Growing Up On Christian Rock: In Conversation with Kevin Krauter & Rachel Bell

Interview by Rachel Bell


I met Kevin at a Pitchfork after party in 2016. One time he was touring through Chicago and my friend Lillie and I jumped in the van and went to Wisconsin with him and that was one of the best shows I've ever been to. Big Thief and Ian Sweet. One time he took me to The Container Store while I was high on Percocet, recovering from a tonsillectomy. One time we ate weed brownies in Bloomington, Indiana and sat in a parking lot listening to Abba for a long time. He grew up ten miles away from where I grew up. During Christmas time, his parents have really impressive and beautiful lights in front of their house. We rang in the new year together at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn. He is easy to talk to and be around. I feel like myself when I spend time with him.

Rachel Bell is an artist and writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Kevin Krauter is a musician based in the Midwest who just released his solo debut album, Toss Up.


Rachel Bell: When I was six my aunt made me cassette tapes to fall asleep listening to. I liked Edith Piaf and John Denver. Do you have any super early memories of music you liked? What is the first music you remember enjoying?

Kevin Krauter: The first music I ever listened to in my life was probably Christian music, cause that's all we were allowed to listen to for a while. My mom eventually eased up and my older siblings started buying CDs and downloading music on Limewire. My older brother showed me a ton of music that was kind of all across the board. I also was obsessed with watching the MTV and VH1 music video marathons. It's pretty funny to think about how influential TV was on my early music tastes. I was pretty into Sugar Ray and Third Eye Blind at a really early age. I think my first ‘favorite song’ I ever had was either "All Star" by Smashmouth (still a banger), or "Who Let The Dogs Out" by the Baja Men. They both were favorites at one point, I don’t know which came first.


Rachel: Did you ever watch Indianapolis Music Channel growing up? That channel that was just music videos all day?

Kevin: Maybe. We always had Time Warner or some sort of Cable so I would just always watch MTV.


Rachel: What Christian music did you listen to? I definitely had a phase of exploring the more ‘edgy’ Christian rock before abandoning Christian music entirely.

Kevin: Oh, me fucking too, for sure. It started when my brother got a P.O.D. CD. I was really into Relient K for a long time, and Switchfoot.


Rachel: Wow, Mmhmm by Relient K. I think I still know all the words. 2004 was wild.

Kevin: Pink tux to the prom. Classic. I eventually got into Christian metal which mom insisted was not actually Christian.


Rachel: We both grew up in pretty Christian households. Do you feel like your parents trying to control what media you were exposed to changed what you were interested in? Like, did the rule ‘You can only listen to Christian music’ make you want to listen to other music more?

Kevin: I think it definitely added to my curiosity toward "secular" music and probably led me to explore it more than I maybe would have. But I never had an explicitly rebellious tilt because of any of that.


Rachel: Do you remember a specific time or a specific thing that made you go from ‘I like to listen to music’ to ‘I like to make music’?

Kevin: That's kind of a tough question to answer cause I think, realistically, I was making music for a while before I was ever confident about it. I didn't start writing actual songs until like, late high school and didn't keep any of them until college. Around that time I would post my GarageBand demos on SoundCloud and share them on Facebook. My friends told me they were good so I kind of starting thinking then, like, "Okay, I write songs, I make music."


Rachel: You’ve played and toured with a group and as a solo artist. How do those experiences compare and differ for you?

Kevin: Being a ‘solo artist’ definitely puts a lot of pressure on me in some areas, but at the same time it can be really freeing. Like, the idea of writing a whole album by myself or leading a band can be really daunting, but being on my own, I'm kind of free to explore whatever I'm into at the moment and don't really have to think about how that fits in with other band members' tastes or artistic preferences. I think I thrive in that environment cause I can be really particular about the little things if I have the freedom to do so, and having that pressure put on me can helps kick my ass into gear. I think it's cause I'm a Leo maybe.


Rachel: What’s your relationship with astrology?

Kevin: I don't really subscribe to it heavily, or like read my horoscope or anything. But I have read about Leos and I can definitely see myself in a lot of Leo descriptions. I don't really take it to heart, but it can be a useful reflection of my personality in a lot of ways.


Rachel: What city surprised you when you went there on tour? What’s your favorite city you’ve played?

Kevin: Hoops played in Miami in December which was surprisingly really sick. I mean, that's an obvious cultural hotspot, but I honestly didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. I really like Florida anyway so that probably helped.


Rachel: What do you like about Florida?

Kevin: I used to go there for vacation with my family every year for like, many years. I think something about the humidity and just like the grass and trees makes me really happy. I have a lot of positive sensory memories associated with that place, so that probably plays into it the most.


Rachel: What are other places that have been special to you in your life?

Kevin: I went on a study abroad in Austria in college and spent some time in southern Germany with some extended family I have there. It was my first and only time being there but I really, really loved it and I think about going back all the time. My German really sucks at the moment but at the time I was minoring in it and speaking it a lot, and that felt really good. I also really loved London and the UK in general when Hoops was on tour there. Definitely a place where I could see myself living at some point, although that's probably a pipe dream.


Keep up with Kevin and Rachel on Instagram and catch Kevin on tour with Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the dates below:

7/23 - Missoula, MT @ Top Hat Lounge
7/24 - Billings, MT @ Pub Station
7/26 - Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre