Latest release: New Horizons (A&M/Universal)

Christian rockers Flyleaf made their debut appearance in Australia at the first ever Soundwave festival in 2007. Now with new singer Kristen May and a new bunch of tunes released as New Horizons late last year, the Texan quintet will be back on these shores this week. Loud caught up with guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya recently for a few words.

Thanks for your time today Sameer. You must be quite looking forward to getting down here to Australia to play.
Absolutely yes! We love Australia and we’re looking forward to it a lot.

You had probably the hardest line-up change for any band recently when you were forced to replace your singer Lacey Sturm. Was it difficult to find someone who could still sing the old songs but bring themselves to the band as well?
Exactly. We didn’t want someone who was going to be the same as our old singer. [new singer] had the whole package. She could sing the songs with such passion and conviction it really made a good impressoin on us.

How have the fans taken to Kristen joining the band?
Live they really really love her. We’re really blessed to have fans that support our band as a whole. What Kristen brings to the live performance is phenomonal. She just commands the stage and our fans really appreciate that.

Does it seem like a new beginning for Flyleaf then?
Absolutely, yes. Yes, it is a new beginning for Flyleaf. The one word that keeps coming up is rejuvenation. The songs are rejuvenated, the live shows are refreshed. She just brings this new attitude to the band and it’s different to what we were before. We’re a lot darker than in previous years.

So do you think there might be some change in direction ahead now?
I don’t know. We’ve started to write with Kristen now, and they sound like Flyleaf songs, but with Kristen’s voice. It’s amazing. She has this fragility in her voice that’s still so potent and really gets into your core. It’s really been refreshing.

And Kristen’s bringing her own songs to the band also?
Yes she is. We’ll all start writing and I’ll have this idea, and then she’ll have an idea and we’ll start mixing and matching and just making songs.

What are you looking forward to the most about coming to Australia?
Australia is an amazing place, because it’s like you have this southern hospitality. We’re from Texas, we’re polite and hospitable and it seems that Australia has that. There’s also these amazing beaches and scenery, it’s a really natural place and there’s some really dangerous animals.

Well I hope you don’t meet too many of those while you’re here. Now, everyone always says that Australia is their favourite place to play, so is there somewhere apart from Australia that is your favourite place to visit?
It’s hard to say, because every place has it’s own charm. There’s always something that makes a place special. I don’t have a particular place. I think it depends on the people that you’re haging out with after the show. Any place can be special.

I know you’ve been asked this question many, many times before, but I’m going to have to ask it again unfortunately: Are you a Christian rock band, or a rock band made up of Christians?
It’s however you want to take it. We are all Christians in this band and that has a huge influence on our perspective. The perspective of songs and the hope in the songs, there’s no denying that Christianity, our faith, has a huge part in our vision, in our songs, in where we take the band. The only reason I hate to say “Christian band” is that I hate to see that used as a marketing tool. It’s wrong to use the name of Jesus Christ to book shows and sell records. It makes me uncomfortable that people are making money off of that. That’s my only qualm with tagging us with the label ‘Christian rock’. I think that the term ‘Christian industry’ is an oxymoron. Making money off your faith, I think that’s wrong. We are Christians is this band, and as far as themes go, there is salvation and redemption in Christ and the Father.

Well thanks Sameer. Our time’s at an end unfortunately. Thanks for the chat and all the best with the tour.
Oh no problem at all. Thanks to you and I hope we see you all on tour!

Flyleaf tours Australia this month with Red Bee:

15/8: Hi Fi, Brisbane QLD
16/8: Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne VIC
17/8: Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW (A/A)