Newsboys is a Christian pop rock band founded in 1985 in Mooloolaba, Australia. They have released fifteen studio albums, six of which have been certified gold. Currently, the band consists of lead vocalist Michael Tait, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, guitarist Jody Davis, and drummer Duncan Phillips.
The band was formed in Mooloolaba, Queensland in 1985 by two young men - Peter Furler and his school mate George Perdikis. Two other teens were added soon after: Furler’s best friend, John James, and guitarist Sean Taylor. The band’s original name was The News, but once in the U.S. they changed it to The Newsboys to avoid conflict with the U.S.-based band Huey Lewis and the News. The band came to the United States in late 1987 after getting signed with Refuge Communications and released the album Read All About It in 1988 in the United States.
After signing with Star Song Communications, they released two more albums in 1990 and 1991: Hell Is for Wimps and Boys Will Be Boyz. None of the band’s first three albums garnered much attention, and the band’s lineup changed with every release.
It wasn’t until their 1992 album, Not Ashamed (containing a cover of the DeGarmo & Key song “Boycott Hell”), that the band gained notice in the Christian music scene. Steve Taylor, a singer-songwriter and producer, began a partnership with the band, producing the band’s record and writing most of the lyrics for their songs. Furler remained the band’s primary songwriter and beginning with this album began sharing lead vocal duties with James and continued to do so until James’ departure.
In 1994, amidst continued lineup changes (which included the addition of mainstays Jody Davis and Duncan Phillips), the band released Going Public, their fifth album and first real success. The record proved to be a watershed for the group, winning a 1995 Dove Award for “Rock Album of the Year.” It also produced three Number One hits: “Spirit Thing,” “Let It Rain,” and, most notably, “Shine,” which won the 1995 Dove for “Rock Recorded Song of the Year.” In 2006, CCM Magazine listed “Shine” in the Top Ten in its ranking of the 100 Greatest Songs in Christian music.
The 1996 follow-up album Take Me to Your Leader was recorded with an expanded line up with new additions Phil Joel and Jeff Frankenstein. The album produced more Number One hits: “God is Not a Secret,” “Reality,” “Breakfast,” and the title track. This album also won the group’s third Dove, this time for “Recorded Music Packaging of the Year.” This album spawned the Newsboys only movie “Down Under the Big Top” (1996), which was based on the song “Reality.”
In late 1997, James announced he would be leaving the band. With his departure, Furler moved from drums to vocals and auditions were held for the now-vacant drum position. Eventually, Duncan Phillips, who had previously played keyboards and percussion for the band moved over to the drum kit. From 1998 to 2003, the band’s lineup of Furler, bassist Phil Joel, guitarist Jody Davis, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, and Phillips stayed constant.
The first post-James record, Step Up to the Microphone, sold well with the song “Entertaining Angels” winning the 1999 Dove for “Short Form Music Video of the Year.”
The band returned in 1999 with Love Liberty Disco, the band’s only album to significantly deviate from their pop rock sound. Instead, this particular album featured more of a disco sound. Still, it produced several hits, including “Beautiful Sound” and the title track. The LLD tour was significantly more popular than the album. This tour featured an inflatable arena, called the Air Dome.
In 1999 Peter Furler co-founded Inpop Records with Wes Campbell, as an independent contemporary Christian music record label.
In 2000, Newsboys headlined the annual, traveling Contemporary Christian Music|CCM concert, Festival Con Dios, with Audio Adrenaline and The O.C. Supertones. That same year, Newsboys released a greatest hits compilation, Shine: The Hits, which did not include any songs from the Love Liberty Disco album but included four new songs, two of which (“Joy” and “Who”) went to Number One. After this album, the band did not release any all new material until the spring of 2002 release of Thrive. Also in 2002, the Newsboys recorded the track “In the Belly of a Whale” for the end credits of the 2002 Veggie Tales movie “Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie.”
