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Jason Roy of Building 429 Interview
Jason Roy of Building 429 is a man with a deep Texas drawl, the kind of voice that often gets actors cast in the role of Davey Crocket or Daniel Boone. After playing a demo of the song he and friend Jason Ingram had written and were hoping to have published by Word Records, Jason Roy saw the record label representative just staring at him. “I said to myself, ‘I don’t think she liked it.’
Then the lady from Word said, ‘I love your voice.’ She just went on and on about my voice which is a voice that all my life I just wished I didn’t have. It’s too low to do anything cool with it.”
She introduced Roy to a producer and he went home and wrote some songs including “Glory Defined,” which was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2005 Dove Awards. When he returned to Word Records to do a demo, he recounts, “I sang “Glory Defined” first and went on to the next one and the next one and they said, ‘Whoa, let’s go back to that first one.’”
Roy is a man who is deeply spiritual. It sounds odd to say that about a guy playing guitar and singing lead vocals for a Christian rock band but in talking to Roy, one gets the sense that there is a steady flow of information back and forth between God and him.
Take for instance the part of the conversation that revolved around family. Roy drew a comparison between his two year old son Avery’s dependence and faith in him to the way our lives should be centered in God. “I think my boy just reminds me how much God loves me. The dependence that he has on me and the belief that he has in me is just unbelievable and I think if I could just have that kind of heart and that kind of belief in my God.” He said every morning when his son wakes up and calls his name, he has the firm belief his father is going to walk through that door. He made the point of saying that is how we should look at God, knowing that if we call out to him he is right there.
The most you will get out of Roy in terms of taking credit for the bands success is his saying that with the song “Glory Defined,” he thought it was a good song and something to build on. I think it is really just the story of God deciding to do something really special. As long as we stay out of his way He will continue to do things that are beyond our abilities.
One of the biggest adjustments he has faced over the past year is, “Recognizing that you are now a recognizable person. It is the realization that every action you do is and should be scrutinized. You are completely in the spotlight.” He said most people do not experience being under the microscope to that extent and although all of us make the effort not to fall we do not have the added pressure of knowing that if we do come up short spiritually there are a lot of people not only watching but being influenced by the band members actions. That scrutiny is sure to increase now that the band has been named New Artist of the Year and received the Dove Award that accompanies the title.
“We had to recognize that to whom much is given much is required,” he says, paraphrasing a passage in the Bible.
Even the very name of the band points directly to a passage of scripture in the Bible. Roy says the band members had brainstormed and come up with about 200 different names but none of them seemed to be the right one. Roy’s wife Cortni shared with them how a youth group she had once belonged to called itself “429 Challenge.” The 429 refers to Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29. [Do not 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.-NIV] She suggested to the group that they consider incorporating the name into the bands moniker. Eventually they came up with the name Building 429. Cortni said every time someone asks them about the name of the band it paves the way for them to share their faith. Twice as independent artists they considered changing the name and when they signed their deal with Word the label even suggested they consider changing the name.
“Now we get the opportunity to encourage and uplift people and we look back and say okay God that was obvious I don’t know how I missed that,” says Roy, in discussing the decision to stick with the name Building 429.
When I met with Roy he had been reading the book Wild At Heart. Paul Colman, who they had been touring with at the time of the interview, had suggested the book to him. As he read Wild At Heart, God began to reveal more of his love to Roy by helping him understand that it is okay to be working through issues in life because all of us do. In his words, “I am not the only person on the planet that has issues to deal with. It helps me personally to understand that God doesn’t love me any less or any more. His love for me is constant and I don’t have to have it altogether.”
With a Dove Award tucked under their arms and a record deal, Building 429 and its melodic rock sound have come a long way. The band was birthed in 2000 when bassist Scotty Beshears visited a concert at which Roy’s band was playing. Little did Beshears know that was the farewell concert for the band. Still not knowing the situation, he gave Roy his phone number and said if you ever want to play together, give me a call. Three days later, the phone rang in Beshear’s house and Roy said, “What do you want to do?”
In 2001, Beshear’s best friend Paul Bowden joined them to play guitar. The drummer Michael Anderson was added the following year. A year ago, Bowden had what can best be described as an out-of-body experience at an autograph session. Let’s just say he broke his elbow in a fashion that would have made Leslie Nielsen and the cast of the Naked Gun movies proud. With Bowden out of action for six weeks, Roy turned to an old friend guitarist Jesse Garcia from the band Afterglo. The later stuck with the group when Bowden returned. This has allowed Roy to concentrate more on vocals and he plays the guitar a little less during the concerts.
Before signing on with Word in 2004 the band had four labels courting them. The band members chose Word because they felt the label had a better understanding of their vision and was more in tune with them. He is quick to point out that this is not meant as a sleight against the other labels.
Jason Roy, a deeply caring man, paid tribute to his wife Cortni as our conversation was winding down, “There’s not a selfish bone in her body. I’ve never in my life known her to be selfish. For me to do what I do, it requires her to give a lot and not be recognized.”
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague.
Joe Montague is a freelance
Christian journalist / photographer who has been published in a variety
of community, daily and Christian newspapers coast to coast in Canada and
the United States. Joe Montague's ministry of journalism is dedicated
to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven far
too early at the age of 18.