1. While your last album, the self titled “Lotus” from 2011, had a very electronic feel to it, “Build” has a much more rock/funk vibe but still manages to maintain that trademark electronic sound you guys are known for. What were some of the main differences during the recording process of “Build” as opposed to “Lotus”?
One difference is we recorded about twice as many songs. For the self-titled I think we recorded maybe 16 songs before whittling it down to the final track list. For this album we probably recorded 28 songs. So we were able to pick a group of songs that really went together with a similar vibe. As far as recording process it was fairly similar: live to tape with most of the instruments and then overdubbing the electronic stuff and horns, etc.
2. Everybody knows that when it comes to jam bands the difference between studio recordings and a live performance is the extension of the songs. When you guys come up with a new song, do you already have an idea of where you want to take it live or do you like to experiment until you find the perfect sound?
We experiment in rehearsal to see if the song lends itself to a more open improv, a loose structured improv, or if it stands best as written. With the more open improv we try it several different ways in rehearsals just so we aren’t lost the first time we play it. Then after a couple times playing live things start to take different turns or flavors and start evolving.
3. Lotus is a band I can listen to when I’m sad, happy, having a rough day, etc… Your music is an outlet for me. Do you use music as an outlet for emotions? If so, who are some of the artists you listen to?
I work on music everyday writing, recording, editing, etc., so often I need to cleanse my head and ears. I usually do that by listening to comedy podcasts, NPR, or Bach. But if I need to get pumped up I often put on hip-hop. For emotional stuff I go to Fleet Foxes, Beach House, or Wilco.
4. Every band has those songs that they’re known for. Lotus’ would probably be Spiritualize. You guys play that all the time. Then there are those songs that are absolutely loved and that people would kill to see performed live but they hardly ever get played. Colorado and Umbilical Moonrise are the first two that pop into my head. As a band, are you guys aware of this and what are the reasons that songs like these only get played once and a while?
We usually only play 1 or 2 slower songs a night. Overall a Lotus show is about dancing, but we will do a ballad as a change of pace. Colorado and Umbilical Moonrise are slow songs, but there is a magic to them. Many people have told me they have cried during those songs. I think if we played them too much they might lose some of that “specialness.”
5. What are your thoughts on the massive rise in popularity of Electronic music in the United States? And do you view it as a good or bad thing for the “jamtronica” genre?
I just talked to a guy in Syracuse who said he came to Camp Bisco in 2011 to see Skrillex. Then Lotus played right after Skrillex on the same stage and he said it changed his whole outlook on music. So maybe there is, in a way, a door to instrumental music being opened to some people through EDM. I don’t know how many actual “jamtronica” groups are really out there doing it on a major level anymore. The New Deal retired, The Disco Biscuits only play a handful of shows a year, STS9 doesn’t do much improv anymore. There are some smaller up-and-coming groups, so it will be interesting to see if any of them can break through to that next level. There are a lot of “producer with a drummer” groups, but I’d hasten to qualify that as jamtronica.
6. Lastly, what can fans expect from Lotus in 2013 and beyond?
Build comes out Feb. 19th. The tour supporting that continues until April. We will also be releasing a hip-hop album “Monks” at some point, and we have another album mostly recorded that we will work on completing and mixing. Summer festivals of course will start around Memorial Day. Beyond that I just hope to keep growing and pushing myself as an artist and hopefully have an audience to hear the results. As a personal plug I started a side project called “Luke the Knife” focusing on disco, funk, and house. I’m hoping to do more gigs around the country with that in 2013.