Flyleaf’s brand new album “Between the Stars” launched yesterday marking another momentous occasion in the bands history as it featured not only new sounds but also the brand new, beautiful voice of Kristen May. Thanks to Yahoo! Music, fans were able to stream this album last week while they read a short but in-depth interview from Kristen and lead guitarist, Sameer Bhattacharya.
“Between the Stars” was produced by Don Gilmore, who is responsible for many albums from Bullet For My Valentine, Korn, Linkin Park, Good Charlotte and many more. Flyleaf gave all of us a teaser of this album with a single and accompanying music video of opening track “Set Me On Fire” via Revolver. The track starts with a lead-in, fuzzy bass riff, which brought me a lot of comfort. The reason it brought me a lot of comfort was because all I had to go on as far as new sounds of Flyleaf was the live EP “Who We Are”, and though it featured live tracks of ‘Call You Out’ and ‘Fire Fire’ there was a newly produced track that featured Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D and it sounded VERY different than what you’d expect to come out of Flyleaf. Was it bad? NOT AT ALL! I still jam it all the time! It’s catchy, it’s fun and I love it. But, it was definitely more poppy and it didn’t sound much like the Flyleaf that I’m accustomed to musically or lyrically. “Set Me On Fire” reassured me that the band is still doing big, crazy, epic, hard rock music and that Kristen May is a perfect addition to their group. Not only that, but it showcased just how diverse the band truly is! Now with the comparison between “Something Better” and “Set Me On Fire”, Flyleaf has proven that they can do ANYTHING and they can do it well!
That being said, for those of you concerned that Flyleaf was doomed or not able to hold up without Lacey Sturm, you can now stop being concerned. They’re live performance still speaks entirely for itself and the new album still features the distinct heavy rock greatness that Flyleaf has always been. Kristen May, though certainly not Lacey Sturm, is a new flavor of lead singer that compliments Flyleaf’s music perfectly. Flyleaf is starting a new chapter and “Between the Stars” is proof that this new chapter is the start of another, new amazing journey. These guys have been writing and playing music as Flyleaf for over 12 years and they’ve just made a huge change that is going to bring about a whole new experience that never could’ve been made with Lacey Sturm. Several new doors have now opened for this band and you can expect over the next many years the band will walk through all of them until there is no more doors to open anymore.
There are also some doors that have closed. A difference you’ll likely note in Flyleaf’s new music and about Kristen May is that there’s no screams which was signature to Lacey’s vocal style. Those expecting that Flyleaf will still sound the exact same will be disappointed, but those expecting something new and refreshing to come out of what is already a very talented band will have a fantastic experience. It can be hard to accept change but we urge you to do so because there’s a lot of excitement coming your way in the Flyleaf department.
If you don’t trust my judgement, I suggest you quickly head over to Yahoo! Music and get a preview of the album yourself or watch the Set Me On Fire music video. You’ll see just like I did that Flyleaf is starting something new and amazing and you’ll want to be a part of it just as much as I do. To further explain things, I talked with their guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya to learn more about what the new sound is going to be like, and how Kristen May has changed things and what things have unexpectedly not changed.
AMN: “What are you jamming right now?”
Sameer: “I’ve been addicted to Jimmy Eat World, I’ve been listening to Damages. My favorite track is “Please Say No.” I’ve also been listening to Sons of the City”
AMN: “What was your first job?”
Sameer: “I worked at the Barbra J. Hill Library in Holland, TX. Me and my buddy, , we would have to just stock the books and hang out, not a lot of people came in haha. It was the first time I got a paycheck and got to spend the money however I wanted. I didn’t spend it very wisely, but it was fun. I didn’t get a paid a lot. It was minimum wage, just busy work. I was in marching band and concert band so I had that going for me. I did a theater and a lot of extracurricular things. It was fun though when I was able to make money and be able to go out to the movies and not have to ask my parents for cash.”
AMN: “What was the first thing you bought with your first paycheck?”
Sameer: “You know I can’t remember but it was probably a burger or some flaming hot cheeto’s from the convenience store down the street.”
AMN: “How old were you when you decided music was going to be your thing?”
