By Jessica Connor
The Advocate got to chat with Robbie Seay, front man and songwriter for contemporary Christian group the Robbie Seay Band, which headlines the S.C. Conference’s youth event Revolution Feb. 11-13.
Seay and his bandmates hail from Houston, where Seay’s brother, Chris, pastors Ecclesia Church and where their band serves as worship leader. With three major-label albums under their belt–their critically acclaimed 2005 Sparrow Records debut, “Better Days”; their 2007 sophomore effort, “Give Yourself Away”; and their latest CD, “Miracle”–the band is known for producing music people can relate to.
Bandmates, pictured from left, include Michael “Tank” Lisenbe (drums), Robbie Seay, Ryan Owens (bass) and, not pictured, Matt “Frodo” Kidd (guitar). To attend the youth event, visit www.umcsc.org.
Here, Seay shares insight about the band and its music ministry.
Q. What role does your faith have in your music?
A. Clearly it’s a huge part of what we do. We don’t go just to entertain; we go to lead and have people sing with us, and not just sing, but respond and worship together. We feel a call to be artists, as well as leaders and worship leaders.
Q. Do you have any United Methodist ties we should know about?
A. I’ve played in United Methodist churches across the country. I was on staff at Woodlands United Methodist Church in Houston, and so was our guitar player, Matt. We led worship at Woodlands for many years. And at First United Methodist in Houston we have a lot of great friends.
Q. Were you and your band always Christians, or did you become Christian at some point in your lives?
A. I grew up in a home with Christ being a huge part of who we were and what we did. Coming to faith was always really natural for me. But our journeys are all going to be different. A lot of the guys (in the band) have different stories.
Q. What do you hope your music accomplishes?
A. We always hope when people pick up our CD they get a sense of real life. I’m not a rock star. I have three kids at home; I’m just like you are. I’ve had great tragedy in life, and I hope people can connect to that.
Q. What are some of the challenges you face in your music ministry?
A. I love what we do, so you don’t ever want to complain; it’s a gift. But we’re a little older now, some of us have families, and it’s always a challenge trying to find balance. It’s fighting the temptations we face as musicians or anybody faces – not just the temptation of always wanting to be greater, more well known, commended for what you do, and just realizing God’s love is sufficient for us. We don’t play music for accolades or record sales, but that’s not easy. God doesn’t let me just live life for me or these things that come our way. Let me live my life for you – to get up and share songs and share my heart a bit.
Q. Who are some of your musical influences?
A. So many, and that’s what’s fun about music. I love to collect old vinyls. I love Frank Sinatra on vinyl, and people are like, “Really? I never would have pegged you as a Frank Sinatra guy!” I like Rich Mullins. I went to school with David Crowder. I love his music, and we’re great fans of his. Music is a gift from God. It really is its own language. If you are not exploring that language, then open up your mind a little bit. I even like classical music.
Q. What does the title of your latest CD, “Miracle,” mean to you?
A. For about a year in 2009 and in the beginning of 2010, my family and I went through a season of several close friends becoming ill, battling cancer, several friends passing away. A dear friend was murdered in our church. It was a pretty crazy season for us. We found ourselves praying to God in ways we had never prayed before. For my wife and I, as we began to seek God in Scripture and prayer in our own community, we believed deeply that He is the God of miracles. God can move, intervene, but I can never ever express in a song that understanding. I don’t know how or why He chooses to move, but we’ve been through a season of love and sorrow, and we believe God is the God of miracles, … and I am going to seek and trust Him no matter what. Ultimately, you celebrate that God is good, God is just. I cannot explain a holy God to you, don’t have that kind of mind, but I do know I trust in Him.
Q. Is there anything you try to do musically in an effort to be different from other Christian artists?
A. I love to listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and one of the benefits of that is not to get stuck in the mindset of, “This is what I have to do in order to make this happen; this is how I have to be different.” To me, the biggest compliment is, “You guys kind of do your own thing. You’re different.”
Q. Is there a favorite song that you perform?
A. When you get to play songs they know and they get to sing to, that’s a really unique thing. I love singing “Song of Hope.” There are also a couple on the new record, like “Oh, Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” It’s an old hymn, but for some reason it always moves me.
Q. Do you intend for your songs to cross denominational lines, and what does that mean to you when it does?
A. Definitely–we don’t just interact with one denomination or one group of believers. ... The body of Christ is big and diverse, and maybe we don’t always agree on some of the secondary issues of faith, but if there is one thing we can agree on, it’s that God loves and forgives you, and grace is being extended to you.
By Jessica Connor