“It’s been a long time since we’ve had this kind of passion…” hmv.com talks to Lifehouse
When Los Angeles-based pop/rock combo Lifehouse release their seventh studio album Out Of the Wasteland today (June 22nd), you can bet the band’s members will allow themselves contented smiles for a job well done... and a mistake narrowly averted.
The new album - arguably their best and unquestionably their most sonically ambitious – represents a return to form for the group best known for their monster single "Hanging by a Moment,” which went on to become 2001’s most played song on radio.
Prior to Out Of the Wasteland – and despite all their commercial success - Lifehouse had hit the wall. Singer/songwriter Jason Wade planned to cut a solo record. Drummer Rick Woolstenhulme was touring with the Goo Goo Dolls, and bassist Bryce Soderberg put together a new band called KOMOX.
Yet as Wade tells it, he had “a moment of clarity” that made him realize Lifehouse was where he belonged and the solo thing, while constructively diversionary, wasn’t the best use of his creative efforts. A happy regrouping commenced and the excellent new disc was forthcoming.
Indeed, if Out Of the Wasteland isn’t one of 2015’s most celebrated albums, there really is scant justice in the world. It’s that good. That Wade has one of those inimitable, and instantly recognizable voices only reinforces power of the new music.
On the line with hmv.com from New York, a disarmingly candid Wade discusses the new album and why making great music really is all that matters.
Do you typically have a sense of how new records will be received before they’re release?
“To be honest I don’t. I gave up on that a long time ago. I just try to focus of making sure the album is good and the band is proud of it. That’s really all we can control.”
Give me some adjectives to describe the new record.
“Probably inspired. Passionate. It feels like the band is returning to its roots in the sense of being really excited about getting back into the studio and creating something and then taking it on the road and playing it for a year. It feels like it’s been a long time since we had that passion. We were getting burned out after a decade of touring.”
To our ears, this album seems almost bipolar – moments of pure joy and moments of real melancholy in equal measure.
“I’d say that’s a fair assessment. I think we didn’t want the album to be just one thing. It’s a pet peeve of ours when bands just do the same song over and over. It was imperative for us to maintain that passion for playing music and also to explore different sonic landscapes and not just stay in the same place. Also, there were 70 songs written for this album so there were plenty of different textures to pick from. There’s some Americana, some acoustic moments with some string arrangements, some pop moments, some rock moments. We thought of this more as a kind of collage of our work over the last 15 years rather than just one texture.”
Some of the songs on the record began as songs you were planning for a solo record, correct?
“Yes. I was in a year-long process of thinking I was making a solo record which gave me the freedom to kind of get outside our genre a bit which was a good thing. But I had a moment of clarity when I was about halfway through the process and starting to put a band together for the solo thing. I realized it wasn’t for me; the thought of going on the road with new people was too much like starting over. I love being in this band and these guys are like my brothers. So I realized a lot about myself. I might put a solo record out but I am never going to tour it. Lifehouse is definitely what I want to focus on.”
Sometimes we have to veer left to realize we want to go right, huh?
“For sure. Doing some side projects, taking a break and just getting off the tour bus for a while was really great for all of us. The simplicity of that rejuvenated us.”
The song 'Hourglass' from the new album is just stunning. What’s the story behind that?
“That song is very interesting. It was written by our manager and co-producer Jude Cole along with James Newton Howard 20 years ago. James Newton Howard is one of my favourite composers. I heard it a few years back and fell in love with it but it didn’t have a title, so Jude asked me if I wanted to help finish the song. I said I’d love to. I put my vocal on the original demo, James loved it and played it for his wife and she loved it and wanted to be a part of recreating it. So we took elements of the demo and got to spend a couple of days with James and he did this amazing string arrangement. It’s very complex and one of my favourites on the record.”
It’s very cinematic. Speaking of – who should direct the Lifehouse movie when it gets made?
“Probably Cameron Crowe. Wasn’t the Pearl Jam movie amazing? Almost Famous is classic, too.”
Have any celebrities tweeted positively about you?
“Train, Daughtry. I keep waiting for love from Coldplay (laughs).”
Which record of yours would you put in a time capsule?
“I think the first record. It started everything and it seems like the one we gauge all other records by. It set a standard with our fans and it put us on the map. So yeah, No Name Face. I was going to say the new record but it’s so new right now. I feel like a couple of years have to go by before I can have an honest perspective.”
Are the stakes for success higher now (so much spotlight) or lower (nothing left to prove)?
“The pressure is off at this point. We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of success but we have seen both ends of the spectrum. We’ve seen a record completely tank and get dropped from our label, and we’ve seen a record explode on the radio and do really well. Nowadays, it just seems important to have a record that slows people down long enough to pay attention to it.
“There is so much music being thrown at people a million miles an hour and people have a collective ADD where they can’t stop and listen to a whole song. That’s the main goal – to get people to listen to the music and maybe come see the show live. But we’ve taken all the pressure off of our shoulders. We don’t really worry too much about having hits or having sales. We just want to make great music.”
Lifehouse's new album Out Of The Wasteland is out now and can be previewed and purchased on the right-hand side of the page.