BioFlyleaf comes full circle on New Horizons, their third full-length album for A&M/Octone. The platinum-selling hard rock outfit blazes with a fresh fire and uncontainable energy.
There's always hope around the corner. When the night is darkest, the sunrise is brightest. Through the toughest trials and tribulations come the best rewards. For every death, there is a birth. At the end of the day, life remains built on cycles beyond our control.
Flyleaf finished touring late 2010 behind their second offering, Memento Mori, and took a break. Throughout 2011, they were writing for what would become their next record. "It was simply about writing and seeing what happened. There was so much freedom in that" Jared exclaims. Sameer excitedly echoes that sentiment. "There was more of a natural feeling, and there were absolutely no boundaries or rules. We've grown as songwriters. It's nothing we try to force. We let the songs be themselves."
At the start of 2012, the band regrouped in Los Angeles with longtime producer Howard Benson [Bon Jovi, My Chemical Romance] to record New Horizons. Having built an unshakable trust with the musicians, Benson captured them in the moment, preserving the urgency of the initial tracks without tinkering or altering the initial blueprint much.
Within merely six weeks, Flyleaf emerged from the studio with their most explosive, expansive, and enigmatic work yet. The title track stands emblematic of the album's spirit. Taking a cue from Hartmann's eclectic pop influences, a clean guitar melody builds into Sturm's inspiring and invigorating refrain just before crashing back into warm distorted bliss. "It's a very hopeful song about looking forward," continues Sameer. "You put aside unhealthy fear. Instead, you embrace excitement for the future and the unknown. You can only be excited for what's ahead." Jared agrees, "That sense of hopefulness will always be a crucial element of what we do. It's a big part of New Horizons."
Meanwhile, "Great Love" remains one of the group's most uplifting and undeniable pieces. "It's anthemic and definitive of our sound," adds Pat. "The lyrics, to me, admit the need we have for fellowship with what is greater than ourselves."
"Fire Fire" resounds with an infectious unpredictability from the staggering guitars and percussion as well as Sturm's inimitable delivery." A lot of it is metaphorical," reveals Sameer of "Fire Fire". "When you're young, you feel like nothing can touch you or impact you. You think you're invincible. A realization that you're not immortal comes as you get older and progress. There's always a battle between the spirit and the flesh. We're all flawed and corrupted, but there's redemption beyond this world."
Even with the smooth creative process, Flyleaf faced true tragedy together upon finishing recording. Their front of house engineer and close friend Rich Caldwell was killed in a car accident just outside his home in College Station, TX. The group banded together and held a benefit concert to aid Caldwell's wife Katy and two-year-old son Kirby. It was also a chance to celebrate their brother's life. Sameer sighs. "I still can't believe it. Rich got to come out to the studio while we were recording in L.A. He wasn't there very long, but he heard some of the music. I feel really fortunate we spent that time together. He was pretty much the sixth member of the band, and he'd been there since the beginning. Outside of the band, he influenced us more than any other person as far as music goes. He'll always be one of our best friends."
As all of their records do, the album remains cathartic for the band. They convey a deeper message with the songs, emerging from life's battles triumphantly and positively via their music. Sameer elaborates, "There's a lot of struggle on New Horizons. In the midst of all these grandiose ideas, there's an underlying tension, which humanizes the record. It addresses some darker things, and it feels the most human to me. It discusses the conflict we face trying to figure out if we're doing the right thing and walking the right path, even when people tell us we're not."
Ever since they unleashed their first record in 2005, life's been a bit of a rollercoaster. Flyleaf exceeded platinum status on the strength of singles including "I'm So Sick", "Fully Alive", and the platinum-selling staple "All Around Me". It also remained on the Billboard Top 200 for 133 weeks, hitting the top 15 of both the Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts. Meanwhile, they performed across the globe with everyone from Korn and Deftones to Stone Sour and Evanescence. They've even touched down in Afghanistan to play for American troops. In 2009, Memento Mori, featuring "Again" and "Missing", debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 with sales in excess of 56,000 units that week. Still, they continue to break ground and forge ahead.
New Horizons exists not only for Flyleaf, but for their legion of fans as well. "If a song makes someone feel better, that's incredible," concludes Jared. "We try to share something special with listeners."
Pat exclaims, "When listening to New Horizons, I would hope that fans would be able to lose themselves in the story of each of these songs and form their own connections to them—as we have in the band. There is a great deal of our souls laid bare on this record, and I feel like it really comes through on the tracks."
For Sameer, it's about recognition of truth on a larger scale. "One of the struggles of the human soul is trying to distinguish between truth and lies. We want people to understand that Hope is real. We all have a higher calling, and it's something we should strive towards. That's the real new horizon." — Rick Florino, August 2012
Members: Kristen May, Sameer Bhattacharya, Jared Hartmann, Pat Seals, James Culpepper
Current Record Label: A&M/Octone
Albums: Flyleaf EP (2005), Flyleaf (2005), All Around Me EP (2007), Memento Mori (2007), Remember to Live (2007), New Horizons (2012)