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Rising punk band takes serious its influence on younger fans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Stellar Kart front man Adam Agee sees the value in the influence factor his “punk pop” band has developed after years of leading worship during youth camps and other church events, and he traces his ability to set an example back to his father’s impact on his life.

The band, whose home church is Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Glendale, Ariz., got its start by interacting with teens as the featured band for youth gigs.

“They’re fans for life after that. They really look up to us for some reason, just because we’re in a band,” Agee told Baptist Press. “Obviously there’s that responsibility we have to be leaders, but we love that. We would rather have them hanging out with us than a bunch of other people that would influence them the wrong way. It’s so cool because it’s an automatic way to tell them about God, about why we do what we do.”

And when teenagers look up to the band members, they’re likely to believe everything the band has to say, Agee has concluded. With that in mind, Stellar Kart tries to be transparent in the way they live their lives and point to Christ as the most important figure.

“We tell them about the mistakes that we made when we were their age and the things that we went through,” he said. “We just try to help them through those years that we went through, and hopefully they can be kind of in the place we are now spiritually a little earlier in their lives.”

Band members Agee, Jordan Messer, Tay Sitera and Cody Pellerin are all in their early 20s, so they’re young enough that teens will listen to them but old enough to have a few more years of life experience behind them.

Agee credits his father, Bill Agee, with setting a Christian example he and the band try to emulate. Bill is head of national church planting strategies with the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., now, but for the first 15 years of Adam’s life, he was a pastor.

“He started a church in South Dakota. That’s where I was born,” Adam said. “Then we moved down to Norman, Okla., where he was pastor of another church. Then we moved in the middle of my eighth-grade year out to Arizona, and he was a pastor at a church there. Then we moved down to Phoenix my sophomore year, where he accepted the job as the director of missions for the Central Association of Southern Baptists, which is about 100 Baptist churches in the Phoenix area.”

Through all that moving, Adam got to see his dad at work in various church leadership situations and what he observed led him to respect his father as a faithful and wise church administrator.

“He started a church from scratch in South Dakota. They just put an ad in the paper and said, ‘Here we are,’” Adam recounted. “That church grew and did extremely well, and everywhere he has gone he has either started a church and made it do real well or he’s taken a church and turned it around from something that was either plateaued or dying to something vibrant.

“Everywhere he went, he preached the model of always being about starting other works — not being the one huge, inclusive church but really outward focused and ministry focused — serving others through the church instead of just coming to be entertained at church,” he added.

Bill leads by serving, Adam said, which is a concept that is sometimes lost in today’s world despite the fact that Jesus led by serving constantly during His ministry.

“Whenever He would wash the disciples’ feet or talk to anybody. It didn’t matter — He was here to serve. I think that’s what my dad has done,” Adam said. “He’s just served the people of the church ahead of his own needs and tried to figure out what was best for the body as opposed to what might be the best for his situation.

“I think that directly translates into leading a band. If you have a band full of guys that are willing to put themselves last and put the band and the other members before themselves, I think it’s going to succeed,” he said. “… It makes life so much easier if you just ask everyday, ‘What can I do for you?’ instead of ‘What can you do for me?’ It’s amazing the way that attitudes work out and conflicts disappear whenever you have that unselfish attitude.”

Adam said his father has been the band’s biggest supporter for a long time. Each time the guys threw themselves into songwriting and thought they had come up with a quality piece of music, Bill would cheer them on and let them know he believed they could sign a record deal. He even took on a large part of the financial burden of getting the band off the ground, Adam said.

Stellar Kart’s debut album, “All Gas. No Brake,” debuted earlier this year on the Word/Curb/Warner Bros. label, and singles such as “Student Driver,” “Spending Time” and “Life is Good” have climbed the charts. The band, which has drawn much of its inspiration from the legendary Christian rock group Audio Adrenaline, took part in the “Strong Tower Tour” with Kutless and Barlow Girl this year.

Many fans want to know where the band got its name.

“We were doing a youth camp in California and one day of the camp all the kids and us went to a go cart track and miniature golf course,” Adam said. “And we had just gotten signed [to a record label] and needed to come up with a band name. Jordan had thought of the word ‘stellar.’ He was like, ‘Stellar is a really cool word. We should use it in a band name.’ And so Stellar Kart just came up and we were like, ‘That’s got to be a band name. It can’t be anything else.’ Nothing deep or anything. It’s just fun.”
For more information, visit www.stellarkart.com.

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  • Erin Curry