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Friday, September 25, 2020

Space Kadet Stands Ready for Blast Off

Words by Jason Myers (Memorandum Media)

Atlanta live-tronica act Space Kadet wants you to know that COVID-19 isn’t slowing them down. In fact, the funky quartet have shown that, even in such uncertain times in the music world, they can be just as productive and creative as ever. Fresh off the release of their new EP, Human Being, the band is brimming with energy. MusicMarauders recently sat down with the group to chat about the EP and what it’s been like navigating the music world during COVID-19... 

Jason Myers: Thanks a bunch for doing this interview guys! Let’s start with a quick introduction. Can you give a brief history of Space Kadet that includes a description of your sound? 

Rohan: Space Kadet started as a 5 piece band in Alex and I’s hometown of Auburn, AL in early ‘15. Eventually Alex started making more moves to Atlanta around 2017 and Thomas joined the band in late 2017. From then on, we took this project very seriously and treated it like our baby. Not that we didn’t treat it that way before, we just knew that we needed to take further steps to make this project blossom. We started hitting the road much more for tours and festivals and released our first EP later that year. Our sound has evolved a long way since then and we dropped our first album last year and our second EP a few months ago. I would consider our sound instrumental electronic music with a psychedelic funk, drum and bass, hip hop and dub influence with a progressive rock twist. We have songs where we focus heavy on improv and we have songs that are tight knit electronic compositions.

JM: Is there any specific meaning behind the name Space Kadet?

Alex: It started out as a joke name in our friend group for when we would zone out or go into a wild tangent about something. But it slowly started to become a more exploratory term, like taking an idea into new unexplored territory. I like to think that we keep that in mind while we create new songs or distort old ideas and improvisations

JM: Can you guys give us a breakdown of your equipment? 

Alex: Currently for my Bass I usually use a fender Jazz 5 going into an Eden Navigator Pre-amp and out an Agular 4x12 cabinet. Bass synth consists of a Moog Subfatty with a dry signal to the board and a line to my amp for a thicker sound for myself on stage. I use ableton Live 10 currently and control it with an APC40 MKII as well as a few other drum pads for glitch effects. I also run a small Modular rig through a multi-FX pedal for wild live electronic improvs. 

Rohan: I endorse SJC drums and Bosphorus cymbals. I have a turquoise pearl custom SJC drum kit with gold rims (10’, 12’, 14’, 16’ toms, 20’ kick, 10 and 14’ snares). Bosphorus antique and gold series cymbals + Yamaha DTX electronic drum pad. 

Thomas: I use an array of Marshall and orange amplifiers with some choice effects from earthquaker devices, MXR, Line 6 and some other brands. My favorite guitar to play is definitely my Gibson es-335 however, I love Ibanez guitars and like to travel with an Epiphone Les Paul.

JM: Let’s talk about your newest EP, Human Being. What was the writing/recording process like for this disk? What was it like releasing new music in what has been a rather turbulent year for the music industry?

Rohan: The process of recording this EP was more hands on than on our last couple of records. Usually either Bambi and I would produce a track in ableton and then bring it to the table for us to jam out on and for Thomas to get his licks down during practice and then expand the tracks from there. For this, everyone was involved in the production aspect of things and I feel that this showcases a more organic, instrumental side of our music. The track "Extempore" is basically a modular improv, I also played tablas (Indian hand percussion) on this one. "Human Being" part 1 and 2 was initially one song but we had to split them into two tracks because it was 12 minutes long. We tracked all the music at Prana recording studios in Atlanta with our good friends Will and Andy, they also mixed down the tracks and then Anthony from Papadosio mastered the tracks. It was my favorite recording process to date. 

JM: How have you guys adapted as a band to the challenges presented by COVID-19? How have you stayed productive as musicians?

Rohan: I feel that we’ve all been productive in different ways even though we live in different states. We all live two hours away from each other though so we make it a point to get up at least once a month to jam and work on music here at our studio in Atlanta. I’ve been producing a lot of new tunes myself and I have started a producer side project called ROHAN SOLO that I’m excited about. 

Alex: It has been interesting, it's given us a good time to better ourselves and our individual craft, and thankfully I’ve been able to put more into my side project Bambi - let me figure out how I can bring more intricate and cohesive ideas to the table. The hardest part is staying with it and keeping the momentum.

JM: If Space Kadet could play any music venue in the world, what would it be and why?

Rohan: Red Rocks is an obvious pick but also Valhalla in Sweden, an amazing outdoor quarry amphitheater. Those are major goals, though. I’ll start with Red Rocks. 

