Review The Artist (17)
"I don't have it all figured out," says 20-year-old Lifehouse singer-guitarist-songwriter Jason Wade. "You learn so many things every day, and it's overwhelming sometimes trying to see how it all fits together. I'm starting to realize that each day is a different road and a different journey, and you don't have to have it all figured out; you don't have to have all the answers to everything right now."
One of the things Jason hasn't figured out is how Lifehouse - which also includes bassist Sergio Andrade and drummer Rick Woolstenhulme (self-described "guitar guy" Stuart Mathis, who played on Lifehouse's early demos, joins the band onstage) - went from playing a few college shows to sharing the road with Pearl Jam, Fuel, Everclear and matchbox twenty.
Perhaps even more incomprehensible is how this recently obscure Los Angles band scored a #1hit on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, with "Hanging By A Moment," only ten weeks after the release of their debut album, No Name Face (issued Oct. 31, 2000, on DreamWorks Records). Jason, Sergio and Rick were equally incredulous at the appearance of their song "Everything" on the popular TV show "Roswell."
"It's all been unbelievable," Jason says of Lifehouse's success thus far. "We didn't expect any of this, but we're so grateful to have so many people hearing our songs. I really can't explain how it's happened."
In fact, the trio's frontman is hard-pressed to explain most of the unexpected twists his life has taken. His early years in Camarillo, Calif., for instance, would suggest an all-American boyhood, but then his family began touring the Far East, visiting Japan, Thailand and Singapore before moving to Hong Kong. Moreover, he admits to having little interest in music until his parents split up and the songs just started pouring out of him.
"This record deals a lot with self-discovery and breaking out of whatever your parents or your boss or whoever thinks you should be, says Jason of No Name Face. "It's about trying to find out for yourself who you're supposed to be - your purpose, your destiny in the world."
Reluctant to discuss his lyrics in detail, Jason feels they are infinitely open to interpretation. "That's the great thing about a song - a lyric may mean something totally different for someone else than it does for me and still be just as valid," he insists. A case in point is album closer "Everything": "We've been playing it on tour and when kids come up after the show, it seems like they always tell us how much they love that song. They don't really know what it's about, but they hear something in it that connects to them personally. That's why you don't have to tell the whole picture in the lyrics; you give a road to start on that people can relate to."
Jason understands firsthand how bleak life can seem without something or someone to relate to. "When I was a kid and we lived in Hong Kong, we lived in a small village and the people there hated us," he says. "They thought we were witches bringing trouble to their neighborhood. They lit firecrackers at our door every morning, and they actually stole our cat, cooked and ate it! I was totally scared and freaked out and I didn't have any friends."
After four difficult years, Jason's family moved back to the U.S., to Portland, Ore. Asked why, he ventures: "My parents had a lot of issues. But they wouldn't allow me to see the problems in their relationship. Our family was always peaceful; there was never any fighting or anything. We looked perfectly happy from the outside. It was like 'Pleasantville.' The worst part was that I couldn't acknowledge anything was wrong, so I couldn't do anything about it. I felt completely powerless."
By the time he was 12, Jason's parents had divorced and he'd moved with his mom to the Seattle area. He spent most of his early days there alone in his room, pouring his heart out in poetry. "I was experiencing all the pain anyone feels when their parents get divorced. It opened up all this stuff," he confides. "But it also opened up this creative outlet for me. It's funny, because I was never a musical kid - never took lessons, never really listened to the radio. But I suddenly just started writing lyrics and coming up with melodies. We lived in the woods, and I'd take these long walks and the songs would just start happening."
Jason's mother had been musical. "My mom always had a guitar lying around the house," he recollects. "I finally just picked it up and learned how to play a few chords." Having found some solace in music, he eventually began reconciling himself to his new circumstances and settled into his new home.
This phase of his life ended, however, when his mother decided to relocate the family to Los Angeles. "I didn't want to move at all," he attests. "I'd finally made all these friends, and Washington had been a really a comforting place for me during the divorce. I thought it would be home forever."
