Join singer-songwriter Andrew Greer as he chats with Christian music history makers past and present
THIS MONTH: MANAFEST + THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH
Having fostered sturdy international fanbases through thousands of live performances and personal interactions over years of globetrotting tours – plus millions of impressions via dozens of network television and film song placements – longtime collaborators Manafest and Thousand Foot Krutch are two of Christian music’s most illustrious acts and longtime friends.
Now, after years of functioning inside major label rigmarole, the industry-savvy outfits shed the red tape and take to the studio independently, churning out spiritual sounds for droves of anticipating followers beginning with Manafest’s Reborn (The Fuel Music) – a hip-hop-pop-rock soiree reminiscent of the kinetic diversity that first allured the musical mastermind to legions of listeners over a dozen years ago.
In an exclusive Full Circle sit down, the man behind Manafest, Chris Greenwood, and Thousand Foot Krutch frontman and Reborn featured guest, Trevor McNevan, powwow over years of collaboration, brand spankin’ new music and taking off indie all over again.
Andrew: Reborn is your first fully independent project since signing with BEC Records over ten years ago. What prompted the return to flying solo?
Manafest (Chris Greenwood): I have been independent worldwide, except in the United States, since The Chase album. So I have a lot of experience releasing and marketing an album. This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and finally stepped out on my own. What a lot of artists don’t realize until they are one, two albums deep with a label, unless their album sells extremely well and has a lot of radio airplay, their income is mostly derived from live shows which does not promote family life long term.
Andrew: Similarly Trevor, Thousand Foot Krutch has been an entirely independent outfit since 2012’s The End is Where We Begin. What continues to motivate the decision to remain independent?
Trevor McNevan: We were independent for years before signing with Capitol Christian, and have always been very hands on. So from that standpoint it wasn’t all new territory. But at the end of the day, it was a faith step we felt we needed to take. We wanted to be able to walk this journey and grow together with the people who support this band and our music on a closer level. It was all about connection.
It’s been such an incredible, and humbling experience so far to see the support we’ve received. We’re very thankful and excited to keep growing together!
Andrew: You guys have begun recording TFK: EXHALE, sequel to your #1-selling record, OXYGEN:INHALE. How does the new project reflect and connect with the previous project?
Trevor: We are in the studio starting the recording as we speak! I’m still finishing some songs, but we are so excited about this new music. It’s pure adrenaline in music form.
From the beginning, we had communicated INHALE was intended to be the lighter side, and EXHALE would be it’s more aggressive counter. These both are qualities that have always been a big part of who this band is. You can’t have one without the other. So we wanted to push the envelope even further on both fronts. I think this is some of our best music yet. It’s exciting after all this time, to still feel that way.
Chris, you have also shaken the formula from previous records. Reborn is decidedly hip-hop compared to the rock focus of your past efforts. What prompted the shift?
Chris: For awhile I have told my fans that I would do a hip-hop album. I wanted to make sure I delivered on that promise. I will continue to split the genres like this from now on.
Andrew: Trevor is no stranger to Manafest’s music, and makes a repeat appearance on Reborn’s first single, “Shine”. How did you guys first meet and begin collaborating?
Trevor: I met Manny way back in the day at shows in our local Toronto scene. I’ve always been a hip-hop fan and I remember his first demo grabbing my ear. We soon became friends and the rest is history!
I set up a showcase for him back when I was working with Hawk Nelson and connected him with our label at the time, Tooth & Nail Records. Manny asked if I’d work on a song with him. We got together with a producer Adam Messinger’s home studio and wrote a song called “Skills” in just a couple hours. Since then, we’ve worked on a couple songs on each album and always have a blast together. He’s worked hard. It’s exciting to see things continue to grow and see what God’s doing through him and his music.
Chris: Trevor has been a mentor and a great example for me in this crazy music industry. I am very thankful to have him as a friend, as well as fellow musician making music.
Andrew: Manafest and Thousand Foot Krutch’s music have both had a good deal of international success. To what do you attribute your international popularity? And how does your international platform influence your music?
