Mon, 26 Oct 2009 08:59:31
Flyleaf's Lacey is not a rock star.
She's something much more important.
In fact, Lacey's got the potential to be the voice for an entire generation. With poetic lyrics and powerful, poignant and passionate vocals, Lacey sings truth over each note that Flyleaf plays. Fans connect with every line, and Lacey gives as much as she can constantly. At the same time, she's beyond humble, affable, caring and friendly. Spending time with her is warmly comforting and inspiring. She's got an incredible story of triumph, and she can easily relay it. On Flyleaf's sophomore album, Memento Mori [Due Out November 10 via A&M/Octone], Lacey and her band mates open up a whole new sonic world for listeners. Like a book, each moment segues into the next and tells one story. It's quite unforgettable too…
Sitting in Privato, a posh restaurant inside West Hollywood's LeMontrose Suite, Lacey balances excitement and humility about her band's new masterpiece. Over peanut butter and jelly French toast and French fries with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Lacey discussed Memento Mori, the most important moments in her life, learning from The Jets and Metallica and her favorite thing in the world…
Memento Mori sees each member of Flyleaf personally delving deeper than ever before. How does it feel to listen to the album now?
I think that's exactly it! It's really cool you pay attention like that…We're a lot more "self-examining" in the sense of recognizing things that we didn't recognize before about people around us and ourselves. The album feels really heavy when you listen to it from start to finish but, in the end, there's so much encouragement to be hopeful, march ahead and live the best life that you can.
That's important for kids to hear these days.
That's the whole point of us staying together. If we weren't doing that, we would've broken up 500 times [Laughs]. We miss out on things because we're in a band, but the goal is more important. Flyleaf has been together for seven years—since some of us were in high school. We've been through at least seven gigantic life changes in each member's life. Every year, someone has had a huge life change. We're learning how to deal with each other, and we have that focused goal of giving the kids something hopeful to believe in. We want to make sure we don't waste the opportunity that we have.
Your fan base is extremely diehard. What's it like interacting with them after shows?
It's the best part of what we do! It's really amazing to get letters from fans, and that's how we hear their stories most often. However, it's better to stand in front of them, hear them pour their hearts out and get to hug them afterwards. We can say we're proud of them and tell them their story are amazing. They can help a lot of people with their stories if they will rise up, step over it and learn from everything. The best thing about doing what we do is that the kids are listening and you can speak blessing over them. You can say, "You're amazing, and you're meant for amazing things! You're gifted with influence—you can see it from how your friends look at you." If you see that in a kid, you have to say it. Maybe their parents never told them; maybe they never knew that, and they'll take that more seriously that they're influencing people. To hug them and tell them, "Go and do something amazing" is the best part of getting to do this.
A lot of kids are looking for meaning, and they want music that speaks to them and speaks for them.
TV accidentally parents kids. I love kids so much. I was the second oldest of six kids, so there were four under me that I took care of. For my whole life, all I knew was kids. My favorite thing was watching them grow and develop a new skill. It was an amazing feeling know that I was the one who taught them how to tie their shoes [Laughs]. When I was in junior high and high school, I remember learning things from Metallica. "Holier Than Thou" taught me about self-righteousness. I started to find it in people, and the lyrics would play in my head. I remember being taught about being an anti-rock star by Kurt Cobain. He'd say something like, "They care so much about their hair and their clothes. Everybody get out of the hallway we're rock stars!" That really stuck with me. I thought, "Wow, there's someone so hugely influential and he's just like me!" That was one of the reasons why I wanted to name our band "Passerby" in the first place. That was our first name, but it was trademarked so we had to change it. On the first record, the whole idea was to relate with kids and say, "We're just like you. We're no different. We have a story and we're on stage, but you have a story and you need to use that however you can to learn, to teach and be comforted so you can comfort and to go through trials so you can help someone else go through them."
That's what Memento Mori will do. Two standouts are "Missing" and "This Close." What's the story behind those songs?
I love "This Close" the more that I listen to it. It's fitting because I'm going through a completely new season in my life where I don't know who I am anymore [Laughs]. A lot of things that I held on to and had convictions about are shifting. I realized I've been judgmental in certain areas and I have to soften up about them. It's not that the convictions are changing, but the striving to control is changing [Laughs]. I'm not going to try to control the circumstances around me like I felt I needed to before. It's a really relieving feeling to know that God's in control and we're not. Sometimes it means our hands are off. You make decisions that you think with all of your heart are right, move forward and then you find out that they're wrong in the end. That will really shake your sense of your own identity. You have to clean up a bunch of mess, deal with the aftermath, give it all to God and say, "Please heal my heart and teach me the difference between right and wrong." That's where we get tripped up the most—really believing in a heart that can be deceptive sometimes. If you've ever had your heart broken, your heart will sometimes deceive you and make you blind and foolish. In the end, you have to be honest and say, "I don't know who I am anymore." Admitting you don't know anything is the closest you'll ever get to being real [Laughs].
