Interview: Lacey Sturm

FRR: It\’s been a heck of a month for you: Life Screams is finally out and it\’s doing really, really well. As the artist and songwriter, you\’re the voice. How does it feel to finally have it out and to see it doing as well as it has? Lacey Sturm: It\’s a really amazing feeling to see people receiving something that you love, and that they\’re loving it too. Because truly, when we put this music out there, we didn\’t have a goal of trying to like, make a name for ourselves or become successful in that way, we just did it because we love it. And that\’s a great feeling, and if people love it, that\’s cool too, icing on the cake, because we love it. It\’s amazing, because you can see the reception is amazing; it\’s beautiful because people love it.  FRR: Right. And I read last night that it\’s already hit number one, and I believe you\’re the first solo female artist to debut or hit number one, and also hit number one with a previous band as well. You\’ve been away for several years now; you\’ve made appearances here and there for some projects, but this is your comeback album. And to have that kind of accomplishment this quickly… I mean, I don\’t even know if you can put that into words.  Lacey Sturm: It\’s really a phenomenal thing, yeah! I didn\’t realize that was a category. Even when we decided to do a solo project, the hard rock album, I remember asking in my head like, \”can we do that?\” I mean, who did that? Like, Rob Zombie or like Ozzy Osbourne. And it\’s cool because it\’s really the only way we could have done it and kept our own priorities, you know? And to do a solo album costs less so that we\’re able to not have to take as many gigs and do it at our own pace. So the only way we could have done it was a solo, so that just puts us in the category that not a lot of people are in. So it\’s cool! FRR: Yeah, definitely. Listening to the album from the beginning, I remember hearing \”Impossible\” when you released that. I hadn\’t heard anything else from the album, nor had anyone else, and I just remember thinking that, man, you can tell it\’s you. It\’s definitely Lacey. The single \”Impossible\” was met immediately with really well responses and the album. How important was it on Life Screams to have your spirituality show through as much as it does? Lacey Sturm: I think that if it shows through, in a really obvious way, that\’s cool. I mean, there wasn\’t a specific agenda for that, but of course, it can definitely show through. The most important thing to me about singing is that it\’s honest, and I can sing what I mean and be genuine. I want the fans that appreciate that about what we do to feel like they can count on us for that. And so it\’s always going to come from my heart that\’s filled with my salvation story. I mean, I wouldn\’t be alive if it weren\’t for my encounter with God on the day I planned to commit suicide. I had an encounter with God as an Atheist. He does what he wants. He kind of saved my life, so my perspective of life [is] definitely from the perspective of someone who wouldn\’t be alive if they didn\’t have faith. So you\’re gong to hear it in the music.  FRR: One track that really sticks out to me is \”Vanity.\” It\’s not even one of the musical tracks, it\’s kind of like a transition, but it\’s one of the most original tracks on the record, I think. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Lacey Sturm: A friend of mine who I met when I went out to talk, actually on a speaking tour about my story with suicide and my encounter with God, he\’s a spoken word artist and a hip hop artist, his name is Propaganda… FRR: Yes! I love Propaganda! Lacey Sturm: Yeah! So that\’s him on there. He lives in Southern California and we were there in LA, and he had just had a baby, and I was super excited about that. He came to visit us in the studio when we were recording a song, and we talked about doing an intro to it, and I was telling him what the song means, you know. The song is about how we tolerate so many things in our culture because of the beauty of it, because of the art of it, and I think if it\’s great literature, we think it\’s written well, but the content is worthless, we still tolerate it. And same with music; the musicality of it is something we love, but the content is completely destructive, we tolerate it because we say it\’s beautiful. We do that with so many things, you know, like comedy, something\’s funny, it\’s witty, we tolerate it because it\’s funny, even though it\’s completely destructive and worthless. And that\’s kind of where I\’m showing in the song \”Rot\” is about, we call something love because there\’s so much emotion, and there are so [many] roller coasters