Christian rock pillars talk about new album “Stand” and tour
Duncan Phillips is Newsboys’ drummer, but according to his bandmate Michael Tait, he tends to use a more specific job title.
“He introduces himself as the lead drummer, like that makes sense,” Tait laughs. “You are alone drummer!”
But if you’ve seen a recent gig by the band – now the mainstays of Christian rock for 36 years – Phillips’ claim is hard to dispute. At one point in their live show, his drum lifter lifts off the stage, spins, and tilts 90 degrees forward, giving the group audience a dizzying aerial view of Phillips in action.
He’s been doing this stunt for years, but apparently every time the band goes on tour again, a new fan-shot video of Phillips’ swirling drum kit goes viral. It happened again this summer after the band performed at the Alive Music Festival in Ohio, with a music video that gained more than 5 million views.
“It’s amazing to me how fat you can get – well you think you are – but then you have a viral video like that,” says Phillips. “Then all of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of new fans coming in and saying ‘Oh my God, who are these guys?'”
Newsboys 20th album ‘Stand’
It’s oddly fitting for Newsboys, a group that seems to continue to rediscover itself, for nearly 40 years.
Friday, they release their last album “Stand”. This is Newsboys’ 20th album, or the seventh on “Version 2.0”.
They adopted this unofficial nickname when Tait, formerly of DC Talk, became their new lead singer in 2009. He replaced Peter Furler, whose departure meant the band no longer had original members in its ranks.
This led to a period of massive musical reinvention in the 2010s, and it continues on “Stand”. close cousin of Daft Punk and Pharrell’s “Lose Yourself To Dance”).
“Every time I’m in this fight,” Tait sings over a choppy funk guitar and 21st century disco beat. “Your love keeps pulling me back, pulling me back, it’s magnetic.”
Another catchy star, “Ain’t It Like Jesus”, finds Tait and his company clearly taking a page out of reggae – an influence you probably wouldn’t have spotted in a previous incarnation of the band.
“Your musical tastes change all the time,” says Phillips. “The record we made is a record that we probably wouldn’t have made five years ago, because we weren’t there yet musically … we’ve been here a minute, and we love all these different guys of music. If it’s good, it’s good. “
“Sometimes everything sounds the same on (contemporary Christian) radio, and it’s hard to distinguish between this group and this group,” Tait explains.
“It’s like, ‘Who’s who? Even the voices sound alike. So I wanted to make sure we kept things fresh and instantly recognizable as Newsboys. When “Back in Black” comes out, you know exactly what it is. “
Yes, the singer of one of the greatest groups in Christian music refers to AC / DC, the rockers who brought us “Highway to Hell”. It is not new to them. In the 1990s, DC Talk and Newsboys both reached a new league of success when they embraced the burgeoning sounds of grunge and alternative rock.
Today in concert, Tait and Newsboys perform DC Talk’s signature song from this period, “Jesus Freak”. The two groups used to tour together, and this camaraderie was a big part of Tait’s decision to join the group in 2009.
It also meant that they were able to achieve what would be unthinkable for many other rock bands – bringing back their former lead singer, Furler, to lead the group with Tait for the 2019 “Newsboys United” reunion project.
“It was a moment in time,” Tait said. “And we can attest to the fact that two lead singers can get along. It’s like inviting your ex-wife over to the house after you get divorced, and you’re still friends, you know? So I was really happy with that.”
The nostalgic sound of “United” also made it clear how far “Version 2.0” had evolved – this album and “Stand” sound almost two decades apart, instead of two years.
Journalists back on tour
It may have helped that the band – kept out of the way due to the pandemic – were able to focus on making an album more intensely than they had in a long time. Phillips says they started with around 60 songs, recorded 20, and picked the top 10 from those sessions.
“I think we have probably one of the best 2.0 discs Newsboys has ever made,” he says. “Simply because we had the time to refine and polish these songs where we think they should be.”
That said, the group is happy to be back on the road this year. On October 8, they will kick off the “Step Into The Light Tour” in McDonough, Georgia.
“Dining at home for the past year and a half has been amazing,” Tait says. “But nothing, nothing beats watching the fans sing these songs and be inspired.”