Touring is finally back in action. Concerts are happening: so many people–including myself–can't wait, or have already, sang alongside artists performing and worshiping on stage. Not being able to have that form of ministry in 2020 was strange. During the COVID-19 pandemic, none of us knew when concerts would return. But, after a season of darkness, we can step back into the light. Live music is back.
This fall, contemporary superstars Newsboys, Mandisa, We Are Messengers, and Cade Thompson are hitting the road together for the Step Into The Light Tour. There's no doubt that this tour will be a success. Each artist gave me an inside look at their upcoming tour in this exclusive interview.
You're finally going back out on tour. How are you feeling about it?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: It feels great. The last 18 months have been a weird time to be a musician. It felt like a lot was taken away from us. I love being out on the road and seeing people's faces. I will never look at touring the same way ever again. Even though I've done this for a long time, I'll never take another show for granted.
Mandisa: Very thankful. The last time I was out on tour was with Newsboys a year and a half ago, so it's been a long time. I can't wait to get out of the house.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: We're going into this with a renewed sense of expectancy of what God can do through music. We're going into this fall tour knowing that we're in a really strange time in America, where there needs to be a new narrative. The narrative can't be molded by fear or anxiety. There has to be a narrative that reminds us that the gospel is good news. It's good news for everybody.
Cade Thompson: I'm so excited that live music is back. I'm very excited to see fans again and hear their stories of how my music is impacting their lives. It's so special knowing that music and the gospel can touch the hearts of people. Those two things together really do change lives.
What can fans expect from this tour?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: Everything is set up as a collaborative tour, almost like a mini Hits Deep or Winter Jam. For the past few weeks, we've been out on tour with motivational speaker Franklin Graham. And if this tour is anything like what we've seen over the last few weeks, there's going to be a lot of excitement from people. Getting to hear live music again feels good.
Mandisa: Last time I was with Newsboys, there were only a few artists. This time, I'm looking forward to having many artists join us. It's been a long time since I've been on a tour like that. The more the merrier (I have a new dog that I'm going to bring with me, and she makes everything more fun).
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: I think I know what fans can expect from us. We're going to be rowdy, and we're not going to take ourselves too seriously. We're not going to preach to people, but we're going to engage people in conversation about God and the gospel. That's always been our purpose.
Cade Thompson: This tour is going to be a blast. There's going to be a lot of energy, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited to hang out with all the artists and get to know them a little bit more. There's a hunger for people to hear live music again, and we can't wait.
You've all released a lot of new music since the last time you toured. Could we get a sneak peek at the setlist?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: We're going to play about half of our new record. Our new album Stand was one of the good things about the pandemic. We've never had that much time to make an album before. It's a very detailed and upbeat record. And, we're going to be playing as much of it as we can.
Mandisa: I tend to stick with the songs that I know people want to hear, so I'll be singing "Good Morning," "Stronger," and "Overcomer." But, I've also been releasing worship songs lately, so I'll add in a few of those. I think it's very appropriate considering the last year and a half that we've had.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: We're going to play our new hit "Come What May." It's exciting to see how people respond to new music. And, of course, we're going to play a bunch of the old hits like "Magnify," "Maybe It's Okay," "Power," and "Love."
Cade Thompson: I'm looking forward to playing "Bigger Story" live. It's been special to see how that song has been impacting people. I wrote the song with this one question in mind: "How would I explain Jesus to someone who has never heard of Him before?" The message of the song is that we're in a bigger story called life, and we have a better hero; His name is Jesus.
What's your favorite thing about touring?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: There's a feeling of excitement to it. You're with your friends, you're on the road, and everyone feels like family. It's adventurous, and you don't know what's ahead or who you're going to meet. It can be very tiring, but also a lot of fun.
Mandisa: I like being around people. I battle with depression, and the pandemic has been isolating. I'm looking forward to being with people again. We're made for community, and I really miss that.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: I miss people. I get excited when I look into the audience and find someone who's beautifully falling apart and allowing them to engage in a conversation about Jesus. At the end of the day, this is about the people that come to the shows. It's about us introducing them to hope.
Cade Thompson: I look forward to being able to hang out with fans and hear their stories. It's amazing to hear their stories on social media. But hearing their stories in person changes the game and inspires me to keep writing more songs.
What are some of your "tour essentials?" What items are a must while you're out on the road?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: A cell phone would be my number one tour essential. There's a lot of freedom in being able to find coffee shops, get directions, and chatting with my kids on FaceTime. A cell phone is, by far, the number one thing you don't want to lose while on tour.
Mandisa: I'll be bringing an extra pillow because tour bus bunks aren't the most comfortable. I'll also bring stuff for my dog, Kiya, like her leash, snacks, and things to keep her entertained. And I need my satellite TV so I can watch all of my Titans games this fall. I wouldn't be able to do a tour without that essential.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: We travel light. But, I'm going to take something my daughter gave me. She loves sewing. She spent a whole week sewing me little laundry bags and travel pillows. She makes me a better man, so I want that beside me every night.
Cade Thompson: I'm definitely bringing coffee. And, of course, my Bible is very important. I also like to bring Oreos or Chips Ahoy cookies. Those are my main essentials.
Touring can be tough. What keeps you motivated?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: The tough part of touring is being away from the people you love. There's a lot of sacrifices involved. But, God has given us a unique opportunity, and a unique chance to do some really cool stuff in this world.
Mandisa: Music connects with people. There's something about being able to look out into the audience and see people celebrating and cheering, and sometimes crying. You can see how the music is affecting them. I think that's what I value the most about being in environments like this.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: I'm motivated, not by the success or the achievements, because those are all empty. At the end of the day, I'm motivated by the beauty of who God is. I'm motivated to write and sing songs about God because He deserves my praise.
Cade Thompson: What keeps me motivated is that every single night, people are hearing the truth of the gospel. Seeing people's lives impacted each night inspires me to continue to the next city. It's such a blessing, and it's something I never want to take for granted.
How can we be praying for you while you're out on the Step Into The Light Tour?
Jeff Frankenstein, Newsboys: Please pray for our families. Our band is pretty well taken care of out here on the road, but we have to leave our families behind. We can't support them while we're out on the road. Pray for their sanity, especially with my family; we have four kids.
Mandisa: I feel some transition coming. I feel a bit of a shift coming in my life, perhaps in 2022. I have to make some important life decisions and I would love some guidance about all of that.
Darren Mulligan, We Are Messengers: Pray that I would be disciplined. Pray that I would be a man whose character grows to exceed the calling of God in my life. And, as I become more disciplined in my life, pray that God would go easy on me. I would love for Him to discipline me very gently and tenderly.
Cade Thompson: The biggest thing for all of us is our health while we're out on the road. Pray that we stay safe and healthy so we can continue to do what God has placed before us.
Grace Chaves has been a fan of all things Christian music since 2016. She is NRT's news editor, and one of NRT's youngest writers. Homeschooled, Grace is an author, loves Jesus, concerts, and road trips.
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