DC Talk's TobyMac Makes Opposites Attract on 'Hello Tonight' Tour

DC Talk's TobyMac Makes Opposites Attract on 'Hello Tonight' Tour
Lee Steffan

Toby Mac

tobyMac says his recently-started 'Hello Tonight' tour with fellow Christian artist Chris Tomlin is a bit of a risk, but one he's willing to take.

"We put together what people would think are two sort of opposites," the former DC Talk member (real name Kevin McKeehan), tells Billboard.com about the bill, which pairs tobyMac's edgy, contemporary hip-hop and pop mix with Tomlin, who he says is "essentially a worship leader" -- not necessarily two styles that normally rub elbows on the same stage.

Nevertheless, tobyMac says, "I think it makes total sense. I think both shows are very audience reactive...very crowd participatory. They're both shows that engage the audience fully, whether they're jumping up and down or raising their hands in worship. We're trying to make one plus one equal three. It's a perfect night for all ages."

And, tobyMac says, the broader stylistic range of his fourth solo album, "Tonight," which came out in February and debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, has allowed him to broaden his audience, with "Showstopper" used for the 2009 baseball World Series and the NFL's Thursday Night Football promotion, as well as the WWE's Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view telecast. "We put a few midtempo ballads on the record, and A/C radio kind of reacted to those for me," tobyMac adds. "So even though the rest of my record might have been a little more raucous, those songs led a bunch of people to my music, so I think I'll have enough in my set. If the other stuff drives them crazy, hopefully they'll put up with it, or maybe it'll invite them into this big ol' party we're gonna have."

tobyMac has shows booked, in a variety of permutations, through October, with a five-day sea cruise slated for February. He's also been "working on a Christmas song or two" that may grow into a full holiday album, although he knows that time is running out to make that decision. He's also collaborating on a new book -- "City On Our Knees," titled after the first single from "Tonight" -- that he says will focus "more on other people's stories, inspiring stories about people who stepped across the line and made a difference." No publication date has been set yet.

As for DC Talk, tobyMac says he and bandmates Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith, who went on hiatus in 2001, still get asked to re-form "a few times a year." It has yet to happen, but he doesn't rule it out, either.

"I think the truth is when it's right for all three of us, I'm sure we'll be willing to do something," tobyMac explains. "Why wouldn't it happen? The timing just has to be right for all there of us."