Joshua Swanson: So this will be really catchy. I think we’re just locked
Michael Tait: away.
Joshua Swanson: And it’s just us now, so… And it’s sealed
Adam Agee: airtight now. We have three minutes. We have three minutes
Joshua Swanson: before we run out of oxygen. But we do that on purpose, we like to see people struggling. The truth comes out in the end. We’re gonna choke it out of ya.
What is worship music? How do we determine what’s categorized and labeled and put into the worship genre? Can worship music apply to all styles of music? On today’s episode of The Walk, we have a conversation with two guys from one of the most well known Christian bands out there. Newsboys bandmates Adam Agee and Michael Tate talk about their long life of worshipping God in their own unique way.
Here we go.
I’m Joshua Swanson. I have the privilege of sitting with Adam Agee and Michael Tate from Newsboys. We’re excited to have you guys. Hanging with us talking about things that matter, you know, Jesus and songs and artistry and craft Yeah, honestly, it’s really cool to have you guys here. Thanks. You know, I mean obviously worship leader We’re typically focused on what people would put in the category of worship, right?
But I’ve interviewed a lot of folks in hmm Uh, of CCM that are saying, Hey, what I do is write worship songs too. I just deliver them in a different format than maybe what you think is worship. Right. So what do you guys first question is, what do you guys think about the categories and the labels that we put on
Michael Tait: music?
I grew up in an era where we just did, you know, as we called it back in the day, social conscious music, I believe worship in a proper form. It’s like the vertical, you know, Dude that honors God. And that can be life, it can be living, loving your best friend, loving your wife, your kids, how you talk to people, how you talk to God more importantly, but uh, there’s also the horizontal involved too.
Worship comes from that. So it’s kind of the cross formation at the end of the day. But worship is a very, um, powerful tool to communicate with our Creator. Yeah. That’s why I like
Joshua Swanson: it. That’s why I do it. Yeah. Do you feel like when you guys go on stage as newsboys that you’re worshiping?
Adam Agee: What do you think, Adam?
Yeah, I think definitely. Um, I think it’s It’s changed a lot throughout history, really, like the definition of worship or worship music, you know, from some of the old hymns to when the, you know, the big worship movement happened, you know, around like 2000, like 99, 2000, like the whole thing. I remember we were just getting started with my old band, Stellar Cart, right then, and we would go lead worship at Camps and youth retreats and stuff like that.
And I, I even had, you know, pretty prominent guest speakers come up to me and say, you can’t play rock and roll and do worship, right? And I’m like, yeah. And I was just like, this guy’s a lot older and a lot wiser than I am. I was like 19, but I’m like, I don’t think that’s true, man. I think I can. I think that’s, this is my expression of worship.
And I think it is an individual thing. I think there are songs that are. Definitely, like you were saying, vertical, like we are singing to God, and that’s a little bit, I would say, more obvious in the corporate sense of everybody worshiping together, and this is the focus. I really think just using your gifts to point people to the Creator, I think that’s, I think that’s worship, and that’s giving back.
He’s given us. And so, I mean, I’ve led worship in church. I was a worship leader for years before going out on the road full time and playing rock music. But I mean, every night that we play, there are just amazing moments where you can see the crowd. Connecting and it’s, it’s, it’s special. I mean, I love, I love rocking out just as much as anybody, but those moments are the ones that get
Michael Tait: you.
That’s good. That’s good. Adam just gave a great definition. I got to remember that. How he said, uh, worship is using your gift to do, but basically to, to, to, you know, honor God. Honor God. Yeah. That’s what worship is. Using whatever that gift is. Is it speaking? Is it loving your neighbor? Is it loving your, your coworker?
Is it, you know, working the local mission? Yeah. Doing whatever
Adam Agee: your job is as well as you can. Heck yeah.
Michael Tait: Awesome. Well said, my friend. Well done.
Joshua Swanson: Okay, so you guys are pretty well known. Fame is a pretty tempting idol. How do you guys stay grounded?
Michael Tait: Sometimes I don’t. Right on. So you’re human, you’re saying? It turns out.
Yeah, no excuses are fact. And, uh, but when I wake up in the morning time, lately, Josh, I’ve been saying, God, you know me better than I know myself. I say, Holy Spirit, just fill me today. Uh, give me divine intervention appointments, divine moments, show me your glory and, uh, just steer me away from, um, keep me safe from Satan’s darts.
But I got to put that armor on because the armor gets beat up pretty bad throughout the day and you got to fill up man, you know, my pastor said to me one time, he says, turns out Michael, we leak. So we have to keep filling up because there are days and there are times I know when I’m kind of, you know, not sharpened up, I can, I can sense a little slippage here and there and things like, okay.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s it. And good. That’s when the bad stuff comes in. Yeah, for sure. That’s okay. So you just have to really It’s a daily thing. Yeah, God’s grace is immersed in you every day for a reason We need them every day.
Adam Agee: I think, I think people handle fame differently. I’ve, I’ve experienced small levels of fame.
Like if, if the whole band is walking through an airport or something like that, you get, you get noticed. Or if everybody’s together, but I can kind of hide if I’m just by myself. This guy, however, uh, doesn’t care to hide
Joshua Swanson: at all. Yeah, you’ve got a bit of a recognizable face. He’s, he’s, he’s
Adam Agee: quite. Gregarious, walking through an airport, singing as loud as he can, talking to everybody he can.
So, obviously, he gets noticed. A little exaggeration, but good. He’s a big movie star, so he gets noticed. But, you know, like you’re saying, it is a choice every single time, and I’ve watched him. Really try to use those moments to care for those people that are so excited to meet him or meet us It’s just another chance that we can interact with them and and hopefully make their day better And and it’s I I really have even when we’re super dead tired.
