The lowdown on The NEWSBOYS "Take Me To Your Leader" video.
The Newsboys are on a mission to boldly go where no Christian act has gone before. The band paired up with director Geoff Moore, NOT the CCM star but the chap who recently lensed the Goo Goo Dolls' "Name", for the unconventional sci-fi music video "Take Me To Your Leader".
The video is certainly an attention grabber. It opens with the band members appearing as spacesuit-clad astronauts who descend from a spaceship onto a barren, beautiful planet. Images of gigantic flowers and curious aliens flash to an undercurrent of clipped vocals and catchy harmonies. Shot near Kiama Beach in the band's homeland of Australia, the video showcases the Newsboys' energetic style as they explore the foreign terrain.
With its colourful look and warped camera images, the clip is easily comparable to funky, high-energy clips from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Presidents Of The United States Of America. However, the Newsboys' leader, Peter Furler, admits that the band's video image has not always been so close to the cutting edge.
"We've been a band that hasn't had a great video career," Furler says. Many Christian artists have been plagued with low production budgets and less-than-inspiring videos. The Newsboys, impressed with Moore's promo reels, which they received from underground production company Palomar Pictures, hooked up with the director in an attempt to make a better video.
Moore says that he took on the project "strictly because it was a good song and a good opportunity to go to Australia and work with Australian crews." The Newsboys' Christian faith and following did not dissuade the director, who is best known for his mainstream rock career.
"It's irrelevant to me. They are just a bunch of surfers to me," says Moore. "I was reading this article about how Whitney Houston and Mary J Blige started out in church. U2 with 'The Joshua Tree' is another good example. It's kind of ridiculous to classify them because of their beliefs. I'm a filmmaker, and I went to do a video. I wouldn't have done it if I had thought they were extreme or preachy."
Moore says that working with the Newsboys wasn't much different than working with modern rock acts. 'They wanted a normal, cool video. I told them what I wanted to do and they were really into it...They actually showed a trust in their director."
Furler says that the band and director had no real disagreements about the creative concept. "There are plenty of videos that don't rely on a nude girl walking around," says Furler. "Putting aside my beliefs, I still wouldn't have had something like that in it. There are plenty of creative people who don't share our beliefs who don't need that kind of thing in their video. Creatively, I kept looking at bands like REM that relied on brain power more than putting some women to shame."
Besides, he explains, the band prefers a light-hearted, humorous approach. One of the video's images shows the band hoisting a flag over the alien landscape a la the famous photograph of US soldiers on Iwo Jima. "Geoff Moore came up with that," says Furler. "I prefer to make a video where you can laugh. Geoff had this great concept and added a story without making a documentary. I think we're more into humorous videos because we don't take ourselves too seriously."
The Newsboys are being taken seriously by Virgin Records in the US, which recently signed a deal to bring the veteran Christian act's album 'Take Me To Your Leader' to a more mainstream audience. Star Song will continue to distribute the disc to Christian music and bookstore retailers. Although the Newsboys are likely to be known to a wider audience soon, the band did not intentionally create its video to appeal to mainstream viewers, according to Furler.
"This isn't the first time we've used a mainstream director for a video," says Furler. "It's really about trying to make a good video. If it went mainstream, it would scare me. That's not our goal. Our goal is to make great music."
The video has already grabbed attention at Z Music, which in the States programmes 24-hour Christian music to 17 million cable households and broadcasts part time to 13 million homes. The channel is airing the clip in heavy rotation. "The video leaps out at you as being very different," says Graham Barnard, Z Music network programming manager. "It would grab attention on Z and anywhere else it played. It's really imaginative and in touch with the '90s vibe. I love when a video is fun and kind of quirky. It breaks down the stereotypes of what people think about Christian music and videos."
Barnard says that the Newsboys' latest video style doesn't necessarily mean that the band is trying to cross over to a mainstream audience. "What we are seeing now is the result of the (Christian music) industry just getting bigger. With the bigger budget and quality directors, you can turn out a better video. As the music grows, the delivery system gets better. They've got their eye on getting a wider audience - who wouldn't? But on another level, they are just artists who want to be heard."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.