RIFF RADIO: Lacey Sturm finds raw honesty in return to hard rock roots

Lacey Sturm, Flyleaf

Lacey Sturm, courtesy.

Initially, Lacey Sturm wasn’t quite ready for the release of her latest two singles, “State of Me” and “The Decree.” The duo of songs are heavy, aggressive, and some of her most hard-driving tracks of her career, like her earliest work.

“I was not wanting to listen to any heavy rock music,” Sturm said. “‘I need some peace in my life; can we just play something that’s soft and folky?'”

But Sturm quickly realized that the urgency of the tracks, especially “State of Me,” resonated with the times we live in and became an instantly relatable track for fans.

“It felt like it was the right time for this song for so many people,” she said.

Sturm had the chance to test out “The Decree” a couple times on-stage before the shutdown, and said that helped cement that it was the right direction to go in. She co-wrote “State of Me” with Skillet‘s John and Korey Cooper. Sturm has written with Korey Cooper in the past, sang on a Skillet record and played a show with the band, but it was her first time working with John Cooper.

“He’s so unpredictable!” Sturm said. “He’s this off-the-wall, goofy, fun guy. But it was interesting to see him get serious in a creative way. They’re really hard workers.”

Longtime friends with Korey Cooper, Sturm said that a phone call following Skillet’s last tour got the creative juices flowing.

“She said we should write music sometimes just to remind myself that I like it,” Sturm said.

When it comes to recording new music, Sturm keeps things all in the family. Her husband, Josh, records, produces and engineers her music. The collaboration didn’t come naturally at first.

“Twelve years into our marriage, it’s easier,” Sturm said. “The first few years, when we tried to write it was hard. We had totally different writing styles and we had to figure that out.”

The dynamic of a musical couple is vastly different than that of a “normal” couple, added Sturm, pointing to how other couples can simply go to work or get out of the house to get away. She and husband simply buckle down and keep working.

Sturm said she finds inspiration in her most desperate moments, even though the writing may be difficult at first. She said she’s recently lost a number of people close to her, but one in particular weighed heavy.

“I wanted to hide and go into hibernation,” she said. “I din’t want anyone to ask me questions, I didn’t want any cameras, I didn’t want anyone to hear my songs.”

Sturm found solace in an unexpected place, singing on Brian “Head” Welch‘s Love and Death Project, on a cover of DJ Snake and Justin Bieber track “Let Me Love You.” It brought her back from the trauma and regret she felt.

“It was so applicable to what I was going through at the time, but I couldn’t express it—and usually I can,”  Sturm said. “But that’s what music does for people.”

Sturm has kept busy on a number of projects, including guest-singing on the acoustic release of Breaking Benjamin’s “Dear Agony.” At one point it was rumored that Sturm and frontman Ben Burnley would embark on an acoustic project. She said it’s still in the cards.

“We are still texting about that, sending songs back and forth, here and there,” Sturm said.

The challenge is finding time when the two can be in the same room to record.

“We have the songs, I don’t know if they’ll ever get out there,” Sturm said. “There’s a plan, but you never know how it will unfold.”

As for her sophomore release, she said the work continues and the writing and recording is a work in progress, but the record will see the light of day this summer. Fans shouldn’t necessarily take the first two singles as the direction of the album, she said, because she doesn’t want to pigeonhole herself into a certain style or sound before it’s done.

Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.

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