Peter Furler's "On Fire"
By Hannah Goodwyn
What do you do when you’ve got 20 years of touring under your belt, more than 7 million albums sold and 25 No. 1 hits? Apparently, you move to Florida. At least, that’s what Peter Furler, former lead singer of the newsboys, did a few years ago when he stepped back from the band life.
Not one to retire, the Aussie recently re-entered the scene with his debut album, on fire. Pumped up about the freedom he has as a solo artist, Furler’s ready to see what God’s going to do through his music and this new journey.
Recently, Furler sat down with CBNmusic.com to chat about leaving the newsboys, his time off in Florida, and the new music he’s making. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
What led Peter Furler to leave the newsboys…
Furler: Previous to [leaving], I spent about a year and a half helping with the transition. Mike Tait (formerly of dc Talk) came out once he was selected, and he rode the bus and watched the concerts from behind the scenes and caught the vision. And then we made the switch.
After another season of me being behind the scenes, which kept me fairly busy enough, it became clear that the boys needed to just do their own thing, walk on their own two feet. It left me not knowing what to do. But it was a cool thing. It wasn't a bad thing at all. I was really excited because for the first time since I was a teenager my life wasn't planned out a year in advance.
I didn't get sick of music or anything, but I let that ground rest for a bit. Being the primary songwriter and producer of the records for Newsboys and then being the frontman you had to go out and tour, and then write songs while you're on the road and then come back home, and record those songs. So it was a constant merry-go-round. So I had some choices, and one choice that was in front of me was I didn't have to go and make a record straight away… or I didn't have to make one again for the rest of my life.
What Furler did with all of the new free time he had…
Furler: I began to pick up other things, started painting. Folks, if they go to peterfurler.com, you can see my paintings and photography. My wife and I moved house. We've been traveling around in an RV and really simplified our lives in that process. We sold furniture and give away stuff and moved down to the Panhandle in Florida, which was kind of more similar to Australia, the climate and the lifestyle there. Just began surfing a bit and doing things I did as a kid. I’ve gone full circle back to my teenage years.
How the music bug bit him again…
Furler: At that point, songs kept coming. I was working with some friends of mine, Steve Taylor, Jimmy Abegg, John Painter; and we made a record which hasn’t been released. But that kind of got me stirred up again to get back into music.
And my wife too said, “It would be good to hear you sing again.” And so, voilà, here I am. I never left the newsboys to do a solo career. I would have stayed with them… Here I am back at it again.
A long story short, I was still obligated to some agreements that I had to keep. Those agreements kind of got me starting work on the solo record really. They got me in a good way, fired up. None of them were bad things; they were good things, and I started getting more songs after I'd worked with the thing with Steve. Steve had the “Blue like Jazz,” movie. I just talked to him today; he still working.
Why Florida? Seems to be the state everybody where the retirees go...
Furler: Yeah, “retire,” that's a word. My dad's 72 years old, and he’s still out doing mission trips. So I think in the blood, the “R” word is not going to happen. So looking forward, I think for me it was just going back to Australia might have been a big move, where this is a place that was close to where we lived in Nashville. Just felt like a change, you know.
It’s a family affair. Furler talks about including his wife, Summer, his dad, and old newsboys buddy Phil Joel on the record...
Furler: One the freedoms of being a soloist, a solo artist, is you get to have more freedoms or more options. Phil was somebody I've written with obviously over the years. I love his voice and so that was great having him sing.
My dad, [I] sampled him on my Facebook page every Sunday. Saturday night I put up a thing called “Church and on the Beach” and that's my father. He goes down and shares the Gospel and different things… whatever the Lord is doing in his life on the beach.
And my wife, she was somebody who comes from a very musical background. Her father is Mylon LeFevre, who was one of the early contemporary Christian music founders. It's in her blood, so I began to help her stir up the gifts.
On “Reach”, the first single off Furler’s new record, on fire…
Furler: “Reach” is just the revelation of knowing that God loves you and that He is not a far-off, distant God. He's a personal God. And He wants us to know Him and be known by Him. Obviously, He created the heavens and the earth, but He doesn't want us slipping through His fingers. I think that's a revelation that we have to face that sometimes we can feel really alone in this world, and we can feel like we've failed, or we've slipped or whatever. But God, He does care about us personally. Individually, you know.
Another song that captures the heart of the album…
Furler: “I'm Alive.” That's probably one of them. It's a song about freedom again. A lot of the songs on this record are about freedom. There's a fire that can be shut up in your bones that the world can't give it, and the world can't take it away. It's a joy that's in there, and that fire burns away anxiety and guilt and confusion, and it fills you with passion and fearlessness.
On playing for the first time as a solo artist at Easter Fest in Australia…
Furler: It was great because I think the highlight of it for me was to turn around and see my wife on stage as my keyboard player. It was her first show ever, and it's in front of 15, 20,000 people. I was nervous for myself, and I was nervous for her, too. But the Aussie crowd was great. It was brilliant.
The first thing Furler will do when he gets to Heaven…
Furler: I think there it will take a while to get used to. We've got eternity to get used to it. But I think, probably just fall flat on my face.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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