Now in its 21st year, the “Winter Jam Tour Spectacular” is hitting the road again, as another all-star lineup returns to Penn State for a performance at the Bryce Jordan Center January 16.
Founded and hosted by Grammy-nominated NewSong, Winter Jam 2015 will feature Christian pop, rock and alternative artists Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, For King & Country, Family Force 5 and evangelist Tony Nolan, with a pre-Jam party slated to showcase Blanca, About a Mile and Veridia.
Christian pop/rock band Building 429 — lead vocalist/guitarist Jason Roy, along with guitarist Jesse Garcia, bassist Aaron Branch and drummer Michael Anderson — also will help to spread the word of God with its music.
Determined to make a difference in the lives of others needing to hear the truth of the gospel, Roy founded Building 429 in 1999 after years of writing music.
“Most of my lyrics were out of frustration, like ‘God where are you, what’s the point, why do I exist?’ ” he said. “And what I found was, the more I wrote songs about those things, the more people liked them. It was just my life story in music.”
The band’s breakthrough came in 2004, with “Glory Defined,” a song named BMI’s Christian Song of the Year in 2005. That same year would prove to be quite fruitful for Building 429, as the group was named New Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.
That success culminated in the band’s fourth year on the Winter Jam tour lineup, where everybody backstage has the opportunity to be real, and hang out and share stories of being on the road.
“It’s just a big old family; a lot of good people,” Roy said. “And every band on that tour is 10 years into the making, so we’re all kind of veterans, and it makes for a very relaxing and fun tour.”
If there’s one thing that Roy and Building 429 have discovered, it’s the power and ability that they and others on this tour have to dramatically change people’s lives with their music.
“To be honest, when you carry that much weight of influence, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with it,” he said. “We wear that weight pretty heavy sometimes. We consistently pray for the grace and the mercy to walk through that with grace and mercy, because obviously we’re just human.”
What’s most important to Roy is having the ability to get his thoughts out and say what he needs to say in a way that he wants to say it. It’s making music that matters and that he thinks is going to encourage people and get them excited.
“We are obviously a highly successful commercial band, but that’s not where the equation starts,” he said. “The equation starts with ‘do I have something to say, and do I have something to say in a way that I feel like I’ve never heard before?’ I think that’s really a catalyst for all of our music. We are going to be us and we’re going to write about things that matter to us. And hopefully there’s a market for it. If there’s not, it’s OK, because we still love making music. It’s who we are.”
The power in what they do is seen daily, from the small trivial things like bringing someone a smile, to hundreds if not thousands of stories of suicidal thoughts turned off by a song they wrote. The band is highly focused on encouraging people who are struggling and often broken as well, and that includes everybody in the church.
“We tend to find that as long as we stay encouraging and we keep telling people to keep their eye on Jesus, don’t let your surroundings define who you are,” Roy said. “Remember the truth of who you are. We find that a lot of people are inspired by that.”
Obviously, the one disadvantage for any touring artist is time away from family. Roy knows this all too well, as he sometimes misses special family events, such as anniversaries, weddings and his children’s birthdays. But Roy said God has placed him in this world and truly believes he has found his calling in life.
“As we say, we as a family are called to this,” he said. “If my wife said ‘Jason you can’t do this anymore,’ I’d be turning in my resignation. I can’t say we’re going to do this for a lifetime, but I can say that if God wants it to be a lifetime thing and my family is in agreement with that, I’ll be doing this until I’m 60. But I just trust in the Lord that whatever path I need to take, he’s going to guide my steps.”
As for future goals, Building 429 hopes to expand their influence they have in the United States worldwide.
“There’s not a place that we don’t want to go, so we’re waiting for the opportunity,” Roy said. “We want to be able to impact the world and be a band for all people.”