THEIR music has taken them from Australia to Africa but it's the mate-ship
that makes newsboys one of the most enduring success stories of rock
When they first started the dream was simple - to make a living creating
music together. and two decades later, they still count it a privilege
to do just that. As lead singer Peter Furler recently revealed, there
is a lot more to newsboys than just the music - it's the relationships
built on time together, trials, triumphs and sometimes tragedy. For
example, there are few outfits in rock music that can boast having the
same manager and tour manager since the beginning.
"Like family, it has not always been perfect"
Furler says - ''but what other bands see more
than the music backstage is the strong commitment we have to each other''.
"How we treat those closest to us... these
seem to be the things that matter."
Even newcomer Paul Colman feels part of the family, especially after
watching newsboys for so long and touring with them over recent years.
"I have been a fan of this band for a long
time,'' the Aussie guitarist, singer and songwriter said. "I
watched every band across America for five years and newsboys is the
best band. I told them that even before I joined them,'' he said.
"I've been a fan of the song-writing, stage-show,
performance and everything. I think the vision of the band is truly
While Paul has had his own success as a solo artist, he loves no longer
being out on his own - or as he puts it - "having
some mates around''. And that's what been so special about the
boys. Watching them as they burn across the Mexican desert together
on dirt bikes or playing practical jokes on each other in their dressing
rooms, the camaraderie is obvious.
Musically, newsboys are difficult to pigeonhole, blending melody and
rhythm, making you think to the beat with a truly international sound.
Despite selling more than six million records and being nominated for
three Grammy awards, newsboys has never been a band to rest on its success.
From the killer hooks of the music to the thought-provoking lyrics,
they have strived to make the next album their best - and by all accounts
their latest offering will be just that.
On stage, their performances are simply the best in the business -
as voted on numerous occasions by the critics that really matter - the
fans. The shows have gone through their own evolution, from the days
of gold suits, lunar surface stages, flying spacecraft, inflatable concert
venues and the huge Festival Con Dios festivals complete with motocross
stunts. Much to the delight of fans, it's gone full circle with the
return of the drum riser machine which sees drummer Duncan Phillips
strapped in as he plays his kit while rotating upside down through the
air. Twenty years on the crowd is still pulsing to hit after hit, being
dazzled by spectacular light shows and Cryo blasts of ice cold air,
and watching millions of pieces of confetti tumble to the ground as
their own cares fall away.
The boys remain on an incredible ride which has taken them right across
North America to Muslims in Morocco and to a new age festival in Israel.
They've played in the front of 400,000 people and the Pope; in Paris,
Holland, Germany, and then built homes for the poor with a teenage army
in Baja, Mexico.
On a recent tour to Australia, lead singer Peter Furler fondly remembered
the early days of driving the family crazy as they jammed in a garage
in Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Who could forget the time
when an irate neighbor dumped sugar in his family car's fuel tank, wrecking
Playing pubs in Australia, the crowds did not care whether the music
was gospel, pop, reggae or blues - only if it was good. And if it wasn't,
beer bottle missiles would soon get the message across. Those early
days saw the band selling lamingtons (Aussie cakes) and macadamia nuts
to buy petrol to get to the next gig or perhaps splurge on a new drum
Their arrival in the US was equally humble. After securing a record
deal, they came to New York on New Year's Eve, 1987, only to find the
recording studio closed for the holidays. Then to make matters worse,
they were detained by suspicious police for loitering before being allowed
to stay in the studio over the weekend, only because they had nowhere
else to go.
newsboys' manager Wes Campbell and brother Steve, the tour manager,
discovered the band while Wes was a youth pastor in Surfer's Paradise
on the Gold Coast. The Campbell's ran a club called Genesis, a local
hangout for people hungry for new musical talent. A band that was scheduled
to play one weekend could not make it but they suggested Steve give
this new band newsboys a try, but cautioned they could not guarantee
they were any good.
In those days, Genesis offered bands $200 to play - or the use of a
decent sound system followed by dinner at Hungry Jacks (Burger King)
afterwards. The boys were the only ones who opted for the sound system
rather than the money. "That was their spirit,"
Campbell says, explaining how the guys have always been more interested
in investing in a good show for fans than building big bank balances.
It's a pity they didn't invest in better vehicles though. On their way
to the gig, their van broke down and had to be towed in. They still
managed to make a dramatic entrance, jumping through the windows of
the club to launch a show like no other. Campbell soon saw the potential
in newsboys, their passion not just for the music but also for the message.
"They just stole our hearts,"
Thirteen albums and thousands of shows later, newsboys still reach
deeper for a closer relationship with their Creator, their family, friends
and each other. "It is really about respect
for one another, friendship and our families - and that seems to make
the music better,'' Peter said. "We
feel the band's the best it has ever been and after 20 years it feels
like we are just starting.''
If history is any signpost, the best is yet to come.