Twenty-two years ago, the newsboys boarded a plan and traveled to the United States to make a go of their music. To reflect on their life cycle as a band, the newboys latest album, In The Hands of God (Inpop), is semi-autobiographical. Since its inception, the band has underwent many changes, including the departure of Peter Furler, the band’s front man since 1997. Taking over the reins for Furler is former dcTalk member and solo artist, Michael Tait, who also sung background vocals on In The Hands of God, the band’s 14th studio album. Keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein agreed to take time out of his busy summer touring schedule with the newboys to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.
The first newsboys album I bought was Going Public and my first Christian concert featured newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, and Steven Curtis Chapman. Despite all that newsboys love, I didn’t realize until last year that you didn’t capitalize the “n” in “newsboys.” So, uh, why don’t you capitalize your name?
You know, I’m really not sure how that started. I believe on the packaging for Step Up To The Microphone, the band name was spelled in lower-case, and it just stuck ever since.
In the Hands of God is your 14th studio album and the last with Peter Furler as the lead singer. It’s like the album marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one—all at the same time. How has the transition from Peter Furler as lead singer to Michael Tait been going? Additionally, how do Tait’s vocals work with the sound fans have come to love from newsboys?
The transition has gone great. Mike has really been hitting his stride in the past couple of weeks. It’s not easy to change lead singers, especially with one that was in front of the band for 20 years. Mike is a more than capable front man. After about 30 shows and a ton of rehearsals, he is getting comfortable out front and making this thing his own.
The title track, “In the Hands of God,” is a song about how we trust God with everything. Do you have any advice for readers who love this song but are having trouble trusting God?
Trusting God is one of the hardest things to do. No doubt. We all want to control our little world and make it a safe bubble to live in, but the Christian life requires quite the opposite. The Gospel tells us to give up our own plans, our control, and allow God to lead us. It’s definitely difficult, especially when things aren’t going that great. I know that I’ve found that through tough, painful times, the Lord was preparing me for something to come later down the road. Sometimes I look back on the tough times and have to laugh at what God was doing in my life through the circumstances to prepare me for where He wants me to go.
“That’s the Way We Roll” tells the history of the band, including their journey from Australia to the U.S. However, you were already in the U.S. and joined the band in 1994. Still, what has it been like for you as a member of the newsboys for the past 15 years?
Being in the band for over 15 years has been beyond words. I feel fortunate to have gotten to experience so many wonderful people and different places. It hasn’t always been easy, and the lifestyle is a lot different than what most people would think, but I really do love it, and it rarely gets old. I was just talking to my wife about it the other day. We counted about 40 countries visited and over 2,000 shows performed.
It’s hard to ask about all the great songs on this album in five questions, so why don’t you share about a song or two that’s particularly significant to you?
I’d have to say “Hands” again. We wrote that song about 2 years ago, and I feel like with everything that has happened after it with the changes in the band and other things going on in my life, that I had to follow the message of the song myself..
Bonus Question:: Do people tend to assume that you’re Australian because you are in the newsboys? (Amy’s note: Jeff was born in Michigan, and therefore has no Australian accent.)
Sometimes they do. Especially at autograph sessions. People will tell me they love my accent, and I’m like, “Cool, I like yours too”.