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Members of the Newsboys are, from left, Jeff Frankenstein, Duncan Phillips, Michael Tait and Jody Davis. (Publicity image)

Five bands to play Corn Palace Friday

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Duncan Phillips describes his journey from Australia to the United States simply.

“Came up from Australia many moons ago with stars in my eyes and big dreams in my heart,” he said in a recent interview with The Daily Republic.

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Phillips is the drummer for the Newsboys, the Grammy-nominated Christian pop/rock group that is bringing its Restart Tour to the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The Newsboys is one of five groups playing Friday at the Palace. The others are For King & Country, Rapture Ruckus, Moriah Peters and Campbell. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $29 for individuals, or $24 per ticket for groups of 10 or more, and are available at the Corn Palace box office at 995-8430 or cornpalace.org. For people who would like to meet the Newsboys and get signed merchandise, there is a VIP pass available for an additional $35.

It’s not the first time the group has played the Corn Palace, and Phillips said he’s glad to be back.

“I love it. It’s awesome,” he said.

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said ticket sales are slightly lower than hoped for, with about 700 sold as of Wednesday afternoon. He said he had hoped to sell around 1,200 tickets for the concert; the capacity is 2,000. Schilling said there are many activities going on elsewhere in the area; he also said he suspects not many realize there will be five bands performing during the show.

He said the show, which will last about three hours, will have 15-20 minutes each from the lesser-known performers, building up to 35 to 45 minutes from For King & Country, and culminating in about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes from Newsboys.

The four-time Grammy-nominated band has released more than 15 albums and has had five gold certifications, 25 No. 1 radio hits and close to 8 million units sold over a multi-decade career.

The band’s new album, “Restart,” was released in September.

Band members are front man Michael Tait (vocals), Jody Davis (guitar), Jeff Frankenstein (keys) and Phillips. Their 2010 release, “Born Again,” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and garnered three No. 1 hits.

Some of their most popular worship singles include “He Reigns,” “It is You,” and “You Are My King (Amazing Love).”

Still retaining a hint of his Aussie accent, Phillips recounted discovering music at a young age. He started out in elementary school playing the drums, then joined a band when he was in eighth or ninth grade.

“It was just the coolest thing to be in a band with these big grade 12-ers,” he said.

He’s stuck with it, and the Newsboys recently launched their new tour, Restart, named for their latest album release. The show is intended to be a family night, he said, and will include six to seven new songs along with some of the band’s biggest hits. And, of course, expect a bit of showmanship.

“If you’ve ever come to a Newsboys show, you know you’re in for a treat,” he said. “Space ships show up; guitars fly out over the crowd. There’s always going to be a certain amount of production value, and the Restart tour is no exception to that.”

Phillips listed bands like ELO, Midnight Oil, The Cure and Depeche Mode as some of the music that has influenced him personally; he also listed “Dark Side of the Moon” (by Pink Floyd) as one of his all-time favorite albums. Being branded as a Christian group, he said, wasn’t necessarily a choice.

“It kind of chose us,” he said. “We were just a group of guys who loved pop music, rock music.”

Musicians sing about where they’re at in their lives, Phillips said — so the Newsboys sang about their faith. It was natural, he said. Even though the genres weren’t as categorized in Australia, Phillips said the band doesn’t mind where the label has taken it.

“I don’t regret one moment of it; we’ve had a very successful career,” he said. “Made a lot of fantastic memories.”

And, it’s not all about the music.

Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry, is sponsoring the Newsboys’ tour. According to Newsboys press materials, the partnership on the band’s last tour resulted in sponsorships of more than 10,700 children.

According to Compassion International’s website, it “releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.” People can “sponsor” a child, which enables that child to receive food, clothing and an education. Phillips said he personally sponsors a couple of children.

“They almost feel like your own children, even though they’re not,” Phillips said. “You feel this incredible connection with these kids. It’s a real thrill to be able to walk them through those years.”

Phillips said he first got involved with the organization after a trip to the Dominican Republic, where Compassion International was working to install water filtration systems, which would allow locals access to clean, healthy water. Some places that he went, Phillips said the water was so toxic that it stung his eyes.

“What we don’t often realize here in the States, we want to get a drink of water, we can get it,” he said. “Their whole daily existence is getting clean water.”

Phillips said he has been impressed with Compassion International in both its mission and its management of its projects, and is proud to support the organization.

“It’s great work they’re doing,” Phillips said. “I think it’s Christianity 101: Where much is given, much is expected.”

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