Young upstart leads Lifehouse

Rock tends to be the domain of older musicians, so it is unusual for college kids to tour with prominent rock icons. The truth is that many young bands are out touring, and The Hatchet recently spoke with a young musician whose band is doing just that.

Jason Wade, 20, is singer, songwriter and guitarist for upstart California alternative quartet Lifehouse. The Hatchet caught up with Wade just before the sound check for Lifehouse’s show at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio last week.

Lifehouse is currently touring with Matchbox Twenty and Everclear. On tour, members of Lifehouse look to reach out to audiences that may already be familiar with their hit single “Hanging by a Moment” and expose them to the rest of No Name Face (Dreamworks), the band’s most recent release.

Although the shelf life of new rock bands like Lifehouse can be short, Wade said he believes the band has a bright future.

“In my eyes, we’ve already exceeded expectations,” Wade said in an interview. “But with the popularity of the Korn’s and the Limp Bizkit’s, I think we have our own niche. We’re not as hard and as fast as bands like Korn, but were not as soft as Matchbox Twenty. I think we appeal to an in between audience”.

“Hanging by a Moment” plays regularly on D.C. 101 among other alternative stations nationwide. It’s a catchy love song, poured straight from the young frontman’s heart. And even to cynical ears, the chorus is a tempting singalong.

To combat the stasis sometimes found in the alternative genre, Wade said he plans to change the band’s formula on the next album.

“Our first album is kind of gloomy, it really connects with certain phases in my life, like my parent’s divorce,” Wade said. “I think our next album will be more up-tempo, we’re going to look to have a little more fun with it”.

Hopefully, with this attitude, Lifehouse can avert the tragic demise that struck so many other alternative flashes in the pan, such as Nada Surf and Days of the New.

The success of No Name Face has thrust Wade, along with his Lifehouse band mates, Steve Mathis, Sergio Andrade and Rick Woolstenhulme, into an excellent position to work with the established heavyweights of the alternative genre. Veteran producer Brendan O’Brien mixed all 12 tracks of No Name Face. O’Brien, generally recognized as a maven of the mixing board for his work with Matthew Sweet, Pearl Jam and a host of others, won high praise from Wade.

“He is simply amazing, he mixed three tracks a day,” he said. “In my opinion he is the best mixer in the industry.”

Despite the glossy sheen of a love song such as “Hanging by a Moment,” songs on the band’s debut album cover a range of subjects, including the predominance of religion in Wade’s formative years.

Wade’s parents were Christian missionaries who carried him off to far corners of the globe such as Hong Kong. Wade said he recognized the negative effects of religious life.

“I still attend Christian church back in California, but I also had a lot of negative experiences with the church,” Wade said.

This pushed him to concentrate more on the spiritual rather than the dogmatic, he said. The spiritual search is boldly evident in songs such as “Trying”.

Lifehouse’s uncanny knack for linking up with veteran talent follows them on the band’s current tour. Wade offers nothing but praise for fellow tour mates Matchbox 20 and Everclear.

“They put on such an amazing show, every night,” he said.

The professional attitude exemplified by the two headlining acts could rub off on the relatively inexperienced members of Lifehouse as they play 40 cities in 55 days. Aside from professionalism, Wade said the groups have a lot of fun.

“Those guys are always hanging out with us, trying to make it really fun and personal for us,” Wade said.

But not stereotypical rock-star fun, Wade said. When asked about the rock-star lifestyle, he simply laughs.

“Actually we’re pretty anti-rock star,” he said. “The biggest thing we’ve been excited about lately was the Playstation we just got on our tour bus”.

Humility seems to be one of the band’s strong points.

“We try to just keep our heads level and not party too much,” Wade said.

Although he is not living that rock ‘n’ roll fantasy of depravity, Wade is only 20 years old and playing full-size arenas all over the United States and Canada. With such wide exposure so early, Lifehouse may be on its way to becoming a rock icon itself.

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