WITH ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMMERCIAL ROCK anthems of the year already under its belt, Lifehouse has reached that pivotal next step in the career of any blossoming act: the much- anticipated and often-dreaded follow-up single.
The Los Angeles-based quartet will forever be remembered for its debut hit, the power ballad "Hanging By A Moment," a crossover sensation that has permeated the soul of nearly every rock radio format from alternative to Top 40.
Radio programmers seem to have given almost as much attention to that song as the music industry bestows upon Napster.
Lifehouse's second single, "Sick Cycle Carousel," mirrors the soft-rock-and-heartfelt- vocals formula that propelled "Hanging ..." to other-worldly status. Whether this song or any other tune on the group's DreamWorks' debut album, No Name Face has the power to carry the torch remains to be seen, though.
Lifehouse main man Jason Wade admitted there's concern about conquering the beast that "Hanging ..." has grown to become; however, in an interview with POLLSTAR, the 21-year- old revealed he isn't losing sleep over it.
"It's one of those things where it can almost scare you about how big a song can get, you know, because it's so hard to follow up," Wade said. "We're just going to take what we can get. It's like 'Hanging By A Moment' just won't go away right now. We just released a single to alternative radio ... so we're hoping it will perform as well, but there are no guarantees. We're just taking it as it comes."
Quite a bit has already gravitated toward the band, considering the progress Wade and his fellow group members have made since forming five years ago. Obviously fueled by the smash debut song, No Name Face has shifted more than 1.7 million copies since its release on Halloween last year, according to SoundScan figures.
The album's sales figure is a respected and well-earned number because Lifehouse cut its teeth in the recording studio instead of the stages of countless nightspots in the Los Angeles area. It's an unusual strategy for a rock band to follow but, as the group's charming leader explained, that was the intention from the beginning.
"When you're playing a lot live in L.A. and that whole circuit, you have more of an opportunity to just blend in with everyone. You can turn up to be just another band because there are so many bands that are trying to make it," Wade said.
Greedy club owners waiting to scam the next desperate band also influenced the choice of Lifehouse's development path, he said. "Sometimes, you almost have to pay the clubs in Hollywood to actually play there; they're tough to get in."
So instead, "we took a different route and just tried to make the songs good," Wade said. "We met a producer and we did most of our work in the studio. ... We had some good connections, so we waited for our time when we knew the songs were strong and then went to go shop a deal."
DreamWorks caught wind of Lifehouse's efforts and made an offer. "It was basically knowing the right people and getting our demos into the right people's hands that got us a record deal," he said. "We didn't go through a bidding war. We knew DreamWorks was the one when we first started talking to them, so we didn't want to go that route to make it more difficult."
The label's strong appeal included its "[willingness] to put a lot of energy into young bands and make careers versus just one hit single," he said, sounding almost prophetic. "I knew they had really incredible artists like Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and The Eels, so I wanted to be around that atmosphere where they really respected the artists and let you do what you want and not get in your way."
While the group made regular performances during its initial years, Lifehouse's live show really kicked into gear just prior to last year's album release.
"We've been pounding it out on the road for the last almost nine months, so we've pretty much been going for it," Wade said during a May interview. "When the record got released, we were on the road a month and a half before that just to get some experience. We started out on the side stage for Pearl Jam and started playing a lot of radio shows when the record began getting picked up."
Following opening stints on tours by matchbox twenty and 3 Doors Down between spring and summer, Lifehouse is expected to launched a headlining outing this fall, Wade said. Creative Artists Agency's Carole Kinzel is booking the band, while Jude Cole of Irving Azoff's management company is handling the group's other business matters.
The months and years ahead will ultimately determine if Lifehouse is destined to fall into that one-hit wonder category. Wade has a good idea about how to overcome that fate. "I just think we need to tour hard and really play it out on the road," he said, "and hopefully DreamWorks will do their job getting it on the radio."