by Tracy Darlington
connects with life. It's and incredible tool and platform to get
people's emotions stirred up and to create an environment for God
We caught up with front-man Rob Beckley while he and the band were driving in the middle of nowhere Texas on their way to another show.
Tracy: When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
Rob: I didn’t set out to be a musician per se. I started playing saxophone when I was in 5th grade. It was one of those things I just did because I wanted to be in a band, and I thought that was cool. When I got to college I studied jazz. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it. I thought I wanted to be a music teacher. I ended up starting another band called Nightshade. It was a jazz combo. A couple years after that I got into rock. I started hanging out with these guys who were into rock music. They asked me if I could sing, and I was like, “Oh, I sing a little bit.” And it just kind of worked itself out.
In another interview you did recently you said, “Pillar wants to challenge people to think, even Christians, about why you believe what you believe.” Can you talk about that mission?
On The Reckoning album we were really trying to reach out to people, trying to challenge them in general. A lot of people in this world will tell you they are something but they don’t know why. I’ve heard kids at shows tell me they know what they’re talking about ‘cause their dad’s a pastor, or they’re a Christian because they grew up in a Christian home. That’s their reasoning. And I’ve had people say they’re not into the whole God thing because they don’t believe in God. They won’t tell you why.
Why not challenge people to at least have an explanation for why they believe what they believe? I’m not going to tell you what you believe is right or wrong. I don’t want to start that argument. I mean, I would love for you to eventually come to know Christ, but my first question would be “Why do you believe what you believe?”
Why do you believe what you believe?
A lot of it for me comes from my own personal testimony. I experienced the lifestyle without God, the whole crazy partying and drugs. When I was 22 years old I’d reached a point in my life where I was pretty broken, and I’d never really thought about where I was with God before. It wasn’t a big topic for me. I grew up in a small town in Kansas, and we went to church whenever, just because that’s what people did. But when I was 22 somebody asked me where I stood with God. It was a person I respect. Driving home that night I was really convicted for the first time. I started to think about where I stood with God. I felt God’s presence in my life. The reason I believe what I believe is because I feel the presence of God. It’s easy for me to believe there’s a God when I can feel God. If someone doesn’t feel God, chances are they haven’t taken time to try and get to know Him more, or they’ve had bad things in their life. I’ve had bad things in my life. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve had situations where I’ve wanted to curse God. But God’s always been faithful through those times, all the way down to little things.
When we were first started out as a band and financially weren’t able to make it . . . you’re out there and you’re praying because you need something. I remember needing five hundred dollars. We went and did this show, and we didn’t know if they were going to pay us. At the end of the night they gave us a $500 check. Nobody said anything. It was early on in our career. Looking back, I can see how God’s hand just took care of us along the way. Those little things reaffirm why I believe what I believe now.
With your extensive touring, you probably have some interesting road stories. Can you share with us your most embarrassing moment?
I fell off the stage one time in Florida. It was like a 7 foot stage, one of the tallest stages we played on that tour. It was outdoors and raining, and I got too close to the edge of the stage and slipped off. I ripped the ligament on the top of my foot. All the kids were like, “Why’d you jump off the stage?” I was like, “I didn’t jump. I fell.” It was the first song too, but we kept going.
Lately you guys have been speaking out on the dangers of pornography. Let’s say you’re sitting across from someone who’s been struggling with this, but they don’t know how to escape. What would you say to them?
The first real issue is to realize you’re not alone. You don’t have to hide it. You’re not the only one with this struggle. To get comfortable with the fact that you’re not alone in you struggle, and you don’t have to cover it up is Step 1.
Step 2 is transparency---being open about it. If you can’t be open about it, you’re never going to get help because you’re always going to find a way to manipulate the situation so nobody finds out. If you’re not willing to be transparent, you’re never going to get anywhere.
Step 3 is accountability. All these steps tie into each other. Allowing someone to hold you accountable is important. There are many, many people who struggle with pornography. Some are able to overcome it on day 1, and for other people it’s a lifelong battle.
The truth is, you don’t have to give up. The fact that you acknowledge it as a sin and you’re wanting to do something about it is part of the battle right there. And the more passion you have to do something about it, the more strength God is going to give you to overcome it. The only strength to overcome you’re gonna find is in Christ anyway. You’re never going to do it on your own.
What advice would you give to someone who has aspirations to become a musician or form a band?
Don’t do it! (Laughs.) Every band gets their start a different way. They all have a story. If you really want to do it, you gotta work your butt off. Period. You gotta work hard, and you gotta be willing to make sacrifices. The commitment level has to be there from everybody in the band. If one person doesn’t have that and is a weak link the band’s not gonna go very far. A lot of bands face getting enough guys together who are committed to do it. It all comes back to that work ethic.
Could you share with us the story behind your song “Everything”? What’s the message you hope people will take away from it?
That was one of the last songs we wrote for the record in studio. A line in the song says, “Something comes from nothing, if you’re willing to believe.” There’s no work we can do to be saved. The price has already been paid through Christ. All we have to be is willing to believe that it’s the truth, that by grace we’re saved. The common person might think you don’t have to do anything. But you do have to believe. If you’re willing to believe you can have a grace that comes by faith, salvation through Christ.
What about the video for the song?
Making the video was fun. We did it out on my father-in-law’s land in western Kansas where I grew up. They have a huge farming operation out there. We went out there and got some old tractors and old trucks from friends and just had fun. It was a blast. That road I’m going down is the road that leads to my father-in-law’s house.