When you can admit that you don't know, that's when you start to know!
[Laughs] Yeah, it's interesting! You hear that from older people all the time. Now it makes complete sense. When I get older, I'll realize that I don't know anything, and then I'll be where I'm supposed to be [Laughs]. It's weird.
Is "Missing" thematically similar?
I think so. Sometimes you go in one direction, you're sure it's right, and it's not [Laughs].
Everything feels so connected on the album. How did you approach a song like "Beautiful Bride" where there are so many styles and transitions?
The record was written in a disconnected way, but it came together to tell an amazing story. I feel like it flows in that sense of moving you through lives that all end up saying the same thing. Life is short. With "Beautiful Bride," the way it fit together was magical. It wasn't thought out. The feeling was there.
Do you have notebooks filled with lyrics?
[Laughs] Yeah! They're not all lyrics though. There are a lot of lyrics, but some of it is just me sifting through my brain.
How do you sort through all of that? What goes into Flyleaf and what do you keep for yourself?
That's a good question…I try to picture how our audience will interpret it. If it's okay for them, then I'll use it. If I think they'll misinterpret it, then I won't. There are songs that don't have any resolution sometimes. You sit down with your guitar, you feel like crap and you just have to sing something. You have to play the guitar as hard as you can with four notes and just sing a million words over the top of it. Sometimes, there's no resolution to it and there's hopelessness. I don't want to tell that to people, unless at the end of all that rambling, there's a resolution. There's enough to make us sad out there. Ecclesiastes is like the most depressing book in the Bible. One of the lines in there is, "All is vanity underneath the sun." That line is in the bridge of "Missing." For me, purpose comes from faith, and if that wasn't there, everything would be pointless. I am amazed that people who don't believe in God have the courage to live the way they do. I just couldn't do it. Sometimes things are good, and sometimes they're not. Sometimes things are hopeful, and sometimes there's no hope. When I was 16, I was an atheist and I was going to commit suicide. Miraculous things happened, and God proved himself to me, which was grace and mercy. That doesn't happen to everybody. If I said I was alive for any other reason, I'd be lying.
You give fans something positive as a byproduct of what you're doing.
Exactly, you can get caught up in something you have to do like your work. You say, "This is my purpose," but when it's over, what do you do? My purpose is whatever I'm in today. God will just give you enough light for the step you're on. Even before I was in the band, the whole time I was a janitor, a waitress or a babysitter, I felt like I was doing what God told me to do that day. Writing is not my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing to do is helping people.
How did you get into music?
When I was younger, I really liked pop music. I knew all the songs on the radio. Since I was little, my mom used to impress her friends and say, "Hey Lacey, who's playing?" I'd know it was Sade, Stevie Wonder or whoever was playing. I picked up on melodies really quickly like that. I didn't have any profound connection with any music though. I loved Mariah Carey because I thought she had a pretty voice, and I loved Janet Jackson because of the way she danced. I learned her dances with my friends [Laughs]. My brother and I loved that song "We Built This City on Rock N' Roll." I liked pop groups with no purpose other than you could dance to them. The Jets were my first favorite band [Laughs]. My best friend had a poster of them when we were five-years-old. Even since five, music was so important to me. In kindergarten, I remember listening to The Jets. They had this song called "You Got It All." It was amazing [Laughs]. There's this girl singing it, and I always had this picture in my head of her out on a tree—on a limb somewhere [Laughs]. That's not really what happened though, and I don't think that's what she meant. Then I moved on to New Kids On the Block. I loved Jordan Knight! He was my favorite! We did a show in New York for a radio station with them. My brother is ten months older than me. He went to a Nirvana concert in 6th grade. He got a Nirvana tape there, and my mom made him leave before they trashed the stage. He was mad about it, but my mom had a really great respect for Kurt Cobain. Kurt stopped the show and said, "If I see another guy grab a girl, we're going to make you listen to feedback for two hours." My mom was impressed with it, so she let us listen to Nirvana even though she was suspicious about rock music in general.
Was Nirvana especially important?
Well, my brother came back from the show with Nevermind, and I had the only boom box in the house. He came in my room to play the tape, and I left it in there. I started listening to it, and I loved to unfold the tape and read the lyrics while I was listening to it. That was the first time that I ever heard music with that kind of passion. The sound of it was so amazing to me. Then In Utero came along, and I fell in love with it. I started listening to old Metallica. We lived in Arlington, Texas, and Pantera was huge. They were our hometown band. That's where my heart was. I wanted to move into music that had the groove of R&B, but it was heavy and impacting. Then Korn came out and changed everything. I really learned that music can teach you stuff about your soul, who to be, what's good and bad and what's right and wrong.
On the first album, you really came out swinging with something to prove. Do you feel like you can just be Flyleaf now?
It's funny because at the listening parties we've done, I realized just how much I like the record [Laughs]. It's really cool and diverse. I think a lot of kids needed what we did on the first record. Memento Mori really is us. We were one-hundred percent behind everything.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…