“We spent two years working on this album and couple of times we thought we were finished we scrapped the whole thing and started over again, so we put really our heart and soul into this record and really came up with something that we’re really inspired by and we think something our fans will really appreciate…”
From release: Out of the Wasteland is the work of a group that has some history. Los Angeles-based Lifehouse broke through in a big way when “Hanging by a Moment,” from their debut album No Name Face, spent 20 weeks in the Top Ten and won a Billboard Music Award for “Hot 100 Single of the Year.” Since then, the band has released five more albums, sold over 15 million records worldwide and spun off such hit singles as “You and Me,” “First Time,” and “Whatever it Takes.” Lifehouse is one of the most played artists in the history of Hot AC with 1.5 million spins and over 1.4 Billion Pandora Plays to date.
At home in LA for the moment before hitting the road we chatted to Jason Wade of Lifehouse about the band’s new album ‘Out of The Wasteland’ and its creation, becoming independent, touring, playing with Bon Jovi, Jude Cole, the chance of touring Australia, and much more…
Now your new and forthcoming album is called ‘Out Of The Wasteland’ can you tell us about the title and what it represents to you?
You know I think ‘Out Of The Wasteland’ for me just represents a new era for the band, when we started this in 1999 – 2000 we’ve always been on a major label and this is the first time that we’re independent since the inception of the band and it feels so nice to just really take our time with the record. We spent two years working on this album and couple of times we thought we were finished we scrapped the whole thing and started over again, so we put really our heart and soul into this record and really came up with something that we’re really inspired by and we think something our fans will really appreciate, just the overall sounds and textures and it really feels like returning to our roots in a way and just to have full creative control and not to feel like we’re in the back seat of our career and that you’re really driving the ship. I think that’s what the main reason for calling the record ‘Out Of The Wasteland’ is.
With this album in the two years since ‘Almeria’ did you have a set idea of how you wanted it to come together or did you let the process naturally evolve when creating it and let it somewhat put itself together?
You know what? I think it kind of put itself together, taking a couple of years and really having no pressure in the studio, I wrote over sixty five or seventy songs and by the time I brought the band in to help me put everything together it really seems like a collage of everything that we’ve recorded over the last fifteen or sixteen years. There’s textures on this album that span all the way back to the beginning and there are some songs that feel like they’re an overflow of the Americana feel of ‘Almeria’ and there’s some really amazing kind of acoustic moments with a string quartet that are really stripped down, so I think there really are peaks and valleys on this record, it’s not just one song over and over.
I found that with ‘Hurricane’ it was like listening to ‘Hanging By A Moment’ again, it just felt like an instant Lifehouse song…
Yeah and it’s so funny man because in the past I feel we’ve always shied away from that, we’ve never wanted to be one of those bands that has a hit and just redoes it over and over and over and over again, we’ve tried to really stretch out and explore some different sonic landscapes, but it was nice after fifteen years to just come back to something that felt like home, so it was inspired by that first record.
Was there a main motivation or inspiration behind the songs on this release, or did you just let it flow with the sixty thousand you wrote?
*laughs* It was little of everything I’ve always written songs from my own personal experiences, my relationships, my view or vantage point of the world, but to be honest there’s some songs I’ve written for some friends of mine that have been going through some turmoil when it comes to relationships and I feel as an artist it’s somewhat unhealthy to always create that kind of turbulence in your life to draw inspiration from so I’ve had to learn over the years when I’m in a good, healthy headspace to try to go outside of myself and go get inspired whether by another song, or a movie or a book or somebody else’s life, it could be from a family member, or a friend, or just kind of sitting on 3rd Street in Santa Monica and just watching people go by and making up a narrative about other people’s lives…
I do have to ask about Jude Cole as he’s a favourite artist of mine…
Oh no way! That’s great!
Obviously he’s been associated with you guys for quite some time, but what does he bring to the band musically that still amazes you to this day?
It’s funny because when I first met Jude I was fifteen, maybe sixteen years old and it was right during the time when he was transitioning from being an artist to wanting to be a manager and producer, and at that point he was just our manager and we had never collaborated until maybe four or five years down the road, and I had no idea how talented he was to be honest, I wasn’t familiar with his music until way later, until I was in my mid-twenties and we started writing songs and we wrote the song ‘You and Me’ together, and that kind of solidified our song writing relationship, and we’ve been writing ever since. He never ceases to amaze me how amazing he is as a producer and as a song writer as well, it’s such a luxury to have a manager that understands the business but also understands the creative process too.
Well feel free to tell him there’s a guy in Australia with his entire back catalogue and loves it…
*laughs* I will, I’m sure that’s going to mean a lot to him *laughs*
So, how do you feel as a song writer you’ve grown over the seven Lifehouse albums?