I don’t think I’ve ever Seen or experienced him or anybody Thankfully in the band, like really be rude or mean to somebody. We might say a few things after an interaction that we’re just like, sure, please leave us alone. But it’s not, it’s, it’s usually after we haven’t slept for like 40 hours or something like that.
And it’s just, you know, but just cause we’re human, right. But, but really, I mean, most of the time it’s we, we, we like it. He really enjoys. I love
Michael Tait: people talking. He really
Adam Agee: does. Um, more than I do. Um, I’m happy to go sit in my corner and read a book or something
Joshua Swanson: like that. Very introverted. So it’s actually
Michael Tait: quite fun.
Adam Agee: I would say so because we give, we give everything on stage, like, right. And you’re giving an interviews and you’re giving on the performance and you’re just, you’re out there and you just want to kind of go back and take a breath. Yeah. Um, but then if it becomes a, an hour long meet and greet in the airport or something like that, it’s, it’s crazy, but yeah, it’s, it’s all part of it, but I think he does a pretty good job.
That’s awesome. I
Joshua Swanson: respect that. I love that you do that in the airports. That’s really great. We have a lot more to come with Adam and Michael, but I wanted to quickly segue to another interview that we did with Aaron Stewart, the co founder of Planning Center. Aaron, along with his partner, Jeff Berg, have built a fantastic company.
And so we thought it would be interesting to glean from Aaron, some leadership advice. We asked Aaron how did they develop such a good company
Aaron Stewart: culture? I think there’s kind of two things. One is a work life balance. We want people to be, to love their job and to be great at their job. But we want you to clock out at five o’clock.
Like we want you to go home. So many software companies, startups. are just like go full out all the time. You’re working on weekends, you’re working on nights and all that kind of stuff. And for us, Jeff has led out on this so much of like, we want to build a place that we want to work forever. And so letting people focus and be as good as they possibly can.
And then spend time with their family, spend time at their church, spend time volunteering, do all that kind of stuff. So that’s the first thing. And I think the second thing for me is instilling a sense of ownership. I want every developer, every designer, every support agent to understand why we’re doing this thing, who we’re building it for, how it impacts.
them so that when they’re building those things, it’s like, I’m, I’m not just checking tasks off a task list. Like I am contributing to this vision as a whole. And that helps me like engage in a different way that it’s like, Oh, you know what? I bet you if we did this, if I made, if I suggested this one little change, it would be a little bit better.
And I’m like, yes, I need every person working on this thing to be invested in the outcome because if they are contributing their ideas, the end product is going to be so much better than if we’re just relying all on my ideas. Planning Center would be nothing if it was just what me and Jeff were thinking of.
It takes the whole team feeling like they have ownership of that and adding value to that along the way.
Joshua Swanson: Planning Center, for those of you who don’t know, is a set of software tools to help you organize information, coordinate events, communicate with your team, and connect with your congregation. You can find out more about it at PlanningCenter.
Okay, back to Adam and Michael from Newsboys. So I saw that you guys recorded I Speak Jesus. Side note, you know, my pastor’s one of the guys that wrote, was one of the co writers on that song, and so I’ve got a special, it has a special place in my heart just because of our local, our local expression, our local community has really embraced it.
But, uh, why? Why did that song strike a chord with you guys to, you know, I mean, obviously you guys write your own music, so. Yeah. Write your own songs, but why that song?
Michael Tait: Sometimes as an artist, and Adam can agree with this, as an artist, as a writer, you go, man, I should have wrote that song. Yeah. Or been in the room with a guy, you know, to be one of the writers on that song.
Yeah. In a more real way, it just, it’s, it speaks volumes to the lyric. Um, and what we do, you know, as, as, as, as, uh, Musical missionaries, I call it sometimes, in public and singing, you know, that God’s not dead, and that he reigns, and that we believe in something beautiful, and the song, I Speak Jesus, just fits a news voice format.
We are no stranger to covering songs. We kind of newsborize, newsborize them. But, uh, what the lyric says, that’s a new, new phrase. Yeah. Got it. That’s what Drummer Duncan calls it. The lyric, man, when it talks about speaking Jesus in the streets, I grew up that way. My dad was a street minister, a minister in a church later on.
So and not being ashamed of that, you know, the great commission in Matthew, Jesus for my family, my friends, that’s like the most powerful part of the song to me because it’s such a, such a relational thing, you know? So the song just struck a chord, literally, a lyrical chord, a musical chord, and we thought, you know, let’s carry this message further.
Adam Agee: Yeah, we’re fans of music just as much as anybody else is, and so if we hear a song like that that really impacts us, Yeah, it’s like, man, this song is special, and so what would happen if we just recorded our own version of it, and we sang it at our shows, and people just got to have a really… Great worship moment at the shows and it turns out like it’s, it’s one of the highlights, one of those special highlight moments.
It’s in your show. Oh, hundred percent Absolutely. Right now. Oh
Michael Tait: wow. Right on. Yep. And our worship set within the, so our show, it’s like a 28 song night and we cover the whole gamut. News Boys had on for a long time. So yeah, we go from the old to the new to new to the, the old to the new. Yeah. And that’s, that’s part of it.
Joshua Swanson: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Yeah. What are some other worship songs that people could expect in a news Boy? News Boys, king of Kings,
Michael Tait: we cover up. Mm-Hmm. King. Then of course we have, he reigns this News Boy song. We believe in News Boy Song Cast a News Boy song. We say, think about worship you about You’re,
Joshua Swanson: you’re love.
