Known to many as the original lead vocalist of the award-winning, multi-platinum rock band Flyleaf, vocalist Lacey Sturm‘s life story is one of true inspiration.
An atheist for most of her youth, Lacey struggled to overcome the perils of depression, at one point contemplating taking her own life, till the day she found religion, a change she credits for saving her life. Through her newfound beliefs, Lacey overcame most of her demons and went on to front the highly successful band Flyleaf, before becoming known as a highly successful author and accomplished solo artist in her own right. Since that time Lacey has used both her music and her writing to spread a positive message, and help her fans and followers overcome their own demons.
This past month Lacey released Life Screams, her first solo album as a recording artist. Already well received by critics, the album netted Lacey the incredible accomplishment of being the first solo woman to top the Hard Rock albums chart. Read what she had to say in our exclusive interview below.
AW: Congratulations on the great chart placement of Life Screams! So far the album is performing rather well both critically and commercially. I just found out earlier this week that you’re the first ever solo woman to top the Hard Rock albums chart. That’s a fantastic accomplishment! How does it feel to have your first real solo effort be so universally well received?
Lacey Sturm: I think it’s amazing! It’s crazy because honestly, we put this album out because we were having a bunch of fun with a bunch of people that we really cared about. The idea was that we wanted to put it out there, and if people loved it that’s great, and if they didn’t, well at least we love it. But it’s been amazing to watch people LOVE it! Because it really is genuinely from our hearts and it’s been an amazing process. It’s been so free, and easy and so much fun.
AW: Stepping out on your own when you’ve been known and recognized as the face of a band for so long can be a scary thing, did you have any fears or anxieties going into writing this album as to how your longtime fans would receive it, or were you excited and confident from the start?
Lacey Sturm: The pressure was not there. I didn’t have the pressure of trying to please a record label, or even of having a bunch of money poured into this, because we really just invested in it ourselves because we believed in it. We started a record label with our management who were friends of ours, years before we ever worked together professionally. So there’s this really open level of communication and freedom to be ourselves. There was no pressure there.
As far as the fans go, we stayed in contact with the fans through other things. Like I was able to write a book, and go on a speaking tour and I blogged a bit and went back and forth with them. So the heart of hearts behind why I do music was always still available. Because really it’s about the message for me, and about letting people know that they’re worth something and that the worst things in life can turn into some type of glory if we look for it, and press through. I’ve still been able to communicate that message, even without the music, but I think that music is just such a great way of communicating that same message, you know? Obviously, I could do it through writing, but music is what got us here, so it’s cool to be able to do that again.
AW: Do you feel that the time you spent away from actively focusing on music and how you chose to spend it influenced your recent projects and writing?
Lacey Sturm: Definitely! It definitely did. Like you said, I think the creative process is the most freeing when you’re just doing it because you love it, and so stepping away from music and finding my identity as a new mother, and seeing that nobody has ever loved me like my babies love me, it’s such a different thing. To have your children love you and just to know who you are in that moment, you don’t need to get your validation from fans, or from critics, or from record labels or from anyone because those little people love you so much [laughs], and it’s just so freeing! So that’s just beautiful and special to me that the fans have been around and have been supportive the whole time, and the heart behind has stayed the same. I didn’t feel any fear behind whether they were going to receive it well or not, because it was just genuine.
AW: What’s it like for you and Josh being parents of two young boys and touring? Is it difficult sometimes juggling your touring life with your personal life?
Lacey Sturm: Well we haven’t toured much, but I did a speaking tour a few years ago where I talked about my struggles with suicide and depression and I spoke for about twenty minutes a night, and afterward my kids would be going to bed. And I realized this is actually the thing that helped me know that I would be able to tour and be a mom at the same time. I went out on this tour and I had no meals to fix, and no house to clean and I actually spent more time with my kids on tour than I ever could at home. So it was an amazing thing to find out, and I remember Josh my husband, and I realizing “yeah we could do this”, we just gotta keep it small and make sure it’s a solo project, that way we can make our own schedule and we don’t have to worry about keeping the momentum going or the cash flow. Because we get to do that for ourselves and we won’t need to accept everything that comes to pay everybody else’s bills. We’ll just keep it a solo project and we’ll take things according to what works with our family. So it’s been awesome!
“I think that’s what this album is supposed to be: life in the midst of the wilderness. It’s also a symbol to me of changing perspective…”
AW: Yeah, and now that you mention it, part of your band you’ve put together includes your husband Josh. What is it like sharing a band with your husband of nearly 8 years?
Lacey Sturm: I wouldn’t do it if he wasn’t doing it [laughs]! I feel so safe. It’s a similar thing like what I was saying with my kids. My husband, he’s on my team, he’s on my side. If the whole crowd starts throwing tomatoes at me I can look at my husband, and I know who I am. It’s easier, and it’s freeing. Of course, there’s times it’s harder, because if we were fighting about something we have to work it out before we get on stage, so we can be honest and be friends when we go out and do that. It makes our relationship I think closer than we would be than if we were not working together. Because you can just kind of get over it and let things roll over and get on with your different jobs. But if you work together you need to fix that! You need to work it out!
AW: The album art for Life Screams is interesting, with you situated inside of the raven. What is the symbolism behind the album title, and what is the album art intended to represent?
