by Matt Conner
When the Newsboys released an album titled Born Again back in 2010, it was more than the adoption of a common Christian phrase. It was an apt descriptor of a band that had decided on a fair bit of reinvention, centered around the replacement of longtime vocalist Peter Furler with former dc Talk-er Michael Tait.
When a rock band has been around as long as the Newsboys (mid-eighties), line-up changes are to be expected. But if you’ve followed the band for the better part of the last decade you know the shifts were seismic.
Tait’s talents literally altered the band’s approach. The new chapter was exciting, even reinvigorating, for longtime band members, but it also led to the retirement of many of the band’s biggest hits. Instead of staying the course as a tribute band of sorts, honoring the hits of yesterday, Tait and company pressed ahead with new zeal and crafted another decade of major hits like “God’s Not Dead,” “Born Again,” “We Believe” and more.
Nine years after being Born Again, however, Newsboys are once again pulling fan faves like “Shine” and “Breakfast” out of the closet because the personnel who sang them have joined them once again.
Peter Furler and Phil Joel are back with the current line-up of Newsboys for a very special live event touring the country called the Newsboys United Tour, a rare reunion that has allowed fans to enjoy the classics.
“For the first time in 10 years, I’m playing these songs I never thought I would again,” said drummer Duncan Phillips just before playing Paducah, Kentucky. “For the crowd, it’s brought out all those fans we haven’t seen in a bit—people who grew up with the classic Newsboys. I think they’re also stoked to see something they never thought they’d see again.”
Phillips is also quick to note that the fans aren’t the only ones enjoying the reunion.
“When someone leaves a band, it’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it,” he says. “I think people in the army or on a professional sports team could understand, but you’re in the trenches with your band. You go through the good times and hard times. There’s a brotherhood that forms when you’re in a band. I think this has galvanized that brotherhood between us.”
Phillips says the band has worked hard to update the sound of their earliest cuts so that they sound right at home alongside the Tait-fronted tracks. The reworked songs work in harmony with a chemistry that Phillips says was quick to come back, even after a decade away.
“We were all a little bit nervous about the chemistry because that’s such a massive part of being in a band,” he says. “Just like a husband and wife, there’s either chemistry there or it’s not. In a band it’s no different, except instead of two people, you have four or five people. Trying to reacclimate to that, if we were afraid of anything, that would be it. But right away, we picked up where we left off.”
If you’re worried that the Newsboys United Tour could be a one-time run of tour dates, you might be in luck. Phillips says the entire band is open to potentially doing more of these dates down the road.
“My guess is that it’s a seasonal thing,” says Phillips. “It could be something we do every three to five years. We’re tossing that idea around, but it’s got to be right. We don’t want to do it just for the sake of doing it. We want to do it if there’s enough groundswell of support to see United again. We’ve got a run through the end of this year and see what happens.”