The Newsboys then followed with two praise and worship albums: Adoration: The Worship Album in 2003 and Devotion in 2004. Late in 2003, Davis departed and was replaced by Bryan Oleson on guitar. In 2005, the Newsboys co-authored a book of devotions with Jim Laffoon entitled Our Daily Blog, which was published by Inspiro and released in November. In 2006, Oleson left the band in order to focus on his own band Casting Pearls and was replaced by Paul Coleman, formerly of Paul Coleman Trio.
More radio hits came in 2006 with a live version of “I Am Free” (originally written by Jon Egan of the Desperation Band), and “Wherever We Go.” In October 2006, the Newsboys released a pop/rock record entitled Go, which featured David Eri as a co-writer and the songs “Something Beautiful” and “In Wonder” were big hits on Christian Radio. That December, Joel announced that he would leave the band to pursue his own projects and albums. In May 2007 the band released GO Remixed, which was made up of new versions of the songs from GO and featured remixes by Tedd T., Jeff Frankenstein, Max Hsu of Superchick and Lee Bridges.
In November 2007 the Newsboys released their second greatest hits compilation, The Greatest Hits. The eighteen-song CD also features two new songs “I Fought the La...” and “Stay Strong.” This album was followed by Newsboys Live: Houston We Are GO, a CD/DVD combo recording package of a show from the GO Tour, which was released in September 2008. Also in 2008, the band, with Steve Taylor providing vocals, recorded the song “Yo Ho Hero” for ‘‘The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie.”.
In January 2009, Coleman announced he would be leaving the Newsboys to return to his solo projects. At the same time it was announced that Davis would return to the band, after a five-year hiatus. “I am thrilled to be returning to the band and back with my bandmates, who are some of my best friends,” says Davis, “this is a big change in my life, and I’m looking forward to the tour and new record with excitement.”
In 2009, it was announced that Furler, having toured with the Newsboys since the band’s inception, had decided to step back into a support role and would continue as the band’s primary songwriter and producer. Because of this, a replacement lead vocalist was required so the band could continue touring. In March 2009, it was announced that Michael Tait , formerly of dc Talk, would be the new lead singer. “Michael Tait will be touring with the band as lead singer with Peter making special appearances throughout the year. Peter will continue with the band and his trademark songwriting and production will remain as he focuses his professional career toward future Newsboys recordings.” In March, Tait performed his first full concert as lead singer in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
The Newsboys released the studio album In the Hands of God on Inpop Records with Max Hsu (Superchick and tobyMac) producing the album. Long-time collaborator Steve Taylor co-wrote all the songs and sang on one song.
During their September 11th concert in Orlando, Furler announced that this would be his final guest appearance with the band.
The Newsboys’ first studio album featuring lead singer Michael Tait, Born Again, was released in July 2010 and debuted at Number Four on the Billboard 200, their highest debut position, and sold over 45,000 copies in its first week. In October 2010 they released the Christmas album, A Newsboys Holiday. In 2011, the song “City to City” from GO Remixed was featured in the trailer for the Disney Pixar movie, “Cars 2.”
Thanks to the songwriting talents of Jason Ingram, Jared Anderson and Me In Motion’s Seth Mosley, the new songs on the Newsboys’ 2011 release, God’s Not Dead, are also fine additions. “Here We Stand” serves as a testament to God’s majesty, while “All The Way” stands to carry on the mission. The real crowning achievements of God’s Not Dead, however, are found in the anthemic opener “The King Is Coming,” the blazing title track (better known as “Like A Lion”), and the bold closer “I Am Second.” The latter two tracks also feature guest vocals from former dc Talker Kevin Max. All shock aside that Max is appearing alongside Michael Tait on a Newsboys album, his inclusion fits the songs perfectly and adds an extra dimension to improve their overall effect.
The band certainly sticks to and delivers a worship record that’s unmistakably their handiwork. The song choices work for their purposes, and there’s enough variety throughout that the album indeed feels complete. It’s all shined up and polished, but it may be this very fact that keeps God’s Not Dead from feeling especially endearing.