INTERVIEW: Lacey Sturm

Three and a half years after stepping down as singer of the platinum-selling Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm has returned to music, releasing her first solo album, “Life Screams,” on Feb. 12, 2016. Led by the first single, “Impossible,” the record features the passion, conviction and inspiring message of love and individualism—as well the unmistakable voice—that have won her so many loyal fans during the past decade. Lacey recently checked in with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to discuss “Life Screams,” her spring touring plans and more.

12191662_784366755006324_8323305373707741318_nLIVE METAL: Congratulations on the success so far of the new album. It’s off to a very strong start. I saw it was the first solo female album to top the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart. How does it feel to do that?

LACEY STURM: I think it’s pretty cool that they’re honoring us there, because it was kind of a hard decision. We knew we needed to do a solo album in order for this to work for our family. I remember asking my husband (guitarist Josh Sturm), like, “Who does that? Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, maybe?” I don’t know. It just sounded like something that might be difficult, so I’m so glad that we’re being embraced. It’s really awesome.

Your reasons for leaving Flyleaf a few years ago have been well documented, so we don’t need to rehash that. But why was this the right time for you to make a comeback, if you want to call it that?

Well, after I left Flyleaf, I tried to stay in contact with the fans. I answered emails and stuff like that. Some of the emails I got were so intense, just the things that people were going through. Sometimes I’d spend an hour just reading that one email. My husband was like, “Maybe you should write a book about the things you’ve been through, and that might help some of the kids here that are going through stuff that is similar.” So I was like, “That’s a good idea. I’ll write a book, and we’ll see if it works out.” Apparently, if you talk too much, you can write a book. (laughs)

So I went ahead and tried to do that, and it worked out, and then some people asked if we wanted to go a on a little tour where I kind of shared my story with people who were dealing with suicide, depression and stuff like that. I was really pregnant when they asked me, and I thought, “If I go on this tour, my baby will be 2 months old and my other baby will be 2 years old.” I was like, “I think I left Flyleaf so I didn’t have to go on tour.” But it was only gonna be a month-long tour, and I’m only gonna talk for 20 minutes, and it’s gonna be after they’re in bed, and I think it’ll be alright.” So I had no idea what it would be like.

12717638_830192813757051_5635161498848090949_nWe got on the road, and I didn’t have any meals to fix, I didn’t have any house to clean. I had so much time with my kids. I got more time on the road than I did at home with them. So me and my husband looked at each other, and we thought, “Well, maybe we can do this. We’ve been wanting to do music. Maybe we can go out on the road.” We realized that, actually, this can work and be good. I couldn’t even conceive of doing it that first year of being a mom. (laughs)

That’s why it was a really important decision for us to step away at the time, and it was really stressful for the band thinking about us, not knowing if we were gonna come back and do music, and just having to wait. So that’s why I was like, “If you guys want to get a new singer, you have my blessing. I understand you need keep paying your bills, stay on tour and keep the momentum going.” But we had to make that decision for our family. So once we got our feet under us and realized that it was possible, it’s time. (laughs) And it’s going great.

What was the writing and recording like? Since it is a solo album, did you take charge, take the lead in that process?

Yeah. We definitely made the album more about what was going on in me. Of course, with less cooks in the kitchen, it was more of a focused vision for me. I think Flyleaf was the combination of all of our differences together, compromising with each other, and that’s what made that sound. But this is really just me trying to get out what’s in my own heart. I’m working with some amazing people, like Korey Cooper from Skillet. She’s an amazing writer and musician. Working with her, she’s really accommodating to the fact that I’m such a feeler. I like to feel the music, and I’m not very technical. (laughs) I’m more like, “I don’t know,” or I’m saying weird words like, “This needs to be more on fire here.” (laughs) So it was really cool to work with people who kind of accommodated that and could bring it out of me.

What is it like working with your husband?

It’s awesome. My husband’s an amazing guitar player. Whenever you are married and you have separate jobs, you can kind of let things blow over. But when you’re working together, you really have to sort things out and work it out. You can’t just walk away when you have to go on stage together and be friends. I think it makes our relationship more honest in some ways than I think it would be if we weren’t working together. We really have to sort through issues, and it’s hard sometimes, obviously. Once we sorted out the way that we work, if we try to write at the same time, it’s a disaster. But if we go and we do things separately and we bring our completed ideas to each other, then we can accommodate that idea better and each other. Just to figure out how we work is cool, too. I love that we’re different, and I respect that.

There is a song on the album called “Life Screams,” but why did you choose that for the album title?

The album, I wanted it to be—if you really listen through start to finish and really embrace the message of the album—I really want people to embrace the present. That’s kind of what the song “Life Screams” is about, and the title also encompasses that—the idea that we’re always in the future or always in the past; we don’t always appreciate and value the present. We don’t always allow life to carry us where it wants to carry us. We always have plans and we’re frustrated when they don’t work out, or we’re always trying to get to the next thing and we’re disappointed that it wasn’t as a big deal as we thought it was gonna be getting here.

