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Interview: Bryce Soderberg ‘Lifehouse’

American rock legends Lifehouse have just released their new album and are heading down under in October for a string of headline shows. We hung in a moment with their bassist Bryce Soderberg to talk about the band’s eighth studio album “Out of the Wasteland” and returning to our shores for the first time in over a decade. 

So Bryce, what’s the reception been like to the new album after going on hiatus in 2013?

So far our fans have positively reacted to it. I think there’s a lot of old fans who have come back and appreciated what we’ve done cause we’ve gone back to the sound we had back in our roots. But we don’t really pay too much attention to the critics, but from what I hear we’ve had really positive feedback (from them) as well. For us we raised the bar on this record cause we made a record that we’re really proud of and that’s the most important thing. We’re just happy that it’s out!

Have the long-time Lifehouse fans forgiven you for taking a break or have you hit the road playing to a new audience?

I didn’t think we had very much to apologise for, we needed a break after 13 years of touring because we were a little burnt out. Every record we make we go out on the touring cycle and then go right back into the studio and start making another record. After 13 years we just kind of needed to step away, get fresh perspective on things, and individually bring something new to the table creatively. I think it was a necessary thing and I think that our fans understood and are happy to have us back!

How did the Lifehouse hiatus affect your side project KOMOX?

With KOMOX I made a couple of EPs that I’m really proud of but I haven’t really put them out yet. But (the hiatus) was definitely really healthy for me to explore something individually and I developed my songwriting and singing skills.  It was really healthy to then bring that back to Lifehouse and share and bring new things to the band.

What was the catalyst that ended the Lifehouse hiatus and got the band writing “Out of the Wasteland”?

It was (lead singer) Jason who called Rick (Drums) and I in September last year and said he had some fractured songs that he was going to do on his solo record but a lot of them sounded like new Lifehouse songs. I think he just missed us as well! We go back into the studio and I think it was just a great batch of songs to put out as a Lifehouse record, but I just grateful that we got the chance to keep the Lifehouse ball rolling.

You’re playing your first shows in Australia since 2002, what took you guys so long to come back down under?

There’s a bunch of factors! I think we were really focussed on the United States, which has been our biggest core fan base. We had a lot of tour offers here (U.S) and so we just started to focus on that side of things. We were supposed to get down (to Australia) for the Stone Festival a couple of years ago but I think something fell through on the business side of things and we were really disappointed. But the stars have now just aligned for us along with some others and we’re happy to be back! 

Lifehouse has sold over 15 million records worldwide and so far has over 1.4 billion plays on Pandora. As a band, are you happier when an album is successful on the charts or when you walk out to play for a sold-out crowd?

It’s funny because kind of both of them are bonus points! Sometimes we’ve just got to look at what we’re doing and pinch ourselves that we’ve been fortunate to kind of have both. We just try to make the best record we can and do that for ourselves. But I definitely love a show that’s packed and full of energy cause that’s kind of one of the reasons I got into the music industry in the first place, it’s the live performance aspect of things I enjoy the most.

Do you think Jason and Rick would prefer having multi-platinum selling records or are all members of Lifehouse all about playing live shows?

I think they’d both agree with me that there are a lot of acts that come out with a big song on the charts and ends up being a one-hit wonder. When they go to play a show they don’t the sort of thing that we do, like we have a great organic feel to our show, which we pride ourselves on. So I think they’d agree with me were it’s not really a contest, you can’t have one without the other, and so we’re really fortunate to kind of have both.

How do you think the Lifehouse live show is different to other rock bands?

We have diverse flavours to our set, as we have young fans and older fans. And our set has a lot of rock songs that people get into, people also interpret our lyrics spiritually and love that side (of our shows) too. And our ballads like You and Me was a big wedding song, a very romantic song that people love. Part of entertainment is to have a lot of different angles and varieties and I think that we have a lot of high energy and a lot to offer and we pride ourselves on that.

