Getting a record deal used to mean something. It used to indicate the start of a successful career in the music business, or at least a shot at three-to-five good touring years and a couple of studio projects. 

But in today’s new-fangled technological age of the music download, most bands are fortunate to have a national album release and a radio single or two.

Thousand Foot Krutch lead singer Trevor McNevan can certainly relate. His band has been plugging away since 1996—back when he was still a high school student in Ontario—and, four albums later, even he admits there’s no such thing as a sure bet.

“The music industry is a very crazy place,” McNevan says. “You have people working at labels who don’t know if they’re going to have a job tomorrow, and a lot of bands feel the same way.”

Despite the uncertainty brought on by the industry’s changing economy, McNevan says his band has never lived one record at a time. It’s always been about the long-term—admittedly, a big-time step of faith for this hard rock band with a penchant for neo-funk and catchy pop melodies.

That’s not to say McNevan doesn’t appreciate the long and arduous road he and his band have traveled for more than a decade. Recently, on a trip back home, he went through some boxes in his old bedroom and discovered a cache of TFK memorabilia, including a magazine CD sampler with a section labeled “Somebody Sign These Guys.” The two featured artists? Thousand Foot Krutch and Superchick.

“It kind of makes me old, but it also makes you really feel thankful,” laughs McNevan. “Looking back at that stuff and the bands that we played with—everyone from Bleach to Pax 217 to Hangnail and Beanbag and all these bands—it was an eye opener when you stop to think about that. We were like, ‘Man we feel really blessed to still be doing this.’”

Seeing so many great bands die before their time has also caused McNevan to look at his role as one of the industry’s veterans through a completely different pair of eyes. But his desire to mentor younger bands actually dates back to TFK’s earliest days.

“Being a rock band from Ontario, we played out a lot. And after a couple of years, we were taking some steps forward,” McNevan recalls. “More people were coming to shows, and we were one of the figurehead bands in Ontario at the time. A lot of younger bands would e-mail or call or come up to us after shows, and they would have a lot of questions. So I can really relate to being that kid from that small town where there isn’t a ton of music and there’s nobody in that town you can turn to. It’s not like the college and career day where you can go, ‘How do I do this?’”

One of the biggest things McNevan harps on when sharing advice with up-and-coming artists is practicing gratitude for those who make it possible for them to succeed. “My heart for these younger bands is to try to encourage them to love the people that they work with every day out there on the road—the sound guy, the guy helping you set up, and all those people,” he says. “All the people putting on these shows, their job is just as important. We try to encourage these bands to realize that and love these people and not forget that as they take new steps as a band. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of bands do forget. You can really take for granted the doors that God’s opened if you don’t take time to appreciate them along the way.”

Much of the mentoring takes place on the road, but McNevan has also found his voice in the studio, where he has written songs for a number of bands and established himself in the production chair as well. Those opportunities have allowed him to speak into the lives of such artists as Demon Hunter, Decyfer Down, Wavorly and Manafest. He also co-wrote the song “Ignition” for tobyMac’s latest album, Portable Sounds (ForeFront).