BY HENRY MILLER
Duncan Phillips, the outrageous and theatrical drummer for Newsboys, loves the “vertical moments, the hand-raising and praising” during their shows.
He also enjoys the entertainment side of the performances with the lights, the music and, of course his spinning drum kit, on which he performs 18 feet in the air.
He’ll deliver plenty of both during the group’s latest tour, the Big Church Night Out, which takes a stop at State Farm Arena on Sunday. Also performing are the Sidewalk Prophets, Blanca, Derek Minor and Audio Adrenaline singer Adam Agee, among others.
“Obviously I love putting on a show, the vertical moments with hands raised and just having church in a sense,” Phillips told The Monitor. “On the other side, I love the music, the spinning drum kit and performing. We want to come put on a show and we take our faith seriously. I’ve been asked, ‘How do you disseminate the line between putting on a show and worshipping?’ That’s easy … you can praise God in everything you do. I want to represent Christ. I don’t really think there’s a line — there are many ways to worship.”
That’s partially for the reason of the Big Church Night Out: to attract people of all denominations to come together under one church roof and worship together.
“We are coming to town as a group of church lovers for a group of church lovers,” said Phillips, who has been with the band for 24 years. “We’re not coming to judge others, we’re coming to love people — people from all different denominations and all walks of life. A lot of times there are different, hidden ideologies but those don’t really matter. Our show is about a group of Christians coming together just to have church, no matter where you are and who you are.”
Phillips said that if the group and the shows were all about just the music, he might be in a different field of work by now.
“I would’ve quit years ago,” he said. “We have the opportunity to impact lives. I can’t save anyone, I don’t have that power, but I can be used as a conduit for God’s will. We are imperfect yet he feels he can still use us. I consider that an honor and a privilege.
“When I was younger I thought it was all about me and my art, really the emphasis was more on me. But you start having family and realize it’s a big, dark, dirty world out there so to be used by our Creator. That takes a lot of pressure off us. You’re doing something greater than you are.”
The Newsboys may be the most popular Christian band in the world right now. They have used their mega-hit “God’s Not Dead” (2011) off the same-named album to launch two movies, which the group is featured in. They have released 17 studio albums and have six certified Gold albums.
Michael Tait is the third lead singer since the group was founded, taking over for frontman Peter Furler in 2010. Tait, who left DC Talk for the spot with Newsboys, has been the lead singer for six of the group’s albums starting with “Born Again” in 2010 and most recently with “Love Riot” in 2016. Newsboys has been nominated for six Grammy Awards and have won four Dove Awards. Furler and Tait recently combined in a hit single — “The Cross Has The Final Word” — and there have been talks of a possible Newsboys reunion with Furler and former guitarist Phil Joel.
Their shows are filled with dazzling lights, high energy and, of course Phillips and his moving drum set.
“We continually try to get better, to put out better music, to put on better shows – we can keep getting better,” Phillips said. “We can keep going in our 50s, 60s, 70s; we don’t need to ever believe the lie that we are done. God can use you until the day you die. It may or may not be on stage but the fact that you’re now in your 40s with three kids a wife and a mortgage — that doesn’t mean it’s over, if God is using you, it’s always just beginning.”
GOT FAITH MUSIC PRESENTS BIG CHURCH NIGHT OUT
Performers will include Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets, 7eventh Time Down, Blanca, Derek Minor, Brock Gill and Adam Agee of Audio Adrenaline.
WHEN 6 p.m. Sunday
WHERE State Farm Arena, 2600 N. 10th St., Hidalgo
COST Tickets start at $20 at ticketmaster.com