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What are some of your musical influences?

Well, let’s see. It runs a super wide gamut. I mean, I grew up in Detroit so… and my parents, my mom in particular, she was a choir director and a worship leader and stuff when I was a kid. So, there was always music around the house. It ranged from, you know anything from Motown and stuff. Obviously that was soul music and Motown. Stevie Wonder and all of that stuff, it was always in our house. And then, as I got older and went to college, Detroit was also a big, like birthplace of a lot of electronic music. That got me interested in keyboards, synthesizers, and all of that sort of thing. Like in the early 90s, it was like a big sort of techno thing was going on, and that was super popular in Detroit. So, I was getting in it and had lots of synthesizers and all that sort of thing. Right from that, I kind of joined the band, and I found myself in a rock band for the past twenty years. (Laughs)

I know we mentioned the new album Restart a bit. You said that it’s been brought up to the standard of pop music out there now. How does it compare to your last two albums?

Well, yeah. I think it’s definitely a lot different. Born Again was primarily like a rock record, and God’s Not Dead even though it was kind of a rock album too, I think most people would consider it to be a worship album. The funny thing was that when God’s Not Dead came out, we kind of thought… it kind of flew under the radar, we didn’t really anticipate it... It was kind of like a worship record, and it was kind of at the time meant to fill the gap between the Born Again record and what we did now. The funny thing was that it kind of took off and got legs on its own, and ended up becoming even more successful than Born Again was, which was kind of good in a way because it gave us some extra time to work on this record. I think Restart is a pure pop record. It’s a lot more keyboards, a lot more electronic. I’m going to be a lot more busy.

Did you guys continue to use outside writers for this record?

Yeah, it was a mix again. Michael co-wrote, I think, seven or eight of the songs. Like I was saying earlier, I think this record is not only a band effort; it’s also a team effort of our whole group. I think if you saw a glimpse of how NEWSBOYS works… yes, they’re four guys, but really I mean our manager has been with us since the very first day, like almost twenty five years. Same thing for our production guy, most of our crew guys, our sound guys, you know, it’s a team effort. I think when you kind of get to this stage in your career, I guess… at the end of a long career like this, you kind of let go of a lot of your pride that would prevent your band from creating the best record, and I think this record in particular, it was a situation where we wanted it to be the best no matter what. So, if it was going to take remixing a song twenty times, or getting ten different producers to do songs different ways, or just trying anything possible. I think we didn’t want our own pride to get in the way, and we were just looking for the best finished product. So, yes, it was definitely a collaborative effort, quite a few different people helped with that. Great bands you’ll find that. I mean even U2. People think U2 just goes into a room, and four guys just play the songs and that’s the album. No way! I mean, they’ve got Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno… the most brightest producers and engineers that kind of are helping them develop and create. I feel like in the past with NEWSBOYS, you know I’ve been in the band for twenty years, it’s like so many times on records we just slugged it out and really maybe just hurt ourselves by trying to take on too much. So, I think on this one we found a really good, a lot better of a balance.

I saw back in April of 2013 that Pete Stewart of Grammatrain was helping with tracking guitars.

Yeah!

I guess his connection was back from Tait.

That is correct.

Pete had a very public falling out with the Christian faith. Some may find it strange that he was working with you guys. I know such collaborations of secular and Christian artists are common in music and film. Why do you think that door is open? How do you make sure such collaborations do not affect your vision or even your personal walk?

On this record, it’s funny because almost everybody that was on this record was a believer. It really wasn’t an issue. Another funny thing about it too, there was like a few mixer guys in LA, a couple guys who worked on Katie Perry records and that sort of thing, that mixed songs, but (laughs) the way things are done, it’s so funny, because we never even met them. You’re working over the internet. They’re mixing a song in LA and turning it back to you online or something like that. What I’ve noticed every time I’ve collaborated with somebody outside of our industry is they generally like working with Christians, because I think generally it’s a very nice thing for them because… you know, when you’re in an environment like LA or New York or something like that, it’s so… it’s just a game that’s always being played, and they’re not used to dealing with people that actually have morals (laughs). Usually, it’s a more pleasant experience. They always enjoy it.

Kind of changing course to a more personal level. What would you say has been one of the bigger obstacles or struggles in your faith?

Man… I don’t know. I think we all… We’ve talked about it a lot in the band. I think probably one of the biggest things I struggle with is giving up control of everything to the Lord. I think so many times you… it sounds easy. Oh yeah, “give everything over to Him” or whatever, but it’s everything. He wants every single part of our lives, and I think a lot of times as Christians, well “I’ll give Him this, but I’ll hold on to this.” I don’t know about you, but I love to hang on to things I want to hang onto and not give it over to God and trust Him. I think, you and I and our family, even in our society and culture, it’s like trusting God fully that He has the best plan, and not trying to control everything ourselves. It a… that’s a challenge, man. It’s a very difficult thing to do.

I know I’ve been doing some recent studies on Abraham, and it’s the same thing with Abraham. Trying to do things on his own and that.

Yeah. (Laughs) Oh yeah. Big time!

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