Sameer: “I didn’t know if music was going to be my thing, I don’t know that I made that conscious decision. I had fingers in a lot of things and I tried to do as much as I could and followed the path of least resistance. I was in college and doing the band and Flyleaf was moving faster than my education was so I chose that. I always knew that music was going to be a part of my life whether it was my occupation or not. I always knew I would have this passion for music because music is the language of the soul and no matter what the words your saying or language its in, you can feel whats going on. That’s something I really connected with. The way that different words and chord progressions invoked certain feelings. That always intrigued me and it was something I always knew I would be a part of but whether it was going to be my career, I didn’t know.”
AMN: “What’s something you always wanted to do but were never able to do?”
Sameer: “School. Finishing college is a big goal of mine. I have a whole list of things I wish I would’ve done haha.”
AMN: “What’d you study in college?”
Sameer: “I was back and forth between Biology and English literature but if I went back I’d probably go for Physics”
AMN: “So what is the most gratifying part of being in Flyleaf?”
Sameer: “Knowing that what you’re doing is inspiring people to live their lives to the fullest and appreciate who they are. I think what we write about and sing about is reminding people of what they’re worth.”
AMN: “What was it like working with PledgeMusic?”
Sameer: “It was awesome! I think if we had tried to do something like this on our own we would’ve been lost, but these guys have a clear understanding of how to engage people and grasp people. They keep people excited about your project and know ways to keep them engaged and make them feel like they’re truly participating and working toward this big goal, and they are, so it’s awesome that they can communicate that to people and to us.”
AMN: “What’s your fans response to Kristen May being your new lead singer?”
Sameer: “It’s been amazing. Kristen came in and blew us away. The songwriting, the collaboration, it was refreshing and it was beautiful. The fans have really responded well, they’re just as excited as we are. The ones who are still a little hesitant haven’t really experienced it. They’re kind of saying “oh well, it’s a new lead singer so I’m not going to give them a chance.”But we’ve had fans who come to the concerts and say that it’s an amazing thing and they’re excited for this era of Flyleaf.”
AMN: “What have the biggest challenges been transitioning between lead singers?”
Sameer: “The challenges have been outside of Flyleaf. Having to showcase ourselves to an audience who is skeptical, and they have a right to be skeptical when you have to change lead singers with such a signature presence such as Lacey. I think that’s the biggest obstacle to overcome is people’s doubt and people being open to experience it. I think once they experience it, they think “wow””
AMN: “Tell me a little bit about Between the Stars”
Sameer: “Between the Stars is a very broad record. I think this is by far one of the more musical records. The melodies are beautiful, everything compliments each other. I think it’s a very inspirational records. Sometimes it gets pretty dark, but I think that when you read into the song I think you’ll find a lot of hope and realize a lot of things about yourself. I think you’ll realize that there’s so much more in you than you know.”
AMN: “You said in a previous interview that it was going to have a more ‘commercial sound’. Can you expand on that a little bit more?”
Sameer: “You know, I think I meant to say it’s a more acceptable sound. It’s something that a lot of people are going to be able to connect with. It isn’t polarizing to a certain demographic. There’s really great songs that tell really great stories. A lot of people are going to be able to appreciate this record in comparison to a metal record that only a certain audience will appreciate. Everyone that loves metal all the way to alternative or even acoustic rock; there’s something for everyone on this record.”
AMN: “You have a tour coming up! Tell me about that”
Sameer: “Tour starts in early October in Corpus Christi, and we’re going to hit a lot of places in the US. The tour goes to November and then we’re going to Europe and doing a few things there.”
AMN: “How do you think the new music will play out on stage?”
Sameer: “I think something that Flyleaf has always been is a raw live band. We don’t use tracks, we don’t rely heavily on a light show or screens or pyrotechnics. We rely solely of the energy of the band coming off the stage and I don’t think that’s something that’s going to go away.”
AMN: “Is there anything else that you want to talk about or promote?”
Sameer: “I want to thank everyone for supporting us over the years. I hope that Between the Stars speaks to you on many levels and that when you listen to the songs that they’ll inspire you to know that you’re capable of amazing things if you allow yourself. We’re just human beings and we want to be able to connect with each other and lift each other up and we hope this record inspires you to do that.”
If you are still a skeptic about Flyleaf, I don’t know how I can help you. All I can say is, you’re missing out. If you’ve seen the light, you need to go here right now and support this movement by buying the album or better yet, get out to the live shows they have coming up and see for yourself.