June 1, 2012 Volume 26, Number 06
Former dctalk phenom expands his creative repertoire with Fiefdom of Angels
By Aaron Epp | ChristianWeek Columnist
Three years ago, Kevin Max re-discovered a poem he wrote in the mid-'90s about the fall of Lucifer. Inspired, he began writing a novel about the origin of angels titled Fiefdom of Angels. It wasn't long before the award-winning musician, best known as one-third of the Christian rock group dc Talk, had a 450-page manuscript on his hands.
"When I wrote this book, it really was a stab at the origin of angels from a completely new idea of the origin, and lots of liberal amounts of imagination and creativity thrown into [a] story that we know so little about from the Scriptures," Max says by phone from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and four children.
In the 12 years since dc Talk went on hiatus, Max has released more than 10 recordings, two books of poetry and an autobiographical book to create a rich and challenging body of work that has established him as a truly original artist.
Fiefdom of Angels is his most ambitious work yet. In addition to the bookwhich will be released at some point in the futurethe FOA project will also include two EPs of music, a graphic novel and hopefully a film.
Max released a teaser of the graphic novel last year, and the first EP, Fiefdom of Angels: Side One, came out on iTunes at the end of February. The recording is a musical companion to the novel, and features orchestral interpretations of four well-known rock songs as well as one original.
"I've always wanted to do an orchestral-type record," Max says, adding that prior to starting the FOA project, he wrote and recorded an orchestral song called "Exorcist" with a friend.
"It just kind of whetted my appetite for the whole orchestral thing."
The EP, which features covers of Real Life, Joy Division, Queen and Muse, has already garnered a big response. When it was offered up for download on pay-what-you-want music website NoiseTrade.com, 10,000 people downloaded it within a week. Music reviewer Brett Warren of Ology.com raved that the EP "feels like just the right amount of a good thingSide A of an '80s new wave mix-tape played at full volume through the Sistine Chapel's PA system."
Max isn't sure when Side Two will come out, but is considering a late June or early July release date. He also reveals that it will feature covers of "Mourning Air" by Portishead, "Macro" by Depeche Mode, "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" by David Bowie, "Nite Flights" by The Walker Brothers, an original titled "Even When It Hurts" and possibly another song as well.
"I see [the EPs] as being a really great way of rebooting some of these songs," Max says. "In another way, it's very much a companion to the story. I think it's going to fit in very nicely when people are able to pick up the book."
Max says creating Fiefdom of Angels has been a gift from God.
"It just kind of came out of nowhere," he says. "I have to say that that was God-inspired. I mean, my faith tells me that. People that don't believe in God would probably say, 'Man, you just got lucky.' [But] I feel like God has given me this gift of this story, and now it's up to me as well to be a good steward of it and try to find the right people that are going to push it forward."
Aaron Epp is the managing editor of The Uniter, Winnipeg’s weekly urban journal.