Lifehouse has received the golden ticket. With their big hit "Hanging By a Moment" and kicking off their first headlining tour, will the band cash it in? Or will they drop it?
Battling racism and indifference in Hong Kong and dealing with the divorce of his parents when he was too young, Jason Wade of Lifehouse talks about what helped shape his music and his life.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata sat down with lead singer Jason Wade and talked about their plan for success.
Livewire: Why the name Lifehouse?
Jason: Um, well first of all band names are always super tough. I'd say it took us seven months to come up with one. Before Lifehouse our band name was Bliss. We had a ridiculous amount of names to pick from before we chose Lifehouse. It's about what we do as a band and for me personally. Most of this record is about my life and about life's circumstances. Not only my life, but other peoples' lives. We thought Lifehouse was a good name for it.
Livewire: Did you guys have any goofy names your were throwing around?
Jason: Yeah, we were trying to get alternative like, Element 86 and all these other numbered names. Another name we were going with was Thread, like hardcore rappers. It was already taken by a rapper though. (laughs) They're all taken by someone already.
Livewire: "Hanging By a Moment" put you on the map. What is your recipe to keep the train rolling and not become just a one hit wonder?
Jason: Um, technically I don't think that you can be a one hit wonder until your next record. (laughs) We still have some time to buy. I'm thinking that a lot of the label people might want us to recreate the same record and that's creatively not what I want to do. I want to keep growing musically and the next record that we put out I want to have a different flavor than this one. I'm not in to just recreating the same music because it's done well. It's really sad because so many bands find a formula and are afraid to leave it. I like the bands that keep evolving and growing - like a Radiohead or the Chili Peppers.
Livewire: Did the success of No Name Face take you by surprise?
Jason: It totally took us by surprise. I had a bunch of people around me basically telling me the facts of like there's a 100,000 records that come out every year and only 1% percent make it. Don't expect anything even if you're on a major label. I was kind of under the mentality of I was gonna hope for the best, but prepare to really work my butt off. I'm like, I'm just going to tour for a couple of years and get a good fan base, whether the radio picks it up or not, I'm not going to pay attention to that and then all of a sudden it just took off. I'm of that mind set and you appreciate it more when it happens. You don't take anything for granted.
Livewire: I asked that same question to Dryden Mitchell of Alien Ant Farm a few weeks ago and he essentially said the same thing.
Jason: It's funny because Alien Ant Farm opened for us in Seattle like right after their first kind of mini hit on alternative radio and they were all like super nice guys. I was thinking, I hope these guys break and now a couple of months later they're everywhere!
Livewire: Your lyrics seem more open to interpretation. Do you think that's better than telling your fans exactly what you think?
Jason: Yeah, I think that I can tell my fans my perspective, but I like to first of all give them the option to how they are going to translate the lyrics. Everyone comes from a different place and I like to leave it open. A lot of my lyrics, I still quite don't understand. They might come to me two years from now, but right now they're lyrics on a journey that give you a head start on where to go. I thinks those are more special.
Livewire: It was tough for you living in Hong Kong when you were young wasn't it?
Jason: Yeah, it was. It's one of those things I try not to regret anything in my life. Everything negative or positive kind of shapes who you are. It was a difficult time. Basically I was seven years old living in this little village in Hong Kong, a really poor village, the kids just hated me and my sister because there was all this weirdness between them and the British. You know they just kind of piled us in that category. We got a firsthand look at racism, really. I came back to America with a new appreciation for different cultures and different people. It made me sad that America has so much prejudice built in throughout it's history.
Livewire: Did these experiences and the divorce of your parents influence your songwriting?
Jason: Big time! I'd say about half and half. Half of it was kinda like being in this place not really knowing where I was or where I was going, like when you're that young and your parents split up, all foundation is lost, really. You have to go out on your own journey and find out where to go and what the best direction for you to go is. I think, both of my parents obviously had some disagreements. One side would play you one thing and the other side would play you another thing. You basically have to decide where you want to go because there's no real connection anymore. I think a lot of my songs have those questions that I'm trying to figure out for myself. Asking myself what I think I should do. I think a lot of kids can relate to it because it's not normal for a family to be complete. A lot of kids come from broken homes.
Livewire: What was it like growing up in Seattle in the early '90s when grunge was taking hold?
Jason: I was a little bit too young to appreciate it. I really got into music after the whole movement happened. I really got into Nirvana and Pearl Jam after I moved to Los Angeles.
Livewire: How old are you?
Livewire: You sound pretty road weary for such a young age.
Jason: Thank you.
Livewire: What are your musical influences?
Jason: Over the last couple of years I've really fallen in love with the older music. The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John - great songwriters. I'm attracted to singers - songwriters and if they happen to be in a rock band - cool.
Livewire: What music really annoys you today?
Jason: Um, to be honest with you the pop used to, but I've kind of taken an objective position in that. I actually listen to it because as soon as our song crossed over into the top 40 radio I started to listen a little bit - just to hear our song. I mean you're up against Nelly and Mandy Moore, Backstreet Boys and all this music. I find a lot of it to be quality stuff, really catchy and really sugary. I've learned to step back and see that there's a place for all music. That's why top 40 is kinda cool because it really has a little bit of everything and I just look at it as you can't argue with 14 million screaming little girls. (laughs) There's just too many of them. I think it's so interesting that we have so many young fans. They can like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys and still like Lifehouse.
Livewire: You grew up next door to bassist Sergio Andrade. That's kinda cool you guys formed the band and stayed together.
Jason: Me and Sergio were best friends a long time before we even started thinking about doing this thing for real and we met a drummer and started this little three piece garage band. It didn't really sound that good in the old days. It was pretty bad. We actually had to get rid of our drummer. When we got close to getting a record deal and things started picking up and happening, it was a sad thing, but when some people get close to succeeding they actually get scared. He was of the whole Valley Guy mentality. Just playing in his garage, not doing anything and not having a job. He didn't want to work hard, so he just wouldn't practice or anything. The label started seeing some weaknesses in our drummer, so me and Sergio had to make the decision to let him go. We got Rick, about a year ago, he was the complete opposite of John, our old drummer. Rick is like a monster, jazz player, rock player. he went to school and like he lives and breathes drums. That's all he does. personally, I think he kind of balances the band out.
Livewire: Anything funny happen to you guys on tour with 3 Doors Down or matchbox twenty?
Jason: I think it's pretty funny Sergio actually wears this beanie on stage, it's basically like his thing or whatever, the beanie went over his eyes and at this one show he couldn't see anything and jumped up so high and totally fell down on stage and I looked over at him and the beanie's still over his eyes and he just kept playing.(laughs) He was trying to play it out like it was planned. Me and Rick just kept laughing. We could barely keep the song together.
Livewire: Now that you're a sex symbol is it hard to keep the groupies away?
Jason: (laughs) That's good to hear. Even though there's a lot of girls that are real crazy, everyone kind of respects the fact that I got married six months ago. I think most of the fans are respectful of that. Obviously, you get some that are just out of their minds a little bit. For the most part our fans are kind of level headed.
Livewire: Any plans for kids in the near future?
Jason: Probably not for awhile. Touring and being this young is probably not a good idea.
Livewire: You're kicking off your tour in Milwaukee. Can your fans expect anything new?
Jason: We pretty much haven't been able to give our fans the whole show, you know because we've been opening for other people. A lot of peoples' favorite songs on the record we haven't been able to play. So basically we're going to be playing every song on the record.
Livewire: Any new tunes?
Jason: Yeah, we're going to play some new tunes that have developed over the last couple of months. I'm always writing on the road, so hopefully we'll be able to get some feedback from the fans.