Singer Jason Roy is anything but coy when it comes to speaking his mind on a wide array of issues. The lead voice behind Building 429, a Christian band that has quickly become known as one of the most successful and popular in the faith-based music industry, recently spoke with TheBlaze about his group’s new record, “We Won’t Be Shaken” and also shared his candid social and political views.
The newest collection of songs is the band’s eighth studio album, giving Roy quite a bit of experience and knowledge about how one effectively navigates the Christian music industry. The band has enjoyed immense success over the past few years, with the title track from the new album reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian song chart this summer (as of this week, it’s still the second most popular song).
With success, of course, comes notable challenges.
What Roy Has Learned About the Christian Music Scene
Considering the detrimental impact that fame can have, TheBlaze asked Roy what he has learned through experiencing both accolades and the sometimes troublesome elements that come along with praise and popularity. He spoke candidly and humbly, noting that the experience has shown him quite a bit about himself and the music scene he’s immersed in.
“I think fame and success has taught me that this world is really, really small and that all things that you do and say eventually come back to you,” he said, later adding, “I think that success has taught me that music is business and people are going to make money off of you, period.”
Many people assume that simply because the Christian music industry touts faith that it is an incessantly-friendly environment, but Roy said that this isn’t the case. The Building 429 frontman argues that one must be a good businessman if he or she wants to survive as an artist and that, at the end of the day, money is what really drives the industry.
“There’s no such thing as a Christian label,” Roy said, going on to call the faith-based music “a money-making machine.” “The sooner than young artists figure that out, the happier they will be. If you come in thinking it’s just about ministry, you’re done.”
While the singer’s comments may sound negative, Roy said he has no problem with the fact that Christian music is, like anything else, a business. But he wants young, idealistic artists to realize that it’s not as simple and friendly as they might assume before entering the fray.
Citing his passion, Roy said that his favorite part of the experience is “the art, the music, the pursuit of music that moves people.” Understandably, it’s the business portion of the equation that he’s less-than-enthralled by.
Being a Celebrity
The famed singer also spoke about the challenges of being a celebrity and said that, despite only experiencing “one trillionth” of the scrutiny that secular A-listers face, he has sympathy for those who get intense public media attention. While he has seen some of the challenges it poses first-hand, Roy has no interest in complaining about what comes along with the territory.
“I can sit here and I can go through all the negatives about being a Christian artist or celebrity, but I asked for it,” Roy admitted. “This is what I wanted to do.”
To keep himself grounded, the singer said that he has close-knit friends who truly know his character and understand him more intimately than those who merely see the projected image that is presented in media.
His Views on Contentious Social Issues
One of the more refreshing discussion points in Roy’s interview with TheBlaze was his forthright chatter about some of the more contentious issues dividing our society. The singer noted that he grew up in a small Texas town and that, over time, some of his views on social issues have evolved. That said, his beliefs about the Bible and God have remained constant.
We asked him specifically about gay marriage, an issue that has created a fair bit of furor of late, with social conservatives losing key legal and public relations battles. Rather than delivering a black or white answer, Roy spoke candidly about the complexities involved in the discussion:
“My opinion is is that I think that there’s so much need for grace and mercy in every one of our lives. I just don’t see who I am to cast a stone. I think that one of the things I heard Rick Warren say — and it was one of the more powerful, what makes it such a slippery slope is — it’s almost a bit of a human rights fight, because they don’t have the same rights as a [straight] couple,” he said.
He added later, “I heard Rick Warren say that he doesn’t have a problem having the same rights as a married couple. I completely agree with that. I don’t understand why someone who lived with someone else [for] years — [why] they cant inherit their belongings. While I do believe that the Bible specifically says that the act of homosexuality [is a sin], I’m not going to cast a stone, because I sin a 1,000 times a day.”
While Roy believes that the term “marriage” should only apply to a union between one man and one woman, he is not comfortable with the notion that Christians should go around “chastising people and telling them they’re going to hell.” He called this act “the least gracious and most prideful thing” that believers could be doing in responding to the ever-contentious matter.
Roy’s Advice for Christians
More generally, the Building 429 frontman said that believers need to educate themselves and to stand up with boldness to defend their faith.
Taking the opportunity to posit a theory and critique, he made some claims that may frustrate some believers, but his observances come, he says, from a place of love. While many Christians have been outreach oriented for years, Roy said that there is sometimes a dearth of knowledge surrounding their own faith — a deficiency that leads many faithful to retreat rather than continue engaging in viable — and essential — debate.
“Christians are scared, man. We’re scared people and I say this a lot,” he said.
Roy said believers many times set out to share their faith, but retreat once ideological opponents poke holes in their claims. When Christians don’t have the answers to challenging questions, the singer said that they simply step away from the discussion instead of arming themselves with important information. This sometimes translates into political cycles when Christians remain silent, because they don’t necessarily know how to respond.
“They haven’t studied their faith deeply enough to have their own answers,” he said. “I think that my response to that is we have to know why we believe what we say we believe.”
We also spoke about human origins during our interview with Roy. Using logic, the Building 429 singer said that the way in which Darwinian evolution is framed simply doesn’t make sense. He charged that there’s a lot of “imaginary” elements added into the discussion and that there is DNA space that is unaccounted for between mankind as it exists today and its alleged ancestors.
“We Won’t Be Shaken”
As stated, what was perhaps most refreshing about our interview with Roy was his willingness to simply speak out and answer any and all questions with boldness. In a sense, this is exactly what he called for other Christians to do in critiquing the way in which they interact with their secular counterparts. And this theme actually carries over to the meaning behind Building 429′s new hit, “We Won’t Be Shaken.”
When we asked about the themes behind the song, Roy said that it was written at a time during which the world seemed to be going haywire.
“Last year just seemed to be hellish for the U.S. just in general — constant stuff about Iraq and Afghanistan, Sandy Hook, Boston Bombing…tornadoes, we were just taking shot after shot after shot,” he said.
“I wanted to write a record that said, ‘People stand up,’” Roy told TheBlaze. “There was just a big part of me that said this nation — and the nation of believers — they need songs that won’t allow them to lay down.”
The singer cited the book of Psalms, which tells Christians never to be shaken and reinforces the notion that God is a “rock” for mankind.
“It was meant to be the sounding of an alarm. ‘Hey people wake up. The God that you say you serve — he actually exists,’” he continued. “I believe that and I’ve searched it. I’ve checked out atheism, agnosticism. I’ve checked out almost every religion there is and I realize this world can’t be explained without a God.”
For more about Building 429, check out the band’s website.