If you could say one thing to this generation, what would you say?
One thing: Get reckless. It stems from a song we just finished in the studio the other day. It’s going to be on our new record, and it’s called “Reckless Youth”. The whole thought behind it is to challenge you to be reckless, but reckless in your faith. The definition of reckless that I really like is “to act with disregard to consequences”. I challenge kids to act recklessly in their faith, with disregard to what people will think or say or wanna do to them. Live your faith recklessly. The challenge is for a generation to become reckless. When we say, “be out of control,” I mean I wanna be out of control so God can be in control. I think this needs to be meditated on and really taken in to gain the courage to be strong in the generation we have now. A lot of kids are very laid back about their faith. It’s just kind of a side note for their dog tag, so to speak, of what they’re religious preference is. Kids need to lose control of themselves, let God take control, and become reckless.
What do you wish people knew about Pillar?
They already know too much. (Laughs.) We live in Tulsa, OK, and we’re pretty boring for the most part. We just kind of play shows and then go hang out at home. We all had kids this last year within six months of each other. That kind of slows you down a little bit. This new record we’re working on right now will probably be released in February or March, and it’ll be both guns blazing. Our families are ready for us to leave. They’re kicking us out the door now. (Laughs.)
This whole last year and a half or so and having kids has been amazing. My son is now a little over 9 months old. It’s been awesome. He was out on the road with us when he was 2 ½ or 3 weeks old. He’s got the lungs to be a rocker.
Tell us about the new record...
It’s a lot different from The Reckoning. The Reckoning was definitely kind of out there, kind of taking chances. This is more the Pillar that people wanted to hear on The Reckoning album. It’s got more “Where Do We Go From Here?” and “Fireproof” anthems, the big get-pumped-up, stir-up-a-generation type of songs. The name of the record is For The Love of the Game. The name sums up the record. It’s fun and big and encouraging all at the same time. It’ll be a whole record full of “Frontline”, “Fireproof”, “Break Me Down” anthems. We will play a few on our tour in September after we spend some time over in Australia.
What’s your favorite part of the recording process?
It’s so different than being out on the road. The last record really stressed me out. Being on the road you get to go have fun and play the songs you’ve already written. It’s hard being in the studio to know what people are gonna think of it. It’s just you and a pencil, or the band and a microphone. It’s cool knowing you’re involved in something that can change someone’s life forever.
You’re in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
A toffee nut latte. Pretty good. I don’t go to Starbucks too often, but that’s usually what I get if I go.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Johnny Cash. I’ve read so many biographies and autobiographies, I feel like I already know everything I wanna know. But he’s the one who made me understand the power of lyrics. I never really paid too much attention, I just kind of wrote lyrics. But through reading the books about him and listening to his music I was really inspired by the power of lyrics. I would love to talk to him about the stories behind some of his songs, what inspired him, where they came from.
He was a little bit of an influence on my “Angel in Disguise”. I just wanted to write that type of “storyteller” song. I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash when I wrote that. That was the vibe behind it. That song is actually about a family that was at a church I used to go to. I got to tell the mom that the song was written from her perspective. They thought that was amazing. It was pretty cool to get to tell the person that you wrote a song about them. She had wanted to ask me if that was what it was about. She kind of knew even before I told her.
Three things always found in your refrigerator?
Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. The essentials. I don’t eat hot dogs at home much. My wife’s really into health food, but when I’m on the road I’ll eat a hot dog just so I can sneak ‘em in. (Laughs.)
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
Working at Walmart. (Laughs.) I have no idea. We’re pretty fortunate to have done this for a long time and have a platform to keep going.
Let’s say you’re sitting across the table from a kid at one of your concerts who isn’t at all sure about Christianity. What would you say?
Depending on their age, there isn’t anything you can say to everybody the same. You have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and say what He leads in each situation. Some of these kids you can just come right out and ask them about God and faith. Other kids don’t want to hear it, and they have hard hearts. They just want someone to look up to and become their friend. There are some kids at the youth group at my church who are like that. They know I’m in a Christian band, and they know I come in and help out sometimes with the youth. I don’t ever talk to them about God. But there are others in that group that I can talk to. I go play basketball with these kids and let them talk to me. It’s a lot more about getting to know the person. If you sit down and push them it could damage them forever where they will want nothing to do with it. But if you really put it out there and they’re starving for it, it will work. But get to know them a little bit before you just throw a tract at them and say, “See ya later; have a good life.” Be as sensitive as possible as to what to say and when to say it.
Why do you think music is such a powerful force in all our lives?
It’s one of the biggest most powerful things God gave us. It’s talked about throughout the Old Testament and in the Psalms. The power of music has always been there. It’s one of those things that strikes a chord and can stir up emotion. You can hear a song and it can give you chills. Movies wouldn’t be movies without music. You may remember a song from your first boyfriend in high school that was playing on your first date. You remember that song for the rest of your life, and whenever you hear it it takes you back to that memory. Music connects with life. It’s an incredible tool and platform to get people’s emotions stirred up and to create an environment for God to move.
Anything else you want to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
The new vision for Pillar is reckless youth. We’ll be posting some stuff on our website really soon, videos and stuff so you can stay on top of things. You can see the process of recording a record. You can get to know the guys in the band and see what’s going on.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.