Other WinterJam performers include Grammy-winning rap/hip-hop recording artist Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, NewSong and Colton Dixon, with a message from evangelist Nick Hall.
Phillips, the Newsboys' drummer, spoke by phone just hours before a WinterJam concert in Knoxville, Tenn., not far from his home in Nashville. He joined the group in 1993.
He remains the last Australian member of the group founded in 1985 in Mooloolaba, Queensland. Current group members include keyboardist/bassist Jeff Frankenstein, guitarist Jody Davis and lead singer Michael Tait, formerly of dc Talk.
“It's (the group) been assimilated by Americans,” Phillips joked.
Though there have been musician and vocalist changes over the years, Phillips considers current band members as the core group. Frankenstein, Davis and Phillips have recorded and toured together the last two decades. Tait joined the group five years ago.
“When someone leaves, especially the lead singer, sometimes it can be OK; other times it makes waves,” he said. “It was good for him (Tait) at that time. It was amazing for us. That question was very quickly dealt with at that time. We knew it had to be better. No diss to the history of the band. We had to dig deep and go where we've never gone before.”
The results speak for themselves. The group's first album with Tait in 2010, “Born Again,” debuted at No. 4 on Billboard 200 Albums chart, higher than any of its prior albums. The 2011 song “City to City” from “GO Remixed” was featured in the trailer for the movie “Cars 2.”
The albums “God's Not Dead” and “Live in Concert: God's Not Dead” were released in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and the band has recorded music for “VeggieTales” children's videos.
The Newsboys added two awards to their collection at the 2013 We Love Christian Music Awards: Group of the Year and The Hook Award (best pop artist/group).
Duncan said that after this concert tour, the Newsboys will be hard at work on a new album. The group makes a cameo appearance in the film “God's Not Dead,” which focuses on a conflict between a college student and his philosophy professor, to be released March 21.
Phillips is married with three children, and he enjoys the time home between concert dates. With Nashville centrally located, he can quickly get to concert locations.
“When I'm home, I'm home,” he said. “I put them (children) on the bus in the morning and am there to pick them up from the bus.”
Still, Phillips is thrilled to be touring with WinterJam.
“It's great to be part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. “Bring Mom and Dad and two kids and bring Grandpa. Everyone can literally enjoy the night. It doesn't happen that often. … If you don't like the band that's playing, wait 10 minutes.”
The iDisciple App Pre-Jam party at Memorial Coliseum before the concert features Love & the Outcome, Everfound and Derek Minor.
The official WinterJam App, a free app that can be downloaded at www.jamtour.com/app is available for Android and iOS devices and features interactive venue maps, WinterJam radio, interactive mobile light show, social media connections, giveaways, Jam Nation membership purchases and a WinterJam store.
WinterJamWhat: WinterJam 2014 Tour Spectacular, featuring Newsboys, Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, NewSong and Colton Dixon, with message from evangelist Nick Hall
When: 7 p.m. March 20
Where: Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
Cost: $10 at the door