Peter Furler doesn't come across as an impatient man. By every measure,
Newsboys' lead singer/songwriter is kind-hearted, soft-spoken, in love
with life. But once he starts talking about the Glory to come, a certain
edge creeps into his voice and a bright fire flickers in his eyes. "I
think about heaven all the time," says Peter. "I'm
looking forward to the Kingdom. That's all I do."
Maybe so, but somehow, simultaneously, he and his band mates have engineered
one of the most high-profile careers in Contemporary Christian Music.
A steady string of hit albums and singles over the years, not to mention
a reputation as amazing live performers, catapulted Newsboys to the
top. Yet anyone familiar with the band understands the purity of faith
that underlies their music. It's all about that relationship with Jesus
That's why Newsboys' latest Sparrow Records album, ADORATION: THE WORSHIP
ALBUM, looms so large in their body of work. A straight-up worship album
- the first in their celebrated career - Adoration was a true
labor of love for the band. "It takes humility
to worship," notes Peter, who sees the current crop of worship
albums as "a movement of the spirit. You
have to know what it is to worship to write a worship song. People who
don't know think it's three chords and plain lyrics, but those could
be the three chords that change your life."
The album was recorded at the band's own Franklin, TN, studio: a restored
Victorian house built in the early 1900's, and the place where much
of their last hit album Thrive was cut. Once again, Newsboys
teamed with unofficial "sixth member," co-producer Steve Taylor.
But before the "record" button ever got pushed, the members
of Newsboys first had to decide what kind of album they needed to make.
It all started with their hit single "It Is You", which held
the #1 position on Christian radio for 12 consecutive weeks. Remembers
Peter, "I was asked to write that for someone
else, but when I showed it to my wife, she said, 'If you give that song
away I'll kill you!'" The song's success got the band thinking
the time was right to create an album's-worth of worship songs. Peter
then remembered "He Reigns," a song he'd actually written
a few years earlier. "It hadn't been finished
melodically and lyrically," he recalls, "but
it became a cornerstone for the new album."
From there, the band followed its normal, if unconventional, pattern
of song craft. "Everyone has a studio at
home," notes Peter. "We don't
so much jam together as pass discs around. I'll pass mine on to Jeff,
I'll put his on: we rehearse virtually. Then when we've all had our
say, we go into the studio, and often end up keeping a lot of what we
recorded at home."
The results are a stunning collection of worship songs that will surely
stand the test of time. Adoration kicks off with "He Reigns,"
an inclusive vision of a one world under God. Says Peter, "God's
grace and mercy does reach to the far ends of the Earth and to the highest
heavens. We wanted to keep the song real, with the sound of a little
country church in the choir. It was thrilling to go in with the nine-voice
Another stand-out is "In Christ Alone," a stirring, richly
melodic anthem reminiscent of an Anglican hymn. "Praises (Take
My Hands)" offers a poetic take on the flesh as an instrument of
praise. "One of the key lines is, 'To live
the difference,'" notes Peter. "What
that means to me is that if we want people to change, we have to love
them as unto the Lord. You have to humble yourself, be a new creation
and work out what this salvation is."
The achingly beautiful "Hallelujah" was inspired by Mark
Buchanan's powerful book Things Unseen, which urges Christians
to "fixate" on the promise of Heaven. Notes Peter, "I
have an appetite for eternity; and now I'm at a place where I'm ready
to go. I have no fear of death." The album's title track
"Adoration," with its angelic children's choir, is reminiscent
of a Christmas carol. "The song is about
the birth of Christ," says Peter. "But
then, the album goes through different stages of worship. We're saying,
God can't promise life is going to be great, just that it ends great."
Other songs, like the live version of "It Is You" and "Lord
(I Don't Know)" stretch the contours of the worship song as it's
been sung in churches across the country and around the world. "This
album is for the Church," notes Peter. "When
we lift up the name of Christ, He will draw them in unto Him. There
is a lot of power in that."
That's a lesson that has never been lost on the members of Newsboys.
From humble beginnings in the church basements and pubs of Australia,
to sold-out arenas, Newsboys have rocked the world from day one. After
three successful underground albums in the late 80's the band reinvented
itself in 1992. Under Steve Taylor's guidance, Newsboys exploded in
popularity with Not Ashamed following that success with their
first Gold album, 1994's Going Public (featuring their first
number one hit "Shine"). In 1996, the band struck Gold again
with the album Take Me To Your Leader.
Peter Furler produced the next album, Step Up To The Microphone,
the band's third straight Gold album. They closed out the 90's with
a series of successful arena tours, an experimental album (Love Liberty
Disco) and a hit 'best-of' compilation, Shine: The Hits.
Last year's studio album Thrive explored ever more exciting pathways
of sound and faith. All told, Newsboys scored twenty-one #1 radio hits
and sold over 3 million albums.
In addition, Newsboys have a sterling reputation in concert. The band
moved from sold-out arenas on their Step Up To The Microphone Tour,
to their own portable inflatable air-dome on their Love Liberty Disco
Tour in 2000. The next year they took the concept even further with
their most successful tour yet, Festival Con Dios. Newsboys took dozens
of new and established bands out on the road with them, garnering major
press attention from outlets as diverse as Newsweek, USA Today, Teen
People, ESPN2, Guitar Player, Motocross Journal and Entertainment Weekly.
Festival Con Dios would eventually be declared the biggest tour of the
year in the industry, and last year's edition topped what came before.
After nearly 15 years together, the Nashville-based members of Newsboys
feel they have nothing else to prove. "There's
massive peace in that," says Peter. "You
play your music, you put on the best show you can, and everyone's grounded
in faith, that makes for a lot of unity. We've learned to respect each
other's talent, and learned to love each other. There's no ego here:
we have families, we're all connected with local church groups, we enjoy
every show, and we're happy to be making music."
As for the Newsboys' mission, that hasn't changed. "We
came here to make the best music, and, as Christians, to seek first
the Kingdom," says Peter. "There
is much power in this kind of music. It's the most powerful music in
The songs on Adoration: The Worship Album easily bear him out.