CBN.com Some things never change, and chief among them is God’s supernatural living presence on the magnificent earth He created; His active and loving attention toward people in every nation. On a human level, one related constant is the enduring Christian pop band Newsboys’ desire to intentionally praise this God at every turn, countering to some degree those cynics throughout history who don’t believe faith and reason can coexist.
Boldly energized by 2010’s runaway best-selling Born Again record, its three No. 1 radio hits, and a headlining slot on the world’s biggest tour in first quarter 2011 (playing to more than half a million people), Newsboys are back in earnest with God’s Not Dead, an apologetics megaphone of sorts that will rock the worship music scene well into 2012.
This rock-driven set finds soulful front man Michael Tait and his steadfast band mates Jeff Frankenstein (keys), Duncan Phillips (drums), and Jody Davis (guitars) enlivening today’s most embraced modern worship anthems, putting their signature touch on songs that have recently topped the Church Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) chart. Along the way Newsboys introduce several new originals co-written by enthusiastic producer Seth Moseley, tunes as joyous and heart stirring as the ones you already know.
At the album’s core, God’s Not Dead celebrates victory over centuries of philosophical thought that has taught otherwise. Friedrich Nietzsche once proclaimed, “God is dead.” But, as Newsboys’ friend and pastor Rice Broocks likes to say, “A funny thing happened on the way to the funeral.” From Asia to Africa to America, belief in the all-knowing and all-powerful Creator has surged in recent years, a truth Newsboys are ready to amplify.
“If God’s not dead, then let’s worship Him,” declares Michael. “We serve a living God!”
Throughout the band’s award-winning, envelope-pushing history, expressions of worship have always been evident in any given Newsboys track listing. Sometimes they’ve even dominated an entire gold-selling album as on Adoration nearly a decade ago. When Tait joined the group in 2009, he and the other three ‘boys—the true heart of the quartet, having played together since 1994—wanted fans to know that worship emphasis would never change. In fact, plans for God’s Not Dead began before Born Again was released.
“There are so many things I love about being a Newsboy—we really are a band of brothers—but the biggest one is that our music always shares the gospel outright. The message is unchanging whether you look at a song as rock or worship,” says Tait.
That message is strong and clear on the brightly syncopated “Your Love Never Fails,” an unmistakably Newsboys-arranged pop interpretation of a worship favorite that proclaims: You stay the same through the ages / Your love never changes / There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning. It’s also there on reverent runs through the Hillsong hits “Forever Reign” and “Mighty to Save” and Gateway Worship’s “Revelation Song,” all familiar songs to a point, until these guys stoke each one with their own passion.
“You can call this a modern worship record, but we’re also very direct about making it work as pop and rock,” Michael explains. “We try to be seamless in connecting those styles and just want to make the best possible version of these great songs that we can.”
Their mission is surely accomplished on the roaring title track, which reunites Tait with Kevin Max, both formerly part of the multi-platinum trio dc Talk. Written by Daniel Bashta, it prays God will: come shake the ground with the sounds of revival. And hearing two friends sing together again after many years apart does bring an air of renewal.
“I honestly forgot how great a singer Kevin is,” admits Michael. “I was listening back to the track and just had to tell him: ‘Dude, you delivered. I know why dc Talk worked.’”
The match up with Max went so well that Newsboys invited him back into the studio to sing on “Second to One” the edgiest cut on God’s Not Dead that shouts: I am second to One / the Savior / to live is to die / to fall is to rise. The raucous piece was inspired by the band’s tie to I Am Second, a ministry that reaches out to struggling people and encourages them to live first for God.
Another original, “The King Is Coming,” may be the most moving selection of the entire bunch, an epic worship declaration from Newsboys that powerfully states: Split the sky with Your glory / Bring to life an awakening / Burn away everything that’s not for You.
“I think it’s the best song ever, and I can say that because I didn’t write it,” Tait laughs. “The lyrics cast such an intense visual, and the band’s playing is just ridiculous. On a record full of No. 1 worship songs, for this new one to stand out really says something.”
Michael’s genuine exuberance about the work done on God’s Not Dead is right in line with the charismatic lead singer he has become. In relation, Wes Campbell, Newsboys’ longtime manager and ministry partner, can tell stories the humble Tait will not.
“When he joined the band, Michael was naturally nervous about captaining the Newsboys ship and taking on the preacher-type role, not having been that guy in dc Talk,” Campbell says. “But a couple of years into this, veteran Christian event promoters are telling me, ‘That’s the best presentation of the gospel I’ve ever heard.’ He takes crowds from laughter to silence with his testimony: a sister taken by AIDS, a brother in prison. People see he’s not a star on stage, just a real life guy who needs a Savior like everyone else.”
Tait concludes, “Yeah, I love the music, but I find myself looking for the end of the song now because I’m so anxious to share the message. At the end of the day, because I have been through some things, I just want people to get it so bad. The black guy over here, the white girl over there: I just want them to get it.”
Have you got that?
God’s not dead, and neither is today’s most resilient and audience engaging worship-meets-rock-and-roll band. Look for Newsboys living out the message of God’s Not Dead as they plan their most ambitious tour yet in 2012.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.
newsboys' official website
God's Not Dead (Releases Nov. 15, 2011)
Born Again: Miracles Edition (2011)
Born Again (2010)
In the Hands of God (2009)
Houston We Are Go (2008)
The Greatest Hits (2007)
Go: Remixed (2007)
The Worship Album
The Hits (2000)
Liberty Disco (1999)
Up to the Microphone
Me To Your Leader (1996)
Going Public (1994)
Not Ashamed (1992)
Boys Will Be Boyz (1991)
Hell Is For Wimps (1990)
Read All About It (1988)
interviews through the years
newboys: Born Again
newsboys: GO... 'Till the Work is Done
Furler: Keeping Love Alive