By Courtney Grimes
Building 429's debut single, the pop-rock anthem "Glory Defined," hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Christian Singles chart and has been about as immovable as a building. It's been a quick ride to the top for lead vocalist Jason Roy, guitarist Paul Bowden, bassist Scotty Beshears and drummer Mike Anderson, but they remain grounded and more focused than ever on their goals. During a visit to Epiphone headquarters in Nashville, Jason, Paul and Scotty talked about their lives - past and present - and the roller coaster that is to come. Here are some highlights from the interview:
CG: How did you all meet each other?
Scotty: Jason and I met, probably a little over 5 years ago. We went to church together in a little town called Wilmington in North Carolina, and I met Paul a few years before that, we worked together at a Christian camp. Paul and I were in one band, and Jason was in another band and both bands just happened to be ending at the same time. I was at Jason's last show when his band was breaking up. It was in Raleigh.
Jason: The last show I played with my other band, Scotty walked up to me, and I don't think he knew the band was over, and he goes, "Hey man, if you ever want play, I know you live in Raleigh, let's get together and do it."
Scotty: Yeah, and Jason called me two days after that show. And we asked Paul to be in the band at that time, right when Jason and I were getting together, but he said no.
Paul: Well, I came over and jammed with them one day and had a really good time doing it, but I got home and started thinking I just really wasn't ready to do something like that because I already was involved with a Praise and Worship team at my church and had so much other stuff going on.
CG: Well something obviously changed
Scotty: Yeah, we were actually doing a show in Smyrna, Tennessee, and a booking agent came to critique the show. He said we needed somebody, a fourth guitar player to even out the stage and it would be helpful to have some background vocals. So we called Paul again, and thought maybe he was ready now. And sure enough, he was.
Paul: Things were very different in my life at that time from the first go-around. I was definitely ready by then to do the "band thing."
Jason: We'd already played about 130 shows that first year we were together and by the time Paul joined us, we had created a buzz in North Carolina. And man, (laughing) we put him through the ringer when he first came on board, just to get even!
CG: How did you come up with the name Building 429?
Jason: It's actually based on Ephesians 4:29 which says "Let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth, except that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." And that seemed like a pretty good place to take a stand. We play quite a few secular venues, and we're Christian guys and we want to wear our faith on our sleeve, but we don't want to slap somebody on the head with our Bible. So this seemed like the perfect way to do that, because the more people ask us what our name means, the more we have a chance to talk about what we believe.
CG: How would you describe the general feel of your music to somebody who had never heard it before?
Jason: Extremely melodic and definitely songs that you can't get out of your head. They're really hook-laden. On this album, we really went for epic. There are a lot of orchestral arrangements and gigantic type songs, and I primarily write all the songs.
CG: How does your songwriting work, do you write the lyrics first or the music?
Jason: On a record, I write about 80 percent, and other writers contribute about 20 percent. I usually start off with a melodic hook and focus the lyrics and the rest of the song around that. In our vision and our mission, we want as many people on the planet to hear it and remember our songs as possible. So we want to make all of our songs radio friendly and very memorable because our message is not of us, it's of Christ.
Everything that we write is based around life experiences. I think we're coming through a phase in Christian music where it's all about "corporate worship," where people look for the key words in a corporate worship song like "grace" or "mercy" and there's nothing wrong with that at all, it's just not what we do. Our songs are based off specific experiences in our lives.
CG: What was it like the first time you heard "Glory, Defined" on the radio?
Jason: We were absolutely freaking out!
Paul: We were running around and screaming and calling everybody we knew
Scotty: The first station that played it was WAY-FM, here in Nashville, and we had only taken a copy down to the station to let them listen it. But the day the song was mastered, they played it on the radio.
Paul: We were already getting calls from people in Australia who were listening to the song online and calling in, requesting it.
CG: What has been the most exciting thing that has happened so far with the band?
Scotty: The first night on the tour bus. Just being on a tour bus was completely exciting.
Jason: When we walked into GMA week and there was this monstrosity of a banner. It was about 20 feet tall, 15 feet wide
of us. And they now have it on the side of the Word building on Music Row. Back when we first signed with Word, it was Randy Travis up on the side of that building and I looked at the guys and said "If we ever get up on the side of that building, you know we've made it." And we went to try on clothes last week for a photo shoot and they had a crane out there putting it up. And we were so fired up.
Paul: For me, it was definitely Jason and I getting our Gibson deal. Being a guitar player my whole life and getting that was a dream moment. That was more exciting than the record deal.
Jason: Absolutely. If you're a guitar player, if you're a rock guitar player, you play Gibson. You don't play anything else but Gibson. When they sent us the paperwork, we were both just absolutely floored. And these Epiphone acoustics are amazing, the Gibson Les Pauls
Paul plays an SG and a Flying V now, and man, that's just the epitome of rock and roll.
CG: What is your favorite guitar that you own?
Paul: I love my Gibson SG.
Jason: For graduation, my grandfather, when he was in sixth grade he made straight A's, so his father took him to the store and bought them both Gibson acoustics, and that was in 1947. And they were both sunbursts. And for my graduation my grandfather gave me that 1947 sunburst. It stays in the case and I just take it out every once in a while and look at it. And I'll tell you what (playing the new Epi Acoustic), I've never had an acoustic guitar and I'm looking forward to having one of these. It's going to be a thrill.
CG: Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Paul: Well the three of us are married, and right now our wives are all working full-time so that we can do this. So I'd like to see their load be lightened. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be here. They're the driving force. And I personally would like to be a better guitar player. And I hope that as this band grows that we all grow individually, spiritually and better at what we do.
Scotty: I hope by then that we're even more faithful to the Lord. That we live for each day and never take a day for granted.
Visit Building429 on line at www.Building429.com.