Building 429 will be in the Denver metro area Friday at Crossroads Church of Denver as one of the headliners for the Promise Remains Tour. Also appearing are Todd Agnew, and newcomers Kimber Rising. Tickets are free as part of K-Love’s listener appreciation event. Photo special to The Denver Post
“Building is not a noun it’s a verb.” That’s how Jason Roy describes his band’s moniker, Building 429, along with how and why the members arrived at the name.
“We had 2.5 pages of names down on paper and couldn’t come up with anything,” Roy said. “My wife walked in and said, ‘You should do something with Ephesians 4:29.’ And it was like it hit me right between the eyes.”
Eph 4:29: Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up, as there is a need, so that your words may encourage those who hear.
“Encourage those who hear, wow,” Roy explained. “It made me realize that I needed to change my ‘trash-talking on the basketball court mentality.’ There is more to life … to encourage others.”
Roy and Building 429 will be encouraging others in the Denver metro area Friday at Crossroads Church of Denver as one of the headliners for the Promise Remains Tour. Also appearing are Todd Agnew, and newcomers Kimber Rising. Tickets are free as part of K-Love’s listener appreciation event.
But it was that trash-talking sports mentality that ran through Roy’s veins that now gives the Christian music singer/songwriter perspective. His early outlook on life gave way to “dumb decisions that messed up” his shot at an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship.
“Basketball was my whole life,” Roy said. “It was No. 1 — before family, before friends, before God. I was not a nice person. I would do anything to win. It didn’t matter if I had to hurt someone if they were in the way. And it spilled over into my life.
“It was about that lifestyle and the circle I was running with. It was popularity and arrogance, and I would get into situations that were not healthy. I was going to church on Sundays but what was I doing Friday and Saturday?
“God showed me that you have to lose what you love the most to find the thing that you need the most. I learned that there was more to life than basketball, that I had to devote my life to something other than myself.”
That something else turned out to be music. Roy grew up listening to classic rock – Led Zeppelin, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Sevendust, Metallica, Boston, Kansas – with his interests evolving “far and wide. Right now I’m flipping out over some of the new hip-hop stuff that is out there.” (When we spoke Roy and his bandmates were on a bus heading to Atlanta for a U2 concert.)
But it wasn’t until Roy saw Third Day in concert when he realized he could make a go at a music career.
“I didn’t think that I had what it took to make it in this industry,” Roy said. “But then I saw Third Day in concert and Mac (Powell) has a similar voice. It was the first time I saw someone with the same voice in a rock band. That set it off, triggered it. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
That was 7.5 years ago, and when Roy started his music endeavor he did not envision a life as a Christian artist.
“I wrote songs about pain,” he said. “And the truth that my mother tried to instill in me when I was younger just crept into the songs. Before I realized it, I was writing Christian songs and playing 150 shows a year. Songs about — I need help, help me get some answers. I guess that’s my walk of faith, playing out in songs.
“I grew up in the church but I ran from it. God came into my life in abundance not only in my faith but my ability to write songs. God has seen me through some tough times. And now when I look back at what He has done, I can see He has had a hand on me for a long time.”
Roy, who grew up in Wilimington, N.C., would tempt fate as a teenager at every bend and turn of his young life.
“Whenever there was a hurricane I could be out there swimming in the ocean,” he said. “Or I would take the boat out. I did some stupid things when I was young. Then when I would dock the boat there would be these 10 to 15 seconds when I would realize that I could have died. ‘Oh my, what is wrong with me?’ How close did I come to missing it all? God has had his hand on me a long time and He’s blessed with a wonderful wife and two children. God sent someone into my life to pull me out of disaster, and that is my wife, Cortni.”
Building 429’s new CD, a self-title disc on INO Records, contains “Always,” a look a life in its rawest form.
“Life is like that song,” Roy said. “Not everything in life goes right; sometimes it does not make sense. And as a Christian artist, it’s OK to write songs that say, ‘I don’t get it, but I know who does.’ … I just try to stay truthful and honest.”
From its humble beginnings, playing 200-plus shows a year in small venues, life has taken Building 429 all over the world playing with some of Christian music industry’s stalwarts and spreading the good news, but it’s life in Tennessee that means the most to Roy.
“People say, ‘You have the greatest job, you get to go all over the world and play music,’ but one of the greatest things is to go home and I get to be a husband and a dad and watch my son play soccer,” Roy said. “It’s that mentality that is our ministry and what we want to bring to the world. It’s what we are here to do.”