The song many would know Lifehouse by is Hanging by a Moment released back in the year 2000. How do you think the new album is different to early 2000’s Lifehouse?

Hanging by a Moment was our biggest songalong with You and Me and we’ve had a few songs that I think have done really well since. I think that our fan base really likes our new record because we went back to our roots sonically and tried to create a record that has the same kind of instrumentation of the first record. The song Hurricane uses the same guitar that we used on Hanging by a Moment and that captured the same kind of sounds. So again we reached back to our old fan base and at the same time we’re showing our growth and everything we’ve learnt over the years and I think for us that’s something we should be proud of.

What’s the biggest lesson Lifehouse has learnt over the past 15 years?

There are a lot of lessons that we’ve learned! We’ve made some mistakes and we’ve learned from them but we’ve made a lot of triumphs and we’ve learned from them too. We’re fortunate we still all get along pretty well, which is great, but one thing we’ve learned is when it comes to creativity it’s to not force it. Not to lift as many blocks by ourselves and get out there and get inspired by great music, great art, great movies, and reading great books. To just keep yourself in that present mental state so you can be there and witness being in a studio and being on stage, being present!

Good advice! So new album has been called a “culmination of the band’s life work”. Do you agree with this and will this be Lifehouse’s final album?

I think that’s really accurate because the album kind of has different flavours from each (of our previous) records. I don’t think this will be our last record but it may be our last record for a while, maybe for a few years. I definitely think we’re going to be around for the long haul and we have to tools to keep doing what we do!

On the track Hourglass from the new album the band got to work with legendary soundtrack composer James Newton Howard to create expansive string arrangements. What was that experience like and why did the band choose that particular track to collaborate with Mr Howard?

So Hourglass is a song that’s been sitting around for 20 years that our manager had written with Jason but had never finished. He brought it up to Jason that he thought it would be a great addition to the record. It’s a fantastic track that has a kind of nomadic quality to it and James Howard is an absolute genius and Jason got to go into the studio and work on it for a bit. Jason is a massive fan of soundtracks, and so are we, and I think it was nice to add that flavour and I think it’s a welcome addition to the record as well.

Reviews of Lifehouse’s recent shows have given plenty of praise to Jason for his stage presence and “perfect” vocal performances. How does Lifehouse approach playing live shows and has this changed over time?

I think it’s all about being present. We watch a lot of our favourite acts and try to take a couple of tips here and there. We pride ourselves on our live show and work hard on getting it as tight as possible and we have that freedom to let loose on stage without overthinking things. We’re going to start rehearsals on Thursday so as soon as we get that muscle flexed we’ll be more than excited to put that energy out there!

You said you try and watch your favourite acts, who’s Lifehouse’s loving musically at the moment?

We each have different influences, I like bands the other guys don’t and vice versa. But we share a love for Coldplay, The Beatles, U2, Led Zeppelin, and ‘The Stones. All the classic rock we grew up with as well the 90’s Seattle alternative scene stuff. It’s a very diverse collection and there’s always stuff to pull from the greats out there so it’s necessary for us to keep track and keep up to date.

Who is your favourite audience to play for?

Australia obviously! Or at least it’s going to be, we don’t know yet! Seriously though we love playing sold-out shows, whether they’re intimate or arenas where fans are just as enthusiastic about the show as we are.

Finally, are you saving anything special or have any surprises for Australian audiences for your October headline tour?

Yeah it’s going to have bits and pieces of old records, a lot of our old catalogue, mixed in with our new catalogue. We’re going to have some acoustic moments, and some song’s we’re going to play for ourselves. It’s going to be the tracks we thing Australian audiences are going to want to hear. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to it!

Lifehouse October Tour Dates
Sunday October 11

Metro City, Perth

Tuesday October 13

The Gov, Adelaide

Wednesday October 14

Tivoli, Brisbane

Thursday October 15

Forum Theatre, Melbourne

Friday October 16

Big Top (Luna Park), Sydney

Get Tickets here

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