As a Christian music staple for the past two decades, the Newsboys have lived through plenty of changes since their 1994 breakout album, Not Ashamed. The band has released thirteen studio albums since then, has been nominated for four Grammy Awards for best Rock/Pop Gospel album, and have penned classic worship songs like "It Is You", "He Reigns" and "Shine". Despite a constantly shifting musical culture (and a revolving door band membership), the Newsboys have remained one of the faces of contemporary Christian music, consistently playing 150+ shows per year and most recently headlining at the Billy Graham Festival of Hope in Toronto.
When asked how the band has managed to stay relevant over a 20-year career, lead-singer Michael Tait simply answered, "We love what we do. We're passionate about what we do". And the love for their art is evident in their live show. Every Newsboys concert is an animated event, with obvious attention paid to detail (like drummer Duncan Phillips' spinning drum kit during their hit song "Jesus Freak", for starters).
Phillips was quick to add that, in addition to loving their art, musicians need to be brutally honest with it. "Bands can be selfish", he says, "but you can't say, ‘well, I want to make the record that I want to make, and everybody else can go jump in the lake'..." A Band's fan base can have a substantial amount of influence on their creative direction, and the Newsboys recognize that they need to be aware of the cultural moment they are in, borrowing "little pieces of what's happening at the time".
This approach is evident in the direction the Newsboys took with their last record, aptly titled Restart. While still recognizably a Newsboys album, the record borrows from the electronic-dance movement, blending pop-ballads with synthesizers and crunchy, four-on-the-floor percussion. The result is a truly anthemic collection of songs, and standout tracks "Live With Abandon" and "That's How You Change The World" bring a fresh energy and drive to the Newsboys set list.
Shifting gears again this fall, the Newsboys are set to release their 17th studio album on November 4th. The new record will be a collection of reimagined traditional hymns, which should not come as a surprise to those familiar with the band's love for worship music. Hallelujah For The Cross will include ten tracks, and the Newsboys are excited to present fresh takes on time-honored hymns like "Blessed Assurance" and "All Creatures of Our God and King".
A firmly established band tackling ageless, enduring songs seems like a fitting marriage, and the Newsboys are sure to do justice to some of the church's most treasured tunes.
Watch the interview above, and head over to the Newsboys homepage for more information.