So to say “life screams” is really to say, it’s honoring life in general, that it takes us on its own adventure if we’re willing to look at it sometimes as an adventure. People ask me about my kids and how are you gonna do this with kids, but I look at my kids as a gift and a great adventure to go on in life. I enjoy practice when my kids are down there banging on their own drum set with their headphones on. I enjoy seeing them running around the auditoriums before we’re setting up our gear. I really enjoy life with them, and that’s just one example of someone saying we can consider it an inconvenience, or we can embrace it as an adventure. And that’s kind of what I want to say with “Life Screams,” just to pay attention to life as the gift that it is.

On the first single, “Impossible”—a very uplifting, life-affirming song—you say, “Every morning, I see another miracle.” What kinds of miracles do you see?

I’ve seen a lot of miracles. I can write a book about that myself. I believe in miracles, absolutely. But when you really think about life itself, it really is a grand miracle that we have another day and another chance. We all have unique perspectives of life, and we have something unique to offer in life. I just think we take for granted our uniqueness and that gift of who we are as a unique being, the potential we have to really share something unique. Why do we have different DNA, fingerprints, voices? There’s so many ways to identify you that’s unique to you. I think that each day that we get another chance to be alive and grow is a miracle. That’s kind of what I mean by that.

The album also has a cover song. You did “Roxanne” by The Police. How did you choose that song?

I think that song hits me deeply because I had a journey of learning the difference between counterfeit versions of love, like a perverted version of love, versus real, genuine love. It has to do with—I did a Ted Talks recently, and I talked a little bit about it in that—I grew up thinking love traps you. If you’re not trying to trap me, you don’t love me. But what I learned after having a terrible relationship and terrible failures in that area of my life, I learned that healthy love really does free you, and life doesn’t have to be the way that we were taught or the way that we saw life always just was. It doesn’t have to be that way. I didn’t know that you could have a different kind of love that was healthy and beautiful, that honored your freedom and you honored their freedom.

When I was 10 years old, my cousin was beaten to death by his stepfather—I talk about that in my book, “The Reason,” how I hated people and God, and not believing in anything and thinking we’re all an accident and there’s no purpose in any of it. Watching my aunt goes through abusive relationships, and just realizing life doesn’t have to be like that. We are valuable, and we’re worth something. We deserve to be treated better, and we also owe it to that person abusing us not to allow them to do that, because that’s destroying their soul, too.

So when I chose “Roxanne,” it’s like a man who’s telling a prostitute that he loves her and she doesn’t have to live that way. He’s gonna take care of her, and he’s gonna love her for real. He keeps telling her, “You don’t have to put on the red light. You don’t have to do this anymore.” But if it’s all you’ve known, it’s hard to realize that there’s any other way of living.

For me, I know there are so many areas of my life that are that way. Even with my husband, there’s things that I’m still working through, like him saying, “Maybe we shouldn’t spend money on this,” and me thinking he’s saying I’m a burden to him. But really, it’s the opposite of that. He’s saying,” You’re such a blessing to me. I want to take care of you so well. I want to make sure we have what we need.” It’s the opposite motive, but because I view myself as a burden, I interpret it totally wrong. So I have to stop myself and say, “He loves you. He’s saying that because he loves you.” So those are things I work through, and that’s why I love that song, because the man is trying to give her true love and she feels like there’s no other way to live. She may not even believe in that, and I relate to her so much.

You’re going out on tour this spring. What can the fans expect to see from you?

Yeah, we just announced we’re going out with Otep for about 12 dates. We’ll cross the country doing that. We’re doing all the major rock festivals—Carolina Rebellion, Rock on the Range and some of the other ones coming up. We have them listed on our website. And we’re gonna keep touring. We’re talking to a bunch of different bands right now. But the only one I’m able to tell you about right now is the Otep tour, the rock festivals and that we are talking to some other ones and lining up stuff right now.

20665268._uy630_sr1200,630_There hasn’t been too much that’s come out about it yet, but you have another book coming soon.

Yeah. I was gonna write about romance, but it turned into really fatherlessness and how that impacts your romantic life and how you view yourself and how you view the people you’re in a relationship with. It’s coming in October. It’s a faith-based book. It talks a lot about my faith and how that plays into all of this struggle—I went through a divorce, I went through an emotional affair and came out of it—barely came of that, definitely suicidal—and I talk about that, too, how the height of love, that Romeo and Juliet story, we forget that Romeo and Juliet’s story does not end very well. So anyway, I kind of talk about that journey to health in that area of my life. It comes out in October. It’s called “The Mystery.”

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just check out the websites for updates and all that, and I’ll be staying in touch through social media.



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