Following a period of tumult that saw the departures of guitarist Paul Colman and sole remaining original member Peter Furler and the addition of former DC Talk lead singer Michael Tait, many thought it may be the end of the Newsboys.
But the band’s 14th studio album, the appropriately titled Born Again, which was released in July 2010, is the biggest record of the band’s career, topping the Christian album chart and debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Now the band is readying for its new album, God’s Not Dead, which comes out Nov. 15.
The band will perform Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
We just put our minds to it and worked hard for a year or two, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein says of the band’s step back from the cliff. We had a really terrible year, and then last year was a little bit better. And now everything’s just happening.
Newsboys first formed in 1985 in Australia, about 60 miles north of Brisbane. Two years later, the band signed with an American label and moved to the U.S.
By 1993, Newsboys were just beginning to make inroads in the domestic Christian music scene when Frankenstein met them in his hometown of Sterling Heights, Mich.
The 19-year-old had a friend who was promoting their show at the local high school auditorium, and he hired Frankenstein as the band’s driver.
He (the promoter) knew my mom had bought this killer Chevy Astro minivan that would be perfect for driving the band to and from the hotel and all that, Frankenstein recalls. I talked about keyboards with the guys, and I didn’t think anything of it that day. But two months later I got a phone call and my mom was like, This Australian guy called you from Newsboys and they need a keyboard player and they need to talk to you.’
Frankenstein learned the band’s set in three days on his own, then drove to play a gig with them.
I barely even knew their names, and they were like, Man, that was great. Why don’t you come play with us in Indianapolis next week,’ he says. So I went home, I dropped out of college the next day, packed up my little Chevy Cavalier, drove to Nashville, jumped on the tour bus, and I was away.
Newsboys has had more than a dozen players pass through its ranks over the decades. Joining Frankenstein in the current lineup are drummer Duncan Phillips, who also came on in 1993, guitarist Jody Davis, who was recruited in 1992, and Tait, who replaced founding member Furler.
The trio’s first and only choice to replace Furler was Tait, founding member of the Grammy-winning DC Talk and a solo artist since it went on hiatus in 2001. With him on board, the band felt free to be more open and inclusive.
And they felt free to be more open musically as well.
Frankenstein says any doubts about the band’s new direction were dispelled the first week when the album Born Again hit No. 4.
After that it was case closed. We felt like, in our minds, we didn’t have to go out there every night try to convince people. The record spoke for itself.