I think that my process has kind of evolved and mainly by necessity. I think that starting out on acoustic guitar, you can only write so many songs on an acoustic guitar before you start going to the same places, the same melodies start coming out, so I’ve had to augment my process and I try to sit down at the piano a lot more just because it’s a foreign instrument to me, I feel I can come up with things that kind of jog my creativity and little bit and get outside myself a little bit. On this last record just using this studio as a blank canvas, using modern textured and pro-tools, I’ll go into the studio and mess around with a bass part for an hour, or a rhythm or a drum loop and just start layering texture after texture and then watch the song just tackle shape. So I try and do anything that’s a little left of centre now just since I’ve been doing it so long just to try to come up with something that’s a little bit outside my comfort zone.
I personally just wanted to say thanks for ‘Hanging By A Moment’ and ‘Everything’ to this day still two of my favourite songs…
Oh thank you, man.
No worries, and with ‘No Name Face’ being as big as it was, what do you think it is about songs like that that just stick with people?
I think that it had to do a lot with timing… when I wrote those songs it was a such an amazing energy that we had in the studio, I was only seventeen or eighteen years old at the time, I was in such a raw, vulnerable position in life where I was just experiencing everything at a really heightened level, and music was kind of my therapy and my outlet. So everything I just channelled that was happening to me in my younger days and I just put everything into that album and I think that’s why it resonated with people because it really was raw, it was at a really honest time in my life where I was able to be vulnerable and put myself out there and I think that’s why it still resonates with people.
Obviously being on Smallville wouldn’t have been a deterrent…
Yeah that definitely helped *laughs*
What are some of your best memories from when it all took off for you with that first single?
I remember three thing, I remember being in San Francisco and playing ‘Hanging By A Moment’ for one of the first times with the band in a dingy Irish pub, downstairs and there was literally nobody there, and our label representative went outside and started bribing people with free beer to come see our set, he got like twenty people in there. That was like one scene, then literally two weeks later we’re on the side stage of the Pearl Jam tour playing in front of thirty or forty people, and then just like that all of a sudden ‘Hanging By A Moment’ exploded and we’re opening up for Matchbox Twenty in front of twenty or twenty five thousand people and it all happened in a matter of months, so it was a really surreal time.
I wanted to ask about Australia because much to the sadness of a lot of people you didn’t make it over in 2013, but do you think we’ll see you back anytime soon?
Yeah… You know we’ve been bugging our agent for the last ten years to bring us back to Australia, we had such an amazing time the first time we were over there we played with the Goo Goo Dolls, and Nickelback and I think Billy Idol, and man we had such an amazing time, but I think it’s hard to get a promoter to book us to go down there for a full tour, but we’re really close, I talked to Jude about this a couple of days ago actually and there’s a 90% chance we’re gonna be making it Down Under next year.
You’ve also just announced a European tour, what else can the world expect in the way of seeing Lifehouse live on this record cycle?
Well hopefully we can make it to Australia, there’s other pockets we’d like to explore, we’ve never played Brazil before and I think that’s the third amount of facebook followers we have is from Brazil, so there’s certain pockets in the world we’ve never really made it down to play for the fans, so we’re looking to kind of get out of our box and go explore and play some new places.
Is there anywhere besides Brazil and of course Australia that you really want to get to?
I’d like to go back to Japan, there are certain spots in Europe I’ve never played, Austria would be amazing, Prague would be amazing, but we’re just looking forward to playing some new places.
Now with being an independent artist, is it a lot easier for you to get out there without some restraints from labels telling you where you should go?
It is, yeah, especially now with technology it’s a lot easier to connect with your fans one on one through Twitter, Instagram and facebook, so we just have to find out where the pockets of fans are and find a way to make it down there to play for them.
Let’s look back to the start, fifteen years ago when ‘No Name Face’ was released, what do you see as the biggest or most notable change that’s taken place in the band to get you to where you are today?
Well we had to go through some really tough growing pains where a couple of members just weren’t really happy, our original bass player and guitar player Rick’s brother quit in 2004, so we made the third album, the one that had ‘You and Me’ on it with just me and Ricky, the drummer, we just decided to carry on and figure out how to get another bass player at a later date. As soon as Bryce joined the band in 2005 I feel like that really solidified the chemistry between the three of us, we were all on the same page and it felt like we were all sixteen or seventeen year old kids playing music and I still feel that same energy. So I think a lot of it has to do with that chemistry between the three of us.
Other side of that is I always like to ask someone who has been in the business for a while, what’s the biggest realization you’ve made about the industry as a whole that you didn’t expect to be a part of it when you started the band?
