"We probably tour more than a lot of bands and we're used to being in a different city every day," said the keyboardist during an interview from Nashville, TN.
"From there to going nowhere for 16 months....I had always wondered what that would be like," he said.
Spending time at home with family was a good thing. In fact, Jeff and his wife Jennifer had a "pandemic" baby during the interlude – their fourth child. "I didn't have to worry about missing the delivery day," he smiled.
But now the road beckons, and Newsboys' "Step Into the Light" tour stops at FairHaven Church in Hudsonville Sat. Oct. 16 (see details below). (Note: this is actually the fourth scheduled date for this local concert, which was originally set for May of 2020 and then postponed three times).
Here's another bonus from their stay on the home front: the band had more time to work on its new album, "Stand" which debuted Oct. 1.
A LONG TRACK RECORD
The artists have shown resilience – their first album came in the 1980s under Newsboys co-founder Peter Furler. The sound has evolved over the decades along with the line-up. Lead singer Michael Tait is still the "newcomer" in the band, replacing Furler in 2009. Frankenstein and drummer Duncan Phillips have been there since the mid 90s. (Guitarist Jody Davis is the fourth member). They've sold more than ten million albums and amassed nearly three dozen No. 1 Christian radio hits.
Tait took more of an active role in crafting the latest crop of songs.
"He co-wrote nearly every song on the album," Frankenstein reports. "'Magnetic' is a new one that would fit on pop radio right now and stands on its own from a production standpoint." (See the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPiDtK-XC9s).
The album definitely has a pop sound. "I think you can hear in the way he sings, the vocals are pretty dense and packed," he noted.
"Clean" is another new song that has reached streaming and radio outlets.
It is a bit of a stylistic shift for the long-running band, which recently completed a "Newsboys United" phase when they were joined by former members Furler and Phil Joel.
But those days are over for now. "It was time to step out and not just be a greatest hits band," Frankenstein said of their newer music. "It's kind of like theme parks. A park gets a new roller coaster and people say, 'Ooh, I want to try that and go where these guys are going.'"
It's certainly possible that one of the new songs will go into Newsboys' lore, as have past standards such as "He Reigns," "Miracles" and "God's Not Dead."
MAKING A MARK, KEEPING IT FRESH
Frankenstein is a southeast Michigan native and joined the band during his college years. Now approaching his late 40s, Frankenstein is still the youngest of the band members. Yet he's added professional stature and responsibilities during his 25+ year stint.
Jeff is the group's musical director and production expert. That means he cues in extra sound and lighting effects during concerts in addition to handling keyboards.
"Actually, all that video and graphics on the light panels behind the stage have turned into a whole other business for me," he said. "I'm working on other bands' stuff – when you see Jeremy Camp's stage light design on his tour....that was me."
Keeping Newsboys' sound fresh is what has brought them new fans along the way.
"There are 'legacy' artists out there and some do it well and some don't," he reasoned. "We don't want to become karaoke versions of ourselves."
Their longevity helped them gain a spot in the new movie documentary "The Jesus Music." The film chronicles the development and impact of contemporary Christian music, featuring interviews with heritage artists from Love Song to Amy Grant to Stryper to Kirk Franklin and with relatively newer faces like Lauren Daigle and Kari Jobe. (See the trailer at https://www.imdb.com/video/vi269467673?playlistId=tt14857602&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0).
Their future is open, according to Frankenstein, and these Newsboys are still clicking. "We might get back together with Peter and Phil one day and do some reunion tour or album.... Everything's on the table."
Newsboys, with special guests Mandisa and Adam Agee
-7pm Sat. Oct. 16 (doors open 6pm)
at Fair Haven Church, 2100 Baldwin St. Hudsonville.
Tickets range from $26.75 (in rear and side sections) to $45.75 (center and front). Group discounts available. (Seats are general admission). VIP add-ons also may be purchased.
Ticket info/purchase online.