South By Southwest (SxSW) is held in Austin. More a continuous music industry party than anything else, the annual event ostensibly showcases new or emerging acts. Of course, to get invited to SxSW a band already has to have a reputation. Enter the Belton, TX, group Flyleaf. Their aggressive Rock, laced with acidic lyrics, made a lot of noise in their home state. Now it was time to move to the next level, and it worked perfectly. Their SxSW appearance earned them a contract with Octone Records.
An ending is often nothing more than a disguised beginning. Guitarists Bhattacharya and Hartmann watched their group dissolve and wondered what to do next. Meanwhile, Mosley, one of six children in a single parent household who spent her childhood moving from apartment to apartment when the rent was unpaid, shared her songs with Culpepper. Those songs drew on Mosley's prior addiction to drugs and alcohol that led, not coincidently, to serious bouts of depression. The two began working together eventually recruiting Bhattacharya and Hartmann. Seals completed the line-up. And just to help Mosley along, the entire band committed to sobriety.
A self-titled EP, produced by Rick Parasher (Pearl Jam) and Brad Cook, arrived in '05. Later in the year, a full-length album (also self-titled) hit with "Cassie" and "Breathe Today."
Mosley married Joshua Sturm, the guitarist for Kairos, in '08 - taking his name.
"Memento Mori," Flyleaf's first album in four years, arrived in '09. "We were able to figure out who were as a band and see a lot of the world and the U.S. a couple times over," said Seals.
The title is a Latin phrase meaning 'remember you will die'. It's used to remind people of their own mortality and the punishment they will receive if they transgress the rules of their religion. The track "Set Apart This Dream" was inspired by the Christian self-help book Wild At Heart. Written by John Eldredge it "gives women a look inside the true heart of a man and gives men permission to be what God designed them to be---dangerous, passionate, alive, and free."
Prior to the album's release Flyleaf embarked on a brief acoustic tour of Afghanistan entertaining U.S. troops.
"Again" was released as a single/video and the video for another track, set opener, "Beautiful Bride," were issued prior "Memento Mori's" release. The album debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200, while "Again" hit #12 on the Rock chart, #3 on the Alternative chart and #14 on the Hot Mainstream Rock chart. "Again" was also released as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game.
Flyleaf's third full-length studio album, "New Horizons," was released in '12. The set dropped just a week after the announcement of Sturm's departure. A combination of motherhood and a desire to refocus her life drove Sturm's decision. Kristen May handled vocals for the supporting tour.
The title track was the lead single. Seals called it one of the band's best songs to date adding that it had "a feeling of looking toward the unknown future with hope."
The second single, "Calling You Out," was one of the first tracks recorded for "New Horizons." "The stomping opening verse evolved over time into this aggressive but very calculated track that closes with Sameer (Bhattacharya) using chaotic guitar sounds to sort of burn it to the ground - engages you all the way through," explained Seals.
Flyleaf used PledgeMusic.com to fund "Between The Stars." Produced by Don Gilmore, the set featured the track "Set Me On Fire," and was the band's first release on Loud & Proud Records.
The following year, May launched her own PledgeMusic campaign to finance her '15 solo album, "Conversations." "Making this album has been a dream of mine for a while and I'm so happy to finally make it a reality," stated May. On the heels of that effort, Sturm, rolled out her debut solo album, "Life Screams."
May's solo worked signaled a major change. In a '16 video on her Facebook page, May announced that she had left the band. Among other issues, she expressed a desire to spend more time with her son, rather than being on the road.
2009 Memento Mori
2012 New Horizons
2014 Between The Stars
There once was a time that being a Christian Rock band was the kiss of death when it came to mainstream acceptance. Rock is about rebellion while Christianity revolves around acceptance. They're not mutually exclusive; it's just that one makes the other a little more difficult. Over time, Christian leaning groups developed a way of getting their message across without being blatant about it. For the most part, it worked well. Still, there are those who are quick to brew a controversy over whether a band is "Christian" or not. That sidebar has accompanied Flyleaf.
What makes Flyleaf interesting is their tough, theatrical sound (a combination of Mosley/Strum's passion and pain and having two guitarists) but they are also very appealing when they go lean and fast.