Flyleaf: SnoCore, Hot Chicks, and Beyond
It was the final night of SnoCore 2015, with the tour making its way to The Glass House in Pomona for an unforgettable grand finale. This year’s edition featuring the amazing Flyleaf headlining the event, promoting their stunning new Between The Stars release. After opening sets from Fit For Rivals, Framing Hanley and Adelitas Way, Flyleaf soared into the stratosphere with their glorious anthem of hope. Prior to the show, we sat down with vocalist Kristen May backstage adventures from SnoCore Tour, songs from the new album, the “Christian band” label, being named as one of “hottest chicks in rock,” and other high flying topics of interest. Read on…
How has the SnoCore Tour been going so far for you and what have some of the highlights been?
It’s been incredible. This is actually the last date here in Pomona. We’ve really been through a lot of snow. Snocore is true to it’s name. Buffalo, Syracuse, Connecticut, all of these places so it really makes California that much more brighter and beautiful for us. Highlights for me have probably been Denver. I love that city. It is really great to be there. When we played Reno it was awesome too because one of my first tours with Flyleaf we played Reno and it was good, but I felt like this was even better. I saw people coming back to the shows. I always like to see that.
One of the first songs you recorded with them, which was with Sonny of POD ‘Something Better’. What was it like working with Sonny on that song?
Well, we didn’t actually ever go into the studio together. We/Flyleaf wrote the song and then he came in afterwards and put his take on it, on his parts. He worked with Howard Benson separately. We did tour with them afterwards. Playing the song on stage live with him was incredible. He has great energy and he gets the crowd pumped. It was an honor, for sure.
Nice. He is a cool guy. How intimidating for you to join an already established band?
Well, you know, I had experience for seven years being in a band, so as far as being in a band, it wasn’t intimidating, but it was definitely the first time that I joined a band where there were previously written songs and songs that I didn’t write and fans of the previous lead singer. I guess it was a little intimidating but at the time I just really tried to focus on how excited I was that I was getting the chance to be in a band again, and tour, and play these great songs out live. I didn’t focus too much on the anxiety of it all really.
Did you ever meet Lacey? Do you know her?
I just met her on this tour. She came out to Pittsburgh so I just briefly met her. Yeah, that’s about it.
Do you like singing the old Flyleaf songs or would you rather just sing new ones?
I mean, I am a songwriter at heart so I would enjoy singing songs that I wrote for sure but songs like ‘All Around Me‘ are so personal to the fans and so it has created this kind of excitement for me. And really touring and playing songs like ‘Fully Alive‘ and ‘Arise‘ and ‘Broken Wings‘ – all of these songs that I didn’t write but I put myself in a situation like I had written them. I really try to sing it like I wrote it, you know, instead of singing someone else’s song, and I think it has allowed fans to relate to me and who I am and everything moving forward. Some of the songs were written by the dudes in the band, not Lacey, so it is actually similar to if I joined a band and someone in the band wrote the song and I didn’t. I still have to be me singing the song and relating to it. I tried to do my best to kind of transcend that boundary.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the title ‘Between the Stars’?
Yes, so we took that from a song that we wrote called ‘Magnetic‘. Filling up the space between the stars, we are magnetic. So, you know, we really want people to feel something on this album and listen to it from front to back. There are a lot of stories of loss and angst, troubled relationships and broken relationships and stuff on this album, but then there is also a message of hope. We want people to feel like they can feel that message of hope, whatever it is and their connection to the universe. That they can feel that the music can kind of be a moment for them to transcend all of that.
Select two songs from ‘Between the Stars’ and tell what inspired the lyrics.
Well, ‘Head Under Water‘ I wrote kind of about my experience first joining Flyleaf and kind of the backlash that I felt online. I am a little bit older than some of the fans that I think really are on the internet a lot and saying a lot of things on the internet that they would never say in person. A lot of message boards are like this, they kind of create this whole vibe of negativity. People feel so brave when they are behind their computer screen and I think it has created this terrible culture of bullying and obviously people do that in regular life too, that is what happens. Anyway, so I wanted to write a song to kind of get me over that because I was tired of that kind of online bullying that I was seeing. ‘Head Under Water‘ is just about getting past that and so I hope that it is a song that people feel any time they feel victimized or anytime they feel that they are put in a box or are told what to be. ‘Marionette’ was actually a song I wrote about the same thing in a way. I want people to feel empowered and stronger than all of their weaknesses and stronger than people making them feel lesser. I really want people to feel empowered by those two songs and that is why I wrote those.
Prior to joining Flyleaf, had you ever seen them live or had you met any of the guys live?
