His story seems awfully familiar: A religious childhood with missionary parents creates more questions than answers. Spiritual rebellion is followed by a cathartic musical awakening. Add in his distinctive baritone voice, and his story could be grasped by the masses with arms wide open. No, this isn't the tale of Creed's Scott Stapp … it's Jason Wade, the 20-year-old lead singer of Los Angeles rock outfit Lifehouse.
"I was kind of abandoned with the issue of what truth was to me," says Wade. "I was faced with growing up in a Christian ministry home and my parents getting divorced. It's like everything that they taught us kind of seemed fake at the time."
After his parent's separation, Wade moved to Seattle with his mother and retreated to his bedroom to write poetry and accompanying melodies. He then instinctively taught himself how to play his songs on the guitar. At 15, Wade and his mother moved to Los Angeles where the creative teenager finally found an outlet for his music with a bass-playing neighbor named Sergio Andrade and a drummer (who has since left the group). The three began playing weekly gigs at a local elementary school where crowds in the hundreds would turn out to hear Lifehouse. A few years went by before artist-turned-manager Jude Cole landed the band a recording contract with DreamWorks.
In late October, with new drummer Rick Woolstenhulme, the band released its debut disc, No Name Face, and landed a high-profile opening slot on Pearl Jam's Binaural tour. The fairy-tale feeling of the whirlwind ride is not lost on Wade.
"Part of me wants it all to slow down a little bit so I can just catch my breath and let the growing process take off," admits Wade. "I think we're being forced to grow at a rapid rate right now, which we're all handling really well. I'm really excited about what's been happening the last couple of months. It's gone by so quickly, it's just like trying to catch up to it, really."
The title of the band's debut, No Name Face, sums up the battle of positioning among dozens of rock bands fighting anonymity. While less preachy than Creed, more alternative than Matchbox Twenty, and less poppy than the Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse may be catching on. The album has reached No. 29 on the Billboard charts, "Hanging by a Moment" is holding at No. 7 after topping the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and a late winter arena tour with veteran acts Matchbox Twenty and Everclear is introducing the band to thousands more every day.
But Wade, who at 20 has already achieved a level of success unattainable by most musicians, often refers to himself as a kid.
"Oh, yeah, totally," chuckles Wade. "I still feel like I'm 16. I feel mature in some senses and then sometimes I just feel like, 'Man, I'm so young. What the heck am I doing here?' I'm just kind of following the path that's in front of me, and it's been really cool."