An Interview with Disciple
NRT's Paul Phillips talks with lead singer Kevin Young about music, Tooth & Nail Records, and Disciple's latest album, 'Love Letter Kill Shot.'

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, An Interview with Disciple
Posted: September 12, 2019 | By: PaulPhillips_NRT
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The Lord has used the music of iconic Christian Rock band Disciple to minister to its fans over the years. I am an example. I was going through some really tough times. I can't remember the circumstances. But, what I do remember was coming down the stairs, and a Disciple song playing on my iPhone. 

The words, "I'm the one that you've been looking for/I'm the one that you've been waiting for/I've had my eyes on you/Ever since you were born" stopped me then and there. I dropped to my knees and started to cry and pray. The Lord gave me comfort through Disciple's "After the World," a favorite of mine to this very day.

Another favorite of mine is, "Dear X, You Don't Know Me." What an anthem! The lyrics show defiance against hate, anger, shame, and fear. Definitely, a good tune to listen to in the gym. 

With such masterpieces, it's no wonder why Disciple has such a strong fan following. And the veteran band knows this. So, to connect more with their fans, Disciple recently launched the Rebel Society, a community created to engage fans with premium content. This includes merchandise discounts and podcast shoutouts. 

Disciple, compromised of Josiah Prince, Andrew Stanton, Joey West and lead singer Kevin Young, has been around a long time. Their website says it best: "Formed in 1992, Disciple has recorded over 10 albums, played thousands of shows worldwide, headlined tours since the late 90s, has 14 number one singles, sold hundreds of thousands of records, received multiple Dove Awards and nominations." And now the band is ready to add another album, Love Letter Kill Shot, to their comprehensive discography. 

I had the esteemed pleasure to connect with lead-singer, Kevin Young, to chat about the new album, music, song sequels, cover albums, and so much more. 

You recently released "Cuff the Criminal" and "Panic Room." What's the inspiration behind these songs?

For "Cuff the Criminal," it's the dichotomy between the battle of the flesh and the spirit. In Galatians, Chapter 5, it says that these two parts of our inner being are always at war with each other. I think the confusion that people get into is that our sin nature is stronger than the spirit, but it's not. The spirit is stronger. So, that's the theme behind "Cuff the Criminal." 

"Panic Room" is about habitual sin and anxiety. So many people struggle with anxiety right now. It's almost like a trend. It's insane. We wanted to write a song about that, and get inside the head of someone who suffers from anxiety. Just really delve into what it's like to be sick mentally and also spiritually, as opposed to just physically. 

I love that we're talking about things that we've never talked about on the new album. I think that's been a lot of fun for us. We've been a band for a long time, and we want to keep things fresh, and to try to talk about new things. That was our goal in the beginning. And, I think we definitely accomplished that goal.

Describe the sound on Love Letter Kill Shot. How's it different musically and lyrically compared to past albums?

Well, we had Travis Wyrick produce the album. He's produced the majority of Disciple's albums. We had Zeuss, a talented mixer who's done Demon Hunter and Rob Zombie, mix the album. So I think that contributed a lot of different sound to the record.

Also, just the types of songs that we have been writing. There are 12 tracks on the album and each song has its own unique characteristic and quality that makes them special. Each song sounds different than the other. But, you can still say, "Hey, this is Disciple."

Love Letter Kill Shot is nothing like our past albums; it's nothing like Attack or Long Live the Rebels or Vultures or O God Save Us All or Horseshoes and Handgrenades. It's so different. The music is different. The lyrics are different. The way that we're saying things are different. But, the vision is the same. I guess we were able to tap into creativity and freshness that we've never been able to tap into before. It's very, very exciting for us.

For the most part, Long Live The Rebels and Attack are independent releases. What's it like to go from working independently to working with a major label again as a part of their roster (that is, Tooth & Nail Records)? What influenced your decision to sign?

Well, honestly, it's not that much different. Tooth & Nail stayed out of the project and let us do what we've been doing. They said: "You guys are doing what you're doing. Keep it up and we're here if you need us." That mentality and that attitude actually made us want to include them more, as opposed to pushing them out.