Well, there you go. Is See, back to our first question, I what is worship
Michael Tait: worse? Yeah. The whole set is worship. That’s what I was looking for. Okay. Well, I mean, the old mentality that quick, I mean, I’m, I’m
Joshua Swanson: a minister to by your music when I’m not in a position where I’m trying to sing in a congregational setting.
Yeah. Or when I’m just trying to sing to God, but just, you know. Well, so segue. That to my next question stand. Yes. That song really resonates with me. Yes. Paul’s always talking about standing against the devil. And it’s one of those motions, those movements that I feel like the Lord is just saying, look, simply just stand.
Yeah. Just stand up. I’ll do the rest. Like, so what, where did that come from? That song? Was there a scripture? Was there a moment? Was there,
Michael Tait: it was, it’s actually a life cry. I mean, it’s, it’s a desire. And once again, being human sometimes. We fail to stand, sometimes we fall, but as my bestie, our bestie, Toby Mac says, we fall down and get back up again.
Uh, and sometimes it’s tough to stand when there’s so much coming at you from social media, from friends, negative energy around you. It’s tough to take a stand. It’s not pure pressure. The list goes on. It’s a tough thing, but when we do, what a difference it makes. And when we don’t, what a difference it makes.
That’s good. But in the end we’re commanding, we’re commanding, you know, to, to, to, to, to stand up. Yeah. And we do that, we’re going to have all things, lots of things come at us. If any man chooses to serve me, he shall suffer persecution and it comes with it, you know? It’s kind of, it’s kind of a freaky thing, so yeah.
It’s a pretty bold statement. Yeah. But it’s also, um, a real lie. I dig.
Joshua Swanson: Yeah. Good answer. What are some of the lies, I think, just to humanize you guys a bit, what are some of the lies that the devil tells you guys on a daily basis that you’ve got to fight
Adam Agee: against? Just the classic, you’re not, you’re not good enough.
Adam, I swear,
Michael Tait: I went through the same thing. I hear that, dude, I hear that, yeah, you’re not good enough, and you know what you did last night, or last summer? Another, oh man. The classic film. I know what you did last summer. The devil uses that against me all the time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Honestly, I had a conversation with my brother in law this morning.
My family’s in town, my sister and her husband are staying at my house. And I said, the biggest thing I’ve been attacked with, guys, I’ll tell you, Adam and Josh, okay, right now. Over the last few years is Satan throwing doubt in my path, doubt about the fact that my God, my creator, we’re just thinking about not being dead and how we believe that, how that can be thrown in my path.
And you’re like, Oh, Michael Tate, what are you? Are you just learning your faith? No, no, no. I’m in there. I’m good. But Satan gives me the Donnie Thomas syndrome a lot of times. Yeah. And then God shows up. He does things where I know could only be God. Yep. And I’m back at it
Adam Agee: I’m good to go. Yeah, just because you play on stage and just because you write songs about it and just because it seems like…
This is what we do for jobs. It doesn’t mean that you’re immune to any of those doubts or any of that, the, the stuff the enemy throws at you. It’s the, it’s the same struggle. It’s the same things as, as, as anybody with any normal, regular job. Like it’s just. It just seems like sometimes if you’re in ministry that you, I don’t know, maybe you should be stronger.
Yeah, you should be able to do a
Joshua Swanson: higher staff every day. That’s what you do for a
Michael Tait: living. And the battle for the mind is real. Oh, absolutely. That’s what the battle is about, man. You mentioned putting your armor on, I mean, that’s it. No question about it. But the headpiece, man, because it’s in Romans 12. Uh, we knew in our minds, we knew in our minds, it’s like, I have to do because up to myself, I go to a lot of crazy places, so I have to go, God, you know, come in and, and, and, but on the other hand, I’m encouraged because it’s, once again, it’s, it’s real life.
Think about Paul. Who knows what Paul thought about in his lonely times in prison, you know, in times alone. That’s a single made up, but also coming from a life. He came from a soul, just the
Adam Agee: stuff that he had
Joshua Swanson: done
Michael Tait: in his conscience gets the best of me. Yeah, good point. But so, yeah, it’s a crazy cycle. But all that to say, as we’re living in this horizontal world, we’ve seen a vertical mode mindset to for sure, because if not, I mean, just a little piece, a little open part of the army, but.
Joshua Swanson: talked to Chris Leland recently. He’s from Ren Collective and he said something very similar to what you’re saying. He’s like, I find that I’m much more of a doubting Thomas than a Peter. Yep. I thought I was a Peter walking on water, but I’m actually much more of a doubting Thomas and I need God to remind me every day.
Me too. You know, that’s good. Okay, so advice. You probably get this a lot, uh, asking for advice. So advice for the next generation, the up and coming generation, Gen Z’s, very, uh, looking for authenticity and they’re looking for Jesus and they’re looking for something solid. Based on your experience and your faith and, and in what you guys do as artists, what advice can you give?
Adam Agee: Yeah, I have a 16 year old daughter and, uh, she’s just junior in high school, and so it’s just she’s just right in that in that zone where there’s just choices everywhere. Yeah, you get choices for everything. And so I don’t know. We just try to we try to tell her that. We love her. Surround yourself with good people because you, you really do become who you associate with good and bad.
So you’re in trouble now. Oh, trust me. I am trying to bring this thing up. Yeah, yeah,
Joshua Swanson: yeah. You’re praying it up. Come
Michael Tait: on, Warren Hoskinson, we can have the battle. This is why I’m here. No question about it. Chief of Sinners
Joshua Swanson: right here. But, you
Adam Agee: know, just… I think that’s a, that’s a big thing on a, on a deeper spiritual level.