Alex: Red Rocks and The Gorge. Those two are bucket list status and to play where some of my favorite bands have played would be a dream come true. 

JM: What have you guys been listening to lately? Can each of you suggest an album to the masses? 

Alex: The new Tom Misch X Yussef Dayes "What kinda Music" is fire. 

Thomas: Lots of roots reggae bands. Early Outkast records especially chopped and screwed versions, and liquid dnb.

Rohan: I've been listening to lots of Dnb; Upgrade, LTJ Bukem, Netsky as well as some future funk stuff like Griz, Manic Focus and The Floozies. An album I would recommend is 3 by Netsky.

JM: Any final words you’d like to leave us with? 

Rohan: You can expect lots of music from us in the coming weeks/months. We are already starting to book some cool shows for next year too, so please everyone, wear your mask when you go out in public, let's do our part to play it safe and bring live music back. The music industry is hurting worse than ever right now and we must do our part to help bring live music back. 

The Human Being EP is available to stream HERE.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Travis Book Happy Hour 9.2.2020

The Grey Eagle
Asheville, NC

Words by Jason Mebane
Photos by J. Scott Shrader Photography

Back in early March when the entire world was thrown into chaos by the arrival of the Coronavirus, we as humans were forced to learn how to adapt to a world we never could've imagined. Like everything else, the live music landscape was drastically altered. If you were at all like me, you initially turned to the plethora of live streams our favorite musicians began broadcasting. Bouncing around between Facebook Live and IGTV we were able to find some semblance of normalcy while acquiring the live music fix we needed to soothe our souls as we attempted to navigate our strange new world. Perhaps at some point you stumbled upon "The Travis Book Happy Hour," a bi-weekly series of streams presented in the vein of an old school variety TV program. If you haven't tuned in to any of these unique streams let me set the scene for you...Travis, best known as the bass player and singer for the Infamous Stringdusters, invites a few musical friends to pick some songs and have a conversation about the struggles of making their way through the murky waters they have been tossed into. It was after one of these "Happy Hour" tapings that I was blessed to find myself sitting at a patio picnic table with Travis discussing, not only the series itself, but also the feelings that he's been having over these past few months. I asked him what his initial thoughts were when, he came to the realization that he, and his fellow musicians had essentially been thrust into unemployment....

TRAVIS: "I wasn't too stressed out. I kind of had a sense that we'd be taking a long time off. I feel like I sort of saw the writing on the wall pretty early on. The last 'Dusters show was on March 11th and I had a really strong sense coming out of that show that it was going to be a while. So my first response was actually probably a lot like how I felt after the election, which was just a ground reversal. Where everything that I sort of thought to be true, all the things that I was orientating my life around, were changed. All of the assumptions I had about how the universe worked and what my purpose was...all those things sort of changed. It was almost like an out of body experience for a while. I was just kind of hanging out in limbo. I wasn't as concerned about my career or about making music as I was just kind of like 'wow this is going to be really interesting'."

Fortunately for Travis's fans he didn't keep his mind off music for too long. He began hosting these "Travis Book Happy Hour" performances back in late June and has produced one every other week since. Unlike many live streams, which are oftentimes just a musician sitting on their porch or their living room couch, Travis chose to take it a step further. Inviting some of his musical friends to join him, and broadcasting them from an actual music venue, Asheville's famed Grey Eagle. Also unlike some musician's streams, Travis has put his own twist on things by setting aside a portion of the show to interview his guests, discussing the trials of what one former guest, Lindsay Lou, dubbed "The Great Pause." Listening to our beloved musicians open up gives fans the feeling they are not only trying to work through these weird times for their own benefit, but also perhaps help the viewers at home make sense of this crazy new world. These conversations get so deep each week that I even saw one Facebook comment jokingly refer to the "Happy Hour" as "The Travis Book Existential Crisis Hour."

I asked Mr. Book why he decided to take these "Happy Hour" broadcasts to the next level, why he wanted to do more than simply just play music, and why he choose to do it in a real venue with in person collaborators...

