As a kid, Roy Ice didn't like the piano. He wasn't too fond of the accordion either. The guitar was okay, but it lacked something. It wasn't until a high school friend introduced him to another instrument that he
finally fell in love. "The moment I picked up those drum sticks, I knew that was my instrument," he recalls.
What began as an interest became an obsession. Without a drum kit, Ice would play on bar stools and upside down trash cans for practice. Once he got his own set, he couldn't pull himself away. At one point, he was
playing nearly 40 hours a week, with blistered hands to prove it.
It was in 1996 that the obsession paid off. As a seminary student at Andrews University, Ice and fellow student Tim Gillespie—now a pastor at Loma Linda University Church—began
holding auditions for a Christian band. After adding two members and the name The Electric Fisherman, they began writing music. Over two Sundays, they wrote 15 songs.
With performance opportunities trickling in, the group needed to determine their precise purpose. "We knew it had to be more than just entertainment," Ice says. Recent studies had revealed teenagers'
difficulty understanding God's grace, and they felt convicted to bridge the gap. Helping young people understand the nature of grace became the message of their music. With that also came a new band name: Big Face Grace.
With the duties of a developing band added on to their seminary studies, multi-tasking became vital. While traveling to shows, their 12-passenger van became a practice studio. They plugged amplifiers into cigarette
lighters, removed the benches to fit Ice's drums, and had Gillespie drive so he could sing. Neighboring motorists could hardly believe the sight.
Pulling good grades on top of that was a near magic trick. "We would return to school in the early hours of Monday morning and try to take a test or turn in homework," Ice recalls. Miraculously, all graduated.
Understanding God's grace was never an issue for them.
Following graduation, their prominence grew and so did controversy. Acceptance from the Adventist church was not immediate, and many in the Midwest were unreceptive to the concept of being both contemporary and
Christian. Big Face Grace was aware, and, rather than avoid the tension, made it their secondary goal to provoke discussion of whether God allowed for such a blend. Ice remembers staying focused on their purpose.
"I thought, 'My job is not to create controversy, it's to create Christians.'"
After signing a record deal with True Tunes Rhythm House, the time commitment and travel increased. They went all over the United States and Canada, including several appearances at Spirit West Coast, and did two
separate three-week tours in Australia. Following a two-week tour in Finland, one entertainment reviewer wrote that after watching Bon Jovi perform two days earlier, Big Face Grace was a better show.
Several of their songs reached the top ten of the Christian music charts, including one number one hit. One of their songs reached the charts after their producer made it into, of all things, a dance remix. BFG was
unaware of the song's success until they saw it in a Christian music magazine.
Following one show in January 2004, the group sat at a table signing merchandise for over four hours. It was then that the members realized they had grown uncomfortable with the direction of the band. "There was a
time after the shows when we were having deep conversations with kids about Jesus Christ and His grace, but the world had started to outgrow those two questions that were the founding messages we started with," Ice says.
A few days later, after lots of prayer and discussion, Big Face Grace took a performance fast. They canceled all of their upcoming shows and decided not to play again unless specifically called to by God.
Each member continued their pastoral work from there. Though spread out in different churches, they have remained close friends, even performing a few times for various benefit concerts. Reunions remind Ice of the fun he
had for those eight special years. "I miss it when we get together and play," he says, "but it's a lot of work to truly do a professional performance. What I really miss is laughing so hard I never had to do a sit-up."
Ice's time as the talented drummer of Big Face Grace will always bring a smile to his face, and a moment of pride. "My proudest moments aren't the hits or a song solo or a place we performed," Ice remarks, "I'm most proud of the
fact that we generated discussion. I feel like we made a difference."
12 Things to Try While You’re Still Mortal: A Survival Guide to the Herebefore (2007)
In the book, Roy shares 12 tangible practices “that will help you feel God’s presence as He guides you to the beginning of your real life.” It became #7 Bestseller on Amazon Kindle Religious Books February 2010.
Michael [Knecht], Tim [Gillespie], Roy [Ice] and Sam [Leonor] all went to grad school together at
a small University in southwest Michigan. They worked together on many different projects, but music was a priority to all of them. Michael, had been asked to organize the music for a community event targeted
toward teenagers. Michael played guitar, Tim sang and Roy played the drums. The crowd went wild. The chemistry was incredible and the musical relationship continued. There were folk influences in the music, but the
cohesiveness of the group soon yielded an eclectic yet distinct style. The newly formed band added Sam as bass player and Jason, an undergrad at the University, as another guitarist. They quickly began booking gigs,
however, had yet to decide on a name. The first name settled on was "the electric fishermen," which lasted about as long as their first concert. They quickly changed their name to "Big Face Grace" and it worked.
The adventure had begun. BFG has now toured Australia, Finland, much of North America and parts of Canada. They have thrilled audiences that ranged in attendance from 3 people to 11,000 and venues from barns to stadiums.
BFG music has been featured on MTV's Road Rules and ABC's Making the Band. Their CDs sound great, but to really experience BFG you must see, hear and live their live show.
Big Face Grace performed for the BRANCH vespers program last friday night in Johnson Gym. During the hour-and-a-half concert, the Christian rock band, composed of four current and former Andrews students,
played songs from their new CD, Face the World, and some other unreleased tunes.
"Bus Stop," the opening track from Face the World, got things rolling.Drummer Roy Ice started pounding out the rhythm and soon the rest of the band (
Tim Gillespie, lead vocals and guitar; Mike Knecht, guitars; and Jeff Wright, bass joined in on this song about the Prodigal Son. A professional multi-media presentation
illustrating each song was projected onto a large screen at the back of the stage throughout the concert. ...
The audience of mostly college students didn't quite know what to make of having a Christian rock concert for vespers. Sometimes they clapped to the rhythm, but most of the time they sat politely listening to the music.
Gillespie finally got the audience to stand and clap toward the end of the concert during songs like "Ani's Song" and "That Wing."
After playing the audience singalong "Big Fish Manasseh," the concert ended on a deeply spiritual note. Big Face Grace led the audience in several more praise songs and the Holy Spirit could be felt as Jesus was
exalted as Lord and Savior.
MTV recently used “The Way” and “Floored” on their very popular show “Road Rules.” ABC’s “Making the Band” also featured two Big Face Grace songs, “Halo” and “It’s Not Enough.” The band sees this exposure as evidence of
Divine direction in their lives. “We weren’t calling MTV, we weren’t calling ABC,” said drummer Roy Ice. “It seems like every time we just relax and we’ve gone through times of fasting and praying -- real soul searching
prayer -- it’s during those times that we’ve seen these great jumps.”
4 of 5 original band members are pastors in the Adventist Church:
Jason Hutchinson (guitars)
Roy Ice (drums/vocals), Pacific Union College Associate Pastor and College Chaplain; Youth Ministry Loma Linda
Sam Leonor (bass/vocals), La Sierra University Pastor
Michael Knecht (guitars), Pastor at Crosswalk SDA Church Redlands, CA
Tim Gillespie (vocals), Loma Linda University Youth Pastor
Face the World (1996)
Take Me with You
Woo Hoo, Hey Hey
One Left Waiting
Smile (TheButabi Mix)
The Way (Rapid Reposition Mix)
Samples from Big Face grace Live at Crosswalk, Easter 2010 etc.