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story.lead_photo.caption Colton Dixon

There are rock bands that play Christian music and there are Christian bands that play rock music. Thousand Foot Krutch would place itself among the latter variety of musicians.

“We consider ourselves a rock band, and our faith is who we are,” says Trevor McNevan, singer-songwriter and guitarist in Thousand Foot Krutch, a band that started in the Canadian province of Ontario. “We don’t look at it as our genre of music. We make songs from our hearts, and they’re very real and honest to us. We’ve always made music that’s for everyone. We cover a lot of genres, but always it goes back to rock with a lot of other ingredients. As for the band’s name, I came up with that when I was 17, and I felt like I required a lot of support.

“And my support is a really big God.”

Thousand Foot Krutch is one of seven featured groups, plus several other “pre-jam” acts or speakers, on the annual Winter Jam, one of the most successful touring extravaganzas since its formation in 1995. The tour returns to North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena on Friday.

Started by the band New-Song, Winter Jam for the past three years has dominated first quarter attendance figures. In 2013, the Winter Jam sold out 42 of 44 arenas, with a combined total audience of nearly 554,000 people - the biggest in Winter Jam history.This year the tour began Jan. 3 in Raleigh, N.C., and wraps up March 30 in Omaha, Neb.

“This year is our first time on the Winter Jam,” McNevan says. “So far, we’ve done about 25 shows, which is about half the tour, and it’s been incredible. There’s truly something for everyone on this tour. Of course, everyone has a shorter set, since there are so many acts, but everyone has been fine with that. We know most of the people on the tour.

“I counted 144 people total on the tour, traveling in at least 10 to 12 buses with four semi-trucks, so we’ve got a good convoy thing going on.”

The band that began in 1998 also includes Joel Bruyere on bass and Steve Augustine on drums. McNevan now lives near Nashville, Tenn., and the other two members still call Ontario home. McNevan says the band’s hometown, Peterborough, northeast of Toronto, is also home to one of one of Arkansas’ most famous native sons, Ronnie Hawkins, formerly of Fayetteville.

“He’s such a fixture around there, I’d forgotten he was an Arkansan originally,” McNevan says with a laugh. “He’s a lovable guy.”

Thousand Foot Krutch has released eight albums, the latest of which, The End Is Where We Begin, released in 2012, was named to mark the band’s decision to go its own way, free of any major label constraints, instead financing the album through the Kickstarter crowd funding platform.

“It’s been a very gradual kind of adventure,” he says. “We’ve been fortunate to always see growth, whether we’re playing back porches, churches or football stadiums. Three years ago we finished our album deal and in April, we’ll start work on a new studio album.”

New this year for Winter Jam is, a free app featuring interactive venue maps, free Winter Jam radio, an interactive mobile light show, social media connections and giveaways.

Winter Jam Featuring Newsboys, Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, NewSong and Colton Dixon iDisciple App PreJam party features Love & the Outcome, Everfound and Derek Minor and speaker Nick Hall 7 p.m. Friday, Verizon Arena, East Broadway and Interstate 30, North Little Rock Tickets: $10 (door only) (800) 975-9000

Weekend, Pages 35 on 02/27/2014

Print Headline: Christian music megatour, Winter Jam returns to NLR

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