Interview: Toby McKeehan of DC Talk
- 2001 12 Jan
As an artist he has been the heartbeat and the driving force behind the success and the ministry impact of DC Talk. As a writer he has challenged us with the truth that "Love is Verb" and that it's okay to be freakish about our faith in Jesus. As a record company president he has discovered the talent of Out of Eden, Jennifer Knapp and Grits. Toby McKeehan, the once young rapper who was shouting "Heaven Bound" has grown up, yet he is still one of the coolest people alive. Here is what he had to say...
Turner: Is your newest album entitled
Intermission to try to calm all the rumors going around that you guys might be breaking up? Was it given that name to assure people that you will be coming back for a second half and this is not the end of DC Talk?
Toby: We just wanted to do something creative with our title, and I think we can kill a lot of birds with that stone. The title, Intermission, definitely points to the second act, and I think that's something that we all three look forward to.
Turner: How long do you guys plan to take off from the band? How long until we hear something new from DC Talk?
Toby: I can't give you an exact date, but we're all three putting out solo records. The next DC Talk record will be a seven-song CD that comes out this April called DC Talk Solo; it will have two songs by Michael, two songs by Kevin and two songs by Toby and one kind-of new DC Talk song. So that is definitely our next move, and then all three solo records will follow in, probably, July, August, September.
Then we are obviously going to need to tour those solo records, go out and try to promote those, and then at the end of that come back together. Of course, if somebody goes out and sells 5 million copies of their solo record it's going to be more difficult to come back together than if all of us go out and do just alright. But that's the plan, go out and promote those, then come back and make another record. We're all committed to making music together.
Turner: What can we expect from you as far as a solo album?
Toby: Mine's going to be hip-hop, for sure, but it will be more experimental, organic, melodic hip-hop. I don't know that many would consider it a rap record. Experimental rap will be a major part of the vocal style.
Turner: Have you heard any of the songs from Tate and Kevin's album?
Toby: Yes, definitely. Kevin's is rock 'n' roll. I'd say artistic rock and roll, just meaning, stretching the boundaries of pop but at the same time his vocal style definitely brings it into a very pop-accessible style. It's definitely British-influenced rock 'n' roll. It's shiny and pop. Tate is making kind of a routine rock 'n' roll groove record. He's all about warm melodies and thought-provoking lyrics.
Turner: Since you've been the main writer for DC Talk, is this giving Kevin and Michael a chance to speak their minds? Are they writing some of their own songs?
Toby: I think in that sense it's a more freeing step for them because, obviously, they're going to have more art bottled up inside of them, more music, more melody, more lyrics bottled up inside. It's been inside, and they haven't been able to pour out in the last eight years or so. They definitely have participated and been involved -- many songs were collaborations but more my vision, typically pursuing songs that are cries of my heart. So the desire to do solo records wasn't initially as strong in me as it was in maybe, Kevin, because I feel very fulfilled in the outpouring I get through DC Talk. But for me, as I started to think about it and as I really looked within myself, the reason I'm doing a solo record is primarily because I miss hip-hop. I think that there is a good balance in Free at Last and Jesus Freak, I just personally believe, and I don't regret Supernatural at all, I think that it was a great stretch for me, but it's a little out of balance with the hip-hop element that DC Talk has always had.
Turner: Are you excited about your solo stuff coming out?
Toby: Yeah, I think what's cool in listening to each of our records is it sounds like the recipe, the formula to DC Talk. It's like, "Oh, that's the role Tate's been playing all these years. That's the role of Kevin, and of Toby." It's kind of like we're revealing the ingredients to DC Talk. So it's a unique perspective. I'm excited for people who experience it. It's weird because in all our choruses you can sense each of us personally, but you can also sense DC Talk.
Click here for the rest of the interview with Toby.