Disciple’s Kevin Young Tells the Story Behind Album “Attack”
One of the longest running, most enduring Christian bands in modern memory — Disciple (#DiscipleRocks) — has just released their independently produced new album Attack.
And it is worth the wait — wow.
For long-time fans of this legendary Christian band you are in for a very special treat with this new album. You’ll discover why when you read my interview below with the lead singer Kevin Young.
For newcomers to Disciple, if you’re a fan of rock music — and you don’t mind the heavier side of that genre — then Attack is a must-listen. You can check out the album and purchase it here at the band’s site.
From their press release:
The crowd-funded and 10th studio album from Disciple is also the first recording featuring front man, founding member and band leader Kevin Young’s newly formed powerhouse line-up. Writing, recording and touring with Young are four new Disciple members, but established musicians in their own right: Josiah Prince from Philmont and Andrew Stanton from I Am Empire on guitars, Jason Wilkes from High Flight Society on bass and vocals, and Joey West from After Edmund on drums…
Formed in 1992, Disciple has recorded 10 albums, played thousands of shows worldwide, headlined tours since the late 90’s, has 14 No. 1 singles, sold hundreds of thousands of records, received multiple Dove Awards and nominations, had its music featured by ESPN’s NFL Live, WWE, Fox Sports, as well as in commercials for CBS’ CSI: Miami and Criminal Minds, and more.
I noticed the new album really captures the different musical phases of Disciple. It captures different sounds from the band’s long history while also adding some new things. Was that intentional, as far as doing something so representative of Disciple’s history?
You know, I don’t think any of that was intentional. This is the third version of Disciple’s band members. And we were just writing, and the thing about these guys is they’re all super talented, they all came from different professional bands, and they all are extremely amazing and talented writers, and I think a couple of them were very familiar with Disciple’s music, and [were] listening back to some of the older songs and maybe trying to write something similar to those older songs. That might have been part of the reason that that happened, but really with every album we’ve done over the past 10 years, our MO is to kind of write 30 songs and weed them down to 12, take the best 10 or 11 or 12, then just roll from there. And that 10 or 11 or 12 that we picked just had this really nice, familiar feeling, so it’s been great. With everybody that’s heard the album we’ve had nothing but positive feedback so far and that’s good.
For the guys in the band, myself personally, normally when we’re done with a record I’m just exhausted and burned out and don’t want to hear the music because we worked so hard and slaved over it. This album is completely different. I’m energized, ready to play the new songs, fired up, and just so excited to share them with everybody. It’s a good feeling, man, so we’re kind of riding a big high right now.
Yeah, as a listener I felt the same sort of magnet from the album drawing me back to listen to it over and over again, not getting tired of it, etc. So I can definitely see why you’d be excited to share these. And your band’s new line-up really is sort of a Christian rock dream team in a way. But I’m curious how you guys connected; were you all friends or did you have auditions?
Yes and no. The first one was a guitar player, Josiah Prince, who kind of was a try-out. I wasn’t really familiar with his band Philmont all that much. We’d never played any shows with them, believe it or not. We just kept crossing paths and all of our friends knew who they were, and all of their friends knew who we were, but we just never really played with each other. And so he came out on the road with us, and we just instantly loved him because he’s an amazing guitar player and amazing songwriter and all those things, but he is a hilarious person, and just so much fun to be around. So we knew we wanted him in our band.
So the next person was Jason Wilkes, and he actually was a lead singer for his band High Flight Society, and I just had this vision that I wanted another singer in the band, to obviously sing background vocals and do a lot of things we do on the album that we really couldn’t ever do live, but not only that but to really just bring like a two lead singer mentality. There were some bands in the ’80s that had that, and I thought it was always really cool, and I thought, “You know that would just be an amazing thing if we could add that to our band.” So I called Jason and I said, “Hey man, we’re needing a bass player, can you play bass?” And he said, “No, I can’t.” I said, “Can you learn?” [laughs] He goes, “Uh, sure!” I said, “Okay because I want you as a bass player, but I really want you as a singer.” And he was like, “Oh, okay!” So he joined up. Obviously you’ve heard the record, and you really hear that we utilize him a lot. We do a lot of trading off. He sings one chorus by himself, and we’ll do a lot more of that in the future as we get more comfortable with it. But he brings a different element of songwriting to the table, completely different background.
