Just a decade after starting a band in college, Rob Beckley is witnessing his music reach Grammy- and Super Bowl-level success.
The lead singer of Tulsa-based Christian rock band Pillar has watched in amazement as the title track off the group's fifth studio album, "For the Love of the Game,” has been played at the Super Bowl, on ESPN's World Series show "Baseball Tonight” and on the sports network's "College GameDay.”
This month brought the Grammy Awards, which the band attended after its fourth album, "The Reckoning,” was nominated for best rock or rap gospel album.
"My phone blew up the day they were playing it on ‘College GameDay,' like my voicemail filled up in like five minutes. It was awesome. All my friends back home, they're all like calling me ... and I wasn't even watching it. I have yet to ever hear one of our songs on TV, so that's cool that everybody else gets to,” Beckley said in a recent phone interview from his Tulsa home, where he took a few months off before the band's tour launched last week in Illinois.
Beckley and bassist Kalel (Michael Wittig) started Pillar in 1998, when they were students at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Later, they added guitarist Noah Henson and drummer Lester Estelle, and the band inked a record deal with Christian rock label Flicker Records in 2000.
The band relocated to Tulsa about eight years ago, with Beckley and wife Linda buying their first home. Three of the members live in Tulsa; Estelle resides in Kansas City, Kan., where his family is based.
"This is where we call home; this is where we represent when we go out on the road,” Beckley said, who is raising his 1½-year-old son, Hudson, in Tulsa.
Pillar has crafted a driving rock sound with catchy lyrics and an alt-metal edge. The band won the title of best hard music album for "Above” at the 2001 Dove Awards, but its latest albums have brought more mainstream success.
"For the Love of the Game” was released Tuesday, but the buzz for it started building last fall, when the anthemic title track caught the attention of ESPN. While their music has been used briefly on SportsCenter and Fox Sports, the singer said the band has never received this level of exposure.
While Beckley is a sports fan, the song actually is an encouragement for people to give their all in their Christian faith. The inspiration for it comes from Paul's words in I Corinthians 9:24 about treating the Christian life as a race for a prize.
But the singer said he doesn't mind if people enjoy the song outside the Christian context.
"Obviously, exposure to your music in any way is good, because we want people to just get excited about the music. It's like when you kind of dive in, I would hope that people would get something deeper out of .
Podcast: Pillar's Rob Beckley