MATG Exclusive: One on One with Lacey Sturm
Written by Shannon Reardon
The walk to the top floor of The Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania goes through a tight stairway behind the stage. The steps and the railing painted black, a contrast to the fluorescent green of the rooms housing each band for the evening.
A short hallway leads to a dark corner with a door. Inside the room – two black couches met in the far corner, and across from those couches are two worn wooden tables pushed together with three chairs in a similar condition to match.
Sitting cross legged in pink Chuck Taylors, black pants, a black and white striped dress, and a gray pullover in one of the worn wooden chairs is singer Lacey Sturm talking about her trip with Flyleaf to Afghanistan.
“I was about to go to Afghanistan, and I’m sitting in front of the plane flying over this river in Afghanistan, and it’s the brightest blue I’ve ever seen,” said Sturm. “I [said], ‘wow, look at the water. It’s so blue!’ And the pilot [tells me] that’s lapis lazuli. The river beds are covered with lapis lazuli, a precious stone. And then I realized, ‘I’m in this war right now, like I’m part of history, like [people] are going to read about this in history books and I’m on a plane in the middle of this.’ Whatever you believe about it, it’s really cool.”
Sturm, who left Flyleaf in 2012, released a solo album, Life Screams, in February of 2016.
“I never thought I would do music again,” Sturm said. “When I left Flyleaf I was like, ‘I can’t imagine doing this, I need to figure out how to be a mom. I don’t know how to do both.’”
Putting her family first, Sturm turned away from her music career, but found that the more she focused on her family and herself, the more she found inspiration for songs.
“I was bringing people into the house who were artists to just talk to them about their art and their music,” Sturm said. “People would come over, I would make them dinner, and we would talk about art and music, … faith and spirituality, and we’d just start singing. Randomly, we’d be singing a song and then keep the music going and just change the lyrics, and then all these songs just started coming out. And I was just so – inspired. Even as we were writing songs, I didn’t think that I would share them, but then I got to this place where all these songs just kept coming out.”
Sturm said the final push that made her put an album out was the amount of artist singing songs that preached hate, or subliminally told people to go to hell and to kill themselves.
“It’s the exact opposite of what I want to say to people, every breath you have matters, and there’s more to life than just what you see in front of you,” said Sturm. “I believe that we build up, that we get what we give in a lot of ways. In many instances, we can overcome those things if we can just not sit down in the mess, and stand up and say, ‘no, we’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep breathing, we’re going to keep trying to find the glory in this.’ And I wanted to share that because my son is going to grow up in that generation where these kids are being taught that life is just [about getting] all of the highs that you can out of it and then [you] just die young – it just makes me angry. There’s so much more to your soul than just the highs that you can get out of life that just let you down so harshly.”
Writing the album Life Screams, Sturm said she tried to focus on what she wanted to tell her sons about finding the good amidst the negativity in the world around them.
The title track of the album expresses Sturm’s philosophy towards life, and how life will try and talk to you, but you have to be willing to listen.
“We go through the same problems over and over,” Sturm says. “We pick the same relationships, we go through the same pain, we look back and realize, ‘I’ve been dealing with the same issue.’ And we have to stop and be still for a minute and say, ‘what is life trying to tell me right now? Is there something I should focus on? Is there something in me that I should change? Is there something around me that I need to get out of? Do I need to remove myself?’ Because, there is a way of peace, and life is really good at guiding you if you can acknowledge it. … Life will whisper, and talk normal, talk loud, and scream.”
For Sturm, getting back on the road though came with mixed emotions.
“I didn’t miss touring at all. The thing I missed about being in Flyleaf was getting to connect with people in all kinds of ways. My soul was broken in Flyleaf for a lot of that time – like I said, when your soul is broken you don’t have the capacity to give anything, you need healing.”
Despite her feelings of emptiness she felt while in Flyleaf, Sturm says she still felt the obligation to spread the message of hope to those who needed it most.
“I felt drained all the time, and it was just hard enough finding my own piece of mind,” Sturm says. “So even though I felt this heavy burden to talk to the suicidal kid who didn’t feel life was worth it, [who] hated God, hated Christians, hated people, and hated themselves more than anything, I wanted them to feel that presence of hope over that. There’s a reason to live, heal yourself, you can give to other people if you overcome, and there’s purpose in all the mess; that was the message in it of itself.”
With the end of her tour with Palisades, Stitched Up Heart, and Letters from the Fire drawing to a close on Feb. 14, Sturm has a message that she hopes every fan walks away from her show with.
“There’s something different about being in the room with a bunch of people who somehow feel the message as well, and the message is Life in the face of Death, Courage in the face of Fear,” Sturm says. “So when you’re in a room full of people that kind of get that vaguely and then you hear somebody singing who believes in it, you get jolted. It’s like a projection of faith, life, and courage, and it solidifies [that message].”