Kevin Max: The Imposter?

Wednesday 10th May 2006

Mike Rimmer conducts the most in depth interview the American singer, songwriter and poet KEVIN MAX has ever undertaken.

Continued from page 1

There is no doubt when you chat to Kevin Max for any length of time that he is a deeply romantic person. His poetry and song lyrics are testament to this fact. He has a romantic soul and an appreciation of beauty. So perhaps the story he tells about how he met his new wife Amanda shouldn't surprise me. Picture the scene, Max returns to his hometown of Grand Rapids to sing at the wedding of a family friend. Afterwards he crosses the street with the wedding party to a piano bar where everybody is unwinding and Kevin stands watching two piano players playing Radiohead's "Karma Police". Kevin remembers, "It was really interesting and it was intriguing me. I was standing around, looking around after a few drinks, and I saw this woman and she just caught my eye. I made my way over to her section of the club. She kind of noticed me and we started walking closer together.and I know this is going to sound absolutely absurd.but we didn't really even talk that much. We kissed right on the spot! Had a know.kissing session in front of her friends. Which was REALLY strange for me because I didn't know her at all. I just felt this ultimate attraction to her. We giggled about it afterwards. Actually after the place closed down we went back and were talking for fours hours, into the wee small hours of the morning. I just recognised, this woman had a special place in my heart, immediately. It wasn't a hook-up. It wasn't just like this kind of animal attraction thing. It was much deeper. After that conversation we started dating. She would fly out to LA and I would come into Grand Rapids, where she was living at the time. Then we decided that we were going to make it happen. So we did the ultimate 'rockstar wedding' and ran off to Vegas and had a Vegas wedding."

Knowing Kevin's passion for all things Elvis, I was disappointed to discover that Elvis did not officiate at the wedding. "You know, I wanted him to," he admits, "and she shut me down real quick on that one! She wasn't really hip to the idea. I actually looked into the original hotel that Elvis was married in, which I think is an older hotel and theirs was of course the most over-the-top package and I really wanted it. But she was just not for the Elvis. Instead, we opted for the Chapel of Flowers, where the very, very famous one-night wedding ceremony of Britney Spears happened. We are actually having our honeymoon this year after the Greenbelt show in England. We're going to go into the countryside and hang out for a couple of weeks. So we're really excited about that."

The couple were officially married in Vegas in April of 2005 and their daughter London was born in October. This has also caused rumours because on the surface it looks as though their daughter was conceived out of wedlock. Having been through enough public scrutiny of his private life, Max is understandably reluctant to allow too much prying into this area of his life, rightly preferring to protect his new bride and baby daughter. After some pressing, he admits, "We 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. We actually were going to have a bigger ceremony, then we decided to opt for the small, very, very, intimate wedding with two friends on either side. Hence the Vegas trip."

Amanda and Kevin are both fans of the British capital city so named their daughter London Ava Kay Max and her birth has changed Kevin. "I think being a daddy is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me because I've come full circle. I was adopted as a baby and always felt a little sense of abandonment. Like, why did that happen? Why did my mother choose to give me up? And I realised that as I grew older I really felt like it was God's provident hand that put me with my adoptive parents. They actually were wonderful people; very caring, very giving, very generous, very loving."

The singer explains some more about the circumstances of his birth and adoption. "My birth parents never got together. My dad was a rock and roll musician and met my mother at a show. I guess you could call me the bastard son of rock and roll. There's a lot of us out there I think. But the adoption process was something that I didn't really grasp until I was a little bit older and I started realising that God put me with these people. Before my first marriage it was a conscious decision between Alayna and I to find my birth parents because she thought it would answer a lot of things in me, and it did. Meeting my birth parents really gave me a full picture of who I was."

When Max tracked down his birth parents through the adoption agency, he met up with his mother. Amazingly his mother had heard of him! He explains, "My mother had seen me at a dc Talk show." That's pretty amazing but the story takes on an even more surreal edge when you discover that Kevin Max's birth father was a singer in a band! Kevin shares, "When he listened to my music and listened to my voice he was just taken aback because we do sound kind of similar. So he's very proud of what I do and what I've accomplished."

