If Phil Joel was on Instagram, his profile might read something like this:
Family man. Singer/songwriter. Former Newsboys member. Zealand founder. Wild at heart. Kiwi. Fan of living life to the fullest.
But if you search Instagram, you won’t find posts from Phil or his band Zealand. In fact, you won’t unearth any active social media accounts bearing his name.
“I realized it brought out something ugly in me, and I didn’t like it,” Phil says of social media. Indeed, in an age of online inundation with the constant whereabouts of our favorite artists, it’s a bold move. It’s radical. It’s unorthodox.
But Phil Joel is nothing if not unorthodox. As Newsboys’ bass player, Phil served as a singer, songwriter and musician on multiple iconic albums such as Take Me To Your Leader, Love Liberty Disco and Step Up To The Microphone— singing lead on the group’s hit single “Entertaining Angels.” But after an extended period with the GRAMMY®- nominated supergroup, he made the choice to step down from the band to spend more time with his family and pursue new musical paths. Departing Newsboys was a brave decision for the young father of two, but Phil organically bloomed, releasing a wide range of solo albums. Phil’s ready for the next chapter heralded by his band Zealand and their full-length Word Records release, Liberated, the follow-up to the group’s 2015 debut, Zealand – The EP.
The name Zealand is not only a nod to Phil’s native New Zealand, but it’s also representative of the frontman’s charismatic zeal for life. While Phil assumes lead vocals—having recently traded his bass in for guitar—Zealand’s line-up is rounded out by Ben Garrett (guitar), Phil’s cousin Roger Angove (bass) and Ben Bugna (drums).
Produced by Brent Milligan (Steven Curtis Chapman, Colony House, Tauren Wells), along with Philip Zach (Remedy Drive) and Galen Crew, Liberated finds Phil gravitating toward his roots—energetic pop/alt-rock with a poetic storyteller’s bent. Filled with messages applicable to anyone, but especially pertinent to an up-and-coming generation, Liberated is a positive collection that has uplifting messages for all generations.
Heading up the European release of the band’s debut album is the anthemic Spirit Sing. With an air of mid-period Coldplay, Spirit Sing is a singable, emotional cut that is euphoric in equal measure. Of the song Phil states, “Deep down we all know instinctively that we’re all here as a part of a bigger picture with a meaning beyond our own understanding.