The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek is what relient k calls its new album. The anatomy of foot in mouth is what the band’s manager tries to avoid when he explains that much of today’s Christian music isn’t exactly geared toward kids.

“We’ve all gone through enough youth group events in our time where we’ve seen music out of touch with the generation that’s being thrown out to those kids. [Relient k] would like to be the band that rescues some of those events,” manager Timothy Eddings told POLLSTAR with a chuckle.

His cheeky sense of humor is only rivaled by that of the band, which fills its pop-punk rock songs with pop culture references that relate to kids. Fans first came to know relient k through its self-titled debut, which includes the award-winning song that recounts how “Marilyn Manson ate my girlfriend.”

The three original band members Matt Thiessen, Matt Hoopes and Brian Pittman grew up together in Canton, Ohio. When the 20- and 21-year-olds started playing in a youth worship band about three and a half years ago, they decided to take it a step further.

“We were like, ‘Well, we’re all here. Why don’t we play some stuff that we make up?’ So we started writing our own songs,” Thiessen told POLLSTAR.

From there, the guys wasted no time. As Thiessen explained: “Matt (Hoopes) liked this girl who lived down the street and her dad plays in this band called dc Talk.”

With that, dc Talk guitarist Mark Townsend agreed to record relient k’s first demo.

“It was real cruddy and it sounded like poop,” Thiessen described the demo so eloquently. “It was just something that we wanted to do and we were only a band for like a month when we did it so it was right out of the box.”

But it’s that “cruddy” recording that got the attention of dc Talk member Toby McKeehan, who is part owner of Gotee Records.

“He must have heard some very raw promise or something because it wasn’t very good,” Thiessen said.

But apparently, it was good enough to get a developmental deal with Gotee. And according to Eddings, the “developmental” part of it didn’t last long.

“When they came back with that first series of demos (after getting signed), I was just absolutely blown away,” he remembered. “And basically, at that point, we got involved and went to the record label and said, ‘Look, this isn’t a developmental deal project. This is an A-level Gotee release. There is a window of opportunity and I think this is the right band at the right time.'”

The label agreed and has since made it a mission to build relient k’s fanbase.

relient k

“Gotee has been just absolutely supportive about giving us the materials we need to break the band at a grassroots level,” Eddings said.

Between that and a growing base of followers that Eddings describes as “fanatical,” relient k worked its way up to becoming the No. 1-selling new Christian rock act of 2000.

Of course, the band’s willingness to play 200 shows a year and hang out before and after gigs to recruit new fans helps.

The members embarked on their career with that work ethic, Eddings explained.

“I can just remember one of my early band meetings with the guys everybody gathering together, and Matt Thiessen came to me and … he said, ‘I just want you to know that I know how tough it is and we don’t expect to make it. But if we don’t make it, we don’t want it to be our fault. So let us know what you need us to do.'”

Collecting e-mail addresses at every show has been one thing. The band has amassed some 40,000 addresses to date.

“It’s a great thing for right now because we can go to a town and even if a promoter completely drops the ball, we have between 300 and 1,000 names in every market we play,” Eddings said.

Being that relient k is so committed to touring, there is concern that the band may be saturating the Christian market. For example, it played 27 of 28 Christian music festivals this summer.

“By Christmas time this year, I don’t think we have any place in the Christian market left to play,” Eddings said, adding, “I think we’re gonna look to play colleges or opening slots for a general market band in the spring.”

Though the general market isn’t something relient k strives to conquer, the band is not going to turn down greater exposure.

“A lot of times, I’ve come across people that I know just really kind of use the Christian music industry as a stepping stone to get to the ultimate goal of being on a big record label and all that stuff not really our vision, I guess. Not really our intention,” Thiessen said. “But, of course, who would not want to be in a situation where you could play for more people?”

Just as the band is willing to cross over, Eddings thinks a mainstream audience would be more than open to relient k’s music.

“I found out that there are very few situations where we put this band in front of the 12- to 25- year-old demographic where people don’t love them,” he said.

The band is currently co-headlining the Electric Youth Tour with Five Iron Frenzy, which is incorporating the world’s largest sock puppet choir into the outing. In January, relient k will make its first trip overseas, playing for fans in Australia and New Zealand.