Back in the '60s his father had been in a Minnesota band called The Bad Omens who later became the band Zarathustra. His father is still making music in a local group outside Minneapolis. Kevin comments, "It's kind of an interesting deal to see his music and listen to it and know that's where my stuff came from. So the daughter being born - I'm looking at my blood now, my bloodline, going, 'This is truly me and no matter what happens between Amanda and I or anyone else, nothing can separate me from you.' So I give her all the love that's possible and I'm very proud and very happy that God has blessed me with her."

Kevin Max: The Imposter?

So when you met Amanda in the piano bar, had she heard of Kevin Max? "Absolutely," he affirms. "She grew up in Ohio and that's a hotbed of Christian music in America." So maybe that explains why she came over and kissed him! Max chuckles, "You know what's funny is, she told me she didn't know who I was when we first immediately met. She was probably lying through her teeth, huh?!" Hmmm. well it does throw some interesting possibilities in the realm of "Oh there's Kevin Max over there! I think I'll go and give him a snog!" Kevin laughs, "Absolutely!! I can see the makings of this interview already man!"

Having negotiated our way through the challenge of Nashville traffic we arrive early at the airport ahead of the rest of Kevin's band. We pull up at the drop off zone and continue chatting in the rental car. When Kevin heads off to his flight a record company guy will drive me back to the hotel.

Finally, we talk poetry with the publication of his 'PO.ET.RY' book. Since the publication of At The Foot Of Heaven at the peak of his popularity in dc Talk, Kevin has self-published a number of small collections and made them available via his website. He describes the latest book, "Basically it's a brand new work compiled together with two previous works. So I've condensed all three miniature books into one. One of the last books that I've actually put out on my own publishing imprint was called The Detritus Of Dorian Gray. I've included this in this book. And also a book that was going to come out and never quite did which is called Divine Erotica. The third segment is a brand new piece called Old Dragons And Young Maidens. That's, to me, the most interesting section of the book because I was trying really hard at a concept of coming up with Biblical characters put into a different time period. I really wished that I could have spent a little bit more time on it but I wanted to get this book out there while I was on tour, to offer it to the fans. We're probably going for a publishing deal with this at some point. Put a hard cover on it and make it seem a little bit more serious! We'll see."

The problem, of course, is that generally poetry doesn't sell very well in the 21st century as any contemporary poet eking out a living penning verse in his eyrie will tell you. "It's horrible," admits Kevin, "it doesn't sell at all. It's kind of why I do it myself these days. I think in order for me to get a big advance and get a big publishing deal, I would have to really sell them on the idea that it's Kevin Max, and I've got this nine million-plus crowd out there that's going to go running to the stalls to buy the book. And it's not really true."

Well, at least it's not true anymore! He continues, "I could really lie through my teeth and try to make that happen, which a lot of people do. But I'm more interested in getting to the crowd, finding that niche crowd, that are really going to appreciate it. If they can get it, then great."

This is where things definitely get a little surreal! I am parked up in a no waiting zone outside Nashville airport with an excitable Kevin Max who is reading me a poem from the new collection called Princess Of Snakes. A poem about Herodias's daughter who danced to get the head of John the Baptist served up on a plate. His use of language and image and the very fact that he's choosing poetry as a form of expression probably isn't appreciated by the majority of people who bought his music when he was in dc Talk but there's something very apt about Max's poetry as he luxuriates in emotion, romantic vision and language.

He reads,
"You lived in the temple devoid of all light,
Except for the lanterns that burned through the night,
You fashioned your bedroom with bones made of pillows,
You ransacked the countryside for pitiful fellows,
But everyone called you to dance at their parties,
For you had the movement of ancient love stories,
The snakes were your partner as you moved as their sister,
And even the king would give what you wished for,
And when they did serve you the head on a plate,
You smiled with a forked tongue, O princess of snakes."

His reading is interrupted by the airport security lady intent on moving us on. We're still parked in a no waiting area. Kevin laughs, "She's a princess of snakes!" We drive off to do another circuit of the airport and wait for the band to arrive. In the meantime, Kevin confesses, "My heroes were Shakespeare and William Blake. My heroes were people that took the conventional and made it unconventional. Even the great artists of the world - Michelangelo - would create things that would get the Church all boiled up and bloodied. We're in a place now I feel that I constantly go back to the book Francis Schaeffer wrote, How Should We Then Live?, as a blueprint to what I do. I mean, we should be stirring things up. We should be the ones progressing culture as believers because we understand that there are absolutes and there are truths that set us free actually; that don't bind us but set us free."

