Mike Rimmer has an in depth conversation with the ex-dc Talk man turned singer/actor, KEVIN MAX
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2008 has seen him take a sideways step into acting. "This is the second film that I've been in and we hope this one comes out!" he laughed. "I've been in another film that never saw the light of day. They started filming it but they didn't finish it. The film I'm doing right now is called The Imposter. They obviously took the title from my last project and some of the ideas that I had on that. I guess they came after me after listening to the record and started seeing my face, watching U2 videos thinking, 'This guy could be right for what we're trying to do.'"
Max continued, "I actually play a musician named Johnny C, who has a major drug-dependency problem and ends up losing everything. It's a bit of a modern Prodigal Son story. The reason I decided to do this to be totally honest with you is that one of my really good friends from LA, Troy Baker, is producing the film and is friends with the director and has been in a couple of this director's films in the past. He came to me very excited that this guy wanted to do it, and so we'll see what happens. Troy was just in a Western with Val Kilmer and Karl Urban and a bunch of different people so I figured if he's in it, it can't be total crap!"
So Kevin is playing a rock star struggling with drugs! I suggested that's not much of a stretch for him. "You know it's very widely known that I will have a drink or two but as far as the drug thing, man; I've never really hit the drug thing. And the good thing is I don't think I have to really experiment for this, you know. I think they'll just kind of let me go for it without having to get into some kind of binge."
I joked that it's a relief that Kevin is choosing not to go down the method acting route "In all seriousness," he responded, "it's an interesting story because it does deal with drugs and it does deal with a guy who's dependent on a pill called OxyContin, and I'm sure that you know about OxyContin. It was used as a painkiller in serious practices and now it has been abused, but an over-the-counter type drug. A lot of people have become addicted to it. But it's not the main idea of the story. The main idea of the story is the guy kind of gives up on what he's been doing; to go a different direction. He goes through the downward spiral of finding himself and in that, he loses everything around him just to find himself. So I think that message can reach a lot of different people."
His previous acting experience includes playing the title role in Joseph and he seems to have fond memories of the experience. "I was asked by CAA, who was booking me at the time, to do this and I was just like, 'Are you kidding me?! They really want me for off-Broadway?! It's a bit strange!' Of course I could sing this stuff but I have to get up in Egyptian makeup every day and I don't really know if I'm into that, you know! At the end of the turn that I did with that I absolutely loved the opportunity and I think that it kind of broadened what I do as a singer in a big way. This will be the first feature film that's released. But you've got to remember, being in front of the camera as a musician; I don't know how many videos dc Talk had done but at a certain point you start forgetting that the camera is there and I think it's the best thing that you can do as an actor, to just be so comfortable in front of the camera that you don't really acknowledge that it's there. We'll see where this takes me. I think I've got a big enough ego; I feel I can do it! But I might just be totally horrible, you never know."
Kevin Max's fascination with Elvis has been documented but at this point in his career, will he actually get into making more serious films or will he go the Elvis route and make really bad musicals, playing himself for the rest of his life? He laughed, "Well, the intent is to get into serious films. I really am very careful about what I say 'yes' to, and why I said yes to The Imposter was because my friend Troy was involved and he told me about the story and I really could appreciate the story. I think Elvis on the other hand was doing it because 'Colonel' Tom was like, 'If you don't do it I'm taking your house away.' So it was blackmail! Or let's hope so! Let's hope that's the reason he had to do those!"
Since the film is called The Imposter, one might presume that there are a few songs from Kevin's album of the same name on the sound track. But you'd presume wrong! "The fun thing is," he explained, "I'm playing an artist; I'm an artist playing another artist, so they didn't want me writing songs because then it would sound like Kevin Max. They wanted it to be from a different perspective. Even the band name is something I would never pick - the band in the movie are called Mission Parade."
I pointed out that the name sounds very '80s. "It's VERY '80s sounding!" He agreed, "The actual time period in the movie is the '90s and I can't stand that musical time period but." Hold on! Back up the bus! I point out to Kevin that dc Talk were at their height in the '90s. "Yeah exactly! That sounds a very strange thing to say. I'm just talking about all the other music." Kevin wanted the band to be named after the T-Rex song "Children Of The Revolution". All this leads to a discussion about how hard it is to find a band name. "Absolutely," he agreed. "All the great ones have already been taken; like Supertramp, Led Zeppelin, U2 is a good one. One of my favourites, and it's still my favourite, is The Doors."
For fans of Christian music, there are a few surprises in The Imposter movie. Russ Taff makes an appearance as a bartender. Kevin shared, "And you know that Russ has dealt with addiction his whole life and he kind of wanted to come out and make a statement and just say, 'I've always dealt with addictions and they're never pretty. I heard this story and it just really spoke to me and I wanted to do it.' Russ Taff gets to kick me out of a bar in one scene, which should be fun! And then strangely enough Kerry Livgren is in the movie playing a character called Proff who is actually a spiritual mentor to one of the guys in the band. He plays a mysterious role, a bit of strange role; but he's in the film. And then the only other Christian performer besides me is the person they're getting to play James, who's in the band with me in the film. James is like the alter ago of Johnny; Johnny's like Liam Gallagher and James is the straight-laced more, 'I do this for a mission' type of thing. So they got Jeff Deyo to play James! I thought it was brilliant. I thought: you know what? Somebody like that NEEDS to play James because then you'll believe it. You'll be like, 'Wow! Yeah!' In one scene I'm sitting there with sunglasses on and I'm making fun of him during an interview and I mean really, that's the two opposite sides of Christian music right there, you know? You've got the one side that's trying to be relevant and 'on the edge', and then you've got the other side that's trying to be relevant and completely conservative."
Art echoes real life and with a gospel album and a movie made in 2008, it's difficult to second guess what Kevin Max might do next. A mainstream solo deal? A medal winning performance at the London Poetry Olympics? Sign on as the new lead singer with Queen? Persuade Toby Mac to reform dc Talk for a farewell album and tour? You know, absolutely anything is possible in the world of Kevin Max.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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