Peter Furler Returns to Music
by Melissa Riddle Chalos
feel a bit like Forest Gump in all this." --Peter
Imagine taking your life’s work—two decades of successful touring, with over 7 million albums sold and 25 No. 1 hits—a big part of your identity, and handing it over. Imagine selling most everything you own—your house, your cars, your stocks and most of your furniture—and moving to another state. To another life. A place where the only agenda is to keep it simple and enjoy the great unknown.
This was the choice Peter Furler made. And it has forever changed him.
Peter Furler’s first-ever solo CD, on fire, is what washed up on the shore in the wake of this choice.
The Big Jump
Best known as the front man of newsboys, a band he founded as a teenager in Australia, Peter handed the group over to his bandmates in 2009, convinced that God had a new road for him and his wife, Summer. The decision was two years in the making.
“We’d been living in an RV, traveling to all the newsboys' dates, 110,000 miles all across North America,” Peter explains. “It was a pilgrimage for us, the process of simplifying our lives, and it was the best two years of our lives so far, really... We had a lot of time to talk, to assess where we were in life. In all that, I felt God telling me to ‘let the ground rest, let the creative process and the music rest... I’ll give you something better.’”
Peter stepped away from newsboys without an ounce of anxiety, fully supportive of the band. He sold his shares in Inpop, a label he’d co-founded in 1999 that launched the careers of such notables as Newworldson, Mat Kearney and Shane & Shane, among others. He and Summer sold their house, their cars, and just about everything else but his studio equipment and moved to the Gulf of Florida, ‘the closest thing to Australia down here in the U.S.,’ and where Peter asked Summer to marry him 20-something years before.
“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing next, and loved that,” Peter says. “I’d been doing 100+ shows a year, writing, then finishing a record for more than a decade. It was good, but it was a merry-go-round that was never going to stop.”
In Florida, the days stretched out before him with no set schedule or ‘to do’ list, and for the first time in his entire adult life, Peter was amazed. “I had all these choices in front of me that I had not had before: Mow my own lawn or go to Home Depot? Normal things not even worth mentioning, but really big things to me. No deadlines, no big rush to get in or get out.”
The freedom to slow down, to make choices taught Peter a valuable lesson: “Artistically and creatively, I began to see that God didn’t make the horse to win at the races, but for his pleasure – to watch it run,” Peter explains. “I had a definite yearning to get back to nature, to express myself creatively, to do something just for the joy of it.”
What Goes Around, Comes...
And so he did. When the surfing wasn’t optimal, Peter began painting, a form of expression he’d always been interested in. And he began writing, not sitting around with a guitar trying to make something happen, but keeping track of ideas as they’d come.
“The songs never really stopped. They kept coming. I’d take a long walk, and a song would come into my head,” Peter says. “I’d have my little recorder, so I’d record it. I didn’t think anything of it; I’d just always recorded lyrics and song ideas like that.”
Around the same time, producer/musician and longtime friend Steve Taylor came to see Peter and took a look at Peter’s works in progress. The two agreed to have some fun with the material in the studio, meeting up with Jimmy Abegg (Ragamuffin Band) and John Painter (Flemming and John), to just ‘mess around’ with it. “I was singing background vocals, just being the drummer,” Peter says of the experience, “It was so juvenile, so much fun. It felt like the early days, so refreshing. I just wanted the ‘cluelessness’ to last a little longer.”
The joy of making music just for fun sparked the creative process in a big way. These jam sessions not only led to a soon to be released Steve Taylor and Some Other Band project, but more songs from Peter that quickly began to take shape. Before long, word spread to Nashville and Sparrow Records (EMI CMG) came calling, offering distribution for what appeared to have the potential to be a solo record. But Peter wasn’t so sure. He was hesitant to let the fun evolve into business, to place any expectations on anything. While his life may be different now. Simpler. More focused. More intentional. His gift remains the same, and label deal was sealed.
“I could feel the Lord leading my steps... and that this was just another part of my journey,” Peter explains. “There were no expectations, and there still aren’t. My expectations have already been met – just the joy of making music, making something out of nothing.”
As the sessions progressed, Taylor, Abegg, Painter and Phil Joel (newsboys) all lent their voices to on fire, and with the addition of producer/songwriter Seth Mosley (Me In Motion), songs like “I’m Alive,” “Matter of Faith” and “Reach,” the first single, were completed.
“You feel the pain of the world, but you never push mine aside...and you reach for me...”
“Reach,” a song that has already become a Billboard hit single, struck a very personal chord with Peter. “We all need to be reminded that God is personal,” he says. “The One who created the heaven, the One who is everywhere and all knowing yearns deeply for us... He cares for us individually, where we are.”
And that’s only the beginning. on fire features 11 vibrant, contagious anthems—quirky pop melodies and driving guitars with unforgettable lyrical hooks – delivered as only an award-winning songwriter and pop innovator like Peter Furler can. With powerful, corporate worship songs, long a hallmark of Peter’s music career (“He Reigns,” “It Is You”), on fire reflects the freedom and joy of a man at peace in his own skin. A man who has discovered the depth of his calling.
Deep Down Discovery
“I’m at this place in my life,” Peter says,” where I’m not caring so much what people think, and not in an arrogant way, just knowing who I am and why I’m on the planet. As a man, I’m meant to stay faithful to my wife, to love her, to look after her, to take care of her. Beyond that, my role in music has become more focused. I know deep down that God has given me gifts to use for life. I write songs. I have a gift for melody and words, and I’m here to use that to encourage those who hear them.”
Music, he says, is meant to have life in it. And now that he’s devoted attention to what’s most important in his life, music itself has taken on even greater meaning, which is one reason Peter is elated to share these new songs with the world.
“I feel a bit like Forest Gump in all this,” says Peter. “You run off the porch, run to the county line, then on to the state line and then you’re gonna run to the Ocean... all for the discovery of it. Living as a free spirit, not letting the things of this life tether us down, not planning my future a year in advance... Life is far more adventurous this way. on fire is the music that comes from living that.”