I try to tell people, I mean, I, this only is, I want to say five or six years going now where I have tried in my life to make the very first thing I do in the morning, soon as I wake up, very first thing I do is, uh, open the Bible. Before I look at my phone, before I go have breakfast, before I even get out of bed.
So it’s the first thing, it’s the first thing first. And it really does, even if you don’t think about it, it really does make you at least Start your day, acknowledging on the right thing and you know, whether it’s two seconds or whether it’s 5, 10, 15 minutes, whatever I try to encourage people to make the first thing first.
Michael Tait: In line with what Adam just said, it’s funny how much we’re hitting on the same, same business right now. I don’t know if we talked about this at all today, about this interview. We know it was going to come up with your questions, Joshua. But people say, what would you tell your younger self? I want to tell younger generation.
I would say three words and these three words haunt me to talk about when I get choked up because I’ve made. Some regretful mistakes in life and you have to live with them and they suck, Josh. It’s, it’s a, and Satan’s reminded all the time. You have to know that God is greater in you than all the devils in the world, but still you’re human.
So you think about the kind of stuff, but three words, I would say choices have consequences, choices have consequences and I have to rely on. Two verses, 1 John 1, 9, if we confess our sins, if it’s a conditional statement, if we confess our sins, he is faithful when people are not, he is just when people are not.
To forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all, not some, but all of our unrighteousness. Right on. It’s a daily battle. It’s a daily struggle. It’s a daily reconditioning, re upping, re newing. And then I would say, uh, when it talks about, um, in Proverbs 3, 4, 5, and 6, and all our ways acknowledge him and he should direct that path.
The crooked paths can be made straight. God can make what Satan used for bad and into good. It can all come full circle. Mm. But we have to acknowledge verse father, verse him first, we acknowledge God. Acknowledge like that means here, listen what you say, dad. Not just boom out there the ear. You know? And sometimes that has happened.
Being a kid who grew up in church, I’ve heard an awe. Liberty. I met Toby and Kevin. I’ve done three bands in my life, including my own solo band. And I’ve heard, I’ve been sick one of, I’ve been Bible thunked, you know, and I’ve, I’ve heard it all. Of recent, I’ve really.
Reapplied it and it works. Yeah, it gets sweeter with age. It gets sweeter with
Joshua Swanson: age. It works. Yeah, good. So what are some of the things we can pray for you guys for? As a band, as individuals, family members? Because we got a lot of church leaders
Michael Tait: that watch our stuff. Definitely pray that God will give us.
The tools, the music that impacts, um, people’s lives because it’s what we do. I mean, that one was staged in some arena or church or theater or somewhere in the world last week in London. The week before that, the country of Columbia, uh, next month, Oregon, next month, Germany. So, and then the tour starts next coming weekend.
So a lot’s going on. So definitely the God will give us the songs. That impact people. He’s been so faithful through the years, you know. From D. C. talking to now, when these boys sell songs. And then to pray that, um, that he keep, he keep us grounded and give us, and keep us, keep that hunger alive. People always ask, how do you get through so much?
Don’t you get tired of doing it? Da da. Yeah, it can happen. It can happen, but in the whole world, hey, you can say the word jadedness, but jadedness can become a part of it because you’ve done it so much. Sure. But I can genuinely say, and Adam knew it with News Voice, but I can genuinely say it with other guys, Jody Duncan and, and, and Jeff and Adam for that matter too.
We love what we do. We feel called to what we do, and we’re gonna do it until God says not to do it. Mm-Hmm. We, we know, as my grandpa would say, we’re gonna die standing up. We gonna, you know, swing it as we’ll, go down if you will. So just pray that God will give us that stamina and, and that, and that hunger and that.
Consistency. Amen. We will.
Joshua Swanson: And Adam, we got to pray for you because you’ve got a 16 year old daughter. Yeah.
Adam Agee: Yeah. And, uh, and, uh, a boy, a 10 year old boy. And then a lot of the guys have, you know, many, many kids and, uh, they’re all in school and they all come home sick. And then we get on a tour bus with 12 guys crammed in a little tour bus and COVID three, four, five.
One guy. Yeah. COVID 18 times. And so, yeah, I’d, I’d say pray for our, Pray for our health on the road as we travel a lot, I mean, from coast to coast and across the pond and around the world, um, and then we’re doing 35 shows this fall, and so it’s a, it’s a lot of travel, um, but yeah, pray for our health and pray for our families.
Yep, will do.
Joshua Swanson: Let me segue into some leadership questions. So are you guys planning out the next five years of Newsboys? Like, is there a vision? Is there a plan? Like, how are you casting a vision for
Michael Tait: the band? I’ll say what Jeff Frankenstein would say, our band director. If you play, if you play, if you say what you’re gonna do, where you’re gonna be in the next five years, or play it out, you’re probably completely wrong.
Because you don’t know where it’s gonna, what’s gonna happen. That’s, that’s not escaping the question, but it’s reality. Yeah, no, that’s good. The goal is to make music. Uh, we’re looking at maybe, Um, doing another movie that’s kind of in the works, but you hear about that as it goes on. Pray for that. Cause that’s very impactful.
You can’t, you can’t
Adam Agee: post that unconfirmed, unconfirmed,
Michael Tait: but I’m looking to it and then also using our platforms. We haven’t made it. I’ve got other words. If God gives us. Something tomorrow morning to do differently. We’ll do it. So we’re open to whatever God has out there for us. We’ve always been that way.
Adam Agee: things have changed in the last three or four years trying to plan out whether we had five years or ten years. That’s fair. Because you know used to back when when I started and when you were doing it you’d have record cycles. Yeah. And you would have a certain amount of time and then you’d have You know, you would know that in, okay, six months, the album’s due.
