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Jeff Frankenstein from NEWSBOYS

By: David Lyda (From: Volume 2 - Issue 2)
(All photos provided by NEWSBOYS.)

Christian mainstays, NEWSBOYS are ready to Restart. Nobody knew what to expect when former dc Talk member Michael Tait stepped into the band upon the departure of long time vocalist Peter Furler in 2009. It resulted in NEWSBOYS gaining several number 1 hits and selling over 300,000 copies of their last record. Not a small feat in today’s market! In just a short time, the revamped NEWSBOYS have been able to put out three full albums with the addition of their newest release, Restart. Their excitement about the new album and tour is very evident, and as vocalist Michael Tait stated, "I have not felt this way about anything I've been involved in musically since Jesus Freak." There’s no doubt that is a big shoe to fill! The enthusiasm for the new music permeates throughout the band. Longtime keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein recently took some time at the end of 2013 to share about the new tour, album, and his faith.

This is Jeff from NEWSBOYS.

How are you doing today?

I’m doing well. How are you doing?

I’m a little under the weather, but I’m soldiering on today. So, how have the rehearsals been going?

Good. Yeah, we rehearsed for a couple weeks, and then we just got back. We did a promo tour for the last week. The album came out this week. So, we’re home for a couple days and then the tour starts next weekend. So, a couple days off before it all gets crazy again.

I know you’re doing a few choice cuts from the new album. What can the fans expect from the “Restart” tour? Are there going to be any unexpected songs or new stage theatrics?

Yeah, it’s a little bit of all that. I think we’re going to be playing about seven off the new record, which is a lot. So, yeah. We’re playing on that. Just really proud of the way the record turned out. The response so far has been really good. We’ve kind of felt like… we’ve always tried to play as much of the new material as possible. It can be difficult, you know, when you have…

Such a back catalog?

(Laughs) Yeah, twenty years of stuff to draw from, but with the last three records, there’s definitely enough to sustain a show. So, they’ll be a lot of newer stuff, and we’ll throw in a couple older ones as well. Yeah, we’ve been working on video content. If you’ve seen any of our tours before it will be… this one is even another level as far as production, lighting, and that sort of thing. It’s all coming together. It’s kind of hard to comment on it, because it hasn’t actually started (laughs). When we rehearse, we rehearse in Michael’s basement of his house. So, we haven’t really rehearsed with the full stage, and we’re actually going to go up to Vermont, where the first show is, a day early and then do some dress rehearsals there. Pretty crazy, but it’s shaping up to be real good. It’s going to be a great Fall.

I know you’ve taken over the bass duties on the keyboards through the past few albums. Has that created any particular challenges performing any of the songs, or has it really opened up anything new?

Mostly, it’s all good. The cool thing about it, I play a bit of it… actually just got some bass pedals so I can use my left foot to play bass as well. So, it frees up my hands and all that, but it’s weird because when I first joined the band like twenty years ago, I was the guy who was kind of in the background. Just played keyboard pads and then would sing, and now, it’s like I got a full plate of responsibilities to take care of. To be honest, I enjoy the challenge, and it’s a lot of fun. For stuff I can’t cover, we put on a computer. Duncan always comments… our drummer, he loves it, because he knows that the bass is exactly where it’s going to be every night. So, he can kind of tailor how he plays around that. And then sonically it’s different. I think it’s different than what a lot of bands are doing. I think out front, it’s definitely more fuller sound than what we had before. So, it’s pretty good. I think when you have a four piece band that’s been together for so long… we just felt like adding another member at this point and time in our career, it didn’t make sense. So, I was happy to take over and do what I could. It worked out alright.

So, you think you’re going to soldier on as a four piece as far as you can tell?

Absolutely, yeah.

I know you’ve mentioned at times how God uses music in such amazing ways, and I’m sure you hear countless stories from fans too. Is there a band or song in particular that has had a huge impact on you?

Oh, man. I don’t know of one particular. I’m trying to think. What I do know, when I was growing up as a kid, I know that Christian music was a big part of my life and growing up in my childhood. I think now that I have kids of my own, I’m starting to realize just how important it really is to parents. For years, parents would come up to us and say “Thank you so much. We just appreciate what you do. You have no idea what it means to my family.” Before I had kids, I always thought that was great, but it didn’t really strike me. I have a four year old and a five month old, and I think now, now I realize what people were talking about when they said that. You know, especially in this culture. This day and age. Trying to raise kids in a society that’s just going downhill so fast. I think we’ve taken it upon ourselves to… the urgency of it… to be able to share a message in music like that. It’s something we don’t take lightly, especially for families. There’s not a lot of good alternatives. When you look at the state of pop music, just what it says to people. It’s just so opposite to the Gospel. I feel like that’s one of the reasons we’re probably still together, because when you’re talking about the Gospel, something that can actually change somebody’s life and at the same time teaches people to serve, and that God has a plan for their lives, and that sort of thing. It really strikes home. It’s been one of the sad things for me, because you’ve seen the music industry in general, especially Christian music… I feel like it’s become so much smaller due to the lack of interest. As far as bands that are doing Christian pop music, they’re becoming fewer and fewer, and I feel like this record, the plan all along… to spend the time to bring up the quality level. So, that when you hear it on radio, it can stand up to anything else on pop radio. I don’t know if you’ve heard the record yet. You know, I hope that comes across. (Laughs) When I was a kid in youth group, they used to pass out these papers that would say, “If you like this secular band, you’ll love this Christian band.” (Laughs) You’d read the two different things. You know, we loved Christian music, but I think everybody knew, even as a little kid… Yeah, I might like this Christian alternative to the mainstream act, but you know it’s not going to sound as good. The quality is not going to be there. So, I think when you hear this record, you’ll notice we really put a lot of extra effort into that, and hopefully it translates and fills the needs.

Yeah, those comparisons really kill me sometimes. It’s like, (laughs) “Did you even listen to that other band?”

(Laughs) Yeah, yeah.

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