At some point in time, nearly everyone will traverse their own road to Damascus. It’s the journey that changes boys into men and girls into women.
It’s the journey that teaches us how to leave childish things behind and press on with a new sense of maturation, clarity and direction.
This is the journey that Building 429 has been on for years. And now, in 2013, they are markedly changed.
“We’re not talking about David the shepherd; we’re talking about David the King,” says front man Jason Roy. “This is not Saul. This is Paul. We are more than conquerors and as such we should be leading the way.“
From their lyrics to their live show to their character and carriage, they are doing just that. We Won’t Be Shaken, their latest project (which releases June 4th) resonates with a new confidence…a humble confidence…a confidence borne by leaders.
It was from this posture that they took the lead at one of the most difficult, emotional and public experiences our country has experienced—the Memorial Concert in honor of the children and adults killed in the tragic Newtown shooting.
“It was a very surreal experience,” says Jason. “Usually, you have a crowd that’s going crazy. Here, you could hear a pin drop. Several of the families were there. It was very heart-wrenching. We really had to trust the Lord on what to say, if anything.”
When they learned they would be opening the evening, fellow artist and friend, tobyMac, said, “I’m glad I’m not you.”
A tenuous task, to be sure…but it was in this moment they clearly felt the Lord impressing upon them one word—lead.
It’s a word and directive that they carry, imperfectly at times, on stage and take home with them everyday.
“We all make mistakes and fall short,” Jason says. “If I stand, it’s only because I’ve been in His hands. If men would step back up, including myself, we’d see families change.”
Keenly aware of the impact family can have on your life, heart and well-being, the guys in Building 429 are cognizantly choosing each day to model themselves after their heavenly father, rather than an earthly father, whose very humanity means he will mess up.
“You have a choice,” he says. “You can’t say, ‘I am who I am because my dad wasn’t good enough.’ You can either be who your father was or learn from it. You have a choice to love or hate and continue to remember that our past isn’t meant to be a burden; it’s our testimony.”
“I see so much of myself in my baby,” Aaron Branch adds. “When there are things you don’t want them to do because I’ll hurt them, they’re going to try to do it anyway. We, as parents, see the bigger picture. In the same way, God sees and knows the bigger picture.”
In fact, just a few years ago, unable to glimpse the bigger picture, the entire band was ready to walk away from music altogether.
“We were weary,” Jason says. “Before Listen to the Sound we were doing 150-200 shows a year. We gain a lot from that, but we give up a lot with our wives, families, kids. We’d played the same room for so long and we didn’t know if it was sustainable. Awards and stuff like that don’t matter…but they do. Now, when people see that we had the longest number one song [“Where I Belong”] we can definitely see that this is sustainable. It helps that our wives are beginning to see it too. They are so proud and happy.”
More divine intervention than happenstance, the band landed a spot on the largest tour in the country—Winter Jam—and “Where I Belong” took off right around the same time. For the first time in 14 years, they were utterly affirmed that they were indeed where they were supposed to be.
“We started believing in each other,” Jason shares. “We started believing that may we were supposed to be here.”
With little doubt lingering in their hearts, it was then a matter of following such a hit. As they looked to creating their next album, they applied the same elements “Where I Belong” encompassed, played to their strengths and then, threw caution to the wind and let God lead them alomg yet another journey of faith.
“Our strong suit as a band is our live show,” shares Jason. “The four of us together on stage have a chemistry. Something happens live that makes the show great.”
They brought that chemistry into the studio, alongside producers Jason Ingram and Rob Hawkins. And while most bands will record each instrument and vocal separately, the guys played together—and the magic happened.
“On Listen to the Sound, we were a band learning how to play. On this one, we were bringing 14 years of live experience,” Jason says. “We simply asked ourselves, ‘What would we attempt if we knew we would never fail?’ So we decided to do something crazy. That’s the band that played. What you find is this band that has walked into confidence. Every single song on this record we would play live and feel great about.”
One listen through the record is all it takes to realize that they are most decidedly coming from a different place. And while production, musicianship and songwriting certainly shaped a lot of that, perhaps the biggest influence on the sound, heart and purpose of the record is the church. Life on the road isn’t necessarily conducive to plugging into a church and establishing roots.
In the last few years, however, the guys have intentionally reorganized their touring schedules in order to prioritize their immediate family and their church family.
“it explains why this new record sounds different,” Jason adds. “We got connected to our churches. There, you have to pick songs people connect with. There’s no time for artistry. We fell in love, as a group, with the singing during the song—not the applause after it.
“Being plugged into a local church changes everything,” he continues. “To be spiritual authorities, we have to sit and be fed. We have and have grown confident in a God whose strength is made perfect.”
With a steady diet of teaching, prayer and accountability, the guys have undeniably matured in wisdom, love and their own perception of themselves in relation to their Divine Creator and Heavenly Father.
“God breathed us into existence,” he says. “One breath…He just had to breathe in and could make us not exist anymore. But He chose the cross. How many men out there are choosing the cross to save their marriage? It starts in the home. We have to get up and lead. We must regain that warrior mentality.
“We may not be the biggest band,” he concludes, “but we plan on leading. God has called us to do that.”
The call has been heeded. The road to Damascus has been taken.
Now, the shepherds are kings; the stutterers are prophets; the persecutors are apostles…and one step at a time, Building 429 is leading those who hear them, those who love them and those whom they have been called to serve.
Caroline Lusk was the editor of CCM Magazine between 2008-2014.