To know the story of Disciple, you have to place yourself in Kevin Young’s shoes. Like Kevin, Disciple’s singer and bandleader, let’s say you’ve recorded ten albums, played thousands of shows worldwide, headlined tours since the late 90’s, and opened multiple times for the biggest artists in Christian music. You’ve sold hundreds of thousands of records and you’ve got fourteen #1 singles. Add to that the fact that you are done with your most recent recording contract and your band needs a lineup change. You’ve been on the road for twenty years, and you’ve seen more hotel rooms than a Gideon Bible. Most people would probably say, hey, I’ve done a lot and maybe it’s time to walk away. Most people are not Kevin Young.
“Disciple started when I was 16,” says Young, “so I’m somewhere between old and young. I know Disciple’s been around for a long time, and sometimes, when I wake up, I can feel every mile, but I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. It honestly doesn’t FEEL like it’s been as long as it has, and in a lot of ways I feel like we’re just getting started. The process, where I’ve been and the new stuff we’re doing right now as a band – it’s a gift. We chose to be who we are AND embrace the new.”
In a six-month period around the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, Kevin rebuilt Disciple, as well as his own approach to the band’s future. “We added Josiah Prince from Philmont and Andrew Stanton from I Am Empire on guitars, Jason Wilkes from High Flight Society on bass and vocals (since the guy was an amazing lead vocalist for his band), and Joey West from After Edmund on drums. It’s Disciple’s best lineup ever. They have the perfect combination of being great players and performers, and are ridiculously talented songwriters,” says Young. “One of my favorite things about these guys is that they have embraced where Disciple has been and love to play the classic songs for our fans, as well as have put every ounce of their souls into trying to take Disciple higher than we’ve ever been. I think our fans have embraced them for that in return.”
Next, the band had some business decisions to make. Disciple finished their record label contract in 2013 and the band’s recording future was in limbo. “We talked to a bunch of labels, but the whole time my manager and I kept asking each other the same question: why wouldn’t we do this on our own? I guess we decided that it was because recording an independent project and all that goes with that was new and a little scary. Being fearful is real, but it’s also a bad excuse,” says Young.
“We decided that we would really give ourselves to our fans. It’s one thing to have a record deal, make a record, and see if folks will buy it. It’s a whole different level to engage your fans – really talk to them, tell them what you want to do and why, embrace them and then hope that they will embrace you back. We created a bunch of really cool packages that the fans could buy and put them all up on Kickstarter, hoping that our fans would buy things ahead of time to help us make a record. We were scared to death. But then our fans met our goal in seven days and it just kept going up until the forty-day funding process finished. We were stunned and just so thankful. Nobody has fans like we do,” says Young.
“So with the lineup solidified and plans for a new record in place, now all we had to do was write the album. No big deal right? I was a little nervous – excited but nervous. I had more freedom than I’ve ever had to make the music and say the things that I really wanted to say. We had the support of our fans. But what really energized me was the music that was being written by the band members. It somehow felt very Disciple-esque and was somehow new at the same time. I think we all were really inspired by it.”
The first order of business was to bring back Travis Wyrick to produce. Young states, “I hadn’t worked with Travis in six years, but we knew this was going to be a hard, aggressive record. Travis recorded all of our hardest albums and working with him was like going home.” The finished album is called Attack, and it is the band’s most ambitious project to date. It’s bold, it’s hard, it’s experimental, and it’s sweepingly atmospheric. Attack gives a nod to long-time Disciple fans with “Radical” and “The Name” and the album will intrigue new listeners with offerings like “Dead Militia,” “Lion,” and “Angels And Demons.”
“We wrote this record as a new band. Attack is the right album title because that’s what we did with every song. Every band member contributed in a huge way to this album. Everybody brought songs to the table that we all worked on, and made each other’s songs better. It was definitely a well-coordinated attack on all sides,” says Young.
“You know, rock music isn’t the most popular music genre right now, but it’s also the music genre that will never die. Rock music always comes back around. And with that, I know what we’ve been called to do, and that’s to do our best to show Christ to people with our music, and with how we interact with them, both on and off the stage. I thought about this new album for a year before we started in the studio, and I knew that the lyrics would be the boldest Disciple has ever put on a record. I wanted to talk about Jesus loudly and without shame. That’s why “Radical” is the first track and our first single. It sets the tone for what we want people to hear. We talk about Jesus openly at every show. We do an altar call. That is who we are and that is what Disciple is called to do, and we hope that people hear the new music and say ‘Yeah, now THAT’S Disciple!’”
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