With their very first album, No Name Face, released by Dream Works in 2000, Lifehouse established themselves as a major modern rock band. The album hit the top of the charts and went double-platinum almost at once, and a single from the album, “Hanging by a Moment,” became the most-played song on the radio in 2001.
Lifehouse was started in Los Angeles in 1996 by lead singer and songwriter Jason Wade, then in his mid-teens. Wade had moved a lot as a child, starting out in Camarillo, California, and moving with his parents to various points in Asia, including Japan and Thailand, before heading back to the United States to settle in Portland, Oregon. Stability was short-lived, however, and when his parents divorced, he moved yet again, this time with his mother to Seattle, Washington. It was there, while in junior high school, that Wade began to write and play music. When he was 15, he and his mother relocated a final time, to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Wade met bass player Sergio Andrade and drummer Rick Woolstenhulme, and they played together as Blyss. Andrade had emigrated as a child from Guatemala City, and Woostenhulme, from rural Arizona, was in Los Angeles to study at the
Members include Sergio Andrade , bass; Jason Wade , vocals, guitar; Rick Woolstenhulme. drums; Sean Woolstenhulme , guitar.
Group formed in Los Angeles, CA, 1996; released first album, No Name Face on the DreamWorks label, 2000; released second album, Stanley Climbfall, on DreamWorks, 2002.
Addresses: Record company —DreamWorks Records, 9268 West 3rd St., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Website— Lifehouse Official Website: http://www.lifehousemusic.com.
Los Angeles Music Academy. The trio later changed its name to Lifehouse.
After playing for several years in small venues in the Los Angeles area, Lifehouse were signed to the DreamWorks label in 2000. Their first album, No Name Face, was released by DreamWorks in October of that year. It was an instant hit, with the single “Hanging by a Moment” getting more radio airtime than any other song in 2001.
Wade and his bandmates had only just hit their 20s when their first album was released. The album showcased Wade’s soulful singing and pensive lyrics, backed by electric guitar and drums. Deceptively simple, the album’s music reflects a maturity unusual for such an early effort. The theme of searching is highlighted in the album’s tracks, with the tunes “Unknown,” ‘Trying,” and “Only One” reflecting a quest for spiritual and personal fulfillment.
Although the music of Lifehouse is uplifting and at times inspirational, the band members do not identify themselves as Christian musicians. Two members of the band are Christian, and they originally met at a non-denominational church in Los Angeles. “My music is spiritually based, but we don’t want to be labeled as a ‘Christian band,’” Wade told Rolling Stone, as quoted in Campus Life magazine, “because all of a sudden people’s walls come up and they won’t listen to your music and what you have to say.”
The album was produced by Ron Aniello and mixed by Brendan O’Brien, a music-industry veteran who had also worked on the recordings of Pearl Jam, U2, and Stone Temple Pilots. All Music Guide’s Liana Jonas praised O’Brien’s choice to make Wade’s singing the focus of the album by making sure that the instrumentation stayed at the back of the mix. Jonas called it “an intelligent musical formula sorely missed in much music of the early 21st century.”
No Name Face shot to the number-six position on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and became a platinum record twice over. The single from the album, “Hanging by a Moment,” hit the number-one position on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and number two on the Hot 100 chart. The band hit the road, touring with Pearl Jam, Fuel, Matchbox Twenty, and other rock stars, before recording its second album in 2001.
Lifehouse’s next album, Stanley Climbfall, was recorded by the band in the spring and summer months of 2002, and it was released on the DreamWorks label in the summer of 2002. Wade was 22 at the time of this release. This album features, in addition to the original trio, Rick Woolstenhulme’s younger brother, Sean Woolstenhulme, on guitar. The album was named to reflect the idea of taking risks and the inevitable ups and downs that result. The words “stand,” “climb,” and “fall,” were combined to create a character named Stanley Climbfall.
“Spin” was the cut from Stanley Cimbfall that was chosen for the most radio play. Featuring the lyric “And the world keeps spinning round/My world’s upside down, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” the song, noted the band’s website, might as well describe the band’s rapid rise to success. Again mixed by O’Brien and produced by Aniello, the album’s songs represent a shift from the yearning of the first album, reflecting the deeper confidence that comes with success. As Wade explained on the band’s website, “It’s a very physical record. It’s about moving forward. No Name Face was about accepting the place where you are and trying to figure out how to get beyond that, but not really knowing how. This one is more like, ‘I know how to do this, so I’m just continuing to go forward, take the good with the bad and keep moving.’”
Also with this album, the group presented itself as a more integrated whole, with the other band members coming more to the foreground. Accordingly, the tracks “Spin” and “Wash,” for example, feature guitar chords just as prominently as the vocals, giving the band a more unified sound.
With the help of producer Aniello, Wade dug deeper for more soulful lyrics, while at the same time arriving at them more naturally, improvising lines in pre-production and then picking out the best ones. “It’s all about letting the song happen versus trying to write it,” explained Wade on the band’s website. Wade wrote much of the music for Stanley Climbfall while on the road touring with Matchbox Twenty and Pearl Jam. At the end of each show, he would seclude himself in the back of the tour bus and, with the help of a tape recorder, rough out the tunes that would become the songs of the new album.
Wade remarked to the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, “I think that this is a good, complete record that you can listen to all the way through and all the songs fit together—it makes more sense as a collection of songs [than No Name Face ].” In keeping with the theme of taking risks, Stanley Climbfall represents for the band a commitment to continue changing and growing, all the while playing the music that is the most meaningful to them. As Wade put it on the band’s website, “we took a chance and tried to make what we do better.”
No Name Face, Dreamworks, 2000.
Stanley Climbfall, Dreamworks, 2002.
Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, September 24, 2002.
Billboard, August 31, 2002, p. 15.
Campus Life, November/December 2001, p. 28.
“The Band: Biography,” Lifehouse Official Website, http://www.lifehousemusic.com/theband.php (November 4, 2002).
“Lifehouse,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 4, 2002).
“Lifehouse: Biography,” Launch, http://launch.yahoo.com/artist/artistFocus.asp?artistlD=1015560 (November 4, 2002).
“No Name Face,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 4, 2002).