17 years ago, Thousand Foot Krutch's break-through album, Phenomenon, was released through Tooth and Nail Records. This was their second studio album as a band. For so many fans of rock, and not just Christian rock fans, this album helped open up the world of rock to creative and innovative sounds and styles. The music reminded fans of bands like Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and P.O.D. Throughout this album, elements of hip-hop, funk, and rock were blended to create an unforgettable album.
Some of the hit songs that remain fan favorites to this day include "Phenomenon," "Rawkfist," and "Last Words." Phenomenon is influenced by the faith and life of lead singer, Trevor McNevan, and I was able to connect with him to reminisce about this iconic album and its influence over the years.
Thousand Foot Krutch's Phenomenon album from 2003 was a major success for the band. One of its most popular songs to date is "Rawkfist." What do you remember about the early days of that song?
"Rawkfist" was one of those songs that had a mind of its own. I remember listening to it during a day off we had before a show in California. Originally, the idea was that it was going to be written as a theme song for The Rock, the WWE Wrestler. We had talked to the WWE at the time, they were really interested in that. And then he ended up publicly declaring that he was going to become an actor just a couple of weeks later. Also, that song is one that I think was one of the early songs that connected us to the world of extreme sports like the X Games and UFC and EA Sports and ESPN.
It was one of those things that opened up a lot of doors for the band and also represented something iconic in the rock world, the classic fist pump in the air. It's one of those songs that we play at almost, if not every show. It also has that anthemic rock sound to it, which has always been a guilty pleasure for me.
In what ways did Phenomenon impact the rest of TFK's history?
So, I did two independent TFK records with different members prior to this album. At that point, I think TFK was always rooted in a lot of the music that I grew up with and loved the most, which was always hip hop and rock. I think hip hop, rock, and funk were three genres that had the groove elements we loved–musically and lyrically. The heart and mission statement didn't change, but musically, Phenomenon is where we started to explore our rock side deeper, while still keeping the rhythmic flow that hip hop is so tied to.
I'm so very thankful for that record! That was a great experience for all of us and it was the first time working with producer Aaron Sprinkle. He has become a longtime buddy of mine. We have produced a lot of stuff together. He taught us a lot and is such a gifted dude, so I think he helped take the sound of the album to a new level.
What was it about Phenomenon that really hit home for fans?
The beautiful and powerful thing about music is that it speaks to us where we're at in our lives and in each of our different situations and circumstances. But there were some fresh approaches in the rock genre on that record. For some people, our rhythmic rock sounds drew them in.
Also crucial is the fact that we're all Christian guys and our faith is our lifestyle. We've always made music for everyone and I think that there's always been an underlying message of hope. My prayer before writing any of these songs was always like, "What do you want to say, and how do you want to say it?" I would definitely give God all the glory on that front.
Are there any stories from the album that you want to share? From specific songs?
They've all impacted me in different ways at different times. There's been times in my songwriting career where the Lord allows me to step into a situation that I'm not personally going through, but I feel the feelings and emotions of someone that has. That has allowed me to write about that situation in depth.
Suicide is something that's always been heavy on my heart for others and for friends and family. There was a moment when I was writing for this record that I remember feeling deep emotions of despair for a couple of days straight. The best way I can articulate it is that I was able to feel what it felt like to be at the end of yourself. That led to the idea of this song called "Last Words." The idea was that if someone had taken their life, and if they had one chance to come back and write a letter to the people they love, what would it say?
Another special one is "This Is A Call." There was a place I used to go to write when I was home here in my hometown, from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. I used to go and sit on the hood of my car with an acoustic and a couple of candles on this hill that overlooks the rest of the city. And I went there one night to write. And I remember just praying: "Give me something to write about here. I don't just want to write a song. Give me a story to write about."
Strangely enough, the candles ended up blowing out and I didn't have any matches or anything, so I went to the local grocery store to grab a lighter. This girl came up to me, out of nowhere, and I had never met her before. She said, "I was just at this party and we were all drinking and whatever and I heard this song from you guys." I think it was a song called "Small Town" off an independent record. "I don't know what it was about this song," she continued, "but it made me feel something I've never felt before. I don't know if I believe in God or I don't know what I think about all of that, but it made me, for the first time in my life, feel like God is real." It was such a powerful answer to prayer. We gave each other a huge hug and I walked out of there with the biggest smile, thanking God. I sat down and wrote this song called "This Is A Call."
Is there anything else you want to share about the album?
Looking back reminds me that I'm a big believer that God's plan is better and bigger than ours. It's awesome to be able to sit back and just watch how things connect in a bigger way than just writing a song. Stories of fans are such a blessing and so encouraging. They definitely give you the breath of life you need to take the next step. People's stories are so important to me. And I think the feeling of being seen and heard in our community and in our lives is so important.
There's something powerful about opening up with other people to have conversations about the stuff we're going through. Especially, I've seen, with men and boys. You know, it's easy to talk about the good stuff. But they feel like they need to shut up about their struggles. Music plays a huge part in people telling their stories and connecting with other people's struggles.
I wanted to say on behalf of the band, a huge thank you to everybody who's been walking this journey with us, from the beginning and halfway and anywhere that you started listening. It just means the world to us and we just love walking this journey together. God is so faithful, I give him all the glory and I'm excited to be a part of it.
How can we be praying for you?
I guess a big one now would be health for everyone's family. And peace and wisdom moving forward. I have a bunch of new music that I've been working on that I'm going to be putting out in the next year or so and really excited about. Continued direction from the Lord and wisdom on the right ways to do those things. We need direction on how we can help each other and how can we find better ways to talk about things.
Ryan Adams lives in Ohio, yet grew up in Boise, Idaho. He loves the Christian rock and metal community. He has been sharing his passions with NRT, going into his second year writing with them.
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