July 26, 2008

Band ‘Building Others Up’ With Messages in Tis Music

By Sue Nowicki, The Modesto Bee, Calif.

Jul. 26--If you like sit-and-stare concerts, don't bother going to hear Building 429 at the Stanislaus County Fair on Monday.

"It's going to be an extremely diverse show," said Jason Roy, lead singer and guitarist for the Christian band. "We'll play rock and roll; we'll play ballads, worship music, a bluegrass breakdown of old hymns. We invite kids to come up and dance on the stage with us during one number. It's just going to be fun."

Roy, 28, will be joined by his bandmates, guitarist/keyboardist Jesse Garcia and drummer Michael Anderson, for the Christian concert, which also features Matthew West.

Nashville-based Building 429 signed with Word Records in 2003 and produced "The Space in Between Us," in 2004. The title track was a hit, as was the single "Glory Defined," which was named BMI's 2005 song of the year. The group also won the Gospel Music Association's award for new artist of 2005. Two more CDs followed. A fourth, self-titled CD is due in October.

Roy talked with The Bee on Thursday as he was traveling to another gig. Here is what he said about his band and his life:

Q: How did your band get started?

A: I always felt music was what I was called to do. When I was 4 or 5, I started playing piano. My family were all Southern gospel singers. When I got into college, I had already played in a couple of rock and roll bands. I started looking for a couple of guys who would be serious about disappearing into America for a couple of years.

I got on Google and found every Christian coffeehouse in America and sent letters to all of them. We played 150 shows the first year. We love the Lord, we love sharing music, and we did it. After three years of doing that, we had fans all over the place. We signed a record deal in 2003-04. It was kind of a crazy ride in '04.

Q: Why the name Building 429?

A: It comes from (the Bible verse) Ephesians 4:29. It says, "Don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." We had a youth group that used the verse as a challenge. They would always say "4-29" if anyone got out of line.

The word "building" is not a noun; it's a verb. We want to go out and share that verse with as many people as possible, and hopefully more people would take the challenge. Over the years, it just became Building 429 and people think it's our dorm room.

Q: What's your main goal as a band?

A: Besides world domination? (Laughs) Our main goal has always been to share the gospel and to encourage the body of Christ. At the end of the day, when you come to our show and buy our record, you're going to get a lot of conversation about faith and Jesus Christ.

Q: How do you stay focused on God as you "compete" in the Christian music industry?

A: We don't focus on a whole lot of other people. What we really focus in on is the best we can possibly be. It helps we're all married and our wives will slap us if we get unfocused. We're all very involved in our churches. My pastor sends me a devotional every single day, and I talk to him on the phone about once a week.

Q: What do you like best about Building 429?

A: I love the brotherhood that I share with the guys I travel on the road with. That's got to be the coolest part. About seven to eight of us travel on the bus, learning how to walk in this faith that we have.

Q: What's your biggest challenge?

A: Living up to what people believe about us. We've been given an awful lot, and I feel a huge burden that we don't take somebody and turn them away from the Lord. We don't take that lightly. All it takes is one little slip-up at the wrong time at the wrong place for our ministry to be null and void, and possibly for Jesus Christ to be null and void for one person. We take that accountability seriously.

Q: What's your favorite song?

A: We're starting to play a new record, self-titled ("Building 429"). One song, "Always," is about extreme tragedy that everybody faces at some point. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are, you'll have a time when you'll turn your face to the sky and say, "OK, Lord, where are you when I need you?"

This song is about a woman I met. She had a picture of a little boy. She said, "He would have been 3 today." One night, she sent him to stay with her ex-husband, and in a fit of rage, he murdered his own son. This woman's eyes were just begging for some words that would ease the pain. There's nothing I could say except I'll hug you and cry for you.

It gave me nightmares for three weeks. I have my own kids. Then I started writing this song. The two things I learned as I was writing it: The Savior never will fail us. It may not be the way we would want things, but his perfect plan will not fail. And No. 2, he never promised that life would be easy, but that he would walk with us.

I really feel like when we play this new song that extreme ministry is happening. I'm excited. The answer God gave me is "I'm before you, I'm after you, and Jason, I'm with you." When we sing this, we see people where their pain and their God collide. It's really cool.

Q: Tell me about yourself and your family.

A: I was born in Texas. My parents got divorced when I was 5. I ended up growing up in Madera for a while, then in Houston and North Carolina. My wife, Cortni, and I have been married seven years. We met right before the band started. My wife is the most godly woman I've ever met in my life. She's been a huge part of how the Lord was involved in my life through the toughest times. I have two kids -- son, Avery, 4, and my daughter, Haven, 2.

Q: Has becoming a dad made a difference in your music?

A: Becoming a dad has made a difference in every way in my life. You're suddenly living for something more than yourself. My wife is No. 1 in my life, but having children gives me more of a heart to love on people.

Q: What can audiences expect at the fair?

A: If you're a believer and want to have a great time, you'll have a great time. If you're not a believer and you enjoy rock and roll, you'll have a good time, too.

Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at 578-2012 or [email protected]


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