The Lotus Interview
For those on the electronic jam band tip, Lotus is one of those bands you’re always used to seeing at summertime festivals. Growing a steady fan base through heavy touring and consistent album releases, they’ve undergone a transformation from their post-rock, jam band roots to something more structured, electronic and focused. The evolution of their sound has become especially apparent with their latest, self-titled release, which leaves the average fan wondering what direction the band might take next. We had a chance to chat with their bassist, Jesse Miller about their tour, the new album, and a few other random tidbits.
Kymbo Slice: New album aside, any plans to release another album of remixes/reworks like 2007’s Copy/Paste/Repeat?
Jesse Miller: We actually have a bunch of things in the works from great remixes that we’ve completed and some other alternate versions that we’ve been working on. I’m not sure if they’ll be released as a straight album or an EP, or released digitally. We’ve yet to determine that, but there’s a lot of bonus material.
KS: I saw that you’re playing an after party at Club Cafe after your show on Friday at Stage AE under your Beard-o-Bees project. How does that compare to playing with the band?
JM: That’s something I’ve done off and on. Lotus stays pretty busy, but once in a while I’ll do Beard-o-Bees, and I’ve only started doing that more frequently within the last year. It’s very different because it’s just me. I write and control everything. It’s a good way to branch out stylisticaly, but also to explore performances in the electronic world. I run the show using a lot of different buttons. It’s more of an electronic sound, it’s not like a deejay style as I don’t often just spin records. A lot of it is just my own stuff cut up for performance.
KS: Fans that have seen multiple Lotus tours know that the stage show has featured a variety of setups from day-glo creature cutouts to color-changing light panels to LED curtains to massive versions of traditional light rigs. What can fans expect this time around?
JM: We have a brand new rig for this tour as well. It’s a combination of some really new light fixtures. I have a hard time describing it, but there’s a lot of LED lights on stage.
KS: Are you guys excited to play at Stage AE? Do you know anything about the new venue?
JM: I’ve never been there but I heard it’s really nice. We’ve sold out Mr. Smalls a few times, so it’s nice to move on up to a bigger room.
KS: There are a few songs the band no longer plays live. What would you say is the most difficult song for you to revisit and why?
JM: I don’t think there’s any we’ve stopped playing just because of logisitcs. Usually, when something falls out of rotation it’s because we just don’t think it fits as much as some of our other material, but occasionally we’ll bring something back. We have a large catalog and we’re constantly writing new stuff, and if you’re always going back to the old stuff it doesnt leave you a lot of room to bring in new stuff. We try to keep a balance between the old while still leaving room to focus on stuff from our new album and brand new material from this tour as well.
KS: Lotus has a long history and a huge fanbase in the jamband/jamtronic festival scene, but seems poised to cross-over into other markets (club/dance/EDM or more mainstream electronic rock ala Chromeo, Cut/Copy, Radiohead for example). In the near future, are there any particular aspirations in this sense for the band?
JM: I wouldn’t say we wrote the songs with that particular intention in mind, we just write what we think works well. I think it’s a byproduct of maturing and growing as songwriters that we have come to something that’s a little more focused than some of our older stuff.
KS: In the last few years Lotus has played several themed shows (David Bowie, video game music, post-rock, robots). The band is also known to drop occasional covers of acts including electronic innovators like Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk (both nights at Summerdance Festival at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in August) and psychedelic pioneers like the Grateful Dead (â€œSlipknotâ€ at 11/28/08 show at Mr. Smalls). Are these just-for-fun or paying homage to influences on the band?
JM: A little bit of both. We have a fairly young fanbase so for us to do a Kraftwerk song, I don’t know that many are familiar with Kraftwerk. But for me that’s a very important band in terms of the development of electronic music. I just really like their music so that was a fun one for me to work up but there’s some others. We don’t actually do it very often so when we do covers it should be a special thing for the crowd. We always try to pick stuff that works well for Lotus and something we can arrange to work with our style and our set.
KS: If you could choose one ultimate dream collaborator (musician, visual artist, producer, etc.) for a new recording or live show, who would it be and why?
JM: I’ve always been a big fan of Four tet. He’s pretty contemporary compared to Lotus but I could see some kind of collaboration. In some way our styles overlap but that is definitely someone I would be interested in.
KS: I’ve noticed that you play back-to-back nights in the same city on a lot of your tours. Is it because you do well there or because you enjoy playing those cities in particular?
JM: Its a combination of both. If there’s a room we like to play, usualy its a place we’ve sold out doing one night before, so we can support the numbers to do two. It’s always fun to do two nights because you only have to load in/break down once for two shows. It’s also something special for fans. There are a lot of fans who like to see Lotus multiple nights in a row, and they dont have to go anywhere, so it’s a lot of fun for them and fun for us.
KS: More time to party?
JM: Oh yeah, exactly.
If you would like to party with Lotus, you’re in luck. They’re in town on Friday for a show at Stage AE. Tickets are still on sale here and can also be purchased at the door. You can also stream their new album on their website.