TRAVIS: "I had sort of been bouncing around the idea of doing some sort of a variety show for a long time. When I started doing some streaming and stuff from my home I found that there were a lot of things I wanted to talk about. Enough people were giving me some positive feedback that it occurred to me that there was an opportunity to do something more than just play music, and there were enough people who were interested in continuing to conceptualize their own experiences. That there were people that welcomed the opportunity to try to talk through some of these things, to be part of a one way dialogue about these sort of existential questions. About what it means to be alive, to be a creator, in these very interesting times. So it was not the first time that it occurred to me to try to do something different like this. Then I came up here (to the Grey Eagle) to play a show with Kyle Tuttle and Lyndsay Pruett and was able to check out the infrastructure. I saw the way that it was streaming, and I saw that we could be socially distanced, and it felt pretty good. That was really the last little push I needed, just having a place to do it, and a crew, and a venue that was interested in trying to do something different."

He also touched on how different this format is for him, than the shows he was used to playing before the "great pause"....

TRAVIS: When I play shows I try not to talk too much, especially with the Stringdusters. It's kind of a big thing for us, we try not to talk, but now there are things I want to talk about. I want to talk with my fellow musicians. I wanted it to go beyond 'what are you trying to sell these days?'.  I was much more interested in taking the opportunity to kind of dig into things a little bit and see what was under the surface. I wanted to try to scare out some of these perspectives that people have about life, and for lack of a better word, about matters of being, matters of spirit. Without getting too heavy into spirituality or any of that kind of stuff, but to dabble in it because, that, to me is ultimately all I'm really interested in. Trying to understand what to do with myself while I'm here. To me that's largely a spiritual question. That is my orientation and a lot of that is decided by my perspective on what the point of being here is, knowing how to move through my life."

Travis says he saw the idea of mixing music and spirituality as something that could be beneficial in these odd times....

TRAVIS: "When I get together with my musician friends this is the kind of shit we talk about and no one else is really addressing this space. I think it's an uncomfortable place for a lot of people, talking about these things, but I'm into it. I'm obsessed with it. It's kind of like that once these existential questions get their claws in you what else is there to talk about? Like we can shoot the shit about meaningless stuff all day long and that's totally fun too, but there's some fucking juicy shit to talk about right? So like let's get down to it."

Another thing that sets the "Travis Book Happy Hour" apart from most of the live streams is that the Grey Eagle is set up to host a small handful of fans to make up a socially distanced studio audience. For me, this has been a welcomed bonus, watching actual musicians making live music in an real venue rather than only being able to enjoy it remotely. Don't get me wrong attending these tapings is very surreal. We can't get up and dance, we can't interact with other concert goers. We just show up, in masks, have our temperatures taken and get escorted to tables spaced safely away from all the other fan's tables. However just being there, as odd as it seems, does something for the soul that watching on a laptop or a TV screen at home cannot. Make no mistakes, the main focus of the "Travis Book Happy Hour" is on those watching at home, we are just an added bonus, a prop if you will. Cheering when it is time to cheer, laughing when it is time to laugh and hopefully giving the musicians on stage some small sense of normalcy. I asked Travis, that as the type of musician that feeds off audience interaction, how having a in person audience, even one of just 15-20 people, added to the experience for him...

TRAVIS: "It's huge having a studio audience. It's great to have people in the room at the very least just because you need a clap track. However, something that's been an ongoing process for me is getting away from NEEDING that. When I realized I was dependent on an audience reaction I realized that I had largely lost control of the situation. So that has been an ongoing process of sort of taking it back, taking back the reasons I'm doing this. Taking back my whole ownership over what it is that I'm doing. Not needing to do it in the context of that immediate feedback. That's all just made up shit in the mind. You're basing your subjective experience on someone else's subjective experience of something that is subjective to start with. I think fundamentally our role is almost like a service. What I bring to the world and the reaction I get, or what it does for people, I have no control over that.  I mean somewhat I do because I'm presenting it, but as soon as my mission is to get a reaction, or to get feedback, or to get more fans, or to make more money then I'm missing the ultimate point. Which is to basically tune in to something and act as like a conduit and to channel whatever it is. Music coming from the cosmos, the vibe that's happening on stage with my band mates bringing songs into form, and offering it up. I feel like as a musician, if at that point of offering it up, you need something right then, that's a really vulnerable place to be. You're much better off if you can just offer that up and sort of experience equanimity no matter what you're getting back. In a very roundabout way, I guess what I'm saying is part of what I'm trying to practice is being able to play without that. Being able to just be in the moment and play, and be myself, and channel the music and be as deep into it as possible while also being completely detached from the outcome."

Adding that basically..."You do your work, you do the best you can, you pretend as though it all matters while also acknowledging that it doesn't matter. You offer it up but then you allow it to just be. So for playing in front of  people just sitting around tables, or even streaming live on my phone, some people feel like there's something missing there but I don't feel like there's anything missing from that type of experience. I know that ultimately what I'm trying to do is essentially like a TV show, where it's something that's happening elsewhere, it's hitting people elsewhere. They're having whatever reaction they want to have to it and that's totally fine. When I'm at my best I go on stage and that's sort of like a prayer I say 'let me be whatever I need to be for people tonight'. If people need to loathe me or love me, I don't fucking care. Allow me to show up and be whatever everybody needs me to be. That's my role, and that's kind of what I try to bring to the live stream. I'm just gonna do what I do and I can't let the amount of donations or the number of viewers be the way that I assign value to what I've done that night."

"Existential Crisis Hour" indeed. Beyond the soul searching and spiritual journey there is also music. On this particular night Travis welcomed Mimi Naja of Fruition as well as fellow Carolinian Lyndsay Pruett. I asked Travis how he chooses his "Happy Hour" guests...

TRAVIS: "It's largely, who is available and who is willing to leave the house in the Covid era. Mostly it is who will come up for no guarantees of money and who has nothing better to do. Because I don't really have much of a budget. I can't really offer a lot of money for my friends to come out, but there are people that I want to play music with, people I want to have in my house for a day or two, people I can get into this deep stuff with. Mimi is a prime example of someone who is all about going there because she's done a lot of searching on her own. She's done a lot of looking into herself and understanding who she really is as a person. And it's not been a simple conversation she's had, which makes someone like her a perfect guest to talk through some of these things with. That's really where it starts for me. It's personal relationships and a desire to make music with people."

Speaking of the music, the music on this night was great. In my opinion it was easily the best episode of the season. Each episode Travis and his guests focus on a specific theme, for this particular broadcast the theme was "travel." Wearing many hats, Travis Book the announcer introduced Travis Book the host who in turn introduced Travis Book the musician who in turn dove head first into the first tune of the evening, a solo guitar version of the Infamous Stringdusters song "It'll Be Alright." It's a very special treat to hear stripped down versions of these songs, as well as hear how proficient he is, as primarily a bass player, on acoustic guitar. This particular song, with it's message of hope, was the perfect opening number. Travis then went into one of his happy hour monologues admitting he didn't know if that song is actually true, and that we don't  know if it really WILL be alright. That's what makes Mr. Book's personality perfect for a show like this. Even while admitting his anxiety and the uncertainness of these current times, he somehow manages to add a bit of optimism to everything. He can actually conceptualize that in the grand scheme of things none of us really matter, while also admitting that in our own perspectives we truly do matter. For the second song of his portion of the show he touched on the travel theme with a cover of Shawn Camp's "Travelin' Teardrop Blues." In keeping with his positive nature he delivered this somewhat sad set of lyrics with a hint of hopefulness. After another quick dialogue about how the journey we all take between the beginning (birth) and the destination (death) he closed his solo portion of the show with a cover of Benny "Burle" Galloway's "Give Me Some Wings."

After a quick break to ask for donations, because let's face it, if we as fans don't donate to these types of things they may cease to exist at all, Travis introduced tonight's guest of honor, Mimi Naja. Mimi seemed as excited as those of us in attendance were, gladly proclaiming "we are in a venue, WOW!", admitting that this was one of the first times she'd actually been in a real venue with a real crowd since the pandemic started.

It must be somewhat bizarre for these musicians attempting to dip their toes back into their normal lives after months and months of not playing in front of actual fans. As mentioned earlier, the interviews Travis does are the most unique part of "The Travis Book Happy Hour." Not wanting to spoil it for those of you that may want to watch this week's episode, they touched on the theme of traveling in regards to touring musicians, and how not having to do so has helped both Mimi and Travis relearn how to play music. How to play it for themselves again instead of just for their fans. Reminding them what they really love about playing music, and how this pause is helping them reevaluate how they will proceed when the pandemic is finally over. They spoke of how they're attempting to put a gratitude lens on this whole Covid thing, as well as the fears they have in their own existence.

After the interview portion of the evening Travis yielded the stage to Mimi who ran through a quick set of solo songs on her acoustic guitar that all touched on the evening's theme. Like Travis it was a nice treat to see Mimi's proficiency on an instrument that isn't the one we most closely associate her with. She began with a beautiful cover of "California Stars" that made it seem like both Woody Guthrie AND Wilco had her voice and musical style in mind when they each wrote their respective parts of the song. She followed that up with an enjoyable cover of the Mason Jennings song "Jackson Square." It not only fit the travel theme with it's lyrics about New Orleans, but it also fit perfectly into these confusing times with its words seemingly alluding to this chaotic moment we currently find ourselves in. The Richard Berry penned "Have Love, Will Travel" rounded out the solo portion of Mimi's set before a fiddle toting Lyndsay Pruett and the evening's host joined Mimi on the stage for a rousing version of Bill Monroe's "Gotta Travel On." With each of these three musicians having backgrounds based in bluegrass music, this version turned into a rollicking barn burner of a hoedown, that undoubtedly had some viewers at home hopping off their couches and dancing around their homes. Not to be pigeonholed into bluegrass music the trio then took the Roger Miller classic "King Of The Road" for a spin, with Travis on guitar and Mimi thumping along on the bass whilst adding amazing harmonies to Travis's take on the country classic. Afterwards Travis professed his love for country music even joking that if the 'Dusters don't get back together soon he may have to attempt to follow in Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney's pop country footsteps. What followed was a three song run of Fruition's most loved tunes. "Beside You," "Northern Town" and what in my mind was the highlight of the evening, and my personal favorite Mimi tune, "Santa Fe." The latter of which saw Travis's harmonies almost putting Mimi's Fruition bandmates to shame. After one more plug for the evening's sponsors, and another request for Paypal donations the makeshift ensemble ended the show with an amazing song called "Things In My Life" by early bluegrass legend Don Stover. This was the only song of the evening Mimi played her mandolin on, and she fit enough of her remarkably authentic shredding into this version to make up for not having played it all night. The lyrics to this song seemed to tie everything we are experiencing together. With some lyrics seemingly having predicted the pandemic we find ourselves in, "For we often lose some things in life that makes us wonder why," as well as our longing for things to return to normal, "I live in hopes and dreams that we'll meet again someday."

And just like that the program was over. The in person crowd, small as we were, cheered like we numbered in the hundreds, the camera man switched off his cameras, the musicians began packing up their gear, and we all wandered off into the night not knowing when we'll ever get to ingest live music the way we are used to. You could tell each and everyone of us felt blessed to have experienced what had just happened. My mind wandered to the people watching at home. I wondered how receptive people have been of these broadcasts. So I asked Travis how the response has been...

TRAVIS:  "The people who want this kind of thing, or are looking towards their community to discuss these deeper matters of being, or looking for music with a little more context than just a song, those are the people who are really into it. Not everyone's into it. Our overall viewership has probably gone down over the course of the series but the overall engagement of the people that are involved has gone way up. So by some metrics it's becoming more successful and by some metrics less successful. But in general there seem to be some people who are really psyched."

With things finally starting to open up a little more, and the music industry attempting to find new ways of adapting, I asked Travis if this was something he felt like he would continue to do until the dust has settled...

TRAVIS: "I don't know if my schedule is gonna allow me to fit in a lot of these shows, but I want to keep doing this. I don't know exactly what form it will take but it would be nice if I could continue doing it. I feel like I'm finally starting to get the hang of it and starting to figure out exactly what I need to do, but it's also really challenging. The whole monologue element and the conversation element is much harder than I thought it was going to be. So I'd like to continue but in reality I'm basically just kind of killing time until the Stringdusters start back up again. Once the 'Dusters are firing on all cylinders I'll be too busy doing that to do anything else. In a way I'll be back to where I was (before the pandemic), but certainly at some point I won't be playing Stringdusters music day in and day out every day. I need to spend a little more time with my family, I want to spend more time around here and doing this type of thing locally. I absolutely want to do some more of it and more than anything continue to play music with other people. That has been the single most rewarding part of this whole Coronavirus thing is getting to spend time at home and see the seasons change and getting to play music with all these other musicians.  Before this I feel like my role was so simply defined as bassist, and singer, and role player in the Stringdusters, and there was no time for anything else. I've been writing a lot of music and I'm working on recording with some of these other ensembles and in a lot of ways it's a much more interesting existence now than it was pre-Corona. But I do miss getting up on a big stage with a full sound system turned up to eleven, and cranking off a set of jam grass in front of a bunch of fired up field hippies. I mean there's still nothing better but this has given me, and I think everybody else in the industry, a lot of perspective."

