A Newworldson record is an assault to the senses. The award-winning band's music is a veritable melting pot of gospel, R&B, reggae and jazz fused together with an innate pop sensibility. The result is a combustion of flavor like no other that can only be fully appreciated after seeing the band perform live.
Live performance has always been a hallmark of Newworldson's artistry, leading the band to garner three JUNO Award nominations as well as seven GMA Canada Covenant Awards, including three for Roots Album of the Year and one each in the categories of Best New Artist and Group of the Year. The group was featured on newsboys' wildly popular "GO" tour and received invitations to headline festivals in Australia, Germany, Holland and Sweden, quickly extending its international reach.
Industry and consumers alike hailed the band's debut, Salvation Station, as a breath of fresh air with little comparison in the music scene. But it was 2010's self-titled sophomore album that catapulted the group to new heights, thanks to the success of smash hit "There Is A Way," Newworldson's first No. 1 single. Until the song became a listener favorite, Newworldson had always been viewed as an industry darling but far from a commercial band. The resulting radio success surprised program directors, industry insiders and fans around the globe. It also became a turning point for Newworldson, who began to record songs for its third project, Rebel Transmission, an expression of its gratitude to radio.
"After the success of 'There Is A Way,' all of a sudden, we were being accepted at radio, so we didn't want to fight that," shares frontman and keyboardist Joel Parisien. "We've got a message that we want as many people to hear as possible. We're going to reach millions of people with a song that's successful at radio. At the end of the day, I would rather not be self-indulgent; I would rather reach more people. We're using this album to say 'thank you' to radio for embracing Newworldson."
The previous two efforts found Newworldson tracking with everyone in the same room, in an effort to capture its live sound to tape. With Rebel Transmission, the group wanted to record something that was a little more produced, more polished, to bring out the vibrancy of its message. However, longtime fans will still find plenty of the innovative elements that make Newworldson the diverse band it has always been.
"It still sounds like a Newworldson record in that it's very eclectic," says Parisien. "It goes to a lot of extremes; and it's still a mixture of genres, with soul music and gospel music being the foundation of what we do. There's still plenty of artistic liberty."
In addition to the exceptional musicianship of Parisien and bandmates Mark Rogers (drums), Rich Moore (bass) and Josh Toal (vocals, guitar), the critically acclaimed Chops Horns (Alicia Keys, The Police, The Rolling Stones) play on the album. "Their résumé is so impressive that it's crazy to call them our friends," says Parisien. "They're constantly supporting world-class musicians all the time."
The self-produced project showcases songs including "Old Time Religion" and "Son of Man," which follow in the footsteps of old favorites like "Working Man" with foot-stomping soul and glitzy brass. First single "Learning to Be the Light," based on Matthew 5:14, and "Today," an ode to surrendering our plans to Christ on a daily basis, have a decidedly pop leaning, while still maintaining Newworldson's colorful retro flair. Both tracks were co-written and produced by Tawgs Salter (Josh Groban, Elliot Yamin), who was also at the helm of "There Is a Way."
Opening song "Radio Ghost Town" actually inspired the album's title, encapsulating Newworldson's gratitude and growth. "The last five years, we've just had so many great artists rub off on us in such a positive way, and that's a big part of the Newworldson story. We feel really blessed," says Parisien. "We come and get to do what we do, and then we learn and we grow in return. Every road we've taken artistically is so influenced by the people that invite the band to come and play."
Honing their skills all over the world, opening for veteran artists like newsboys and Casting Crowns in addition to headlining their own dates, Parisien admits they've discovered that they are part of a larger network of musicians, labels, publicists and radio programmers working toward a common goal.
"We feel united with every other fellow Christian artist and Christian radio station out there. We feel the calling to be the antidote to all the noise that comes from secular culture that's trying to fool us into thinking it's all about us, trying to delude us into thinking that life is perfect," he says.
"I believe we're in partnership together. It's not just about our artistic expression, although that's a big part of the impression we leave on people," Parisien continues. "At the end of the day, it's all about the message that we have."
Like the title Rebel Transmission implies, Newworldson is sending out an S.O.S. with these songs to unite with others in the industry to reach as many people as possible with the Good News.
"It's a rallying cry for everybody out there using music to speak truth into people's lives," he says. "The things that really matter get overshadowed by junk. So let's at least give people another option when they listen to music that's hopefully reaching them in a deeper place."
When all is said and done, the singular thing that fuels Newworldson's "rebellion" is its intense desire to communicate truth. "God is at the center of every single one of our songs," Parisien asserts. "The core message of the band is a message of hope, a message of surrender. It is a message that will hopefully save a life, and that's what it's all about."