In high school, some students told Trevor McNevan that he was "using God as a crutch." It was meant as a put-down, but Mr. McNevan saw it as a compliment - just a little bit too conservative.
The analogy inspired the name of Mr. McNevan's band, Thousand Foot Krutch, which will be in concert Thursday at the Mill with Christian rockers Pillar, rapper John Reuben, and newcomer Dizmas.
"The times he needed to lean on something, God was there," bassist Joel Bruyere said. "But Trevor wanted to put a number on it and make it sound big, so that was the 1,000-foot thing."
The current lineup features Mr. Bruyere on bass, Steve Augustine on drums, and Mr. McNevan, the only original member of the group, on lead vocals.
The band was founded in 1997 when Mr. McNevan was a high school student in Toronto, Canada.
"We just wanted to play but weren't a very experienced band," Mr. McNevan said of the group's early days. "We were playing everything from people's back porches to corn-roast parties. We even played a few high school proms."
The group recorded an independent album, "Set It Off," featuring an aggressive mix of rock and hip-hop.
After signing with contemporary Christian record label Tooth & Nail, Thousand Foot Krutch released its second CD, "Phenomenon," in 2003, and reissued an enhanced, remastered version of "Set It Off" last
its second CD, "Phenomenon," in 2003, and reissued an enhanced version of "Set It Off" last year.
The group is putting the finishing touches on its third full-length CD, "The Art of Breaking," due for release July 19.
"We're excited about it," said Mr. Bruyere. "It's been a long process. We've been working with [producer] Arnold Lanni, who's worked with a lot of bands including Canadian bands like Finger 11 and Simple Plan, and it's just been amazing."
He said that on previous projects, the members of Thousand Foot Krutch would go into the studio with their songs and get them down on tape just as they had planned. But Mr. Lanni got them to explore instrumental tones, textures, and combinations as well as various musical tempos and styles.
"Arnold has a completely different mindset. He pushes us way out of our comfort zone. He really challenged us," Mr. Bruyere said. "He'd say, 'Have you thought about doing it this way, or playing it like this?'●"
Eventually, he said, even when Mr. Lanni wasn't around the band members were trying arrangements and thinking of new ways to perform the song.
The disc's name, "The Art of Breaking," is purposefully left open to interpretation, Mr. Bruyere said, but added that "it has to do with breaking of yourself, getting to know yourself and who you really are. It's not the breaking of a band or breaking arms or martial arts."
The new songs are more rock 'n' roll and less hip-hop, he said. "It's inevitable that the hip-hop influences are there; they always have been because everything we listen to is influential," Mr. Bruyere said. "But I think only we know where those influences are. I don't think the average pedestrian would hear them."
Thousand Foot Krutch's Toledo show is part of a two-month tour, called "For Those About To Rock," with Pillar, John Reuben, and Dizmas.
Pillar, led by singer Rob Beckley, is a hard-driving Christian rock band from Kansas whose hits include "Fireproof" and "Bring Me Down." John Reuben, a 25-year-old rap artist from Columbus, has released three CDs on Gotee Records, and Dizmas, hailing from southern California, is scheduled to release its debut disc in June.
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mill, 5115 Glendale Ave. Tickets are $15 in advance. Information: 419-389-0893.