Lifehouse doesn't play Christian rock, but the band's guitar-powered tunes certainly have a spiritual connection.
Maybe it's because the fast-rising group, which is touring with matchbox twenty and will be in concert Monday at the University of Toledo, started out playing praise-and-worship music at a California church.
And maybe it's because Jason Wade, the trio's 20-year-old lead singer and songwriter, spent a few years of his childhood in Hong Kong where his parents served as missionaries.
“I think a lot of our music has to do with self-discovery, learning about life away from authority figures,” Mr. Wade said in a recent interview. “That's where I was at the time when I wrote them. And spirituality is a good part of it. We have a universal message of love.”
Like Creed, another hard-rocking band with religious undertones, Lifehouse is too talented and independent to be restricted to the Christian music niche. The lyrics on the band's debut disc, “No Name Face,” are intentionally ambiguous, leaving room for individual interpretation.
Mr. Wade described the song “Everything,” for example, as “probably one of the most spiritual songs on the record for me.” But while one person will view the lyrics as obviously referring to God, another person might feel they are speaking about a lover: “You are the light that is leading me to the place where I find peace again. You are the strength that keeps me walking. You are the hope that keeps me trusting. You are the life to my soul, you are everything.”
“I leave a lot of my lyrics open to make them personal. I don't tell the whole side of what I'm saying,” Mr. Wade said. “That leaves it open for people to relate them to whatever is going on in their lives. Some people have told me they want `Everything' to be played at their wedding.”
Lifehouse's origins date back to when Mr. Wade was 15 and had just moved to Los Angeles with his mother after his parents divorced. He became friends with his next-door neighbor, Sergio Andrade.
“We were just kids, like 15, 16, 17, eating at Burger King, playing basketball, and playing music in a garage. It started off really homegrown,” Mr. Wade said. They eventually hooked up with drummer Rick Woolstenheuln, and for some projects bring in a fourth musician, guitarist Stuart Mathis.
After Lifehouse started playing concerts, producer Ron Aniello brought them into his home studio to make some recordings. He spotted the band's raw talent but felt the teenagers needed time to grow as writers and musicians.
The trio came back a few years later and Mr. Aniello helped them get a contract with the major label Dreamworks.
The band's debut recently climbed to No. 29 on the mainstream Billboard 200 chart and the single, “Hanging by a Moment,” is at No. 30 on its Hot 100 chart.
Lifehouse opens for matchbox twenty and Everclear at 7 p.m. Monday at the University of Toledo's Savage Hall. Tickets are $25.50 and $33. Information: 530-4231.
- DAVID YONKE