CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your music, what would it be and why?
SL: Since I was a kid I’ve never liked boundaries and I always had trouble fitting in. I don’t like to be one thing or another. I know I am me but I can’t see who me is because I’m inside me. You see me. Who am I? We don’t set out to make a cookie cutter style of music like, psychedelic, or garage, or pop. We aren’t cookie cutter people and we play our instruments in very personal ways. We write what comes out without too much concern for whether it fits perfectly into a genre. We’d rather just make the music and let others define it.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
SL: Daydreams, poetry, sex, stories, nature, music, love, politics, fried chicken, other artists like Pina Bausch and Kendrick Lamar, Brian Eno, MC5, Pink Floyd, Oum Kulthum, Arvo Part, The Slits. We take inspiration from each other and from our community. I wish I could say, we draw our inspiration from one thing and one thing alone, like potatoes. But that would be a lie. I don’t like potatoes.
CH.89: What made you all want to start a band and how did you come up with the band name?
SL: I met Chris Daddio when he made the soundtrack for my graduate thesis film at Columbia College in Chicago. We became fast friends and started a band in our heads right then and there while playing soccer by some garbage cans. It took a couple years for that to be more than just a fantasy, but after I finished The Maggie Flanigan Acting Studio in NYC where I learned how to have a flabby ass, I moved to Oakland to play music with him. Chris is also a recording engineer, so the music flowed, and we kept recording. Chris encouraged me to play my violin. I wasn’t all that interested in doing so at the time. I wanted to play electric guitar. Then I realized I could play electric guitar on violin and everything was ok. I randomly found Tyler on facebook. His description of himself included the word “Bassist”, so I invited him over. He is also a “pedal steel player”. Tony Sales we met at a convenient store in Oakland. I was looking for the Hershey’s bars. He was drinking coffee. We sat at the one table outside and next thing you know we were playing music together. Everyone Is Dirty was a lyric in a song I wrote on the subway while living in NY. It is followed by the line, Only I Am Dirty. Maybe one day we will record that song.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
SL: Our creative process is forever evolving. We record our music in Chris Daddio’s home studio (where I live too) Donut Time Audio. We are currently really into doing as much of the recording live as possible as opposed to doing lots of overdubs. We couldn’t really do that on our new LP “My Neon’s Dead” because we were recording it while I was going through liver failure due to an allergy to amoxycillin. “My Neon’s Dead” is a result of liver failure; a soundtrack to the toxic morphine haze that ensued. Even though my band mates weren’t laying in the hospital bed with me (except for Chris), we were all going through the illness. It stopped progress, and it was frustrating and painful for everyone. When you spend every day with people, you can begin to take on each other’s feelings. We are far past that now, all healed up except for god awful PTSD. Now we are working on our next album, which is coming out like an explosion. Full of new energy. I hope this new album we are starting now can be a departure from the painful experiences of the last two years.
CH.89: What would you want people/ the listener to take from your music?
SL: I hope I can share an experience with the listener. To make someone feel like they aren’t alone. And if the listener feels that way, I won’t feel alone. When I listen to music I love, I get so inspired and euphoric. Music is an escape from where you are, or an enhancer like a drug, a trip. I hope our music can be all of those things for people.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
SL: As musicians, we all build our life as best we can to accommodate lots of touring and rehearsing. So we have jobs that allow us to tour. We spend a lot of time in our trusty van Papa Mario. Successfully creating a lifestyle that can support your art is an art in itself, a puzzle we are all still trying to figure out.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
SL: I feel like music lives in the body. Not in the head. It hits you and moves through you, vibrates your blood cells. I would say that music is an impulsive art form.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
SL: That it’s much harder to play to an audience of 5 than an audience of 500. I love those challenging moments where we are playing in some tiny bar to only a few people. If we can make that scenario our bitch and have fun and give those 5 people something special, I feel like we’ve accomplished something big.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
SL: Getting paid.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
SL: Performing music live. Getting up onstage with my band mates and brewing up an unpredictable concoction of whatever the hell is going on in that moment. When you come see a show, you are going through something with everyone else in that space, the audience, the musicians, something that won’t ever happen again. Every time I get onstage I get one more opportunity to take risks and do something new. It’s a total thrill and provides a giant release.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
SL: I have always been very inspired by David Bowie. His innovation in fashion, his lyrics writing, breaking so many musical boundaries, and his ability to also be a savvy business man. I was in awe of how he left this world. Even his death was full of elegance and fashion and art.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
SL: It’s the most important tool for documenting and promoting and communicating. It’s the way anyone is reading these words right now… It’s the only way most people will ever hear about new music.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
SL: I think every human’s point of view is directly related to their history and their environment. Hopefully we can all help each other and enhance each other’s experiences while we are on this planet. I can give the paramedic music to listen to when she’s on her way to work, and she can give me mouth to mouth when she saves me from drowning in a lake.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
SL: We’d better enjoy it because we are touring all the time. My favorite fantasy cities are the ones I haven’t traveled to yet…Seville and Tokyo. And the city I live in, Oakland is my favorite real to me city. I love the tomatoes that grow in my backyard and I love my neighbors.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
SL: Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
SL: We are playing Desert Stars in Joshua Tree in September, then touring our new album My Neon’s Dead, out on OIM Records, in October and November.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
SL: Making music gives me pleasure and I want to do it all the time no matter what.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
SL: Don’t forget to eat, and Gatorade isn’t water.