The two other guys, Andrew was from a band I Am Empire, I met him in Germany, and he was an easy fit. Great guitar player. Joey was from a band After Edmund, and we had just toured with them, and they were going through some changes, and he was ready to move on, and I was more than happy to let him come join up with us.
That’s awesome. And Jason’s voice has a nice complementary sound to your vocals — as far as the tone colors.
Very different voices, yeah, I’m kind of scruffy, he’s kind of clean.
I’ve always liked bands that did the two lead singer thing, even going back to my childhood listening to Tourniquet and how they’d trade off the vocals between Gary Lenaire and Guy Ritter.
Oh my gosh, I did not expect to hear that reference [to Tourniquet] dropped in this interview. That’s amazing! Nice work.
[laughs] And even some of the guitar breaks in your songs kind of reminded me of Tourniquet a little bit, which got me pumped up. But getting more into the album specifically, the song “Dead Militia” has a really strong groove, and I love that. But lyrically speaking, what’s the meaning behind the song?
I’ve been preparing myself for this question. I knew it’d happen sooner or later, and you’re the first person to actually ask this question, and I’ve totally been trying to think how I’m going to answer this. [laughs] You know, it has a couple of meanings. It really depends on how you interpret the Bible as far as what it means to you. I kind of left it open-ended to basically how people interpret the Bible. But it’s a song about the end of the world. Heaven’s armies, the army of the Lord, they come at the end of the world to do a lot of things and mostly it’s to tear down the kingdoms of this world and the [idols to which] people bow down in the kingdoms of this world, and there’s a lot of destruction and just ripping away of all the things of old and setting up the new. Depending on where you’re at, you could say it’s the angels or you could say that we are part of that army, specifically in Revelation where it talks about people riding with Jesus Christ following behind him [see Revelation 19:11-14]. So depending on how you interpret the Bible, it could be about you riding behind Him or it could just be about those armies in particular. That’s definitely what the song’s about.
I love writing songs about the end times and I’ve written many songs about it, all the way to our album Back Again, the songs “321,” “Revolution Now.” I just love the theme of Jesus coming back. It’s something the Bible tells us to encourage each other with, that Jesus is coming back, and He’s going to set everything right. And I love talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it. It’s just such an exciting thing for me.
That’s awesome and maybe why I was drawn to it because growing up my favorite book was always Revelation. I think it makes sense, it’s very powerful imagery. God does want the church to be triumphant, mature, spotless Bride of Christ before He returns so I think the church is going to rise up and be a very triumphant, overcoming church before He comes back, and I think the song really captures that general theme. And the “dead militia” phrase, is that kind of how we’re an army dead to ourselves?
Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s exactly right. That there’s this army of people who have died and have come to life.
[Editor’s note: Though I failed to mention this in the interview, I personally agree with the interpretation that it’s us riding with Jesus because Revelation 19:11-14 describes the army as “dressed in fine linen, white and clean,” which is a description reserved only for believers, not angels, throughout Revelation. But either way, the song is a fantastic meditation on the triumphant return of Christ, regardless of your specific interpretation.]
It’s very inspiring. Another favorite song on the album is “Lion” because it had some odd-time meters and complicated structures to it. Was that a lot of working putting that song together?
Well, I mean, with the rhythms we had to unlearn what we had learned a little bit. [laughs] But yeah you’re picking the two songs that Jason Wilkes was a heavy influence on. So that’s pretty awesome, I’ll pass that along. But yeah, that was his song and he brought it and, again, it’s a testimony to him bringing a new thing to Disciple because those types — and all due respect to the former band members — but those types of rhythm changes and timing changes are just something we never really toyed with before. They’re very new and very fresh, and it’s exciting to kind of have some of those elements in our repertoire, if you will.
