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The Advocate

Flyleaf Interview

by Tracy Darlington

"We want our music to be for everybody, just like Christ's message was for everybody."
--Pat Seals

BIO: While many loud rockers reopen old wounds by singing about their broken homes and broken hearts, Flyleaf confront past traumas to heal old scars and prove in the process that hope shines brighter than despair.

Flyleaf's self-titled debut album echoes with songs about abuse, neglect, addiction and dysfunction, and messages about overcoming adversity. And the band's wide array of brooding beats, atmospheric textures and lunging riffs compliment Mosley's emotionally revealing lyrics, which range from breathy and beautiful to scathing and aggressive.

Listen in as we chat with bass player Pat Seals and guitar player Samir Bhattacharya.

Tracy: It seems Non-Christians know about your band as much as Christians. Could you talk about that?

PAT: That’s what we intended from the beginning. We want our music to be for everybody, just like Christ’s message is for everybody. The hurt and pain, and the negative aspects of the subject matter we cover connects with people.

SAMIR: It’s a very universal thing.

PAT: We were fortunate enough to have a record label that pushed us in the secular market as much as they did in the Christian. It wasn’t something we were pushed into.

SAMIR: When we first started the band we talked about wanting to write songs that weren’t just for one group of people. Not just for the kids in youth group. We wanted something that was going to be a universal message of hope. It’s something we all need to hear . . . even us. We need to be reminded every day that in all this hurt and pain there’s hope. I’m proud of everything that’s happened with us. We’ve had a really great team. The message of hope and love is something that we all are trying to grasp and understand.

Lacey is a screaming female lead singer in a hard rock band. Did you have any struggles because of that because you were different from each other?

SAMIR: That’s something we don’t really pay attention to as far as trying to get popular, or whatever. That wasn’t a plan of ours. We just wrote songs, and those screams were very appropriate in the subject matter and what was going on.

PAT: It kinda helped us overcome that comes with having a girl singer. They assume you’re going to be like Michelle Branch or trying to appeal to a certain audience. The screams kinda helped us fit in more where we should have.

Pat Seals FlyleafEven though Jesus went out there were Christian don’t want to go, you guys still receive criticism for going out there and associating with secular bands. How do you answer someone who may be asking, what makes this band any different from other bands?

SAMIR: Like you said, Jesus wasn’t hanging out with Pharisees all the time. He ate with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. That’s the world he lived in. We have the church so we can encourage each other and worship with each other and share stories and our testimonies, but we’re called to live in the world. That’s the place where we’re supposed to be. It’s no use preaching to the choir, even though we all need to hear it and be reminded of it. None of us are exempt from that, but people have personal convictions. Some people can’t handle living in the world like we do, and that’s their own thing. They should be aware of that. It’s not for everybody.

PAT: The world of God says be in the world and not of it. That’s what it means in my life. If someone else is telling me how to live my life, I don’t know how I would answer them. I probably just wouldn’t. If I had to tell them something, I’d probably say, “I’m accountable for what I’m doing. You’re accountable for what you’re doing, so leave me alone.” (Chuckles.)

When people doubted you, did you look at any other bands as inspiration?

PAT: Yes and no. We looked at U2 and the way Christian ideas were coming out of that band. But as far as in how Flyleafto live our lives, we can look only to Jesus really. Any time you try to emulate other human beings you’re apt to emulate their faults. There’ve been a lot of great bands like Blindside. We really look up to them. A lot of local bands we grew up with. Lacey’s a huge David Crowder fan, and we all like David Crowder, too. There are bits and pieces and aspects of bands we really respect.

Playing both settings, Christian and secular arenas, are there things you get with one group that you don’t with the other?

SAMIR: The Christian kids usually seem to be enthusiastic about everything. It’s cool to see, and sometimes it’s funny to watch (says with smile).

PAT: From secular audiences, they expect something else. They’re just there to see a band. They’ll ask, “So what does your music mean? I heard you were a Christian band.” There’s that questioning aspect. There are differences, but we’re all human beings. Those commonalities override the differences.

Do you have a message for nonbelievers who might come to Christian events?

Lacey Mosley FlyleafSAMIR: It’s cool that they even come. Search it out for yourselves. Take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes as Christians we can be pretty bad examples of Christ. It’s kinda when you go to youth camp. It’s all hype. It’s something they should be wary about. Examine what it’s really about. It’s an amazing thing to be a Christian and have that faith and understand what life is. I hope they would look past the hype and the glitz and glam. See what it’s really about, the hope and love and the characteristics of Christ.

PAT: Look to Christ, look to the Word.

How did you know God was calling you to a career in music?

SAMIR: It was a series of events. I remember being in junior high listening to music. I didn’t listen to a lot of Christian music growing up, just music in general and how it spoke. It spoke so powerfully, to the core of myself. And people around me were sitting around listening to music and getting moved as well, to the lyrics and the music. I thought, “Wow, this is a very powerful medium.” It’s something I really wanted to be a part of. I understood that it was going to be a really huge part in my life. Then there was this message that our assistant pastor did, Pastor Ken was talking about how to figure out what you’re giftings are, how to figure out what your purpose in life was. Obviously we’re to love God and love our neighbor, but what tools were we equipped with at birth? What are we supposed to do? This guy was a worship pastor as well, and a lot of people wanted to come in and sing backup and stuff, and he would say, “Some people just aren’t gifted to sing. As much as they want to, the just don’t have it.” He was talking about falling into your calling in life. There are several different ways to find what it is. What do you enjoy doing? What do other people say that you do well? That’s probably what you need to be doing. Music was just one of those things for me.

PAT: For me it was a point of surrendering and saying I don’t know what you want me to do with my life, God, but I Flyleafwant to do what you have for me. I remember door by door working hard and walking through them. I didn’t receive a vision or anything, but the Word says “I’ll be a lamp to your feet, and a light to your path.” Not a light to the horizon or ten miles down the road. My Dad told me that. Immediately in front. You just have to every single day trust God and follow where He has you go.

How do you keep the music fresh when you’re playing onstage?

SAMIR: We get asked that a lot. The lyrics are so universal. They apply to so many different levels of my own life, so many different areas. I look out in the audience and I see all the faces, and it reminds me of myself. The music and lyrics still really speaks to me a lot. It talks about universal struggles, abuse, being alone, things we deal with every day. We all want to be loved, we all want to feel like we have a purpose in life. That’s what the songs are addressing. Only lately has it started getting a little repetitive. I’m itching to have new songs.

What’s coming up new for you?

PAT & SAMIR: Hopefully, if all things go according to plan, we’ll have a new record out by late fall. Maybe. We started writing songs, and we did demos and recording in July and August. It’s something we’re all excited about. We’re been going several years on our first record. It was put out in October of 2005, but the songs were written much earlier than that, from when we started as a band. We don’t know if this second one’s going to be different stylistically from our last record or not. We haven’t started working hard on it. It’s kinda too soon to put a name on it. We hope it’ll be different enough and similar enough.

Tracy DarlingtonTracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.