So, at 15, Jason moved to L.A., where he hooked up with bassist Sergio Andrade and began blossoming as a songwriter. "I really didn't know anyone. Serge lived next door and we had a lot of stuff in common, like playing basketball and running," he says. "He'd just started playing bass, so we hung out a lot. We spent all our time jamming out in the garage, writing songs and helping each other get better."
Originally from Guatemala City, Sergio left his homeland at age 14 to move to California. He, too, had a musical parent. "My father played piano," he confirms, "and I ended up playing keyboards." He gravitated toward rock, pop and Latin styles, also playing trombone and flute in the school orchestra.
Sergio later switched to drums and then bass, becoming somewhat obsessed with the instrument - "All I did was play bass," he says. "I knew Jason was a talented guy, but that wasn't what mattered to me," Sergio continues. "I was still learning English and really didn't know anyone. I just wanted to be involved in music and make some friends."
The two paired with a drummer (who has since left the group) and after honing their sound for a few more months, inaugurated a Friday night residency at a local school auditorium. The gatherings were casual events where the band was afforded onstage jam time (some of these jams became songs, among them "Everything"). "They had a really good P.A. system there and we could do whatever we wanted," Jason reports. "We got smoke machines and lights and basically turned it into this little club scene. Kids would come from all over, and we started filling the place up. At one point we were getting, like, 450 people out every week. That went on for two years."
Word-of-mouth about the band soon reached No Name Face producer Ron Aniello, who let them make some rudimentary recordings at his home studio.
Drummer Rick Woolstenhulme also heard about the band through the grapevine. Born and raised in the Arizona farm town of Gilbert, he says he was one of those kids who was always pounding on things. "My mom plays piano, my dad plays piano and guitar and my brother plays guitar," Rick relates. "I guess they decided I was the next musician in the family, so they got me this beat-up old kit and I started taking lessons right away." Rick went on to attend The Los Angeles Music Academy and has played drums and percussion ever since.
"I was playing with this other group," he says of his earliest, accidental exposure to Lifehouse, "and Jason and Serge were practicing in the next room - I'd bump into them in the hallway." A while later, someone suggested to Rick that he check out a band called Lifehouse, who were looking for a new drummer. "The name didn't ring a bell for me. Even after I officially met these guys, we didn't make the connection right away," he recalls. "It was a couple weeks of 'I've seen you somewhere' and 'you look really familiar' before we figured it out."
Remarks Jason: "It was one of those weird coincidences. As soon as we met and started playing with Rick we knew he was the guy. It just clicked. We'd all go to the beach and Burger King and just do nothing together. We knew right away it was going to work." Attests Rick: "It was really smooth - I just sort of snapped on."
Sergio says of the band's collaboration: "Jason would usually have the song written before he'd bring it to us. Then we all kind of arrange it together. The way we work on songs feels really natural, which I think has a lot to do with us being tight as a band and as friends."
Aniello saw the progress Lifehouse was making but felt the band needed more time to develop before recording an album. So Jason kept on writing, and the trio continued to rehearse intensively and play gigs, including some at local colleges. Comments Sergio: "We went through a lot of phases trying to find our own sound. We learned from our mistakes. We'd see tapes of ourselves onstage and go, 'This is horrible.' But we'd just say, 'Okay, we gotta fix it,' and go back and practice some more."
Jason stayed in touch with Aniello. Two years passed, and then he played "Breathing" for the producer. "He got really excited about it," Jason says, "and he played it for his friend Jude Cole, who's our manager now.
"I was blown away by what I heard," says Cole. "Here were these teenagers skateboarding around their tract-house neighborhood and banging out this really deep music in the garage. I was totally moved by 'Breathing' - it was the kind of song that captures a moment in time, the kind you always remember where you were when you first heard it. Jason was only 17, but he already had that incredibly resonant voice. I was also impressed by his writing and guitar work. He had an instinctive understanding of how to create a mood. Even before Ron started playing me their other stuff, I knew I had to work with this band."
