Lifehouse's lifeline to fans
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Social channels haven’t only been used to discover artists nowadays. More and more established musicians are taking it upon themselves to connect with fans and create a relationship with them through social media.

Take the American rock band Lifehouse, for example. Its Facebook page has reached the 2.5 million mark in terms of followers despite, in the band’s words, “jumping into the scene late in the game.” The band is also active and astir on Twitter, updating followers on what the members are up to, posting new music and hearing out what fans have to say. The band members themselves manage their official social networking sites.

Lifehouse first came into mainstream fame in 2001 and has since seen how much the landscape of the music biz has evolved and how the Internet has been figuring in it.

One thing that Jason Wade (lead vocalist), Rick Woolstenhulme Jr. (drummer), Bryce Soderberg (bass guitarist) and Ben Carey (lead guitarist) are particularly grateful about the Internet is how it has afforded them a lifeline to their fans.

“It’s easy now to not get disconnected unlike the rock stars back in the day, they were kind of disconnected because they don’t have contact with their everyday fans, so the further they grow away artistically and they don’t understand why their fans don’t like their music anymore,” says Jason in an interview Thursday at the Marriott Hotel Manila to promote Lifehouse’s concert tonight, mounted by Dayly Entertainment, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “With the Internet, you put out on a song, you get feedback instantly that you can kind of gauge if people are connecting to it and if they’re into the direction that you’re taking.”

Adds Bryce: “(Now) we’re always engaging our fans; that’s just the name of the game these days. It’s not like in the ’80s, when the closest we can get to say, Guns and Roses is flipping through their albums. Nowadays, a lot of the bands, we have to interact, and it works on our favor.”

“It’s a different world now, with record sales not what they are used to be,” Jason continues. “Actually coming to the Philippines, we are at a point in our career, when we aren’t selling as many albums per se, but the response that we get, the familiarity to our songs is because of the Net.”

The band is on its second visit to the country after its first Manila performance in 2008. Expect the group to perform its biggest hits tonight at the Big Dome from its decade-long career that gave them a combined album sales of over five million. Among its chart-toppers are Spin, Whatever It Takes, First Time, Broken, Halfway Gone, You and Me and of course, Hanging By The Moment (from its debut record No Name Face) which the band considers its biggest song. At the time of its release in 2001, the single won a Billboard Music Award for Hot 100 Single of the Year, among other recognitions.

Jason says, “Hanging By The Moment gave us the start. No one knew who we were if not for that song. It gave us the opportunity to grow... to (even) put out a second album that wasn’t well-received, but still kind of (let us) go through the process of finding ourselves and giving ourselves a voice that’s taken years to find. That song was the catalyst for where we are now and gave us the lives that we have.”

He continues, “It’s a pet peeve of ours when bands don’t play their biggest song. We feel it’s kind of a snub to their fans. Our take on it is as long as people want to hear the song, we kind of owe it to play it.”

Ben stresses that they will never get fed up with playing their old songs. “It doesn’t get old for us. Especially the audiences we have in Manila, we didn’t know what to expect when we first came here (but) it blew our minds when we played Hanging By The Moment, and found how it connected with the audience. It’s really special every time we play the song.”

According to Jason, the band’s lead songwriter, the processes for songwriting and arranging are different each time. “Sometimes it comes with me just picking up the acoustic guitar. Recently, we have been getting together every four o’clock in the afternoon, jamming and songs are coming out of that. Sometimes, it’s just the song title, and I write it down in my journal, and just wait for the song to come like Smoke & Mirrors (from the band’s most recent, successful album of the same title. I thought it was a great title, and the song was written two years after that.”

Do they try to take into consideration the current trends or tastes of listeners into the making of new works?

Jason balks at the thought, explaining, “I feel like if we go down that path, it’s going to be dangerous for me. With our band, it’s all about inspiration. Sometimes, it takes long to make an album to make sure that the songs are inspired. I feel (though) that because we’ve been doing this long enough, we can sit down and make an album in probably two weeks, but it’s about finding the magic or the right album that resonates.”

Rick adds, “It’s like being a painter... totally different each time. You can’t just go in. We have to think outside of the box, but still retain our integrity.”

If they’re not touring as a band, Ben says you can find them busy pursuing side projects. For one, Jason has written songs for other artists. Rick has played on many recordings including that of Rihanna, Britney Spears, Dave Matthews, etc.

Ben further says, “(It’s important) that all four of us have something outside, where we can all be creative separate from each other. Bryce and I sometimes, we do a little acoustic shows.”

Otherwise, you can expect them at home “having barbecue, biking, watching movies, doing yoga” and other very regular stuff that validate their reputation of being of an antithesis of how rock stars are like, or at least, how we regard them to be — inaccessible and high up there.

Jason says, “To be honest, we’ve been very fortunate to have these really massive songs in the radio, but we’re not in the tabs, or one of those (people) that get recognized all the time. It doesn’t really suit our personalities. It’s nice for us to go on the radar and still be successful and not have to do all these antics to get people to pay attention to you. It’s really not our nature. Our goal has always been about the music first, and as long as we can do that, we don’t really care about the accolades.

“We don’t feel like there’s anything different from what we’re doing from anybody else. It’s just that it’s a job, and we feel like it’s an amazing job and we’re lucky to do this for a living, but I don’t think it separates you from everybody else. We’ve always felt we had this blue-collar mentality. We make a record, we work hard, and hopefully people listen to it.”

Asked why Lifehouse has lasted this long and is still rocking strong, they all claim it’s the friendship.

Jason shares with a laugh, “It’s kinda cheesy, but we do hang out with each other a lot! It’s weird! And even with most bands, on days off they go bam (disappear), but we are like always having dinner together. I think that makes up 90 percent of the recipe for success. When kids ask us for advice, I say, make sure, you’re in a band with people you like otherwise you won’t last.”

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