I had not. You know, it was crazy. I actually only knew two of their songs. ‘I am So Sick‘ and ‘All Around Me‘ and so when I was asked to audition I thought ‘okay, cool. I will check them out’ and I really dove into their catalog. I had about three weeks from when I was asked to audition to when I went to Texas and did the audition. It was pretty awesome because I had been spending time writing alone and I wasn’t sure where I was going, so listening to their music and listening to how raw it is, and how emotional and heavy but also hopeful. I really became a fan of the band. I think that made me really excited to be apart of their team because I became a fan.
Describe that first Flyleaf show. Where was it and what was going through your head?
Oh my gosh. It was in College Station, Texas and it was a little show. There were about 400 people there. It was a small intimate crowd but everyone was packed tightly into this venue. It was crazy. I remember my in-ears weren’t working very well. It was just not ideal. I don’t know if I was really prepared – like we practiced enough. The crowd was so incredible and so warm and so excited to see Flyleaf play again because it had been so long. I think I just fed off that energy and any insecurity and any anxiety I had just totally went away and I was just floating the whole show.
After this tour you will be headlining the “Hottest Chicks in Rock Tour”. How does it feel to be known as the hottest chick, or one of the hottest chicks in rock
It is cool, man. It is great. I didn’t get into this job to be that necessarily. I got into it to play and write music that I love and that hopefully other people love. Yeah, it is kind of an extra bonus that people would find me attractive, as well, is definitely a nice compliment. I think what I have noticed from a lot of these women on this tour moving forward is that it is more than ‘hot’ and how we look. It is like what we embody and what we are doing. Fit for Rivals we play with every night on the SnoCore Tour. Renee is also going to be on the Revolver tour with me. It is just so cool because she is badass. She is really cool and she is strong and she writes great music. I imagine all of the girls on the tour will be like that as well. Hopefully, I will be a fan of some new bands.
That would be awesome. The Agonist on the tour. They are pretty heavy. How do you think the bill is going to work out with you and The Agonist.
Honestly, I haven’t heard their music but everyone says that they are really heavy and so I am a little nervous playing after them, but then the other side of me is that every band seems to bring their own thing. Whereas the same thing on the SnoCore tour, every band kind of brought their different vibe and their different crowd and it totally worked. Hopefully, it will be fine and great and people will be excited that everybody does their different thing.
I think tours in the past have mixed it up too so it should be good. At this point in this band’s career, would Flyleaf be considered a Christian band? Why or why not?
It is tough, that whole Christian band thing because I think, I mean even “rock music” can kind of put you into too much of a genre for me. Too much of a box. I think as artists we all listen to tons of different types of music and so when we create an album it isn’t necessarily just rock, you know, it’s a little alternative, it’s a little pop, it’s a little bit of experimental. I think the whole Christian Rock thing too, yeah we are all believers in God but the way our faith looks, there are five of us in the band and it all doesn’t look the same. So it is kind of like, I guess you could call us a Christian band because we want to spread a message of hope but that is about it. We aren’t really trying to tap into that genre per se, if that makes sense.
If Flyleaf could open for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Sameer and I are big fans of Radiohead so that could be pretty amazing. I love Soundgarden. I love Chris Cornell, that could be pretty incredible. Pearl Jam would be awesome. We are all fans of grunge and the 90’s kind of thing, so it would be cool to do something like that. I am a big female vocalist fan, I love Florence and the Machine, that could be really awesome too.
There was a Florence and the Machine cover album that Sumerian Records put out. If you guys were on that album what Florence and the Machine song would you want to do and why?
I think Shake it Out. I am really into that song right now.
This one question was maybe for someone else in the band but maybe you can answer this. We will see. Aside from the change in the vocalist, the rest of the Flyleaf members have been solid. I think they have been the same.
Same members. Yeahh.
What do you think has made it work so well for them for over a decade? You have been with them for a couple years now.
You know, they are really special people in that way I think. They all have respect for one another and they all try to look at the band as a family. We always say that, that it is a family. Maybe you aren’t getting along with someone that day, maybe you disagree with someone or maybe you are just in each others space too much or whatever. As it is with family members you try to forgive and move on and say ‘it’s okay, we are still together, move on’. I think that is something that we try to do as a band. I see that in the guys. They all honor each other really well and respect each other. I think that is a big thing.
How long was it before you felt like part of the family?
It kind of happened pretty fast because we both were commiserating. My band had broken up and they had lost a singer so we at least had something in common, we wanted to move together, move ahead and started writing music. It didn’t take too long.
Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles and Orange County area?
Man, just thank you for supporting us. Whenever we come to California we have these incredible shows. So many fans that come back to our VIP experiences, so we couldn’t ask for more. Thank you so much.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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