We’re gonna tour that album for 18 months, then we’re gonna write another album, and then it’s gonna be due. That’s all changed. And that’s just out the window now. Now it’s like, we’re gonna collect songs, we’re gonna release a song here, and then we’re gonna release another song here, and then we’ll release an EP, and then we’ll release a full album, and then we’ll release something else, and we don’t know.
And so it’s, uh, it’s kind of all over the place. And so what we’re doing right now is we’re just writing as many songs as we can, as God gives us every day with just, we’re, we’re fortunate to be able to write with some of the best writers, uh, in town and from all over, all over the world, really. Um, and getting to write some really killer songs and then.
As they come alive and become ready, then we’ll share them with everybody and then hopefully have an album out sometime next year, mid next year. Uh, and then tour tour, and then we’ll just kind of keep going on that, on that trajectory. Um, and hopefully it just, it keeps going. It keeps getting bigger and better.
People still want to hear music and we still make music that people want to enjoy. Yeah. Right on.
Joshua Swanson: Side question. This just struck me. You know that video you guys did, Magnetic? Everybody was wearing black, but you were wearing white. Was that an accident? Did you just show up and forget your black outfit?
Michael Tait: Joshua, what do you think? You think it was an accident, Joshua? I mean, I’m just asking for a friend, you know? I mean,
Joshua Swanson: I’m the interviewer, Michael. I get to ask the questions.
Adam Agee: I think the more important question is why were you guys surrounded by electricity standing in water? Right?
Joshua Swanson: When you were walking There’s a bigger question.
When you were walking on water, was that you guys saying that you are Jesus?
Michael Tait: No, no, I was not. Do you think you’re Jesus, Michael? Not a, far from it. Make it clear. Didn’t you
Adam Agee: play Jesus in the Hero Rock Opera? Every
Michael Tait: camera, not him. I need him, but I’m not him. No, because, I mean, on one side, I’ll be honest, White looks good on
darker skin, sometimes, or most times than not. And it was kind of, it was definitely, you know, a leasing or thing like this put on all white, but the guys in another color kind of pop, you know, like to be
Adam Agee: better
Michael Tait: than the other guys. No, not at all. It was just total, total marketing to make,
Joshua Swanson: to
Adam Agee: sure that people saw you.
Joshua Swanson: That was not my question. That was Adam’s question,
Michael Tait: guys. That’s all changing. It’s all changing. Well, I will, I will blast today for that reason. The next
Joshua Swanson: video, everyone else will be in white, you’ll be in all black.
Michael Tait: Exactly, exactly. But on the whole tip, that was a fun video to make. That was really cool.
Yeah, that was Jeff Frankenstein’s idea. He’s got some good ideas. The
Joshua Swanson: guy’s brilliant. Don’t plan anything and do videos where you walk on water. I want to meet this
Michael Tait: guy. Yeah, he’s good song.
Joshua Swanson: Okay, back to leadership. Important stuff. Uh, best advice you’ve ever gotten from a
Michael Tait: mentor. My dad told me and my sister when we were kids, a wise dad, nine kids in the family, five girls, four boys.
I’m the last boy. I’ve always followed this advice was good advice. If you don’t mean it, don’t sing it. That, that much. And it’s like, so now you haven’t always followed that advice? No, I have not. ’cause I’ve sing songs that So which songs do you, oh,
Joshua Swanson: Bob, Josh, you just opened up a whole, you can’t know that worms there, brother.
Michael Tait: can’t know that. You know what, Josh, let’s just say that. , I’m a sinner. Saved by Grace. Preach. Amen. Right. Amen. . Let’s good, let’s go. Let’s we’ll talk though. That’s good. That’s all right. That’s cool. That’s right. Yeah. There’s a, and then, then, then, then, on the, that’s one on the spiritual side, but on the human side of things, there’s some songs that we, we do them kind of like in a, in a set as a lead singer, I’m like, I’m watching him do it.
Go on, do the songs. I’m excited for the crowd. Oh, wait till this next song comes. They’re gonna love this song. I’m like, ah. I’m like, ah. I got to get to this song because sometimes you just don’t excite you, you know, sure, you know, thank god There’s not there’s not a lot of that in my life.
Joshua Swanson: Have you ever called an audible and just been like, sorry gang
Michael Tait: I don’t want to sing.
Oh, no, i’m looking at you. Um, oh, yeah, let’s get past this. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh, have you? Oh, yeah, not often, but sometimes Maybe because the show was going too long sure or I feel like you know What we’ve done enough is pounding on this one this one particular area, you know, yeah How does that feel
Joshua Swanson: as a bandmate when he’s
Adam Agee: like?
It’s great. It’s all about him, really. It’s fine. That’s not even true. I don’t know. Is there anything different than that?
Joshua Swanson: This has just turned into a therapy session. Guys, welcome to the newsboys therapy
Michael Tait: session.
Joshua Swanson: I know, I know, I know. We’re going to talk through some of their personal issues. Um, I’m not a licensed therapist.
I just want to be clear. Well, I
Adam Agee: was going to go back to your question. The best advice, the best advice that I ever got, um, was, uh, somebody told me, they said, Um, react the same way to praise as you do to criticism, which is receive it. And let it go. Mm. And so have you done that? Yeah. Honestly, it’s, it’s saved my life because I played in a pop punk band for 10 years.
I’m being honest, that is hard for me. Yeah. And so I made some comments. You heard right at the beginning of social media where everybody is just like terrible and they, you know, everybody finally, you know, from their basement was ever able to have an opinion on what you were doing and could tell you.
