This is the second part of our compelling conversation with ex-Flyleaf vocalist Lacey Sturm. Before you dig into this, check out part one of the interview here: Lacey Sturm – Family, Faith and Rock ‘n Roll
Cretin: Who are some of your influences from the rock world?
Lacey Sturm: I definitely connected with Kurt Cobain. That was the first music that drew me to rock and roll, and Type O Negative a little bit. I always loved that dark humor. My friend’s dad had the CD and I was reading those lyrics in 5th grade.
Cretin: 5th Grade is young for that kind of music.
Lacey Sturm: Then when I heard Nirvana, my brother had gone to a Nirvana concert, I think it was at Trees on a night where someone got hit in the head with a guitar and there were a bunch of fights.
(Here’s a story on that infamous night, and it’s an interesting read.)
Lacey Sturm: He came back with a tape of Nevermind and I was the only person in the family with a boom box so he had to come to my room to listen to it, and when he left it in there I started listening more. And, I thought, ‘Wow, those emotions.’ It wasn’t entertainment, it was his emotions pouring out.
Cretin: Cobain had an amazing way to connect with people.
Lacey Sturm: Yeah, and we were really poor growing up, and were relentlessly bullied for being poor. My mom was a single mom, six kids, on welfare and we only got thrift store clothes. And he actually made that cool. Having thrift store clothes was the thing.
Cretin: One of the reasons he touched so many lives.
Lacey Sturm: He was the anti-rock star. Later on when I became a Christian, I realized that was something I loved about Jesus, too. He was just like everyday people, hanging out with the fisherman, prostitutes and tax collectors. That’s what I felt about Kurt Cobain, He had this huge status, but he could just be an anybody, hanging out with regular people.
Cretin: But on the flipside, Cobain felt a ton of pressure because he was adored for being that kind of guy. Did you feel a lot of pressure from your fans?
Lacey Sturm: I did in Flyleaf the entire time.
Cretin: That has to make life challenging.
Lacey Sturm: You’re perceptive to ask that. I remember one time in Japan in an interview, my sound engineer, who has passed away, was sitting there listening. He was a guitar player who wanted to be in a band himself, and the interviewer asked me, “What would you say to someone who wants to be in this business?” And I said “I wouldn’t wish fame on my worst enemy.”
Lacey Sturm: And he was so mad at me. He said “You are so ungrateful.” But I told him I don’t want people hanging on my words, who don’t even know who I am, and telling me how great I am, while I know that I’m struggling and no one else knows. It’s the most lonely thing you can imagine. It’s so weird that you noticed that because people don’t think about that.
Cretin: I think of all of the women who find you to be their inspiration, that has to put some pressure on you.
Lacey Sturm: Well I feel a lot better now because some of the pressure comes from being on a label in a democratic band where we all try to represent each other. But in reality, you don’t have the same motives as everyone else. It’s a weird pressure of having to please everybody and not really knowing who you are. What we’re doing now is just me and my husband and some friends and we’re letting people just be themselves. All of the pressure is off.
Lacey Sturm: I’ve also learned a lot about co-dependency and I actually just wrote a book about my struggle with that. I realized that I can let you be you and I can let me be me, and my world doesn’t have to fall apart just because yours is. I can actually see where I stop and you begin.
Cretin: And you are totally cool with that approach now?
Lacey Sturm: Well, I can still have compassion, but still be healthy in myself, which I didn’t know was possible, which is a really big deal for me, having so many fans that I love deeply and knowing that I can still have a healthy life and still love the fans who are struggling right now. I can reach out and understand while still having joy in my life. And I didn’t know that was possible.
Cretin: Somehow, I think motherhood helps you understand that.
Lacey Sturm: Yes, I think it does. I’m sorry, am I talking too much?
Cretin: Not at all, this conversation is much better than the questions I had planned, believe me. But, back to your influences, do you have any non-music influences?
Lacey Sturm: I actually named my son Joshua Lewis, after C.S. Lewis. He was an atheist who was friends with J.R.R. Tolkien who was a believer. And I also thought I was too smart to believe, but when I became a Christian and had that experience, I read about all of these other people who were atheists, but who became Christians. And, C.S. Lewis was my favorite, because he asked all of the same questions that I did. And he answered them all in such brilliant ways, and the rest of his writings are so profound to me to be able to answer those hard questions we don’t have answers to about God and life.
Cretin: Did you start reading his stuff at a young age, or later in life?
Lacey Sturm: When I was 16, when I had that experience where I was about to commit suicide. I had that encounter with God that saved my life on the day I was about to commit suicide. I was a know-it-all atheist and I hated people and I hated people who talked about God.
Cretin: I don’t think you were alone. At that age, there are a lot of people in that boat.
Lacey Sturm: Yeah, well, it’s funny; I could always find holes in what they said. But I couldn’t see the power in what they were talking about. When I experienced that myself, I was like, “What was that? I need to find the answers to these questions the atheists are going to ask me, because I need to know how to answer a girl like me.”
Cretin: That’s a true life changing moment.
Lacey Sturm: And that’s what the first book “The Reason” is about.
Cretin: I’ll need to check it; I haven’t read any of your books.
Lacey Sturm: You might like it, I don’t know. It’s really for some girl like me, But I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling of self-loathing and purposelessness and hopefully finding a different perspective afterwards.
Cretin: A lot of sixteen year-olds went through similar challenges, and a lot of other fans can definitely relate, I think that’s why you’ve had such a profound connection with so many of your fans.
Lacey Sturm: I just want to hug them all.
Cretin: And now you’re doing that through your music.
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