of highs and lows, and how we get addicted to that feeling. If you have it every day, you kind of thrive on that drama. But in the dialogue, I have this huge heart and sometimes can\’t even sleep at night thinking about things like human trafficking. I have a friend, Annie Lobert, and she has a story on I Am Second. She started Hookers for Jesus; she was a prostitute in LA, and I read her book recently called Fallen, and it\’s a powerful book, it\’s amazing. The way she does it is amazing; you\’re reading her story and the depth of her struggle and it\’s accessible to anyone, whether you\’re in a terrible place or you\’ve never seen it in suburbia and you e been protected your whole life. It\’s very accessible to people, with the way it\’s written. It\’s beautifully written. She\’s writing about a counterfeit love, she\’s fallen in love with this man who\’s enslaved her, and she\’s thinking she can change him. She wants to be his savior, in a way. And he\’s telling her he needs her and he\’s telling her things, and he hurts her, forces her to do things she wouldn\’t do otherwise, and she\’s thinking she\’s trapped, that this is what love is: being trapped. And from the dialogue, I\’m trying to come from a perspective of realizing that this is not what love is. You want to hear the rationalizing of the enemy trying to tell  you, \”no, no, this is love. This is real. This is why, you owe me, I\’m keeping you,\” and how that fight goes, to get out of it. Because it\’s real. And that can apply to so many scenes, but this romance is really obvious. So it\’s not as obvious when it\’s you know, being enslaved to your career, or enslaved to some addiction, whether it\’s a drug addiction, or just whatever, just something you really want out of. There\’s so much rationalizing on the other end; you can\’t get out.  FRR: Right, and one of the things I wanted to ask you about, you were with Flyleaf for awhile there, then you took some time off a few years ago and you\’ve been gone for awhile. How much did that time stepping away help you as an artist, having that time to recharge, and focus on other things, like your family?  Lacey Sturm: It was essential to me finding who I am. I mean, I took on a whole new identity: to become a mother is a whole new facet of your personality. I wanted to know what kind of mother I would be, what kind of child I would have. So when he was born, my son, I got to learn about him. I knew every babble he made, I knew what each one meant. There\’s nothing you can trade for that; there\’s nothing that can match that or is worth it. But I also know that\’s a privilege, because I know that not all moms get the opportunity to do that. I happen to be in a situation where, my husband, we had to make sacrifices to be able to do that, but it was worth every bit of that. My husband, he learned his father\’s trade, so he went to work with his dad. I stayed home, and I was able to do that and not everybody can. And I see that as such a gift, and definitely what we needed to do to get our legs under us for what it meant to be parents, and married with children. And how does our music fit into this? It just felt very natural when we got back into it. Like we said, we weren\’t into it to make a name for ourselves, we were just doing what we loved. And we can go at our own pace; it doesn\’t own us. So that\’s a big difference there.  FRR: It doesn\’t sound like you\’ve lost a step at all. I mean, the message is just as strong as it\’s ever been when it comes to your lyrics and your music. And vocally, I mean, good GOD. You\’re still right there; it\’s amazing. It\’s so good to hear you back. When you got to hear the final mix of Life Screams and held that physical copy in your hands, I saw it on your Facebook because I follow you on there quite a bit, I saw the Facebook video of you getting the first shipment. Can you take me through how that felt to hold that final product and hear that final mix?  Lacey Sturm: Yeah, it was an amazing thing, because my husband actually did the design for the album. It felt like such a family thing, from start to finish. Front to back, the whole thing felt like we, as a family, me and my husband, friends, we all had a part in this project. It just felt like family, and even my manager is just such a good friend of ours, he was a good friend for years before we ever worked together professionally. We just believe in what we do, so he was just like, \”if you ever want to do this, I\’d love to help you.