Zealand are led by Phil Joel, best known for his long-standing role as bass player and vocalist for the multi-platinum-selling band Newsboys and as a solo artist. With Phil joined by Ben Bugna (drums), Ben Garrett (guitar) and Roger Angove (bass), Zealand would release their debut EP in 2016 and have just launched their album Liberated. We spoke to Phil about 2017, single ‘Spirit Sing’, their album and more.
We’re touring the album now and the whole theme of getting free and casting off the things that try to distract us and throw us off course in life runs though our music.
2017 - what will you look back on most fondly from the year?
I’ll look back on waving good bye to 2017 on new years eve with great fondness. It was a really tough year and I was glad to see it go.
Did you make any new year’s resolutions at the outset of 2018?
Yup, don’t have another year like 2017.
What was the biggest lesson you learnt in 2018 so far?
I didn’t trust myself enough in 2017 and I wasted time and energy because of it. So this year I’m trying to be still and listen and then make what I need to make and not be distracted by the wrong outside voices.
What was the musical highlight of 2017?
Finishing up our first full length album after two years since the release of our initial EP. We actually ended up throwing out five fully recorded songs and at the last minute recorded five entirely-new songs. I’m really glad we did because in the end we got the album we set out to record.
Who are you excited to hear from in 2018?
I’m excited that Snow Patrol are making a come back with a new album. What I’ve heard so far is killer.
Tell us about Liberated…
This album took us nearly two years to finally wrestle to the ground. We didn’t want to do what everyone was telling us we should do, and it was a struggle to stay true to what we felt called to do and keep going. I very nearly quit somewhere in the process, but somehow we got through and made a album we’re super proud of. We’re touring the album now and the whole theme of getting free and casting off the things that try to distract us and throw us off course in life runs though our music.
How did you select ‘Spirit Sing’ as a single?
I think it selected itself. We wanted to put a energetic first foot forward and this tune was the the obvious choice. It’s got oomph to it and zeal and reps who we are really well right now.
As a band you shy away from social media, do you feel it has had a
negative impact upon the music industry?
I actually think that it’s been really helpful for a lot of artists to get their art out there. The only trick is that bands and artists can lose their focus and turn into self promotion machines and forget about their art and lose the desire to serve instead of being served.
It can be a bit of a trap but their are other forms of communication beyond the big 3 SM platforms that focus more on the music and information about where and when and what, etc… like Spotify’s new initiatives and also Apple Music’s Connect that isn’t interested in sharing pictures of an artist’s Kombucha.
How do you plan to make your voice heard in a social media centered
We have a fleet of highly trained carrier pigeons who deliver sonar-powered mp3’s to anyone who Googles “Zealand”.
If you had to an artist to be filed next to, who would it be and why?
Snow Patrol because I’m a big fan and we flatter ourselves by thinking that their influence creeps into our music. Their passion, melodies and lyrics are what we aspire to.
If the record were an animal, what animal would it be?
I used to have a Bull Mastiff that weighed 150 lbs. It was the cutest dog ever but if it didn’t want to do what you wanted it to do it would just sit down and not move. It was tough yet tender and would occasionally try to eat you whole. Yup, that’s our record… a 150lb Bull Mastiff.
Define your sound in five words…
If you could jam with one artist alive or dead, who would it be?
I grew up a bit of a Red Hot Chilli Peppers freak so jamming with Flea and Chad would be a dream.
If you could have written one song by another artist, what would it be?
‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ by the Verve or ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel.
Someone is making a film of your life, who will play you?
I feel like someone already made that film, its called Forest Gump.
Lastly, tell us one thing you have never revealed in an interview.
I have 7 chickens in my back yard that I raised in my bath tub. I love those stupid birds!
Watch the video for ‘Spiring Sing’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates, go to zealand.band.