As music fans we also miss it, and we too are gaining a new perspective. In the mean time we will continue to adapt as best we can. We are finally at a point where in most places we can go see some local band playing at some local brewery, or if we are really lucky go see some of our beloved musicians playing in makeshift places like drive-in movie theaters. However, having been able to go to an actual venue and see actual musicians making actual music means more to this writer than I could even begin to explain. Additionally, seeing a musician take a risk and try to put something like "The Travis Book Happy Hour" into the universe makes me glad to see that these musicians not only care enough about us, their fans, to give us something with some actual content, but also that they care about themselves enough to not let the weirdness of 2020 bring them down. Seeing them try to work through the things they need to work through so that we as a community all make it through to the other side stronger than we were before the pandemic. We all know it's going to be over at some point, but it's the small things like this that make it a little easier on us to keep pushing through the unknown. My fingers are crossed that even as the live music scene takes baby steps back to normalcy we all learn something from this and use what we have learned to make the world a better place. To help each other fully realize what our actual purpose in this life is.

If  you haven't experienced any of these "Travis Book Happy Hour" streams, please, I urge you to seek them out. They will not only get your toes tapping, but they will open your minds to the things in life that really matter. Or at the very least help you realize that the things you think matter in life don't really matter at all.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lotus Dives in Head First with New Album, Free Swim

Words & Photos by Jason Myers (Memorandum Media)

Music in the year 2020 certainly looks a bit different from the past. Venues are empty, stages ungraced, and touring schedules are essentially non-existent. But with the vast amount of change the music industry has gone through, one constant remains the same: the album. This fact has come to the forefront for jamtronica outfit Lotus who will be delivering their 10th studio LP,  Free Swim, to the masses on August 21, 2020. 

Sometimes soaked in sun-glossed disco dance grooves - other times projected with blissed-out melodies, Free Swim is a portrait of a band confident in their style and direction. Opening track “Catacombs” works as a hyperactive dancefloor jump starter, while other songs such as “Land of the Lush” send listeners floating through a world of relaxation and euphoria. The overall combination of these 10 new tracks provides for a listening experience that is both captivating and extremely satisfying. 

MusicMarauders recently got to sit down with Luke Miller (guitar, keyboards) and Jesse Miller (bass guitar) of the band to chat about the new album…

  • Let’s start with talking about the new album, Free Swim. What was the writing/recording process like for this? How was this process different from your last LP, Frames Per Second?

Luke Miller: The writing process was fairly similar to Frames Per Second. Jesse and I were each working on demos, then when songs were fairly complete we’d collaborate on finishing them - then rehearse the demos with the band to work out the nuances. For me personally, I was trying to streamline my workflow on writing demos. So, some of that was just getting some new plug-ins and soft synths that I could use very quickly without having to set up extra equipment. 

Jesse also built a home analog studio and really finalized some of his gear so he could more easily access different hardware and outboard gear. He ended up mixing the album from his home studio, which is the first time we’ve done that. Not having a ticking clock of studio time for that scenario really let us get into the details without wasting time on periphery things.

We recorded 18 songs basically live in the studio, with the whole band set up at the same time. That is how we did Frames Per Second, as well. Working fast and not overthinking things makes things efficient and comfortable for us. From those 18 tracks, we picked 10 that we thought worked together the best for the album. The studio, Spice House Studio, was a different one than the previous album. They had some nice gear that we used like a grand piano, vintage bass amp, Hammond organ and Leslie. The engineers were great at getting a good sound fast, so we didn’t spend a ton of time messing with drum mics and could just focus on playing.

  • You guys mentioned that you drew a lot of influence from disco and French music for this album. Can you elaborate on this a bit more and touch on how you were able to incorporate these styles of music into the classic Lotus sound?

LM: The line from disco to French Touch producers is pretty linear. The French producers sampled disco and funk tracks and then did a lot of looping and filtering. For us, the groove of a song is usually the foundation since there aren’t lyrics. In disco, there is a certain level of sophistication without being overly complex, because (at the end of the day) disco and French Touch are all about dancing. Hitting that zone of energy, something to dance and groove with, while still being chill is very much in the classic Lotus sound. So, recording the songs live is more from the disco influence, and then some of the electronic elements and effects in post-production are a nod to the French sound. 

  • You guys have a pretty well-established fanbase at this point, but, alike any artists, drawing in new fans is always a goal. How cognizant are you guys of this when you write new music?

LM: I used to think about that more, but nowadays I tend to just go with intuition and what I’m feeling at the moment. With that being said, I’m always trying to grow as a composer and music listener. I’m certainly a different person from when Lotus started when I was a college freshman to now, and if the music I was writing was exactly the same, I think I would feel stagnant as an individual.

