Singer Kevin Young of Disciple feels at home at Ichthus: He lives near Lexington

Kevin Young, frontman for Disciple, performed on the main stage at Ichthus in 2009. Young says his favorite singers are as diverse as Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and Celine Dion.
Kevin Young, frontman for Disciple, performed on the main stage at Ichthus in 2009. Young says his favorite singers are as diverse as Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and Celine Dion.

While early arrivals in Wilmore experienced classic Ichthus weather Wednesday morning (rain, thunder, lightning), Disciple frontman Kevin Young was elsewhere in Central Kentucky engaging in very un-rock star-like activities: running errands and going to a doctor's appointment.

For five years, Young has lived in the Bluegrass with his wife and child, soaking up Kentucky culture and worshiping at Woodford Community Christian Church.

"All of my Tennessee folks will cringe when I say this, but the longer I've been away, when I travel to Tennessee, the weirder that place seems," Young says. "It's not a bad or a good thing. People are just different. People in Kentucky like different things. Obviously basketball is big in Kentucky, and football is in Tennessee. There's different stuff going on."

Living on the outskirts of Lexington, Young can be an incognito rock star, even as his band enjoys one of its biggest successes with its latest release, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. The album just won a Dove Award for rock album of the year and garnered a nomination for rock song of the year for Dear X, (You Don't Own Me).

The song and several other tunes on the album reflect the band's desire to address people whom its members often meet after shows: people whose lives have become so desperate that they have contemplated suicide or harming themselves in other ways. That can often make for a difficult brief encounter.

"You have to care about people and want to be able to point them to the truth, and obviously you have to care about what the truth is and who you're pointing them to," Young says. "You've just got to be honest with people and not pretend you know the answers to everyone's questions, because sometimes people aren't looking for the answers to their problems. They're just looking for someone to listen and care. That's what we try to do.

"Sometimes God will lay on our hearts some really good advice, and we'll give it to someone and say, 'Did I just say that? That just came out of me? Wow, I need to take that advice.'

"Every day I think I've heard it all, and then something new comes along, and you really can't prepare for that."

But Young can write songs, and tunes like Dear X are trying to exhort listeners with a refutation of anger and despair.

Disciple is known primarily among fans of metal and hard rock, but a signature of its sound is the enduring presence of melody.

"I like songs that I can sing to," Young says. "Even if we get really, really heavy, and there's a lot of screaming, I still want to taper it off with melody. That's just the kind of songwriter I am."

The kind of singer he likes is listed on the band's Web site. Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach might not be much of a surprise, but Celine Dion probably is.

"Those two people are on a different level than I'll ever be," Young says. "I will say this in defense of Celine, for all the haters out there: I have seen her live, and I have never in my lifetime seen someone perform as perfectly and flawlessly as she does. Whatever you hear on her albums, she can do live. And nobody else can say that. I try to imitate that, that if it's on our album, I want to be able to do it live, and she's done it better than anyone I've ever seen."

Young gets to take another shot at that standard Saturday at Ichthus, which has now become something of a hometown festival for him. His memories of it, though, go back.

"I remember one of the first times I came to Ichthus, and I stepped off the bus, and my foot hit the ground and just kept on going into the mud," Young says.

Yep. He didn't have to be out there Wednesday to know what Ichthus is about.

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