And songs like “Radical” also have that classic sound, and I think it’s great how the album starts out with “Radical.” It’s a great leading track.
It’s so funny you say that because yeah, that’s my song, so of course it’s kind of got that classic sound because, when you find out who wrote what, you’ll definitely know why it sounded the way that it sounds. If it’s a new and fresh thing it probably wasn’t from me, and if it’s got this classic Disciple sound to it then, you know, I probably had a lot to do with it. [laughs]
[laughs] Well, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. It’s a great, timeless sound, obviously, or you wouldn’t be interested in doing it all these years.
Sure. I want everybody to write what they like and be themselves and not to just be Disciple, but be themselves — myself included. But, of course, me being in Disciple for so long, me writing a song like that is me being myself. And being independent this time and not having a record label to tell me no, I felt the freedom to do whatever the heck I wanted to and enjoyed it. Not that we’ll ever not to sign to a record label ever again, it was just very stifling. And again, not to sound so negative about it, but being on record labels for so many years, and after you write a song and you fall in love with it, but you still got to take it to people and say, “Hey, is this okay?” And they rip it apart and tear it apart and all these things. I just was really tired of that. I was ready to just be able to write a song, know that I liked it, know that it was good, and put it on the album. And that’s what we did this time.
I could see how that would wear you out emotionally to go through that process over and over again.
Yeah, I needed a break from it. Especially when you believe in a song and, again, all due respect, but some 40-year-old white guy in an office — I’ll just be honest — probably is not that in touch with what a 13-year-old is listening to.
Just overall, spiritually, the album just has a very triumphant feel to it, just very victorious, aggressive too — almost like this war cry of victory or something — and I was just curious, did the themes come out of a spiritual season in your life or certain things that you were experiencing in your walk with Christ?
Yeah absolutely. There’s definitely a fight and a war theme to this album, that’s why we called it Attack. I think it came from a lot of things that God has been showing me — and I could make the answer really long but I’ll try to make it short [laughs] — but just in the past year and a half of God showing me specific things. In 1 Peter 5 it says be sober, be vigilant, watch out for your enemy, Satan, he’s prowling around roaring and seeking whom he may devour. And my daughter was playing a softball game. And she’s like 5-years-old now — she was 4-years-old at the time, maybe — and she was on the pitcher’s mound. She can’t catch very well, she can hit very well, but she can’t catch very well. And she was kind of not paying attention, and there were these people hitting this softball like whizzing by her head that, I mean, if it would’ve hit her it would’ve potentially just destroyed her, you understand, and I was just yelling, “Watch out! Watch out! Be ready! Be ready! Be prepared! Watch out! Something’s gonna hurt you!” And I left that softball field and God was like, “That is every day of your life.”
That is every day of your life. Watch out! There are arrows. They are trained on you. They are aimed at you. And they are firing at you. You’ve got to be ready. You can’t just sit there and have your head in the clouds and be thinking about all these other things because temptation strikes when you’re tired, you know, when you’re not ready, when you’re sick or you’re just kind of worn down and you give in. Those are the moments when we’ve got to be ready. And those are a lot of things that I’ve faced over this past year and a half. Victories and failures. From victories and failures come great songs in my experience. So that’s where I’ve been writing from, that element of sharing what I’ve been through and just saying, “Hey man, let’s be ready. When you’re tired that’s when you REALLY need to be ready, you know, when you’re worn out, watch out, be sober, be vigilant because he’s coming after you.” But that’s okay because we have the victory in Jesus. But we just gotta be ready.
Amen. Amen to that. Your answer really hit me in the heart, actually. I really needed to hear that today, so thank you very much for sharing that. I know it’s really going to encourage our readers.
Visit Disciple’s website to find links where you can purchase their new album “Attack,” which was released on September 23, 2014.