Jesse Miller: I think if you try to play the game of guessing what new fans versus existing fans will enjoy, the end results won't be very interesting. I want to write music that excites me and that I think will work well on stage for Lotus or on an album. If you are hyper-focused on always trying to please your existing fans, you would end up writing the same songs over and over. And alternatively, if you were hyper-focused on grabbing a mass audience, you'd probably write dumbed-down, bland and formulaic music.

  • Over the past few years, Lotus has performed select shows filled with covers of other band’s songs. You’ve done a Talking Heads set at Red Rocks. You covered a handful of Flaming Lips songs at a recent Denver show. Do you have plans to do more cover sets like this in the future? Are there any bands in particular that you guys have fantasized about covering?

JM: I always thought The Clash, New Order or Television would be great. It’s always a challenge to find something that is somewhat original (not already covered by many other bands), but also known widely enough that at least a fair amount of the crowd is familiar with the original versions. Also, it needs to be something that can be adapted to fit Lotus's instrumentation. Aphex Twin would be an interesting and difficult challenge. Radiohead would be fun. They have great arrangements, but I would want to have the right singer for that.

LM: I don’t have a band I’ve fantasized about covering, but I’ve had this fantasy of playing a shrunken set. The whole band would be squeezed onto one drum riser and we’d all be playing tiny instruments. The drums would be like a toy set, the percussion would be those tiny shakers, a mini keyboard, etc. But the sound would be this huge in a lo-fi way. 

  • If I were a fan that wanted to check out a live Lotus soundboard, what shows would you guys suggest I start with? Are there any shows from the past few years where you guys felt like you were clicking on another level?

LM: Last year we played at The Caverns in Tennessee. It is literally a cave an hour outside of Nashville. I thought that show was great because of the super unique setting and the reverberation from the cave. It gave the show a very cool and special vibe.  

JM: We've put a few select live shows on our Bandcamp page. That would be a good place to start as those are typically shows I thought had interesting and well-played group improvisation. 

  • If you guys could play alongside any current band or musician right now, who would it be any why?

LM: Just off the top of my head - Radiohead, Anderson Paak, Tame Impala, Wilco, Floating Points, Aphex Twin.

  • What have you guys been listening to lately? Any music recommendations for the masses? 

LM: Chicano Batman - “Invisible People,” Floating Points - “Bias” and “Crush” 

JM: Four Tet Sixteen Oceans, Ross From Friends (various singles), Nicolas Jaar/Against All Logic (A.A.L.) (various mixes and albums)

  • If you guys could send a single message out that reached everyone in the world right now, what would you say?

LM: Man…I don’t know. I’ve thought about this before. Like if I had a billboard, what message would I put on it for maximum effect to help the planet? I don’t think there is a right answer. It’s a cliche to say we are living in a post-truth world, but it really feels like it. Instead of the power to send out a message that reached everyone, I would like the power to hear the message that everyone else is sending.

Free Swim is available now for pre-order HERE. You can check out "Catacombs," the first single from the disk, HERE!


Monday, August 10, 2020

Jeremy Garrett 8.8.20 (Photos)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Neil Young & Promise Of The Real 7.9.15 (Photos)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Marc Rebillet at The Drive-in 6.22.20

The Holiday Twin Drive-in
Fort Collins, CO

Words, Photos & Video by Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

Shit’s been heavy all around; from the pandemic to politics there seems to be no respite for the weak-hearted and weary. Given the current state of affairs it is a time to be serious and it is most definitely a time for change. That being said after four months of quarantine we all need a release and Marc Rebillet’s socially distanced show at The Holiday Twin Drive Inn in Fort Collins was just that. A chance to blow off some steam before going back to the real work that is at hand in our various communities.

Cars began lining up at the gate around 6:00 PM and soon the traffic snarl snaked down the road as eager fans queued up for the “Cinema Experience” that was about to go down. Gates opened around 6:45 PM to ease the rush and early arrivers had their choice of spots. Masks were mandatory and people were encouraged to stay in or by their cars if not heading to the bathrooms or concessions. That didn’t stop some old friends from saying their hellos and others from completely isolating in their vehicles. It felt a bit surreal to be at a show where you could only mingle with your immediate group and smiles were obscured by masks on the way to grab a beer.

Logistically the event posed some issues mainly that Marc was set up in a green screened E-Z UP in the center of the venue. He was projected on both screens while performing in his compound. Meaning that some eager to get a glimpse would occasionally gather before security would disperse the clumps of people. Personally, I would have liked them to move his spot to a central but more isolated location to give people a place to look and also keep eager fans at bay. All that being said, this is a first for everyone involved and I commend Mr. Rebillet and his team for even attempting to pull off a live show during a pandemic let alone an entire tour. You can see from my photos that people respected space and generally followed the rules.