When our first record came out and just kind of went gang busters and was selling through the roof it seemed like everybody wanted to be your friend, everybody at the label would return your phone calls and as soon as our second record came and just tanked basically *laughs* you really find out who your friends are, everyone just kind of vanished and I think that was a really telling moment, very poignant moment for me, realising that to never take any of this stuff for granted and you really find out who your friends are when you don’t have a song on the radio and those are the ones that you want to bring along for the ride with you, because it seems like when you’re successful there’s a lot of fair weathered friends, so you’ve got to watch out for that.
I truly don’t understand the thing with the second record and songs like ‘Spin’ and ‘Take Me Away’ could’ve and should’ve been huge…
Thank you, yeah there are some really good tracks on that record, it just didn’t hook up for some reason, but you know what? I feel really grateful that it didn’t in a way because it gave us perspective, if that record was huge who knows where we would’ve ended up? I would’ve, I don’t know, I just feel like it’s a really healthy thing to feel the polarities and not always have a level of success because it builds character you know?
So, what do you still enjoy about being in Lifehouse?
I love the camaraderie that we have as a band, we’re getting to a fun age *laughs* where we really enjoy playing the show, but going out and finding amazing spots to get a great dinner, our drummer Ricky is a huge foodie so he’s on Yelp! all the time trying to find us the best that the city has to offer. So we’re kind of getting into that whole thing, experiencing the city that we’re in at the moment instead of just playing the show and just going back to the tour bus or back to our room. We’re really trying to absorb the culture wherever we’re at.
Now I have to mention it as I was there in 2002 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London when you opened for Bon Jovi…
Oh no way! Really?! I remember that show like it was yesterday, it was crazy! That was the first club show that Bon Jovi played in years, right?
Yeah it was… so what was that experience like?
It was surreal, man, so we were all like twenty two years old, and just imagine a twenty two year old kid opening for Bon Jovi *laughs* and getting to hang out with them all backstage, all of us were just completely start struck, it was such a surreal thing. You know, I think we’ve gotten a lot better since then, we were all still really green back then *laughs*.
Is there a message that you want to get across to people with your music?
You know, yeah… especially on this record we really want to convey the fact that we first of all are so grateful to be able to play music for a living still, I think that has exceeded all of our expectations you know? I think our main message right now is that we want to preserve that magic spark that we had in the beginning, that love for song writing, that love for honest lyrics and if anything got convoluted along the way or getting lost in a major label setting I feel like we’re 100% back to the purity of just making great music and keeping the business completely on the outskirts and just making that white noise.
I always find when I speak to people that have moved away from a label you can almost feel a sense of relief, because although it is a job they also do it because they love it and when they can do it themselves they love it even more…
Oh yeah man, and you start to forget how much you love it when you keep turning music in and a label will say ‘oh you don’t have a first single’ that can wear you down after a while to where you start to make music almost in a way of just trying to get through the gatekeepers or something, and I feel that’s a self-destructive thing for a band to go through, and to not have to do that anymore is great because I think the fans can really feel when the band’s inspired.
Well it does come across on the new record, I feel it flows perfectly.
Oh thank you, man, I appreciate it.
Lastly, let’s look ahead and predict the future so finish this sentence for me… by the end of 2015, Lifehouse will…
Come back to Australia…
Best answer yet…
I hope so, man, trust me, we talk to Jude about this all the time, like man, when are we coming back to Australia?
Well people were super disappointed you didn’t make it in 2013, so here’s hoping…
Well do you know what happened to us, we were all supposed to go, we were all super excited to go and the promoter guy didn’t pay for our flights, we were supposed to go two days earlier and there were no flights *laughs* yeah it was a total mess. That was like our one chance to get there, but you know what? In hindsight, I hope we can come back and actually put on a good show because I don’t think the production there was that great either…
That’s all I’ve got, so thanks so much for your time, Jason…
Thank you so much for the interview, hopefully we’ll see you soon. I’ll tell Jude he’s got some fans *laughs*
Lifehouse have since announced an Australian / NZ tour, check out the tour details below:
October 11, 2015 – Metro City, Perth, Australia
October 13, 2015 – The Gov, Adelaide, Australia
October 14, 2015 – Tivoli, Brisbane, Australia
October 15, 2015 – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
October 16, 2015 – Big Top (Luna Park), Sydney, Australia
October 19, 2015 – Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, New Zealand
Presented by Metropolis Touring – Get your tickets HERE
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Band members: Jason Wade – Vocals, guitar, Bryce Soderberg – Bass, Ricky Woolstenhulme, Jr. – Drums
Latest release: Out Of The Wasteland – (26th May – Kobalt Music)