And so Mm-Hmm. It just dealing with think it would be a barrage, you know, you, you, yeah. You get a hundred to one comments saying that they like you. Yeah, right. And what are the ones that you, what are the ones that you look for? You’re like, you scroll through, great, we love you, we love you, we love you.
You’re terrible, you’re the worst, you should quit music. Yeah.
Joshua Swanson: Yep. You can’t sing. And you
Adam Agee: live in that one. That’s the one that sings. And so, knowing that if, you know, somebody says, Dude, you’re awesome. Yeah. Thanks man. I appreciate that very much. Mm-Hmm. And then let it go. Mm-Hmm. Don’t dwell on that either.
Mm-Hmm. Because it’s not that you can’t, if you just love that so much, then you’re gonna just want that. And if something else comes along, it’s gonna crush you. So you’re
Michael Tait: saying that, and the both should be deposited into the think
Adam Agee: bank? I, I, yeah. I You, you receive both. You receive the criticism. Yeah. Yeah.
But then you have to let it go. Yeah. You can’t dwell in it. And a sandwich
Michael Tait: breaks one, you push delete, delete button. . Yeah. . Take it in. I know. I’ll put this praise to the side and not get cocky on it. Yeah, yeah. Put this nice little future energy in this one here. I’m ready to eat, Dilly, because if you dwell on it, dude, it’ll rock your world.
Joshua Swanson: that, no, I appreciate that. resonates with me. Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s a, yeah, that’s great advice. Good mentor. Okay, so we did a, uh, recent, uh, Series of, uh, articles called Worship in the Amherst Church dug up a bunch of statistics about what’s really going on in the church in terms of songs that are being sung on a Sunday.
So one of the stats that we, that really freak a lot of people out or just surprise them, I should say, is 69 percent of churches are still leading worship from a hymnal. 69%? 69%. Wow. So my question is, how many hymns are you guys writing?
Adam Agee: Oh,
Joshua Swanson: wow. You know what? Or would you consider redoing a hymn?
Michael Tait: Well, we did a hymn record.
Yeah, we did a Mn record. We did MM
Adam Agee: Hymns record. Yeah, we did. Yeah. Yeah. And we, we like to do those every now and then, especially at some of the like acoustic shows. We, we work out some of those. What do we do? We do. He lives, yeah, he lives we do. Uh, just, yeah, just a bunch of like the what a friend we have in
Joshua Swanson: Jesus.
Great. There it is. Great old songs. Yeah. So I read, uh, that on the last album you co-wrote 10 of the songs. Yes. Okay. So is that like the equivalent of being like a ball hog, but for songwriting or how
Michael Tait: does that work? No, it’s just interesting. Now I have something to share, you know, some records that I’ve done, you know, little to nil and, and I believe in chasing the song.
Yeah. Uh, my grandmother writes it and it’s great. I’ll put it on the record. If Adam writes it, it’s great. We’ll put it on the record. Yeah. It’s not a thing of like, it’s gotta be the lead singer. Not at all. Because one thing I know for sure. As I don’t know a lot, but God does. And so God breathes into me in that moment, walks in the room and goes, here’s an idea, go for it.
But also too, on the practical side, I had a lot of time on my hands. Two years off the road due to COVID. So I thought, never before have I had that kind of time to go in and craft a record, and then walk away and change a chorus, walk away, rewrite a verse. I mean, I had so much time that it was amazing.
And I’ve never enjoyed writing a record, even including DC Talk, that I didn’t understand. Yeah, that’s why my favorite record I’ve done in news voice right on. Well, yeah, kidding aside.
Joshua Swanson: I mean you you’ve referenced a lot of your experience and that’s the other Beauty of where you’re at as an artist is that you’ve got all this time Yeah all this time with the lord all this great experience, you know, and now You get to write that into songs and kind of minister to, you know, the next generation and pass that wisdom on through your songs.
Michael Tait: And the beautiful part about that is going forward, we had no plan on adding a fifth member to our band. We were happy. Duncan Phillips, our drummer, was adamant about it. We’re the, in his words, not being, he don’t mean gargoyle, let’s play the Beatles with four guys, like the Stone, like the, four, four, four, I’m like, Duncan, that’s cool, but what if, no, no, what if, then the what if came along, named Adam Agee, there it is, and we’ve been besties for a long time, I do some solo stuff on the side, and Adam Agee, along with another guy named Dave Stovall, would always accompany me, and I’m like, this guy is just so good, he’s just a great player, on bass, guitar, acoustic, singer, and Pretty much wrote the song, The Promised Land, that Toby Mac, my bestie, sang.
Adam, I wrote that song. Toby, you know, of course, made it his own, but Adam, the template was Adam’s. This new record we’re working on now. It’s been great. Cause like this guy’s like, if I don’t get to the studio, he just goes right ahead and starts writing the songs, you know, I don’t, I’m like, okay, well take a, this is great, you know, but I’ve never had that.
Yeah. So it’s fantastic. Now having, you know, an in house cat that you like and you love and has ideas that are just fantastic. Hmm.
Joshua Swanson: What’s it like to you, for you now, to be a part of this mix?
Adam Agee: It’s really fun. I’ve never been in a situation where I don’t have to be the guy. Like the front man, the guy that wears the white pants.
Joshua Swanson: Actually, I should’ve
Adam Agee: never brought up the white pants. I actually really like it. I really love… He’s too sweet about that now. I love, you know, I’ve done the front man thing. did it for 20 years. And so to be able to not have to do that. I mean, I don’t, I liked it. I loved it, but I love this where he can go out and be him and not have to worry about anything because I’ve got, I’ll, I’ll pick up wherever he’s, you know, leaving offered or doesn’t want to do, or we can tag team on stuff.