\” So from all of this, even the producer we worked with, my husband was in a band for years called Kairos, and the drummer from the band was a groomsman in his wedding. The drummer in his band Kairos has a brother who lives in LA, so his drummer\’s brother is the singer for Cage 9 and is an amazing engineer and producer, so he\’s the one who did our record, and our kids are running around the studio, so it just feels like home. And Drew, the drummer from Kairos, laid the tracks down and his wife and baby are running around the studio with our kids. It was the most personal thing. So we got to give it to the world, but really and truly, if we had just made it as a memento for that season in our lives, it still would have been just as special. It really was a family project, so it was love, and full of adventure.  FRR: Awesome, and everything else is just a bonus. In the end, you’re making music for yourself; it’s what you want to write, it’s what you want to play, it’s what’s close to you, and if we all love it, it just means that much more. One thing I want to ask you about: A few years ago, you played on a track, which is one of my all-time favorites, you sang on “Take the Bullets Away” with We as Human. You had a chance to perform that at a festival. There’s a difference between singing on a track and getting on stage and singing it for the people. How did it feel to get up and perform that song live?  Lacey Sturm: Well it’s such a good song, and the band is excellent. Those guys are really cool, and we’d gotten to be friends with them because they were actually produced by Skillet. I was really good friends with Skillet already; we’d toured together a couple times and we have a lot in common. So I was excited to get to be a part of that and when I actually played it, it was powerful.  FRR: I wish I could’ve been there to see it and experience it! I saw the video, which was cool, but I mean, I just wish I could’ve been there to see THAT. I think I’ve seen We as Human probably 15 times, but I’ve never been able to see you perform that with them. So I had to ask about that. Finally, it was announced today, officially, that you’re going to be hitting the road and doing a couple dates on the OTEP tour. And you’re actually coming to Indy, here! That’s where I’m located, so you’re actually going to be here April 28th at the 5th quarter lounge with OTEP and September Mourning. What’s it going to feel like for you to hit the road again on a tour? And is that something—I know you’re very family-oriented—you’ll maybe bring the family on the road with you possibly? Lacey Sturm: As far as I know, unless, you know, God really wrecks those plans, which he can do if he wants, we do plan on bringing our boys out. I think that’s going to be a huge part of what we do…We face the darkness and watch glory come up from the hardest things in people’s lives. If we can just push through, and shine in those moments, we want to show them how to do that. So if we can show them, that’s like one of our biggest goals in pursuing touring is to kind of go out and be that in healthy ways.  FRR: Definitely. I love it, I mean, as believers, that’s like the biggest commandment, is the Great Commission, and that’s to go out and share the gospel in places where it wouldn’t normally be shared. I feel like this tour is going to be a great opportunity for you for that. And, of course, you at OTEP on a tour together—two of the greatest screamers there are— is going to be awesome as well. That’s going to be great. I think that’s one of the reasons I respect a band like Skillet is, of course, they bring their family on tour all the time, but they go into places where their gospel wouldn’t normally go to. Especially the festivals, which you’re going to be playing quite a few of this summer, which is going to be awesome, getting to play these songs in front of those larger-than-life crowds. You’re making a return to Rock on the Range this year, which you played back in ’09, I believe, with Flyleaf, so that’s going to be great. But Lacey, thank you so much for taking time today, I really appreciate it. It’s been awesome; I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.  Lacey Sturm: Awesome, I’m excited. Thanks for the great interview; I hope I get to see you around in Indiana!  FRR: Oh yeah, I’ll be at 5th Quarter Lounge on April 28th, and anyone listening or reading the interview: get out, support the music, buy the album! I got somebody to buy it today, I was telling somebody about it: “it’s an amazing album, I’m going to buy it now,” and I was like, “DO IT,” and she did.  Lacey Sturm: [Laughter] Thank you! FRR: So yeah, support the music, get out there, buy the music, love it, and check out the show. And Lacey, we’re so glad to have you back. Welcome back! The album is amazing; you deserve every bit of everything you’re getting.  Lacey Sturm: Thank you so much! I’ll see you around! FRR: See you in Indy!