When Michael Tait found himself sitting at home in 2020 without a tour for the first time in recent memory, he did what any skillful songwriter would do.
He wrote. And wrote. And then wrote some more.
Before he was done, Tait had written roughly 60-65 songs during the COVID-19 pandemic year – a year that had left him and his bandmates – the Newsboys – unable to tour.
He calls it the "silver lining" of the pandemic.
Ten of those songs are on the Newsboys' newest album, Stand, which will release Oct. 1. "Magnetic," one tune from that album, is already on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart.
"Before [the pandemic], we were home only three or four days a week. I would have never had that kind of time" to write 60-plus songs, Tait told Christian Headlines.
The pandemic, Tait said, allowed him to better experience the "quietness" with God to "come up with a new idea and something fresh to talk to people about."
"I thank God for that time and thank God for the prayers that went into it," he said. "I asked people before I made the record, I said guys, 'Raise your hand if you're gonna pray for our new record.' And people prayed, and that's why this record is solid."
Duncan Phillips, who has been the Newsboys drummer since the 1990s, said the extra time spent on the album is seen in the final product.
"We got into the studio and made, I think, one of the best records we've ever done," Phillips said. "And I think as far as the musical diversity of this record, [it] is greater than it's ever been."
The new album includes the rock and pop that has made the Newsboys famous but also reggae, "Motown-ish," and worship songs, Phillips told Christian Headlines.
"We have touched on a lot of different elements in this record," Phillips said. "So it'll be a little bit of something for everybody, I think."
The pandemic, Tait said, allowed him to refine a song in a way that would not have been possible if he had been touring.
Some of the songs, such as "I Still Believe You're Good," sound like a testimony of perseverance during trying times – such as during a worldwide pandemic.
The theme of the album, Tait said, is one of hope.
"Instead of whining and moaning about what we don't have and how miserable our lives are, how about saying 'Thank you, God. We bless your name, Lord.'… I think it's a sunshiny theme. I think it's a theme of looking at the glass half full. I think it's a theme that says, 'We win in the end.' There's a theme that says God is still in control. And God is still good. That's the theme of the record."
"I think when you love what you do, and when you're called to what you do, they say you don't work a day in your life. I just love touring," Phillips said. "... There's nothing better than playing a full house, no matter if it's 1,500 people or 15,000 people. You miss that when you don't get it."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rick Diamond/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.