Trevor: The moment we realized that anyone outside of North America had heard of our band, we had a “Whoa!” moment. We were shocked. It’s been really exciting traveling abroad and meeting our family all over the world. It’s such a unique and powerful experience singing along with thousands of people each night, who know every word but don’t speak English as their native tongue. We feel so blessed that people are connecting with the music here and abroad, and we give God all the glory for that. It’s an amazing thing. We’re very honored.
Chris: My album Glory blew up in Japan. Japanese fans called me the “One-Man Linkin Park” or “Eminem-Meets-Linkin Park”. The new album Reborn came out in Japan a week after the North American release, and success anywhere just adds to the overall momentum. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.
Onstage, you fellas are quite the musicians. Offstage, you are quite the family men. How do these seemingly diametric roles play into each other?
Chris: When I get onstage, I’m there to entertain and inspire. When I’m onstage, people don’t just want Manafest. They want Manafest-times-ten with energy and personality. I love getting on stage and getting to transform and party with the crowd.
Now that I’m a father, I don’t plan to tour as much as I used to unless I take my family with me. My daughter has already begun to impact the songs I write.
Trevor: The juggle of keeping a healthy life balance is a daily refocus for anyone, and there are times when it’s very hard to do. But family comes first. Thousand Foot Krutch is blessed have incredible, supportive and inspiring wives. And Steve and I have children now. We try to tour smart so we can make the most of our time with both our families and our rock family. It sure doesn’t get any easier leaving home when you have kids, but it’s been an exciting new chapter!
About Manafest: Manafest (a.k.a. Canada native, Chris Greenwood) pushes musical envelopes, creating an uplifting, seamless blur between the spectrums of rap, hip-hop, rock and pop while selling 300,000-plus albums, playing more than 1,000 events logged over four continents and garnering four Juno and five GMA Dove Award nominations along with nine GMA Canada Covenant Awards. He has organically built his fan base since his seminal indie EP Misled Youth launched in 2001 followed by seven best-selling, award-winning studio albums and one live DVD/CD. His songs have been featured in video games, as well as on “CSI: Miami,” “NFL,” “Knight Rider,” “NBC-GRIMM,” “One Tree Hill,” “Jockeys,” “MTV Unplugged” and “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.” He has also toured throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, China, Ireland and more, while sharing stages with artists like Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet, RED and many others. For more information, visit manafest.com.
About Thousand Foot Krutch: Ontario, Canada-bred Thousand Foot Krutch has been a continuously escalating highlight reel since their formation in 1997. TFK continues its rise into mainstream arenas with sales as an independent artist that the major labels aspire to ascertain. With well over one-million albums sold, more than one-million likes on Facebook, featured performances on major rock festivals internationally, numerous sports programming placements and hundreds of millions of streams online (300,000+ weekly at Spotify alone), Thousand Foot Krutch has also scored two back-to-back Billboard Hard Rock No. 1 albums (2014’s OXYGEN:INHALE, 2012’s The End Is Where We Begin), nine Active Rock radio hits and 16 Christian radio No. 1 songs. With a slew of soundtrack slots, the group has literally infiltrated every facet of pop culture. They continue to receive ongoing ESPN appearances, as well as various NASCAR,
MLB, NHL, WWE, NCAA and NFL airings (including the 2010 Super Bowl), along with the “GI Joe” movie trailer, WGN-TV’s “Smallville” and EA Sports’ NHL 2010 and 2013 video games. For more information, visit thousandfootkrutch.com.
About Andrew: Andrew Greer is a Dove Award-nominated singer-songwriter, author and co-creator of the innovative Hymns for Hunger Tour with Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter Cindy Morgan. His 2013 record, All Things Bright & Beautiful (Lucid Artist), held the #1 spot on Nielsen Christian SoundScan’s Instrumental chart for 25 consecutive weeks. Later the same year, Angel Band: The Christmas Sessions reached the Top 10 on iTunes’ mainstream Singer-Songwriter chart featuring collaborations with music legends Phil Madeira, The McCrary Sisters and GRAMMY®-winning legend Sandi Patty. Andrew’s songs have been recorded by artists like Jaci Velasquez, Nic Gonzales (of Salvador) and Seth & Nirva. His first book – Transcending Mysteries: Who is God, and What Does He Want from Us? (Thomas Nelson), co-authored with fellow singer-songwriter Ginny Owens, released this spring. For more information visit: andrew-greer.com or hymnsforhunger.com.