And. Same thing with the band, guys. If it’s like, well, Jody’s having to try to play two guitar parts, well, maybe I can cover some of that
Michael Tait: for him. He kills it! I’m so proud of him. I can’t hide it. I’m so proud of him. Thank you.
Adam Agee: is. But it’s been awesome. And one of the coolest parts is when you’re in a band like Newsboys, that is one of the larger bands, I would say, in our genre.
I think it’s pretty big. Um, you get great opportunities with great writers, which is a little bit harder. As a smaller artist, or especially as a new artist, Um, to get those opportunities, or at least to get the frequency that we’re able to get them. That’s good. Uh, we’ve been able to write with just world class writers, and it is so luxurious for me, and it’s just so enjoyable.
I love it so much. Getting to go in and write with these guys, uh, that we’ve written, we’ve written about 30 songs for this new album. Yeah. Whoa!
Joshua Swanson: We ain’t done yet? Is it gonna be a double, uh,
Adam Agee: deluxe set? You’re gonna have, you’re gonna have to find out. We’ll see. You’ll need to see. Um, but yeah, it’s, it’s just been so fun, um, just to be a part of…
A great team. We’ve got a, we just got a great team from label and management booking. Uh, everybody. Uh, it’s just, it’s really cool. It’s awesome.
Joshua Swanson: Blessed. We’re excited. What are you guys currently writing songs about for this new upcoming album next year? Themes. Just give me themes. You don’t have to tell me the song names or anything like that.
Michael Tait: One thing is about, uh, the future. We’ve been, uh, hoping the future. We’ve been promised from the King of Kings. Okay. That’s
Adam Agee: one song. We’ve got a couple of songs about that. Yeah. About, you know. The assuredness that we have in our faith and in the future. What’s that
Michael Tait: song about? The Hunger Worldwide Revival?
Yeah. We’re praying for
Joshua Swanson: that. Did you guys go to Asbury
Adam Agee: or have any interaction? No, we didn’t. We didn’t go to that. I didn’t at least. I didn’t either. Yeah, no, but we had several friends that went up there and said it was pretty awesome. Remarkable. I got
Joshua Swanson: to go. It was
Adam Agee: pretty cool. Yeah, it was kind of cool.
We did go out to, uh, At California, uh, we got to write with our boy Matt Redmond. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh, who’s one of my favorite all time worship leaders, as, you know. We have a
Michael Tait: song that talks about God being our fortress, and a place of refuge, and a place to hide, and a place to under the shadow of the wings, the whole nine.
That’s a powerful song, a ballad. Yeah, we have songs about
Adam Agee: just a lot of songs about I’ve tried when I went up when we’re writing this record. I used to lead worship at a church called the bridge in Arizona We were in college at Arizona State and it was right next right next door We actually met in a nightclub on Sunday nights.
They would shut it down and we would meet in the nightclub Yeah, we had to clean it out. It was it was kind of wild We we met there and then a couple years later as I transitioned out and went out on the road The church took over a food distribution center in South Phoenix. Surrounded by a large homeless population, inner city.
We switched to Sunday mornings where we would serve like a breakfast for people in the community. And we’d have a couple hundred people come in, like three cars in the parking lot and like 200 people inside. In that church, I would go back and lead worship there. And it was just a wild experience playing these songs on stage and seeing this audience of people that had had nothing.
Mm. It was so different than being here in Middle Tennessee where a lot of the population is doing well. Mm. Um, and they’re… Especially, especially in that situation where there were just a lot of people that were down on their luck or just had never really had anything, just spilling their guts out to Jesus.
It was just, it was special. And so these songs that we’re writing, I want to put it through that filter of would these people in this church setting want to sing that? Wow. Would it connect with them on that level? Not just the people who have it all together and you know Just want a little pick me up.
Does it hit at a level where if I have nothing I can still sing this song? Wow.
Joshua Swanson: Wow. Well, that begs the question. I mean you guys get a lot of radio play. A lot of your songs are radio hits. Do you think about that at all? Like radio versus Congregational Warship versus the setting of the song? You
Michael Tait: cannot not think about that.
I mean the tune doesn’t necessarily wag the dog. But there are times you think, okay, well, you know, how can you, what’s the, what’s the whole purpose at the day? We want to reach the masters, and radios are a part of that, so. Yeah, I
Adam Agee: think that’s why we have a, we have a team. Yeah. Everybody’s got their job that they do.
And if our job is to write the songs and to perform the songs, then I want to write them as authentically as I can. And we, we present a song and it’s, and I guess you could say it’s purest form. Yeah. Or raw, you know, the way it’s written. Piano, guitar, vocal. Sure. You know, whatever, but just we, we write a song and then if our team says, well, that needs to be a radio single, then we’ll kind of massage it to where it needs to be as, as far to, to, to fit what the best chance it could have of being, you know, a radio.
Single that everybody would be able to play. And so there’s a little bit of give and take there. Not necessarily lyrically. But just, it usually winds up being production on that.
Michael Tait: People are always at the forefront of your mind thinking, How can I reach the most people with this song? And those are usually the songs that end up on radio.
Because people relate, they can relate to what you’re saying. The masses can’t.
Joshua Swanson: Yeah, I love that visual though. I’m picturing that nightclub and those folks just getting down and dirty with worship. That’s so good. I mean, it’s true.
Adam Agee: It was down and dirty, for sure. Yeah. We had a whole cleaning crew and everything.