Lacey Sturm: Well the raven to me is a symbol of provision. They find food in the middle of the wilderness and I think there are a lot of people out there who feel like they’re in the wilderness, and I think that’s what this album is supposed to be: life in the midst of the wilderness. It’s also a symbol to me of changing perspective. Because a lot of people will associate a raven with death but I think it’s interesting that they find life out of that place, and that they actually thrive in the wilderness as well. So it’s a change of perspective for me, and that’s what I hope happens for people who listen to the record. That they have a change in their perspective too, and that the things they looked at as death before can turn into something good. That they can look at life as being helpful and that if we can look at our life and learn from it, and grow from it, and think of it as a gift instead of a trick, that I think we can see so many things that we have to be thankful for and grow in so many ways.
AW: Your music has always been deeply personal and very heartfelt. To me, this album is no exception. Were there any songs that you found difficult to record, and which was your favorite to work on for this record?
Lacey Sturm: We recorded the dialogue for “Vanity”, where a friend of mine named Propaganda who’s a spoken word artist and a hip-hop artist was in the studio with us. And I remember my son was sitting on the couch and he was playing on his iPad and I told him “now mommy is going to yell really loud and we’re going to fight back and forth, but it’s just acting, it’s not real…don’t worry”. I remember him looking at me with big eyes and listening to us argue and that was kind of a difficult moment because it felt weird to me. I’ve seen many people that I love go through abusive relationships and you know, I try to tell them that this isn’t good for you and then they just hang on to it. I’ve been in abusive relationships like that as well, and that was a hard moment but also really powerful in the sense of feeling like it was important to show how things seem so beautiful in one moment, but when you’re outside of the situation, you can see that it’s all worthless. That no matter how beautiful it may seem, if it’s destructive and worthless, then it isn’t worth your time. We do that with so many things. We do it with art, we do it with poetry, we do it with music, we do it with relationships and even humor. People come up with things that are completely irreverent or just garbage, and we accept it because it’s witty, or because it’s funny, or because it’s cheesy or beautiful in one way or another. When really it’s worthless.
AW: You became a part of a wonderful organization a few years back called The Whosoevers. How did you become involved with that organization, and what personal significance does it hold for you?
Lacey Sturm: Well The Whosoevers is a family, and I think that’s what they would say, that ‘we’re a family’. I think one of the worst things about the Christian faith and the Christian church is that they don’t appreciate or honor each other as a family. We attack each other and we don’t like each other. We don’t act like family, and we don’t have an honor between us. There may be differences that we carry, different perspectives, different callings, and however else we may be different – but God gave all of us each different DNA. So why would we all be the same? What The Whosevers stands for is that it welcomes ‘whosever’ and encompasses family. Yes, Sonny from P.O.D. is a whosoever, Brian “Head” Welch from KoRn is a whosoever, and I’m a whosoever, but so is that kid at the high school down the street who wears a whosoever shirt and who understands what we stand for. That’s the idea.
When I first heard about The Whosoevers it was because Chi from Deftones had gone into a coma from a car accident, and we [Flyleaf], P.O.D., and KoRn had all toured with Deftones several times at different times. We all had our different relationships with Chi, and we – [voice breaking] I’m sorry, I feel like I’m going to cry – we loved him. We loved him as a man, as a person, but also just for his ambition. He was a hero in some ways. The Whosoevers started because we wanted to make a movement to pray for him. We wanted to raise money for his family because they were running out of money. Well, he finally ended up coming out [of the coma], and his sister would read him a bible every day. He was doing very well, and then very quickly he ended up passing away. But that really brought us together as a family, and permitted us to tell our stories, because when somebody passes away, or they’re about to pass away, it just sort of puts life in perspective. How much time do we have? How about the people where we have their ear, how much time do they have? And what will we do with it that influence?
So we told our stories, and how God lets you get through different things. We told about the gospel we know, how God can forgive you of your sins. How there’s Heaven after this, and to live life forever, for whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. So that was our message.
“How much time do we have? How about the people where we have their ear, how much time do they have? And what will we do with it that influence?”
AW: You’re going to be very busy the next few months touring around to different music festivals. What’s the most exciting part about getting back on the road for you?
Lacey Sturm: Well, performing is amazing. I love getting to perform, and I love getting to bring my kids into a place where they can watch us rock out. We’re going to go into some dark places and see some dark things, and I want to be able to teach our kids to go into the dark and be the light there, and not feel like they have to run from it. That they can actually shine, and I’m excited to teach my kids that and see what kind of adventure it brings our family into. I’ll also get to connect with the fans again, and hear their stories, and see how the new record is impacting them. I’m excited to tour with Otep too, I’ve never actually met her and I’m excited for that adventure.
AW: What can fans expect with this tour coming up?
Lacey Sturm: We’re definitely going to be playing the new album, and if there’s time we’re going to be playing a medley of Flyleaf songs. All the hits we’re going to play, and we’re going to play a medley of bits and pieces of them. But if you want to see Flyleaf, you have to go see Flyleaf because if they’re touring we’re not going to play Flyleaf music to ‘be in competition’ with them. We don’t want to do that at all. We’ll play ‘All Around Me’ and ‘Chasm’ was actually written by my husband and I together so we may do that sometime as well. But we’re definitely going to rock out! It’s going to be live, and there’s going to be a lot of love, and a lot of life and energy, and if you need that? Then show up and you’ll get it!
AW: Anything else you’d like to add for your fans checking in on this article?
Lacey Sturm: Yeah! We’re going to be doing a lot of things this year. We’re going to be playing a lot of shows, and I have a book coming out in October. I’m also going to put out a merchandise line pretty soon which is inspired by inspiring artists and influencers that I’ve met along the way. That’s going to be out pretty soon; I’m not sure exactly when but it’s called Tattoo Alternative and all my stuff will be up on our website. So please check out the website laceystrum.com for what’s coming up and for when we’ll be near your hometown!
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