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Warped Tour: Relient K's Matt Thiessen

CAMDEN, NJ - JULY 25: Relient K performs

CAMDEN, NJ - JULY 25: Relient K performs at the Vans Warped Tour on July 25, 2008 in Camden, New Jersey. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images) Credit: Getty/Bryan Bedder

Relient K’s latest album is a collection of cover songs that the band’s Matt Thiessen listened to as a kid. We caught up with him Saturday at Warped Tour to talk about the band’s identity as a Christian rock band, festival tours and its Canton, Ohio, roots.

You guys are Christian rock, and when you formed in '98. How did you make the decision to take that identity?

When I was 15 or 16, I did that thing where all the kids would go and just get rid of all their secular music or whatever. I’ve never said that was a great thing for me to do, but it was like a sacrifice I made as a kid because I was really into Tom Petty and a lot of awesome stuff. So I don’t know, I just went through this weird little, I guess being like a teenage monk or something. Just doing something spiritual. And through that process, I found out there was a Christian music industry and there were some bands made up of kids my age, and I was like, “Oh, I could do that.” It was definitely aligned with my spiritual awakening or whatever I was having as a young teenager.

How do you avoid being pigeonholed as Christian rock?

That’s the thing. I kind of embrace it, too. Like, I don’t care. How our band even started was I don’t care what people think sometimes. Everything I do, I want to do out of love. So I can’t really judge.

What are some of the pluses and minuses of being on a festival tour?
Every day there’s kids here that want to see our band that didn’t know they wanted to see our band. They came for somebody else, but they also like us so we get to play for them, whereas if it was our own tour they wouldn’t show up. So that’s great. And the community is just amazing. The sense of … What goes into this tour is really good intentions. . . . So we love being on it.

How do you get noticed coming out of Canton?
It was a complete fluke. There was a Christian band called DC Talk and they had a guitar player who lived in Canton, and the guitar player’s step-daughter went to the same elementary school as our guitar player. He had a crush on her in second grade, she moved away, they come back to Canton like right as our band is starting, and he starts hanging out with her again. And she tells her dad that her friend Matt’s got this band, and he did our demo for $200. Then the singer of DC Talk heard our demo and he had a record label and that’s who signed us. So it’s just lucky.
 

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