“My world's upside down/And I wouldn't change a thing,” sings 22-year-old Jason Wade on “Spin,” the first single from his band Lifehouse's sophomore album, Stanley Climbfall (DreamWorks), and you'd think he was talking about the group's dizzying trip to the top of the pop heap.
After all, the then-threesome — which now includes bassist Sergio Andrade, drummer Rick Woolstenhulme and newest member guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme, Rick's brother — went from cutting its teeth at church fairs near their suburban L.A. home of Agoura Hills to virtually overnight success. The band's debut album, No Name Face, sold two million copies and produced the ubiquitous radio hit, "Hanging by a Moment," winner of the BMI award for Most Performed Song on College Radio.
But, as Wade points out, he first wrote "Spin" when he was 16 years old, more concerned with his parents' divorce than rock stardom. Lifehouse's first album was filled with songs of emotional and personal anguish, so the band's chief singer/songwriter decided to lighten up this time thematically. At the same time, the music has become edgier and more prog-rock, with an array of different guitar sounds introduced by long-time producer Ron Aniello, who discovered the band, and noted mixer Brendan O'Brien.
"One thing I'm doing this time is not trying as hard,” says Jason shortly before the album's release. "I think I spent almost too much emotion and energy on the songs for the last record. This time, I put the recorder on the table, had a melody and just kind of let the lyrics come to me naturally, without thinking too much about them. It's about letting the song happen as opposed to trying to write it."
Sergio, who co-founded the band with Jason when the one-time neighbors discovered a kindred spirit for guitar-heavy, melodic rock, acknowledges the newfound freedom earned from their success allowed them to experiment in the studio. "We knew what to expect this time. We understood how the process worked. That allowed us to take more charge of things and focus on how to really make this our own."
The group has honed itself on the road by touring with matchbox twenty and Pearl Jam. Jason says the band has developed a chemistry and signature sound they didn't really have before, using sound checks to work out the material for the new album.
"We wanted to strip it away and make every single part count, let the song come out and breathe," says Wade. "Every single thing on there has to matter. When you take things out and just let it be organic, then, all of a sudden, the sound becomes a lot bigger."
Even more than the band's music, though, what has attracted such a devoted flock is Jason Wade's combination of heartthrob appeal and his uplifting messages of faith, belief and spirituality.
"That's my favorite part of it," he says of reaching people through his music. "Because it makes me realize I'm not crazy. I'm not alone. If I touch someone or help someone, it does just as much for all of us."