We constantly ask for their opinion. "Do you like this song?" "What do you think about this?" "What do you think about that?" I think that the respect that they gave really went a long way with all of us. And it made the conversations just wonderful. So [working with a label again] really wasn't that much different [than working independently]. It was just adding another person to the team.

To me, "After the World," is one of the best power ballads I've ever heard. The song has helped me through some tough times. When can we hear "After the World, Part 2?"

There is no 'Part 2' to that song and songs like "Dear X, You Don't Own Me." "After the World" is definitely one of our best songs. As an artist, whenever you're able to write a "masterpiece" and then try to duplicate it, it never really works. "Dear X" is nothing like "After the World." It's completely different. Yet, it's a masterpiece in its own right.

We have attempted to rewrite "Dear X" once or twice and it never came out the same. We've written ballads since "After the World" and they're good. But suffice to say, they'll probably never be a 'Part 2.' We'll just continue to write songs that are creative and fresh. And hope they can be the thing that really changes people's lives, as well.

I was just talking about this topic with 7eventh Time Down recently–trying to recreate something old that we did. It's futile, really. I think the better approach is to keep trying to create something that's good. We've just been so blessed that we've been able to write songs that are that good. People may have these expectations that it's just easy: "Oh, just go do it again." And it's really not. I'm just thankful that we're able to write these songs. I feel "After the World" and "Dear X" were very Holy Spirit-inspired. I'm just extremely grateful that they are a part of what we've done.

Ever thought of doing a heavy metal remake of a classic hit? Think "Sound of Silence" by Disturbed or "Zombie" by Bad Wolves. If so, what would you cover and why?

I've always thought about covering old Christian Rock songs that I liked as a kid. But I realize this album probably would not sell very well. So the urgency to do an album like that is not very high. I would gladly cover "Secret Ambition" by Michael W. Smith. I think that would just be a killer song to do. There are so many Petra songs that I would do. I fantasize constantly about doing "King's Ransom" by Petra. We actually did redo "More Than A Man" by Stryper many years ago. We just blazed through that song, with no prep. We just hit record. It was like garage band practice. That's exactly what the recording sounds like, unfortunately. But, I think it would be a lot of fun. Again, I don't think people would really buy it. But, I would enjoy it.

Some call rock a dying art. Some rock bands adapt by changing their sound (for example, rock to electronic). Many bands are dedicated to keeping rock alive. What are your thoughts? Would you ever change your sound?

Well, some people think we're changing our sound on this new album. We've had fans say the music sounds like pop-punk. Some even call us a boy band for some of the things that we're doing on this album, which is completely and utterly ridiculous. The things that people say when they get behind a computer keyboard completely crack me up. It's surprising how passionate, angry, negative, hurtful and mean that people can be. And later, turn right around and say, "I love your band. I've been a fan for 15 years, and I mean no disrespect." I just laugh, honestly. We're a rock band. That's what we are.

We've talked about doing a worship album. And we always said we're not going to do a worship album under the name, "Disciple," because we want to protect the integrity of what Disciple is and has been. The integrity of Disciple is that we're a rock band. And we're always going to be a rock band.

I have constantly said that when we're writing songs that we can always blur the lines. We can write a rap song, a metal song, a country-sounding song, or anything like that. But, the core of what we do is that we're a rock band.

It's the same thing about Jesus. We can write about whatever we want to write about, and whatever topic we want to write about. We'll blur the lines and write about things like a love song to a wife or about anxiety or depression. Or, a song about our country, veterans, or whatever. But, we'll always come back to being about Jesus.

We are, in essence, the epitome of a Christian Rock band, because the focus of what we do is rock music and the focus of what we're saying is Jesus.

What's next? How can we be praying for you?

We have a lot of shows coming up. Traveling by bus–there's always something going on with the bus. So we pray for protection on the road and safety. And the means to actually pay our bills because the bus is just so expensive to fix. Please pray for the means to be able to pay for that, and that we can stay on the road.

Please pray for our families, while we're gone. They make such a huge sacrifice of living without us while we're gone. A lot of people don't realize just how much of a sacrifice that is for them. Honestly, as hard as we work out there, they're working just as hard at home. And without what they're doing, we wouldn't be able to do what we're doing. We also pray that our new songs would be a blessing to people who hear them. And that the music will spread.

Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.

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