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NASHVILLE (Billboard) - When alternative rock band Flyleaf chose to call its second album "Memento Mori," it wasn't a tossed-off phrase or instance of pretension.
After a spate of tragedies and illnesses, the band's mindfulness of death is a constant theme on the album, which will be released October 20 on Octone/A&M.
"'Memento Mori' was very fitting, given everything we've been through over the past seven years," singer Lacey Mosley says. "We've seen a lot of everything."
The band has experienced plenty of success. Its self-titled debut was released in 2005, spawning the hit singles "I'm So Sick," "Fully Alive" and "All Around Me." The album stayed on the Billboard 200 for 133 weeks and sold 1.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In 2006, the Texas band released the four-song EP "Music as a Weapon," and the following year it issued a limited-edition two-disc version of "Flyleaf."
Rather than rush to release new music, the band (Mosley, guitarists Sameer Bhattacharya and Jared Hartman, drummer James Culpepper and bassist Pat Seals) focused on touring. Mosley says the primary reason the band took so long between albums was that the group wanted to tour heavily and get to know its fans.
The delay was also exacerbated by members coping with personal tragedies: Bhattacharya's 22-year-old cousin battled cancer, Culpepper lost his mother and his aunt, and Mosley had a health scare.
"There was a possibility that I might have an illness, but it ended up that I came out fine," she says. "It was a possibility that I might have cancer. I don't want it to be a big deal."
But in the next breath, Mosley reveals that the scare affected her lyrics. "It was just a situation that shook me and made me think, 'Is this what I want to live my life for?'" she says. "Am I living my life for the right thing? If I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied or would God be satisfied if I met him tomorrow? That's the whole point behind 'Memento Mori.' I hope it's not too depressing.
"The thing that is so phenomenal about getting to record music or write a story or take photographs or whatever is that you can look back and remember that time and be filled with that purpose again," she adds. "I'm so glad we got to do that."
When the band decided to head back to the studio, it again turned to producer Howard Benson. "He's always looking for ways to make a song a pop song," Mosley says, "and we're always looking for a way to push that boundary so that it makes him happy but it also makes us happy creatively as artists and rock lovers. I think you could hear both (approaches)."
To promote the new album, Flyleaf took its usual "fans first" stance and let them decide the cities where the band would perform before the release.
Though not categorized as a Christian band, the members are Christian and have attracted a Christian fan base in addition to its alternative rock following.
Mosley is confident that both believers and nonbelievers will be able to relate to the message of "Memento Mori."
"The album is about recognizing that our life is short and precious and the people's lives around you are short and precious as well," she says. "It might be your last opportunity to talk to them, and it might make you choose your words more carefully."
Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters