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Few bands can bounce back after losing their vocalists; however Flyleaf is not just any band. If you have listened to any of their albums – from their raucous self-titled debut, to their beautifully crafted latest effort, Between the Stars, this has never been more evident. With a new album and new vocalist Kristen May at the mic, the band is sounding better than ever with their strongest effort yet, showing both prowess and maturity on a disc that begs to be played on repeat.

Currently on Revolver’s ‘Hottest Chicks in Rock’ tour, we were able to get Flyleaf lead guitarist and chief song smith Sameer Bhattacharya to sit down for us and discuss the new album, songwriting, keeping positive, and even a little advice for bands on the rise. 
Matthew Pashalian

The band is currently on the Revolver ‘Hottest Chicks in Rock’ Tour, how has fan reaction been so far?
The fans have been very engaged. There is a lot of energy between the bands and audience.

Between the Stars is the first album where the band is writing with Kristen; how does writing with her differ then with Lacey?
Lacey was very rhythmic in her writing whereas Kristen is very melodic and has an amazing knack for ear candy. She writes these soaring melodies that stick with you.

As a writer, what does Kristen bring to the table and how does it affect your writing style?
It’s difficult to pinpoint how it has directly affected my style of writing. What is great about Kristen is that musically and lyrically she’ll try almost anything, which has opened up our style.

What did you find to be the most difficult part of writing for this album?
Most difficult part of any kind of writing is trying to get the songs out your own head; letting the songs happen as naturally as possible. I think Flyleaf does a great job of capturing that spontaneity and energy of a moment which keeps you interested in the story.

What is your personal favorite song on Between the Stars?
City Kids

You have, very much a style all your own as a guitarist. What inspires, and continues to inspire you as a songwriter and guitarist in general, and in regards to this album?
The hope that we can be better human beings than we’ve been has always inspired me. I use a lot of my past experiences, hopes, dreams, and failures when I’m writing. When somebody listens to a song I want it to cause them to reflect on their life and realize that those dreams they have of being a superhero and doing great things isn’t lost. We have a choice in every moment of our lives to live selfishly or selflessly. I want our songs to inspire them to live selflessly and realize that that is being all that you dreamed.

Rock in general is kind of a bit more moody and dark, how is it that you are able to keep the heaviness, but also have such an uplifting overall tone?
I am a bit dark and moody, so I think it suits me. But you’re right, Flyleaf retains that sense of hope. We want to leave the listener with the mindset of, “I acknowledge how hard these times in life can be, but there is a power greater than I can imagine that is rooting for me. I am not alone.”

How do you feel about the bands musical progression album to album?
From our debut album to Between the Stars, Flyleaf has literally grown out of adolescence into adulthood. The musical progression follows our level of maturity and understanding of the world around us. We will have a lifetime to go.

 

There was a huge leaps and bounds change from the self-titled album to Memento Mori, I always wondered how long some of those songs were around and if you worried that fans may be a bit taken back by such a huge progressive leap?
A few of those songs were written early on even before we recorded our first album. A lot were written on tour. We didn’t plan on it being themed or some kind of concept album. But still, I think we puffed up our chest and went into Memento Mori with more ambition and less caution than we probably should have, but it’s a time in my early twenties that I wouldn’t trade for anything. We learned a lot.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the set lists since the band started touring last year and I have to say that you do something that a lot of modern rock bands that you guys have toured with don’t do – you actually play songs from your new album. How important is it that a nice amount of new songs are actually performed live?
It’s never crossed our minds to not play songs from our latest albums. We try to play something from every album.

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With that question and answer in mind, as a music fan does it bug you that there are bands out there who have been around as long as you guys and just go through the motions and tour album after album only playing their singles and rarely play material from their current album?
Yes. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then what’s the point?

Flyleaf is 4 albums into their career, a few EP’s – how difficult is it for you guys to put together a set list for a headlining show that satisfies both you as a band and the fans?
It can be difficult. We end up rotating songs out from tour to tour.

Flyleaf is one of those bands that really worked hard to get to that next level. I remember reading about you pre-signing on Evanescence message boards and thinking, wow these guys must really be doing something right! In today’s ever changing music industry, what advice do you have for local unsigned bands trying to be seen and heard to get to that next level?
Ask yourself why you want to pursue this career. If the answer is fame, you’ll be disappointed. If the answer is money, you’ll be disappointed. You have to believe that what you are doing is important, because you’re going to leave your friends, your family, and embark on a crazy adventure that can ultimately fall into a mundane routine if you let it. You have to believe you’re doing something important. You have to believe that your music is making a difference, because fun is only fun for so long. To thrive in anything you pursue you need a sense of purpose.

The band performs at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live! on Wednesday, April 22. Tickets can still be purchased here, or at the box office day of show.

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