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‘Growing as a Musician and a Songwriter’

Jason Wade of Lifehouse Talks About Life on the Road

By Pey-Hua Hwang

Staff Writer

Jason Wade is a down-to-earth guy who prefers the creative aspects of the studio to the constant demands of touring; however, he was still cool about talking to this Tech reporter about Lifehouse’s latest album, touring, and the evolution of songs.

Wade was getting over a cold, so his speaking voice didn’t match his singing voice, but his style of speech certainly suggested the introspective sort of soul that matched his lyrics. He then told me that he didn’t try to structure either of Lifehouse’s two albums, No Name Face or Stanley Climbfall, with a theme. “I try not to direct a theme ... I let the songs sort of speak for themselves,” he said. However, he did say that the second record was, in his eyes, more uplifting than the first because he was “in more positive place,” than when he wrote the first record.

On the actual crafting of songs, he said that he tried a lot of things out on the promotional tour for No Name Face that ended up on the Stanley Climbfall CD. He said about half of the things worked and half of them didn’t. “You start to realize really quickly what works and what doesn’t,” he said. Wade prefers to work on songs independently to begin with, preferably at home instead of on the road. He likes to work out the songs on the acoustic guitar, but during preproduction “everyone throws in input,” he said. Starting a song is, of course, different than finishing a song, though. For him, finishing a song is the tough part: “It’s like finishing a painting ... I just get to the point where I have to let it go ... I can obsess over little things for days or weeks ... There comes a point where you’ve taken a song as far as it can go.”

When on tour, Wade doesn’t have any particular favorites in his set. “I like all of it. I’m a big fan of pop songs with strong hooks ... I also like hokey ballads ... We don’t want to be one-sided ... We try to put some dynamics into what we do.” He doesn’t like the idea of just being the front man either. On his first tour of the states he tried putting down the guitar during some songs but felt that it just wasn’t as comfortable. “I just couldn’t do it. I do feel more comfortable with the guitar ... It’s, like, how I started music,” he said.

When asked about choosing opening bands, he said that he doesn’t have much input and that, “basically the agency chooses the opening band,” and just tells him what time to show up for the sound check. He doesn’t have any real crazy stories from tour to tell. “Most of our fans seem to be pretty grounded,” he said. He did find the experience of opening for the Rolling Stones “amazing” and the “highlight” of the shows he’d played for the last three years. “I’m a huge fan of that time period,” he said. He also commented that the Stones really took care of his band and that it was a “refreshing wake up call,” that a band could “be successful and still be nice.”

Wade also commented on the differences in their fans on their international tours in contrast to their fans in the United States. He felt that European crowds were more liberated than Americans and was amazed at the respectfulness of Japanese crowds. “Japanese crowds are really into it when you’re playing, but really respectful between songs ... like you can hear a pin drop,” he said. Touring does have its downsides, though: “I miss being home in general ... parks I like to go write at ... routines and patterns.” He said that during the seven months that they were home before starting the Stanley Climbfall promotional tour he had gotten very used to life at home. He also said that touring brought “a lot more responsibility ... a lot more people to take care of ... a whole staff of people you inherit as soon as you get on the road.”

Wade sees his future in continuing writing and recording albums. As far as fame goes, he said, “My standards are pretty low ... I just want to keep growing as a musician and a songwriter.”