The band’s “Love Riot” tour features more production value than any previous Newsboys show and Phillips says the show is as mind-blowing for the band as it is for the audience.
Formed in Queensland Australia in the mid-1980s, Newsboys are, inarguably, one of the most consistently successful Christian pop-rock bands of all time. With 19 albums (including 6 certified gold and 6 Billboard #1 records), a dizzying touring schedule and recent appearances in the hit “God’s Not Dead” films, the band’s popularity is as strong today as ever in their history.
Phillips told me that Newsboys do not take any of their success for granted and are grateful for the opportunity to once again connect with Maine fans. He checked in with The Maine Edge for the following Q&A while en route to a concert in Pennsylvania.
TME: It will be great to have you and the band here. What do you like best about performing in Maine?
Phillips: Obviously Maine’s seafood is world-famous. I love all of it - from the clam chowder to some of the best lobster I’ve ever had. I have to be honest. I’m looking forward to it purely because of your seafood (laughing). And the show too, of course, but that seafood is incredible.
TME: This will be your first performance at Cross Insurance Center. I think you’ll be very pleased with the venue. It’s a beautifully-designed building and a great-sounding room where Newsboys will be performing.
Phillips: I can’t wait, man. We get to play some of the most amazing venues in the country – from arenas to bigger theaters. We don’t take any of this for granted so whenever we get to play in a beautiful venue, it’s all good right?
TME: I’ve seen some recent clips from the tour and the production values are off the chart. From where you guys are standing onstage each night, how has this tour been for you so far?
Phillips: Incredible. I’ve been a massive fan of this band since I joined. Newsboys have always been one of those bands known for great production values. On this tour, we’re bringing more production than we’ve ever had. It’s a new show for us. Even the way we’re shooting it is all brand new. Tonight I’ll be playing for thousands of people and I’m like “Oh my gosh. I still get to do this? People want to come and hear us play?” I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re just grateful for the position we’re in.
TME: The band has gone through a few lineup changes over the years. How would you describe the current lineup of The Newsboys? Are you guys really close?
Phillips: Probably the tightest-knit the band has ever been. We started in Australia when we were kids and we got to come to America at an early age. I think the reason why we’re so tight is because we have been around the block a couple of times and we realize that this is something special. It doesn’t happen every day that you get to be in a band that has done as much as Newsboys and still be at the top of your game.
TME: What impact did The Newsboys’ appearance in the “God’s Not Dead” films have on the band?
Phillips: A massive impact. On a tour, we’ll play for about 600,000 people. Six million people went to see that first movie and they’re saying up to 20 million people have seen the second movie. The recognition for who we are as band members has gone through the roof. It’s a wonderful place to be - especially so deep in our career.
TME: Everyone who comes to God is in different stages of their faith. Where would you say that you are personally in your walk?
Phillips: I’ve been a Christian for many years, but there are days when I feel like an outright beginner. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything even though I do. I have days where I feel unworthy just like anyone. And I have other days where the communication is a little better.
TME: Do you have plans to record a follow-up to “Love Riot” soon?
Phillips: Absolutely. We’re in the process of recording demos right now. We get back home to Nashville pretty much every week. It’s good for our brains to get home and get off the road, even if it’s only for one or two days a week. Michael (Tait – lead singer, formerly of DC Talk) will go on in on Monday or Tuesday night and record some vocals for these demos and on Wednesday we’ll hit the road again and do the Thursday through Sunday night routine that we’ve done for years now.
TME: How often do you make it back to Australia?
Phillips: I was just back there for Thanksgiving. I have three children and they had Thanksgiving break. I went down to Ozzie for five days to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. It worked out perfectly. My son Jack, who’s nine, had never been to Australia before and had never met my mom so it was an incredible moment. It’s a mission to get down there but it’s always worth it.