He continues, "And so as an artist, I'm free. I'm not trying to offend anyone. I'm not trying to shock anyone. I'm trying to be honest about who I am. And when I write a book called Divine Erotica, I truly believe that that's what it is. God has created sex. God has created romance. God has created these feelings between male and female as something very beautiful. I hold that very dear in my own marriage. It's really important that my wife and I have a really amazing sex life. It's really important that we have a very romantic relationship. It safeguards everything when it's going good, you know? But Divine Erotica was just a title and people got really bent out of shape with it. I thought it was a great title. Actually the title came to me.if you want me to be totally honest.the perpetrator, or the instigator was Martha Belew - Adrian Belew's wife. She came up with the title Biblical Erotica and I thought, 'Uh, that's a little much.' I brought that to my friend Dave Perkins, who then gave me the idea that we should term it something different but still use the word 'erotica'. That's how we came up with Divine Erotica, which I think is an interesting title. But we didn't want to call the whole book that because I didn't want people thinking that it was all about that because it's a small part of it just as sex is a small part of our relationships. It's not THE biggest part of our relationship. Love is the biggest part of our relationship."

And once again we draw up to the drop off area at Nashville airport and this time around the band arrive and everybody starts to unload the gear. The airport security woman hovers around wanting us to do everything more quickly. As a parting gift, Kevin gives me the Burberry hat that he wore on the cover of 'Stereotype B', says goodbye and heads for check in. I fend off the airport security woman who wants me to move the car that isn't mine as I wait for the record company guy to return and drive me back to downtown Nashville.

While I wait, I try on the hat. And there's one thing that I can categorically confirm. Despite everything you may have read about Kevin and whatever rumours you may have heard, one thing is for certain. You may be surprised to find, he doesn't have a big head! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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Reader Comments

Posted by Grace Mercy in Texas @ 22:49 on Sep 5 2013

Kevin has held himself out as a Christian artist. He has specifically targeted the Christian market. I think he at least owes his fans a duty to actually be Christian. He compares himself to Johnny Cash and Bono. Last I checked these guys were not marketing in the Christian book stores or playing before youth groups as he has. He should just go secular and then deal with his struggles openly as he wants but why market to the Christian crowd.

Reply by Mary in Orlando, FL @ 04:04 on Aug 18 2018

Grace Mercy - I think if you're going to use a name like that, you should probably exhibit the characteristics of those words. Expecting perfection and then judging the heart of a person you don't even know demonstrates neither grace nor mercy. And that is certainly less Christlike than Kevin has been with his testimony.

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Reply by Sharr in NM @ 00:25 on Jul 9 2018

As a the ex wife of a former youth minister ..
I prefer that he doesn't wear a mask. I don't think it is our place to judge the contents of his heart. I found it refreshing to hear someone say "you know what I fail .. and I consistently seek God's face "

Who are we to judge the speck in our brother's eye .. when we can't see the plank in our own eye?

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Reply by Pam in US @ 20:47 on Aug 16 2016

As a matter of fact, Johnny Cash's albums have been sold in Christian bookstores.
I read the interview and then saw your comment. I'm not sure you were hearing what I was hearing. It doesn't seem to me that Kevin Max is espousing "cheap grace" or telling Christians to shut up. He said he is seeking God at all times. It seems that he is just being honest with his struggles, especially the ones of the past.
If, as Christians, we can't handle that, we are demanding hypocrisy and dishonesty.

