The Houston-based band leads worship at Ecclesia and has had its sunny, hopeful pop played on <i>American Idol</i> and <i>One Tree Hill</i>.
Ryan Owens -- bass
Dan Hamilton -- drums
Robbie Seay -- acoustic guitar, vocals
Thoughts of You, 2001
10,000 Charms, 2002
Better Days, 2005
Give Yourself Away, 2007
Surroundings and circumstance affect a band's creative output - no surprise there. But the Robbie Seay Band's soaring sound feels like a real extension of its artistic atmosphere.
The Houston-based group leads worship at Ecclesia, a "Holistic Missional Christian Community" at 2115 Taft. The Montrose building also houses a coffee shop, bookstore, food co-op and a recording studio. (Seay's brother, Chris, is the pastor.)
That sense of community - and a truly freewheeling creativity - is evident on the band's sophomore disc, "Give Yourself Away." It was released nationally this week on Sparrow Records and has the band touring the country.
Several songs were inspired by sermons at Ecclesia and old hymns. The disc was recorded (among other places) at Hyde Park Studios, in Seay's kitchen and on friends' patios.
It makes for an interesting, accessible vibe. But combined with the slick touches of producer and programmer Tedd T. (Mute Math, Newsboys), the disc rides the same easy, eclectic groove favored by Christian-rock locals the Red Airplanes and Jez.
Seay's voice is another key element. It has an appealingly weary edge that's still slick enough for radio. His delivery has gravelly flickers of Bono during kickoff tune Rise, a majestic call to action.
He brings an impressive, arresting conviction to Shine Your Light on Us and its simple message ("Oh my God shine your light on us/And we might live"). The trancelike introduction eventually crashes, wonderfully, into a wall of guitars.
New Day's piano-driven melody wouldn't sound out of place on a Rufus Wainwright disc. It's highlighted by a rousing, singalong chorus of friends.
Eternal One sparkles with pop immediacy, and Beautiful Scandalous Night achieves a comfortable warmth via its airy female harmonies.
Disc closer Go Outside is a perfect finale, building to a swirl of instrumentation as Seay repeats, "No one should be left out."
It's an inspiring message that nicely encapsulates the band's sonic and spiritual missions.
-- Joey Guerra | August 30, 2007
Local singer Robbie Seay says he would "give anything" to sing like Ruben Studdard.
"Are you kidding me? What a voice," Seay says. He says the second season of "American Idol," which Studdard won, "was my favorite season of all."
The Houston-based Robbie Seay Band leads worship at Ecclesia, a "Holistic Missional Christian Community" on Taft. But the band's music is being heard by millions on TV. In December, Fox began airing Idol teaser commercials featuring "Rise," the first track on the band's rousing "Give Yourself Away" disc.
"This song is about a calling beyond just ourselves, to give ourselves away to those who are suffering and in great need," Seay says. "To have that kind of message being broadcast every night on network TV is more than we could have ever dreamed."
The band's label, EMI/Sparrow, got the ball rolling. They pitched the band to Idol's producers and got a bite. There currently are four ads running daily, most during prime time, featuring the song, the band's name and the taglines "Which Idol will rise?" and "Who will rise?"
Rise will be used in Idol commercials for at least another month. And who knows - it may end up as ubiquitous as Daughtry's "Home" and Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" were in previous seasons.
"We obviously hope they continue to use the song," Seay says. "But if not, we're grateful to have been associated with such a great program."
Seay says he's most excited for longtime followers of the band.
"You know, it's fun for our fans to have this kind of exposure happen to the band," he says. "We're a bunch of normal musician punks living in our hometown of Houston, enjoying life and music and family. This has just been such a great thing to have happen to our band and community of supporters around the country."
The band will tour throughout the spring before returning to Texas for a string of shows on college campuses. Another song, New Day, was featured in a recent episode of the CW drama "Life Is Wild."
Though the Robbie Seay Band's Idol triumph came without any harsh criticism from Simon Cowell, Seay says he'd welcome the chance to get a, ahem, rise out of the famously critical Brit.
"I'd almost love to have him go off on us a little bit, because those are the most entertaining moments of the show, sadly," Seay says.
"My friend Mandisa was on the show, and he said some things about her that were not cool concerning her appearance or whatever. So I've got my own bone to pick with Sir Simon."
-- Joey Guerra | January 16, 2008