Talkin' With Relient K

By Jasmine McNealy

When you think of rock groups featured on popular television shows like Smallville, video game platforms like the Nintendo Game Cube and music channels like MTV 2, you think of bands with incredible energy and charisma. Enter Relient K, whose first two releases have sold more than 200,000 units worldwide and earned them a Billboard Music Award in 2000. 

Although their story starts out like most rock bands, these Ohio teens never started out in search of the big bucks or a major record deal.

“We never really tried to pursue a career in music so to speak, we always were kind of playing around” said Matt Thiessen, the group’s lead vocalist and guitarist.  “As soon as we got a drummer we wanted to start playing shows just to have fun.  We recorded a demo and one of the owners of our record label heard us and liked it.”

This is not to say that Relient K’s work ethic is lax in any way.  When it comes to their music, they are very focused.

“We’re just really passionate about it”, stated Matt. “Even if I had opportunities to do other things, I’d really just prefer to do music.  Its cool when you realize that the one thing that you really want to do is what you get to do.”

Their love of music has made the band indifferent to the labels that some people want to put on Christian bands, especially given the mainstream success of their newest album, Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do.

“Its always kind of a debate” Thiessen explained. “Are you a Christian band or are you Christians in a band?  Call us whatever you want, we’re not really into labels.”

Along with other artists such as MercyMe, POD, and Stacie Orrico, Relient K is making a name for themselves outside of the Christian music arena. However, Matt is surprised that Relient K hasn’t experienced the resistance that many Christian artists before them have faced once they become successful outside the realm of Christian music.

“There’s no real resistance, that’s one thing that has really surprised me. Other groups have paved the way.  Bands like POD and Switchfoot are getting signed by major corporate labels and getting shoved into the spotlight. Its becoming more and more accepted in Christian circles.”

Their ability to crossover into the mainstream has allowed Relient K to reach more people.  Unlike their mainstream counterparts, this is how the members of Relient K define success.

“A lot of times people misconstrue [success] with how much money you make and what kind of job you’re going to get. I think those things pale compared to other stuff. I think [success] is when you get an e-mail or you talk to someone and you find out that your music has changed someone or impacted them in a really serious way. All the success that the world could give you doesn’t matter compared to one person’s life being changed.”

In fact, Matt advises teens to think about life's big picture when trying to achieve goals and remember what’s really important in life.

“Its really important to get the priorities straight early in life. You’ve got to get your faith in order and what you believe in and work at it. Make sure the relationships around you are strong and healthy especially with your family and friends.  Those are the big things.”

For a review of Relient K's new album, click here .