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Posted by Ann in Africa @ 08:24 on Apr 14 2012

my prayer for everyone... judge or judgee. singer in a rock band or a robe wearing choir and even for the media who covers all issues of christianity- is that Jesus remains the centre of our focus everyday. We must ask ourselves for whom we are doing or saying things. John 15 is clear without Christ, we can't do a thing. So whatever we do, if Christ is not at the centre, we must always run back to him. I like Dc Talk and the Voice of The Matters ministered to me as a teen snd because of that I pray that Jesus remains the centre of Kmax, Michael Tait and TobyMac wherever they are. Trust me the devil came to steal, kill and destroy, that is his mission and where else to start, but the church? So while we are at our lives we must know that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers and rulers of this dark age. About time we start putting this in perspective so that instead of judging and questioning we break into intercession and rebuking in love. Yes and lets start within our homes and backyards before we go after artists we only see on TV. Lets just interecede for them as God speaks to us but not tell them what to do. It's the age of the holys Spirit and His conviction will reach everyone He loves as we intercede in Love

Posted by Ken B in New York @ 17:15 on Feb 9 2011

The best thing we could do is to be completely transparent in our lives and I believe that Kevin is one of those guys who does that very well. How can ANYONE judge another on there mistakes? What that shows me is that they are so ignorant of there own mistakes that they have created a "False World" , an illusion to make them feel better about what they have done or are doing, which in the end will leave them completely unsatisfied. Each individual needs to focus on There personal relationship with Jesus and to Help those in need, not tear down, cause anyone can do that.

Posted by Elisha Mueller in Perth @ 04:40 on Nov 19 2010

Just noticed in the interview, God is mentioned - but not Jesus (same goes for lyrics in the recent albums).

"No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." 1 John 2:23

Anyway, keep praying that Jesus Christ will be his centre. Love always hopes (1 Corinthians 13) and we are called to love one another (John 13:35).

Posted by Joell K in Manheim, PA @ 20:54 on Oct 14 2010

Thanks glad here from Kevin. I have been a big fan since the first time I heard dcTalk! Kevin's voice is just unbelievable, it hits deep inside of me and his lyrics. I Love his first solo album "Stereotype B", it spoke so deep to me. I also at that time was struggle with my first marriage and my convictions as a Christian and the views others had of me because of a failed marriage. It's been hard, many of my Christian friends have walked away from me. No one understood and no one wanted to help me along that path. So for a time I walked away, but now I'm married to a man who wants me to be myself. The hard thing is I still feel lost in the Christian community...I feel I'm not good enough anymore or worth to do anything for God, cause I hear the negative words of my ex-husband ringing in my ears.
Sorry to ramble..
Thanks and Blessing to You, Joell

Reply by Joel G. in Houston, TX @ 21:07 on Jul 13 2011

Dear Joell K, i just read your post and wanted to tell you that you are valuable in Christs eyes, and when you feel like people, even church people arent encouraging you, well they arent always where they need to be either, i just wanted to encourage you and tell you to look to Jesus "the author and finisher" of our faith, He has"plans to prosper you to not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future." all in Christ, amen-be blessed sister, i know its tough but keep your eyes on Christ, He is the way even when people get in the way.

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Posted by Alexandria Doetsch in Phoenix @ 22:40 on Oct 5 2010

My soul leaps at the mere sound of his voice. Love like this comes only from above. Healing, Love and Joy to you Kevin from the heart of the Valley, Phoenix, AZ.

Posted by Jeremy M in North Carolina @ 23:14 on Sep 26 2010

I loved the interview, thank you Mike for doing it and thank you Kevin for taking the time to meet with Mike.

I was surprised by some decisions that Kevin has made in his life, but I am glad that he's straightforward regarding his mistakes. Notice I used the word MISTAKES.

From what I gleaned in the interview, Kevin is not gloating about his divorce or anything else; he recognizes that he's made mistakes. Throwing people out of the church simply because they're not perfect would result in nothing except an empty church.

I agree we need to call our brothers and sisters into accountability, but the scriptures that everyone references regard instances when that particular brother/sister are either not aware they are sinning or are stubbornly continuing in sin. I see neither of those in Kevin.

I appreciate Kevin's nonconformist approach to life and music. I myself am quite a bit like that, so I know what it can be like to feel misunderstood my mainstream Christianity.

Once again, thanks Mike and Kevin for the interview!

