August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

Jason Wade may look more surfer than soul-searcher, but it’s his anguished adolescence that drives his band Lifehouse‘s double platinum debut disc, No Name Face, which features the Top 5 single “Hanging by a Moment.” California-born Wade grew up with missionary parents, living for three years in Hong Kong as a preteen. “It was pretty miserable,” he says. “The people there hated us. They thought we were evil and lit firecrackers at our door every morning.”

Feeling isolated, especially after his parents split when he was 12, Wade, now 21, began writing music with a spiritual bent. “My songs came from a broken place,” he says. “Writing was therapeutic for me.” But his lyrics are not specifically Christian. “Even though our music is spiritual, we have to fight against that label all the time. It’s limiting.”

Married since January to high school sweetheart Braeden, 21, Wade is still getting used to fans who cry when if they meet him. “I don’t know how to respond,” says Wade, “except to say, ‘It’ll be okay.’ ”

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