Flyleaf has been categorized as everything from alternative rock to Christian metal. Not long ago, the group — which features guitarists Sameer Bhattacharya and Jared Hartmann, bass player Pat Seals and drummer James Culpepper — faced the challenge of releasing a new album and organizing a tour while introducing a new vocalist to the band’s substantial fanbase.
After their self-titled debut album went platinum a decade ago and their sophomore release, ‘Memento Mori,’ garnered widespread acclaim, front woman Lacey Sturm announced that she was leaving the band just ahead of the release of Flyleaf’s third album, ‘New Horizons.’
Missouri-native Kristen May, of the Kansas City rock band Vedera, was announced as the new Flyleaf singer in 2013 and the band promptly released a new single — ‘Something Better’ — featuring May and P.O.D. frontman Sonny Sandoval. The single was followed just a few weeks later by a new EP, ‘Who We Are,’ which included ‘Something Better’ as well as four live tracks recorded on tour in 2013 with Drowning Pool. Two additional live ‘bonus tracks’ were also included on the EP.
For Flyleaf fans who felt May might not be ‘Christian enough’ — something the singer has spoken about on occasion — the fact that ‘Who We Are’ reached No. 35 on the Billboard U.S. Christian Albums chart might have been a bit of relief.
Periodically, May has been asked about the band’s faith and legion of Christian fans, and her response has been consistent: that she is a Christian and her faith is a part of her life and music.
However, as May told Crypticrock.com in 2013, she also hopes that people don’t discount Flyleaf or refuse to listen to the band’s music simply because they are commonly labeled as a Christian rock band.
“No matter what you believe, it’s definitely a positive message. I think we all need hope and inspiration and that is what I hope people can take from the music,” May said.
The success of the single ‘Something Better’ and EP ‘Who We Are’ seem to have fueled a drive to return to the studio. In 2014, Flyleaf was signed by Loud & Proud Records and released a new studio album, ‘Between the Stars,’ which was funded by fans through online crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic. ‘Between the Stars’ quickly broke into the Billboard Top 40 in its first week.
Of the new album, May has said, “It felt like home once we began making music… We put our hearts and souls into it.”
Get tickets to the July 9 BFE Rock Club show: Flyleaf at BFE Rock Club