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Flyleaf Guitarist Inspired by Hugo, Eldredge Books

An avid reader, Flyleaf guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya was so moved by Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ and John Eldredge’s ‘Wild at Heart’ that he wrote a song about them. The result is ‘Set Apart This Dream,’ which appears on ‘Memento Mori,’ the band’s sophomore effort that debuted at 8 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

“I’d say six years ago, I read ‘Wild at Heart’ by John Eldredge, and then like a couple years after that I read ‘Les Miz’ by Victor Hugo,” Bhattacharya told Noisecreep via telephone from New York City. “I think those books could have gone together. It’s about men stepping up and women feeling like … I don’t know. It was really amazing about how those books came together. It really spoke to me.”

While out on tour supporting ‘Memento Mori,’ Bhattacharya has books in tow. He’s reading ‘Delta Force’ by Col. Charlie A. Beckwith, Retired, and ‘Hyperspace’ by Michio Kaku. “He’s from San Francisco,” Bhattacharya said about Kaku. “He’s a physicist. It’s about uniting quantum physics with physics and exploring the other dimensions. I really feel that hyperspace is where the spiritual realm operates.”

Flyleaf’s spiritual beliefs pepper ‘Memento Mori,’ which was produced by Howard Benson and his team in Calabasas, Calif. The team also worked with Flyleaf on their self-titled debut. “I think it was even better the second time around,” Bhattacharya said. “The whole experience was better, now that we knew what to expect. With us as a band, we have grown a lot as songwriters. Our ears have matured a lot. Our perspectives have matured a lot. I think that comes across on ‘Memento Mori.'”

“Howard Benson has a really amazing team,” he continued. “When you go in there, he has a guitar tech who helps you create songs. The guitar tech’s name is Marc VanGool. He’s a brilliant guy. He’s like, ‘OK. You need this amp, this guitar, these effects, and you’ll get this feeling you’re describing.’ He’s really helped us create the songs we hear in our heads.

“The engineer, Mike Plotnikoff, his ears are so finely tuned. So when we’re tracking, he’s like, ‘Try this again. Lay back on the beat a little bit.’ He helped keep us in time, doing the best that we could. Howard is really great with vocals and drums. He has a really good ear for making a message as clear as possible without losing the artistic value. It’s really good. He makes the music very accessible without making it too poppy or dumbing it down.”

Although the songs are based in spirituality, they also have their roots in death or the natural end of things. So Bhattacharya said the title seemed appropriate for the album as ‘memento mori’ is Latin for ‘remember, you will die.’

“Every song I wouldn’t say is about death, but every song had to do with the idea that everything comes to an end,” Bhattacharya said. “You have to make a decision now, whether you’re going to live this way or not.”

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