Cole immediately called DreamWorks Records principal Michael Ostin, who had been Cole's own A&R representative when Cole was a recording artist. In 1998, DreamWorks funded Lifehouse's first real demos, which Aniello produced.
Many of these tracks made their way to No Name Face. "When we tried to re-record some of the songs for the album, we just couldn't get the same spirit the demos had," Jason says. "The demos had been recorded right after the songs were written and even though they weren't perfect, they were so real, so honest." "Trying," for instance, is fundamentally the same recording Jason made at Ron's home studio when he was 15, with one significant change: "I had to go back in and re-record my vocals for the album because my voice had changed."
The rest of No Name Face was also laid down mostly at Aniello's home studio. "Ron's studio is right down the street from us," Jason says. "If we'd been working really late, we'd just spend the night there. We'd wake up, have breakfast with Ron and get right back to it. He's been like a father to me in a lot of ways, and the whole recording process had this homegrown, family feel that made it so easy to be creative. I wrote 'Hanging By A Moment' in the studio while we were finishing some other stuff."
Jason's trust in Aniello helped make these sessions a learning experience. "I came in wanting it to be all slick and fancy," he concedes. "I was so excited to be in the studio making a record - I wanted every instrument and every effect on the planet. Ron said pretty early that he felt the record should sound organic, that the production should be simple and transparent. I'd have all these ideas, and we did use some of them, but after a while I realized he was right. The record needed to sound more raw."
This sonic edge was indeed the right complement to Lifehouse's emotionally charged songs. Evidence of that can be found in the thousands of calls placed to Modern Rock stations across America requesting "Hanging By A Moment."
"The best thing about all this is being able to stay on the road," says Jason. "We've been meeting new fans in cities all over the country. It's so cool to hear what they think about the music, and it makes me feel so good when they say that one of our songs has helped them get through a rough time, that they were able to apply it to their own life."
To be sure, this is the sort of opportunity only afforded a band on the way up. But Jason and his mates have had no trouble staying grounded amid all the hubbub. After all, it's not like they've actually met Pearl Jam. "We love Pearl Jam," Jason says. "Once we got over the shock of actually being on tour with them, we went backstage to hang out with them. But security would never let us through the door. We tried a bunch of times and could never get in. I'm sure the band didn't even know about it. And, of course, security had no idea who we were - we were just some fans."
Being "just a fan," a music lover like any other, is what Jason is and always wants to be. "My ultimate goal in writing songs is simply to connect with people," he says, "and I hope that comes across in everything we do."
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Keep On Keeping On | Reviewer: Adam Rock | 6/11/14
Honestly, there probably isn't too much to say other than these guys are just an all around stellar band with absolutely thoughtful lyrics that quickly get to the heart in almost every song. They know how to tone it up and get a good raw crunchy grind going and then they can get quite colorful riffs. And even after that, they'll still bring it down just a tad more to get to the acoustic songs. Great stuff, keep pounding it away.
lifehouse band is the best | Reviewer: sadie wallin | 1/7/13
i think that lifehouse is the best. i listen to you guys all the time there is not a minute of the day i dont. i cant stand that they dont play it on air i agree with all my friends it does suck. this band is the best i love the song choices. i love all the songs there is not one i dont like. i love you guys your the best.
Lifehouse Rocks | Reviewer: Alisa Karter | 2/25/12
I love Lifehouse. They rock. I've been listening to them over the past decade and beyone. Yes I know and respect that JAson Wade is married, but he was my fantasy teenage dream, my heartthrob, like Nick Carter used to be, they look alike. JaosnWade is hot, and even with his new albums he still rocks andhis new bleached-blonde California surfer boy look he still looks cool. I love their music and I can relate to itr. My parents divorced in my teens too, so Jasona nd me have alot in common. And a divorce is a very big iompact on any teens life. I write poems and songs about my parents divorce and play the guitar. Eventhough he is a ,male, he is emotionally my role model, in songwriting, lyrics, personality, and music playing. A very good and positive influence he is. HE isn't a drunk or a druggie like many other celebrities out there like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton (met them both) Mr. Wade doesn't seem to snobb either or follow hollywood trends. He's intellegent and likes to be himself. HE makes the band, as band memebers kept changing throughout the years of the decade from 2000-now I can believe they still survived like the chilllie peppers and matchbox20. No comparison though. And I see no comparison to Lifehouse and Pearl Jam, but I do see a comparison to Creed and Lifehouise though, rain drenching lyrics, emotional (emo)but not gothic or/and punk. Lifehouse inspires me, so does Alicia Keys, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Backstreet Boys, Anastacia, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Cher, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Shania TWain, Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swiftm Miley Cyrus and more. I'm not an obsessive Lifehouse fan, but I do hear their music on the radio everyday a they ar so popular. They are like a boy band, and a rock band. Their rock/pop tempo makes me dance in my soul, because I'm too shy and scare dto dancein public, infact I can't dance, though I can sing. Jason is so cool, he doesn't dance either. The ghuitar makes him even cooler, aqctually ice cold, no matter how he ages or how his looks changes for the good or the bad, I think the lyrics have great ettiquette and he gets his anger and emotions out on pen and paper in a healthy way. Since Hanging by A moment I heard in a car commercial - I think chevrley, I can compare to Americna Pie - by Don McLean, right away, I googled on AOL the osng and band, and I knew it would be an instant hit. When I firt heard it I thought it was the goo goo dools or third eyed blind, but no a new band that shall suyrvive the century. They will kepp making music my belief system tells me. Hanging by a moment, sick cycle carousel, halfway gone, fallin in are all one of my favorite songs. I like the rest, but those are my choices. Once I heard their music, and saw their music videos I knew they rocked and will rock our socks off, any Lifehouse haters or whoever disagreeese poo on you. Whoever agrees. Kudos 4 you. Plus Lifehouse beats Eminem, Katy Perry, Lady FGaGa, and omg erspecially JKustin biever who I hate more than anyone els ein the industry. Rihanna is cool. But I saw lifehouse live once in 2007in six flags while I saw Rihanna in 2006 in nothern star arena in six flags. Lifehouse sounds better live. They sound good on record too. They make the best of the videos. they don't have machines making their singing voices sound better and lip synching like Britney Spears and Jessica Simspon, no comparison whatsoever, whoever they are up against on the single top 40 charts, thneir music is a different planet from Britneys, were talking apples and oranges, and Pluto and mars. Lifehouse keep rocking on forever, I wish for you!!!!!!!!!!
~xoxo Alisa Karter xoxo~ rock on
awesome! | Reviewer: dio | 12/26/08
I really love the songs of lifehouse... I first heard their song in my friend's house and since then really see to it that I will hear their songs everyday.. It is really inspiring to hear such kind of songs especially the EVERYTHING, it leads me realizing that I am lucky to have God with me. Thanks to the lifehouse...
Beautiful people, brilliant minds | Reviewer: Jamie | 9/30/08
For as long as i can remember i have always liked Lifehouse's songs. There was never one i didn't like, or one that i didn't care for any less strongly then "i looovvee it!" I never really put it together how much i liked them until my friend ponited out one day "gosh, all you listen to is Lifehouse, you're obsessed!" i had never bought an album, never expressed interest in them outside of the songs i heard on the radio, all i knew was that i liked them. This summer i went their concert in Calgary, i sat 5 hours infront of the baracade for the best seat in the house. While everyone sang along to every song i just stood there - clueless as i soaked it all in, how they are such all around an amazing band, and that ever song was something i would never ever forget as long as i lived. The very next day i went out and bought all their albums and i haven't looked back since. Thank god for putting a little piece of Heaven on earth in the form of lyrics that come from the most brilliant of minds, i owe it all to you Jason Wade...
