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Flyleaf Tell What Makes Them So Sick

Honest. Intense. Hopeful. Self-confessed prima donnas and anti-rockers 'Flyleaf' are turning hearts and minds with their unique brand of Texan-inspired heavy metal - with a positive twist. We chatted to bassist Sameer Bhattacharya about why rockstardom is overrated, what makes him 'So Sick' and what it is to be a 'Flyleaf' on the wall of today's rotting world...

How does it feel to have your first album out?

It's a surreal thing really. It hasn't really hit me yet. I see our CD in Wal Mart and walk past and you don't think that's your band -but it is! It's a weird feeling but it's cool.

Did you go into Wal Mart and buy a copy the first day it was released?

Yes! I did! (laughs)

I should think so! You recorded the album in LA over quite a few months, was that a cool process for you guys?

It was a really cool process. Working with Howard Benson and seeing how things worked there was really interesting to see how professional records get done. It was a really great learning experience to be with professional people like that. We're just a bunch of kids who started a band, and to work with people who've been doing it for twenty years is amazing because they have all this insight and wisdom about their craft that they share with us. Howard Benson is a really amazing producer.

How did you come to work with him?

We had lots of producers that were interested, and he called and said "I like what you're doing, and if you work with me, this is what I'm gonna do with your music." And he was like "I'm going to concentrate more on the message more than anything else... we want to make sure the point of the songs get across." And that was what was most important for us so that's what appealed to him.

So he chose you - that's pretty cool!

Yeah I guess so - that is pretty cool!

One thing that stands out about you guys is that you've got a girl in the lead -do you think that generates an element of interest?

Yeah it would have to...even if you don't want it to, or you still want to come across as a rock band, that's still going to have some kind of influence on the way people perceive us. When we first started, people were like "Oh you're going to be another Evanescence" or whatever, but that's totally not how we see ourselves. When we started we were just starting a rock band, we didn't try and treat it like a female rock act -we didn't have an agenda like that. We weren't trying to write to a certain genre or audience like that.

What musical genre would you categorise yourself in then?

It's funny, I was talking to me friend at home about this. These days it's hard to categorise any band 'cos all the genres are so interconnected. I think the lines totally been smeared and blurred. I don't think there are genres anymore;there are just bands. We're just trying to be honest with what we're doing and in our lyrics.

Lacey (lead singer) said that though a lot of your music sounds heavy, you try and have a really positive message. Is that something that you try and achieve when you sit down to write a song?

I think that's why our band works so well together. When I sit down to write a song, I'm a "glass is half empty'" kinda guy -there's not a lot of hope. But then when Lacey comes and changes some stuff she finds the hope in it and I need her to bring it out -or vice versa. And when the band comes together there's always hope in it because as crappy as life can be, there's always hope in it.

Writing positive hard metal music is fairly unique... who are your influences as a band?

As a band we are so diverse - each band member has our own set influences. I think that's what makes our music unique. James come form a classic rock -Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. Then there's Pat who likes Portishead and Nine Inch Nails. And Jerrod's into Def Tones and Third Eye Blind. I think that makes a unique sounds when it call comes together.

You guys are Texan... Houston is becoming such a hub of musical movements... Do you think that where you come from influences your music?

I come from a really small country town. There were tractors and horses and stuff, and we'd jump around on the hay bales... so yeah as far as song writing goes, all that stuff influences you. So Country is an influence as much as I hate to admit it!

Everybody here loves your new track 'I'm So Sick' which has hit our airwaves. What's the track about?

Living in the world we do, where there's so much negativity and hurt and sadness, we don't have to become that, but learn from that and become something better than that. 'I'm So Sick' is about taking your experiences and acknowledging that you've experienced that, but it doesn't mean you have to do that and live in that cycle;you can overcome it. Just become a better person.

Why did you choose it first as the first single?

We chose it because it's a high-energy song. But I'm very pleased that it was the first release because it's a good introduction to what our bands' about.

Tell us what 'Flyleaf' means?

Flyleaf is the blank page in the front and back of books that people write dedications on and stuff like that. For us, it means the clarity before the story of life and all that seems to happen in it.

If you were to describe Flyleaf in three words, what would they be?

Honest. -I hope we're honest in our lyrics
Intense - because life's intense. You can be intensely happy, or sad, that's what we write about. It's hard to write when you're just content.
Hopeful - in all the stuff we experience...all the broken homes and abuse... but there's a hope for better things... that we will come out on top of these things. 'Cos love conquers all.

How do you guys have fun together?

We love going out on the lake - James and I live together near the lake. But I mean we're always on the bus! When the day starts we all get together and have bible study.

So you're not big party animals?

No! Not at all! We're just like anti-rock stars. We can be prima donnas!

Whose the biggest prima donna out of all of you?

Um...I am. I have to have my Evian at 72 degrees or I will NOT go on stage! (laughs) and a towel girl to wipe my face.

Are there any directors you're looking to work with in your next video clips?

We've worked with The Brothers Strauss, and they've done an amazing job on the'I'm So Sick' video. The way they see things in their head and make them real is really cool.

Do you get much creative input?

They give us the treatment and then if we don't like it, we can just say. But with them we're like "Wow! This is great! Why would we want to change this?!!"

Can you give us a sneak-peek into your latest clip?

Yeah sure! It's a narrative and we're in a stone garden in Fall, and we're playing as dawn's breaking. The song is in a minor key and then when it comes into the last chorus which is becomes a major key, the sun rises and it's an amazing golden colour.

And tell us about the 'I'm So Sick' clip...

That was so fun, it was the first big budget set. It was a white stage that looked set up for someone like U2! And the Brothers Strauss shot everything through a mirror, so they could do heaps of cool effects. And the catering was amazing! This guy would make anything you wanted! Peanut butter and jelly sandwich -anything! We'd never been treated like that before - like royalty! It was amazing!

We'll I was going to ask you what the best thing was about being Flyleaf was - but I think you just answered my question!


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