Through their songs and their high energy live shows, GRAMMY-nominated Building 429 is a band that has been touted throughout their 17-year career as “authentic and amazing – uplifting and unforgettable,” along with being “truly focused on bringing glory to God.”
Since the release of their debut album in 2000, Jason Roy (vocals), Michael Anderson (drums), Jesse Garcia (guitars), and Aaron Branch (bass) have tirelessly and passionately exhorted the faith community with popular battle cries such as “Where I Belong” and “We Won’t Be Shaken” and their songs have also reached the peak of the radio charts.
We recently asked some readers what questions they’d ask Building 429’s Jason Roy if they could interview him. Here’s how Roy answered those questions.
Q: What is the story behind the name? – Kreston Smith
A: So the name comes from Ephesians 4:29 in the Bible, it says let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth except for doubts, be helpful for building others up, according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen. My wife was in a youth group when she was younger that did a 429 challenge based off of that scripture. If somebody said something negative, they said “429” as a reminder that our words are supposed to be encouraging. And, you know what? At the time I was, I think, 19, when we started the band and the best other name we had was Fence Post or something like that, so we went with Building 429.
Q: What is the biggest story you’ve heard by a fan who was inspired by one of your songs? – Heather Ziegler
A: Oh gosh, I mean, there are so many stories over the years of a song having massive impact, you know, and I’ve always been really thankful for that. We have a song called “Where I Belong” that is like the song that never stops and the song just keeps on going to new places and doing new things. One night I had a girl come up and tell me that she was going to commit suicide and that that song had changed her life and the reason was because someone she knew had died early and it didn’t make sense to her and she wanted to die too and the song saved her life, which is awesome.
And then last night I was sitting with a friend and then the friend said, “Have you heard your song on Major League Baseball?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah ... I know a couple guys go to the plate with that song ...” And he said, “No, no, no ... have you heard how the Texas Rangers are using it?” He said when a runner gets on third base, they play the snippet of the song that says (Roy begins to sing), “I’m … not … home … yet …” (laughs). It’s like a taunt to the player stuck on third base. I just marvel that that song is that big and is that far around the world that somebody would find a way to use it at a baseball game like that. That’s not the most spiritual answer, but at the same time it’s like, wow, I wrote that. I never thought that that would happen.
Q: This comes from one of our local high school band directors, Kreston Smith. He asks, “How did you guys get started? What was your first real break into the professional side of the industry? How often are you guys on the road?”
A: Great question! I’ll start by saying Mr. Band Director, I was an all-state trumpet player, thank you very much, when I was younger (laughs). You know, music was part of my life from the time I was a kid. My grandfather was a gospel music singer, played every single instrument you can imagine; you hand it to him and he kills it. And, to this day, he can still sing and plays, he still plays shows with his Bluegrass band. He had five daughters, all five daughters can sing. And I don’t mean just kinda-sorta sing, they can sing, I mean SING. They start singing and all of a sudden there’s five-part harmony, which is impossible, but they do it. It’s what I grew up around, I grew up around a family that sings. So, we’re doing chores and Mom would say, “Hey, you got the harmony on this yet?” and we’d be singing old gospel hymns.
Then the acoustic guitar came along. When I was 15 I got my first guitar and I’d been playing piano already. By this point I was starting to go to youth camps and I realized suddenly at youth camps that girls really thought I was awesome, so I thought, well, I’m going to play the piano a lot now (laughs). You know, same with the guitar.
He explains his family then went through an ugly divorce and he began writing songs on the guitar.
I started writing songs that were like, God, what is really going on? Like, I know you’re real, but where are you in all this? And what was funny was that people were like,” Dude, that is so good ... you need to start playing shows ...” and so there was this place in town where I’d go with my acoustic guitar and play shows. Then there was a group of guys who came along and said, dude, we gotta start a band.
Long story short, we started a band and made a record in ‘99 in Nashville in one day and I sent it to thousands of people and I got 150 people to say yes, you’re welcome to come play at our church, club, whatever and we got in an old van and we toured the United States, starting in North Carolina.
We did that for three years in a row and suddenly we were sitting in a skyscraper in Nashville with a record exec saying, “We really like what you’re doing ...” and that was it, man. We didn’t know how we were gonna get there, we didn’t have any connections to anything, we just created something that had just enough buzz to get us in the door somewhere and then, boom. Our first song released was called “Glory Defined” and it went #1 in two weeks and we were kinda off to the races.
Q: Do you do group Bible studies on the road? If so, what are some of your favorites? – Jennifer Nolen
A: Well, you know, it’s funny ... we haven’t done it in awhile, but I think it’s so awesome ... it’s the most simple Bible study ever and it’s had the most impact on my life is Experiencing God.
We pray together every day. We’re also grown men ... the oldest guy in the band is, God bless him, 45 and about to die (laughs) … the youngest is 38 and we all live in different cities, in different states. We all have small groups we’re a part of at home and we use the Bible app a lot to study the word. Truthfully, we’re all the leaders in our families and when we get out on the road, it’s much more of like, “Hey, this scripture hit me today, what do you think?” than, “Hey, we’re doing a Bible study on top of the one we’re doing at home ...” What’s cool is it gives us a unique perspective every time we get together. Like Aaron, our bass player, may be knee-deep into, you know, a John Eldridge book while I’m knee-deep into the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. There are a lot of different ideas bouncing around and it’s cool because there’s not just one leader, we’re all leaders.
Q: How and when did you feel led to the Christian music industry? – Jennifer Nolen
A: It’s funny, I never felt led to anything else, ever. From the time I could play music, I never even tried to write love songs, I never even tried to write songs about girls. I don’t know why … which is odd, because, at 15 years old, all you want is a girl to like you, so why would you not try to write a love song? But, for some reason, that never came out of me.
Our new record is the first time I’ve ever written anything, really, that anybody will ever hear that’s about my wife. I think that I’ve been in this pursuit of God for a long, long time and I’ve just had so many questions and so many doubts and fears and at the same time had so many God moments where I’ve seen him show up and do some crazy things.
I’m so thankful that God continues to pursue me and use me to keep writing songs.