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Rockers Lifehouse try new slant with "Mirrors"
By Laura Leebove
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Just like clockwork, since its 2000 debut, "No Name Face," rock band Lifehouse has cranked out a studio album every two to two-and-a-half years, and each has peaked in the top 15 of the U.S. pop chart.
Longtime manager Jude Cole, who also produced 2007's "Who We Are" and the upcoming album "Smoke and Mirrors," credits the group's success to its being a "real" band, with no lip-synching or tapes behind its live performances.
"There's no trickery going on anywhere," Cole says. "The strategy has really been, 'How do we keep this fresh and not repeat ourselves?'"
To keep the sound new on "Smoke and Mirrors," out mid-February on Geffen, frontman Jason Wade shared songwriting duties on almost every track, incorporating ideas from Cole, Richard Marx, Kevin Rudolf and Chris Daughtry, who also sings on the song "Had Enough."
"I just felt it was necessary to get a different vantage point," Wade says. "I've been writing songs since I was 15, and usually I use my own personal experiences and life situations as kind of a canvas, and there are certain times where there's not a lot of turbulence in your life. I felt like I needed to get inspiration elsewhere."
The outside inspiration led to the album's first single, "Halfway Gone," which was co-written with Rudolf. "A good year and four months into making the record, we didn't feel like we had that lead-off single," Wade says, noting that Cole was a big fan of "Let It Rock," Rudolf's track with Lil Wayne. "We wanted to experiment sonically and just come up with a fresh sound for Lifehouse, and Kevin really added that. He added this really modern edge to what we do."
Another change of pace for "Smoke and Mirrors" was that Lifehouse recorded it between tour dates, whereas in the past, it was more common for the band to complete a full touring cycle and then take a year off to make an album. "I'd say a good six years out of the 10 years we've been a band has been out on the road," Wade says. "The process was a little bit different for us in that we would record Monday through Friday and fly out to do a gig over the weekend. So we basically never got off the road."
Cole says the chemistry from constantly being on tour carried into the studio and the first few songs that were recorded, among them "Nerve Damage" and "Wrecking Ball." They embodied the edgier sound of the band's live show, while the rest of the tracks were planned more with radio in mind.
The Malibu, California-based group has had plenty of radio success in the past, most notably with its 2001 hit "Hanging by a Moment," which spent 55 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 (and was named that chart's song of the year for 2001), and 2005's "You and Me," which spent 30 weeks on the chart.
"We had taken a little bit of time off (from recording), and when we went back into the studio -- I think because they weren't coming fresh off the road -- it was more like, 'I'm kind of in the mood to write something that's radio-worthy," Cole says.