Posted by Matthew Davis in Rapid City @ 07:26 on Apr 30 2010

In this day and age, judgement and condemnation push people from Christ, not bring them to him. We must love one another and not judge. Or so will you be judged and more so as the bible says. Kevin is a genuine Christian, and i believe he is living for Christ. He has made some mistakes, but so have we all. You may not get divorced or drink or have given into lust. but i bet your thought life is quite flawed. i bet you all struggle with pride, self righteousness, and judging others, let alone our pathetic motives. So lets give this man a break. support him, do not condemn him

Posted by BR in SD @ 05:35 on Mar 17 2010

I've seen DC Talk several times. The last time I saw them I was in the front row with a bunch of friends. I really got turned OFF by Kevin when he was totally eye balling my friends wife the whole night. Everyone in our section noticed it.

I make no apology for what I'm about to say but c'mon! If you say that you are a Christian, live like one! I am so tired of the compromise in the Christian community. We all sin, I understand that, but let's get some things right.

Divorce is more rampant in the church big time. It has become so the norm we try to whitewash it. Jesus said only for marital unfaithfulness. Which seems to be the norm in the Christian community as well.

Yes I believe in grace, but not greasy grace. When we accept the anything goes attitude in the Christian community.....well then anything goes and it appears so.

The big thing today seems to be who can push the envelope the farthest and if you don't approve you're just religious and not "spiritual" (or not culturaly relavent). Let's face it, Bono, is not the poster boy for Christendom and I get tired of hearing about him. He still hasn't found what he's looking for. :-)

There is a plumbline as mentioned in the bible in which we should get back too. The bible says not to judge those in the world, (as we once were) but we are to judge those in the church, as one of the previous poster said.

I for one have no respect for Kevin but wish him well in his walk.

Reply by Some One in Some Where @ 05:10 on Jul 22 2018

1 john 2:27 - don't judge according to the Bible, our only guide is jesus who is inside of us, john 1 tells you jesus is the word who became flesh, not a book. Matthew 23:8-10, jeremiah 31:31-34

Paul is not an apostle, revelation 21:14 says there are only 12 apostles, acts 1:26 says number 12 is matthias

Divorce is required if you inadvertantly marry someone who is already married to someone else.

Kevin is beautiful. And forgiven. Why remember sins that jesus has already forgiven and forgotten jeremiah 31:31-34

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Reply by C in UK @ 12:08 on May 26 2014

If you can't prove that BR I'm not sure you should say it. How DO you know where Kevin Max was looking when it's a dark room and big stage and a big crowd?

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Posted by TIM F in Fort Worth @ 00:51 on Dec 14 2009

I just saw KMax in concert last weekend with Mike Roe. I went there for Mike. Don't know anything about KMax other than his association with DCTalk.

My concern is with the hypocrisy of those living in shallow Christendom. So many people are quick to blab about divorce, yet so few are actually willing to read what the Bible teaches us about it. It's all there, folks! Freakin' read it, already!

1. It is *absolutely* the job of the Christian to judge! Anyone saying otherwise has never finished reading Jesus' comments on the topic (read the next 5 verses past Matt 7:1), nor understands the nature of holy worship. If we are not supposed to judge, why did Paul rip the Corinthians for *not* judging their member who was shacking with his step-mom? (1 Cor 5, esp v 3)

2. As believers, we have an obligation to *humbly* keep the church pure. If a person maintains his unrepentant ways, we are **commanded** to throw them out of the church and NOT ASSOCIATE WITH THEM. Please read both 1 Cor 5 and 1 Cor 6, as Paul deals with this exact topic at length. This applies not only to sexual sins, but greed, idolatry, homosexuality, drunkeness, rioters and swindlers. When people who claim to be believers refuse to turn from their ways, we are commanded to a) mourn b) kick them out. By the way, this is not Paul's idea: Jesus says the same in Matthew 18, including the part about not associating with them! (read it for yourself if you don't believe me)

This business of "Jesus is love, forgive everyone and ignore their sin" is an ignorant and gross distortion of what Jesus teaches re Christian living.

I have no idea how this topic relates to Kevin's situation, since I've not been asked to be involved.

We need to encourage each other to be faithful to what God commands of us. Keep Kevin and his family in your prayers.

But if he's (or anyone) is living in sin and refuses to repent .. the Bible has already spoken.

Reply by Carl in PA @ 03:39 on Apr 5 2013


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