Joshua Swanson: That’s great. You mentioned your dad, so I didn’t know that you grew up. Preacher’s
Michael Tait: kid. My dad was a… Is that in KC? No, actually in D. C. Four blocks northeast of our U. S. Capitol building. Okay. My dad was a cab driver and a street preacher, evangelist, and then started, I think, three or four small churches. Oh, maybe four churches.
Yeah, the last one was the fourth, yeah. He started four churches in D. C., inner city churches. Never massive, 200 members, 300 members. But, uh, just had a, a burden for souls. His favorite life verse was Proverbs 11 30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. He that wins souls is wise. Hmm. My dad says, son, end of the day, all the money you make, the games you get, American Music Awards, the list goes on, platinum records, gold records.
What is a prophet? If you don’t reach the masses and lose your soul, you know, yeah, and I look at the bike back then my dad was so wise he wasn’t educated only the fifth grade education, but he knew the word he kept in that pulpit Josh that man would speak the gospel and just hit you up between the eyes because Couldn’t be more real than that.
You know, that was his heart, his heartbeat. So that’s the foundation I had. Growing up, you know, in some ways it was tough. Some ways it kind of drove me away from Certain things that were right and sometimes it drove me to things that were right because I had a great example my dad
Adam Agee: Pastor’s kid man. My dad was a pastor for 20 years.
Really? And never I never in a million years thought I would be In ministry, but let alone on stage doing anything, you know, until, until I was a teenager, basically, late, late teenager. So, it’s uh, it’s crazy that a bunch of us are pastor’s kids in the band. Yeah,
Joshua Swanson: awesome. Worst kids in the world is pastor’s kids.
Yeah, I’ll tell you what, here’s two great examples of what not to be as a pastor’s kid. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Well, Adam, you brought up DC Talk quite a few times in this interview, so I have to ask, what is your favorite DC
Adam Agee: Talk song? I don’t think I ever did once.
Joshua Swanson: Wasn’t that Adam that said DC Talk?
Michael Tait: I thought that was Adam.
Adam Agee: Oh, this is so good. DC Talk’s my favorite band of all time. Yeah,
Michael Tait: we say often times to me in private. But, uh,
Adam Agee: Adam. Um, actually, okay. Funny story, I, I did like DC Talk, but I got into DC Talk a little bit later. I didn’t listen to Christian music. I didn’t know the story. Until, Did you like DC Talk?
No, I’m just making it up right now. Um, I didn’t get into Christian music until I was like 19. Okay. And so that would have been, What era was that? 98.
Michael Tait: Okay, that was
Adam Agee: supernatural. And so, so that was the first record that I heard from DC Talk was Supernatural. Wow. And I was like, this is awesome. And so that was right when I was learning how to play instruments, and so I’d go up to the church, uh, like Late at night when nobody’s there and I would the supernatural CD right here And I’d put the headphones on and I’d play drums to the supernatural CD.
I told myself I’d play drums to that CD And then I went back and found this other little CD called Jesus Freak and I thought that was pretty good, too Wow, but yeah, man, I was I was a fan. Yeah,
Michael Tait: I mean I was a fan. I was in the band Hey, you know, yeah Who wasn’t a fan. No. Yeah. I don’t mean like fan, like, Oh my gosh, I’m so good.
No. Fan is just like, yeah, you can tell when God’s using something. Yeah. That’s cool. You’re a part of it. So your students are happy to be a part of it. Yep.
Joshua Swanson: On your album stand, it looks like you guys brought in Toby Mac and you brought in Mercy Me. Yeah. Um, Bart, just sing a few songs. Was that just, you needed more white guys in the band or what was
Michael Tait: that about?
No, no. Like it wasn’t enough white guys or? No, no. We just did that because these are, these are good friends of mine. Oh. They have to be of, of, of, of lighter skin tones. However, the beauty is found in diversity, Josh. You should know that. That’s the beauty of God’s creation, the diversity. Good. So
Joshua Swanson: I’m going to write that down.
That’s all going to
Adam Agee: get cut. They’re
Michael Tait: not going to make it. That’s all. They better make it. That’s real life. That’s real life. That better make it on every camera. That was good. Just
Joshua Swanson: what you said. All right. Last question. This one’s very serious. You guys have over a million subscribers on YouTube. Can we have some of your
Michael Tait: subscribers?
Yes. Yes. You guys, as you watch this. First of all, podcast, please subscribe to worshipleader.com I don’t even know. Yeah. We don’t have to be part of it. They probably won’t. You guys are
Joshua Swanson: a lot of fun, man. Thanks for hanging. You know, a lot of depth. So good. A lot of wisdom. Truly. Appreciate
Michael Tait: it. Keep us in your prayers because we need it.
We are. Yeah. We’re on that road. We’re still on that road, you know? Yeah, right on.
Joshua Swanson: For sure. Keep going. It was great to meet you. Adam Agee, Michael Tate.
Thank you, Adam and Michael, for the great conversation. We’ll play out this episode with that amazing Newsboys song, Magnetic. If you haven’t done so already, it would mean a lot to us if you would subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review. You can find out more about us at worshipleader. com. We also want to thank our partners at Life Audio for being awesome.
If you haven’t done so, head over to LifeAudio. com and you’ll find podcasts on parenting, politics, bible studies, and more. I’m Joshua Swanson. Thanks for listening, and here’s Magnetic.
Michael Tait: Side already.
Joshua Swanson: So heavy
Michael Tait: weighing on my soul of the fear of the worry or the heartache of the hurting. Colliding with your lion, trying to steal my home. Some days I break, I lose my weight more. Every time I’m in the fight, your love keeps pulling me back, pulling me back, it’s magnetic. I pushed away, but I can’t escape, your love keeps pulling me back, pulling me back, it’s magnetic.
Adam Agee: Magnetic.