings & Queens
(Audio Adrenaline)
2013 "Believer"
"King of the Comebacks"
2014 "He Moves You Move"
"Infinite" (featuring Rachael Lampa) Broken Temples
"Light Me Up"
"Cave of a Million Songs" Praise and Arrows (soundtrack)
2015 "Clear" Broken Temples
2016 "Girl with the Tiger Eyes" Playing Games with the Shadow
2017 "Let the Day Begin" Serve Somebody (EP)
"Plans" non-album single
2018 "Moonracer" AWOL


Music videos



  • (1994) At the Foot of Heaven (poetry/artwork, Starsong)
  • (2001) Unfinished Work (autobiography, T. Nelson)
  • (2002) Slip of the Ink
  • (2003) The Detritus of Dorian Gray (poetry, Blind Thief Publishing)
  • (2004) Divine Erotica
  • (2005) PO/ET/RY (poetry, Blind Thief Publishing)
  • (2014) Fiefdom of Angels

See also[edit]

  • dc Talk - Christian Band, 1988-2001 with tobyMac, Kevin Max and Michael Tait
  • tobyMac - Christian artist of former band dc Talk
  • Newsboys - Christian band with lead singer Michael Tait (as of 2009)
  • Adrian Belew - guitarist, producer, frequent collaborator
  • Tait - Band of former dcTalk member Michael Tait.


  1. ^ Kittle, Ashleigh. "Stereotype Be Review". Allmusic. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Kevin Max". Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  3. ^ "Kevin Max Starts New Year With New Movie, New Album and Rave Reviews". January 28, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  4. ^ "The Imposter". IMDB. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  5. ^ "Playing: Kevin Max speaks about his new band, The Bad Omens (...his birth father's band) . • . interviews . • . . • . • . . • . • . this is where rock stars SPEAK . • . •". Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  6. ^ "Broadway singer Tony Vincent collaborating with ex-dcTalker Kevin Max « Mark Weber presents Christian Music Makers". February 24, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  7. ^ Zaratan, Ruiz (March 5, 2012). "Album Review: Kevin Max - 'Fiefdom Of Angels: Side One'". Ology. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  8. ^ "Music News, August 2012: Kevin Max Is The New Lead Vocalist For Audio Adrenaline!". August 21, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  9. ^ "Audio Adrenaline announces new lineup with Josh Engler at the helm". The Underground. June 4, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Stryper's Michael Sweet Reveals the Guest Star List for His Next Solo Album".
  11. ^ "Broken Temples review". March 10, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  12. ^ Rimmer, Mike (May 10, 2006). "Kevin Max: The Imposter?". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  13. ^ Mike Rimmer (May 10, 2006). "Kevin Max: The Imposter?". Cross Rhythms. p. 2. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  14. ^ "New baby for Christian music act Kevin Max". STREETBRAND magazine. March 25, 2009. Archived from the original on November 27, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  15. ^ "kevin max on Twitter".
  16. ^ "Kevin Max Ready to Release 'The Blood' This Fall". Soul Shine magazine. April 20, 2007. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  17. ^ "Facebook". June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  18. ^ "Various - Noel".
  19. ^ "As Dreamers Do". April 17, 2014 – via IMDb.
  20. ^ "As Dreamers Do - The Amazing Life of Walt Disney".

External links[edit]