Newsboys returns June 8 with Born Again and the debut of lead singer Michael Tait (second from right), formerly of Tait and dcTalk. Tait and Newsboys drummer Duncan Phillips (far left) discuss the band’s new record and sound.
Michael, how was it for you joining the band?
Tait: “Newsboys have always been the top in my industry. I thought to myself, ‘Am I ready to do this kind of thing once again without my old partners TobyMac and Kevin Max?’ Prayed about it and thought about it, and I took on the responsibility and learned the songs. That said, I’ve never looked back.”
What can you tell us about the new record?
Tait: “The record is very traditional in the sense of message because the message never changes, but the method does change. Musically, it’s killer, it’s pop-rock, it’s edgy, it’s groovy.”
Phillips: “We have the opportunity with Michael to really kind of explore musically and create avenues that we haven’t done in the past, so it really is like a software upgrade, like an update to the band. This is a new thing, although saying that, there are songs that we are writing right now that are very classical Newsboys’ songs, so we are not just walking totally away from what our fans know. But, on the (other) hand, we want to be so new and fresh, and with Michael, he could sing the phone book and people would buy it. He just has that rich, beautiful quality to his voice. Michael says we are chasing the art—we are absolutely doing that and know that we have a paintbrush that can paint those new pictures on that canvas.”
What do your fans respond to most in concert?
Phillips: “It’s probably ‘Jesus Freak,’ which is a dcTalk song from way back when. It’s real fun for me because it allows me to play this incredibly huge single legitimately within the confines of Newsboys now.”
Do you think it was an easy transition because of the Christian community?
Tait: “Yes, we are blessed by that. Back in the day, they always said that if you were a Newsboys fan, there was a good chance you were a dcTalk fan. I was waiting for the comments … ‘Where’s Peter (Furler)? We want the other guy back,’ and there were a couple of comments here and there, but it lasted for just a minute.”
Phillips: “The first guy we thought to ask to be the lead singer was Michael Tait. It’s kind of a very interesting story looking back now at the hand of God and how He orchestrated this whole thing, and we truly believe it’s divine.”
For an exclusive, extended audio interview, visit the Christian Retailing music blog at www.christianretailing.com.