heaven sent | Reviewer: Donna Vaden | 4/6/08
I searched the internet to find out who the artist was that was used in the allstate commercial just because it sounded so beautiful. After a while I found it and more. After hearing the song "Everything" I thouhgt this must be a band that is on a mission to spread God's love. Then after reading the bio I realized maybe not. Maybe it is just music that could be interpreted that way. But I was a little disappointed because i hoped it was rooted in a love for Christ. I truly believe these words, this music is heaven sent and this band won't truly be blessed until they ralize and accept it and hopefully accept the Lord if they have not. For whatever it's worth, I choose to listen to this music and think of God's everlasting love for me and that I need nothing but to be loved by my heavenly father, and the rest of my life falls into place,
i was just wondering | Reviewer: steven | 12/5/07
I was ust wondering you guys could tour into albany NY. To the times union center. Iwould be the first to get a front row ticktet. Janson you are my idol. I wish i could meet you.Two songs that ive heard that changed my life is sick cycle carousel. That changed my life when my mom gave up all rights i kept on listening and eventually stopped crying.
love it! | Reviewer: roleth | 10/17/07
i can't help it! whenever i hear this song, i just want to sit down, listen and pray to God. it inspires me everyday. thanks lifehouse for the music! :) love it!
i'd do anything to meet them | Reviewer: monica | 7/15/07
this is my favorite band, l love all of their songs, i spend my time listening to their music, reading about them, looking for their interviews and trying to find friends who likes this band. I'm so lucky for i have listened to them and i was born in the same time they exist. I'm their biggest fan in the world!!! Unfortunately i live in a place where they'll never come...but i would die for them!!! :S well im kind of sad now 'cause i'll never meet them but i'll always love them and listen to their songs!! i love you lifehouse! thank you for existing
everything | Reviewer: Nikki | 6/24/07
Upon searching for a wedding song foe my wedding day. I came upon everything by lifehouse and it brought tears to mine and my fieancee's eyes and we know it was our song. Thanks
God bless lifehouse what would we do without you guys | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/19/07
i looooooooove lifehouse they are the best ever what they sing is so positive and really brings my spirits up especially when i'm having a rough day. i love a lot of there songs there all my favorite but one that just puts me at ease is breathe and everything it's like okay i know that things will be okay and God will help me find my way. lifehouse i don't know if you read all of your fans posting but if i can say one thing to you is thank you very much for being there for me thru your music you'll never understand how you've really helped thru the ups and the downs. God bless you always and forever because you guys are truely special with lots of love one of your loyal and grateful fans alwasy
dream | Reviewer: rachel | 6/15/07
i haven't really had the "rough times" that jason had, but, i got into a lot of fights in junior high. the girls at the school i went to were really mean, vindictive people. the way i made myself feel better was to work out, so, i would put my lifehouse cd in my portable cd player and go for a good long jog. their band was the only one that i could personally relate to, and it would make me feel better.
thank you guys so mush, i'm now 20, and doing great...you guys go me through a lot.
Lifehouse | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/9/06
Lifehouse are one of my favourite bands. They are so good. The song "everything" still gives me shivers when I listen to it. My favourites are Everything and Take me away. <3
what I've been thinking... | Reviewer: megan | 7/28/06
I first heard of Lifehouse in reference to their song "Everything", as a worship song. I assumed then most of their songs were inspired by God, and never has so many songs by one artist spoken to what my personal relationship with God is like, and what I want to say to Him... and also other experiences that we all have in life.
All I Can Say Is: Thank God For Lifehouse | Reviewer: Haylee | 11/22/05
When I walked into my usual CD store, I was expecting to buy my usual Green Day or Good Charlotte CD, but I happened to find Lifehouse's "No Name Face" CD. That was about two years ago, and many things have happened since then. My grandfather passed away, I met my boyfriend, and my best friend and I had a major fight. Lifehouse has a song for celebration times, sad times, and times you just wanna have fun. Lifehouse helped me with so many emotions, and sometimes I would just lie on my bed and listen, letting the music "clean" myself. "No Name Face" is my most well-worn CD, and it will always be my favorite. Thank you Lifehouse!
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