Cole Walowac and Jon White began leading worship together at their home church in Washington D. C. in seventh grade. When they started writing songs and mixing beats in their parents' basements during high school, their music caught the attention of chart-topping artist TobyMac. During their junior year of high school, they decided to head to Nashville to pursue their dreams.
"God gave us a mission and a purpose, but we knew we had to finish high school first, so we finished our senior year, then it was off to the races," Cole says.
Today Cole and Jon have made a name for themselves as Capital Kings, an electronic-pop duo that has toured the world and is nominated for the Dove Awards' new artist of the year. When they're not on stage performing, they're two 22-year-old Millennials who desire to "bring light to where there's darkness" by spreading the gospel through their music and how they live. Here's what Cole had to say about keeping faith fresh in pop culture—along with offering a 24-hour free music Friday download offer of Capital Kings' single, "I Feel So Alive," at the end of this interview.
What themes do you focus on in your songs?
Cole: One of the major themes we focus on is just leaving the past behind. It doesn't matter what you've been through. A lot of people feel like, my past, you don't understand, no one could ever forgive what I've done, but we talk about that quite a bit on this album—that God doesn't care about the past. All he sees is the future, and he knows that if you want to give your life up to him, there's no telling what you can do—your future is bright.
Are there any specific Bible verses that inspire you?
I like Proverbs 21:26: "Sinners are always looking for what they don't have, and the godly are always giving what they do." I feel like we can get so caught up with me, me, me, I need this, that it's easy to forget to stop and think about all you do have and how you should be giving and showing love to others. We have a song on our record called "Born to Love," and I was really thinking about that verse when we wrote that song.
Your music sounds a lot like songs you hear on mainstream pop radio. How do you share your faith in that genre?
There is so much music and so many lyrics out there that aren't inspiring. You turn on the radio and all you hear is lyrics about sex or going out and getting wasted. Jon and I decided we were sick of hearing songs like that. So we sat down and decided we like the music of songs on a pop station, but we were fed up with the lyrics. We just want to bring light to where there's darkness, just like God has called all Christians to do, whether it's at work or at your school. We want to bring a message of hope—that's what we're really trying to do. What we all desire is to be loved and to show love. You can't deny that at the end of the day.
What are some of the most challenging issues for teens in the church and culture today, and how would you encourage parents to better understand these issues and come alongside them in their struggles?
When you're a teen it's a rough age because you're trying to figure out who you are. Everything's grabbing you—your friends, school—it's a very tender age. There are so many kids that feel they're being controlled, and all of a sudden they just turn the other way and want nothing to do with their home, their parents, or their church. I've seen it so many times. So I feel like you've gotta discipline, but show love at the same time.
My mom and dad did a great job raising me. They definitely knew how to keep me in line if I was acting out of place, and they were the first ones to show me love and teach me if I was doing wrong. They didn't ever make me feel like some terrible kid. My mom and dad are definitely two of my role models.
How do you keep your faith fresh and new?
I like getting in the Word in my bunk early in the morning when I just wake up or late at night because during the day there's not really a lot of time. I also have people all around me that I talk to about God, and Jon and I are constantly holding each other accountable. I think that's a huge thing—you have to have people in your life that will tell you when you're doing something wrong. And small groups are definitely important. I know back home we used to have small groups at our church that I really loved going to. Interaction with other people is so important in your walk with Christ.
What's in store for Capital Kings this fall?
I want us to continue to grow as far as our music getting out there, but I also want to step through doors God is opening—not try to push through ones he's shutting. I really want to go where he wants us to go, and we've said that since the beginning. We're hitting the road with TobyMac's "Hits Deep Tour" this fall, so if God wants to use us for the next 20 years, great, but whether we're making music and playing on tours or doing something else, it's wherever he wants us to go.
This week's Free Music Friday download period has now ended.