The setting sunlight gleamed off the silky robes of Rebillet devotees as people partied in their respective areas. Finally after much anticipation, at dusk the show began with what can only be described as three experimental short films. Specifically one was a POV torture film about being a piece of sushi and another featured animal orgies on Noah’s Ark, as well as a zombie apocalypse. Suddenly a drone could be heard overhead and a golf cart appeared in the distance. Marc gripped the roof with one hand and held a mic in the other as he proclaimed his love to the audience as the cart drove him around row by row.

After arriving at his aforementioned compound he got to business with a series of dance heavy loops that prompted us out of our camping chairs. He jumped the barricade early and was quickly flanked by security as he talked to a couple masked members of the crowd. One woman exclaimed “I love your penis,” which became a launching pad for another looped track. Marc’s own robe soon disappeared as he played on enthusiastically. He took a call from the crowd à la his Quaranstream tour which resulted in the suggestion of “Sensitive Nipples” for a song. Marc was happy to oblige despite the repeated objectification of his body as subject matter for the music. He’s not a piece of meat people he’s a damn human being! I digress. The surround sound effect of the music being pumped through all of the various car speakers made for a unique auditory experience as well.

At one point we looked up to see fireflies dancing above the crowd. I’ve lived in Colorado for almost 15 years and I’ve never seen lightening bugs in this state. It was like our own personal, albeit subtle fireworks display. Marc’s show relies heavily on crowd interactions so it was interesting to see him navigate this potential hazard utilizing security, his mic and most importantly his mask. His set was pretty short and the whole shebang had an 11:00 PM curfew. He ended the show by inviting a request for one of his previously played or recorded tunes. At that point he was approached by some enthusiastic twerkers who put on their own show for Marc. After a soulful rendition of “Work That Ass For Daddy” he closed with “Let Me In I’m Tryna Fuck” also by request.

Marc Rebillet is absolutely blowing up right now and the reason is that he embodies the freedom and at times utter silliness we all crave. Yes, it’s all wrapped up in a silky robe, pencil thin mustache and a sultry voice, but that’s all proof that Marc is not overthinking it. He’s having fun doing what he loves; playing live music. He’s bringing a lot of joy and not only that, he’s been doing some real good for his community. Marc recently marched in New York City and donated to various causes supporting Black Lives Matter. He’s part of the movement despite his label as a “comedy act.” It’s worth mentioning because we as a society need to make some serious change from the ground up. Until that happens these “good times” will just be a distraction.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery


Monday, June 29, 2020

Andrew McConathy & James Thomas 6.27.20

Doug & Lindsay's Backyard
Morrison, CO

Words & Photos by J. Picard
Video by Carly Picard

We walked down the street of a neighborhood in Morrison, CO adjacent to Red Rocks. The fabled venue and landmark where my wife and I met a decade prior and where we spend a lot of time each summer, could be seen in-between each house we passed by, with their backyards set up like a vista over looking the majestic landscape. Over my shoulder was our fully loaded backpack cooler that the party's hosts had gifted us for our wedding a long five years ago. I looked back at Carly who's smiling eyes were peaking over her mask just a couple of steps behind, carrying our two camping chairs for the day's backyard concert. It had been almost five months since we last enjoyed the sweet habitual sound of live music. The closer we got to Doug and Lindsay's house, the clearer we could hear the music of Widespread Panic, who was supposed to be in the midst of their weekend at Red Rocks, but instead was piping through the sound system in the backyard. We headed down the driveway with the epic views ever expanding and located a distant spray painted circle on the lawn, meant to keep people six feet apart. We set up our chairs, I opened a Daisy Cutter Pale ale, Carly opened a Truly and we were in full concert mode. It felt good to be back!

Surrounded by the foothills outside of Denver/Boulder, we soaked up the sun, consumed some cannabis and enjoyed a ripping second set from Widespread Panic, among about fifty WSP fans. We said hello to Doug, who had a full quarantine beard and was dancing his ass off! The evening's performers, Andrew McConathy and James Thomas, arrived, grabbed a beer and began to set up. It was fitting that our first concert following the pandemic would be with Andrew, who is one of our favorite Colorado musicians and folks. I first met Andrew about ten years back at YarmonyGrass, a music festival on the Colorado River that he created and promoted. We've attended Yarmony with friends and family most of the years since and have enjoyed his band, The Drunken Hearts, extensively. I've booked the Hearts several times and even put Andrew in touch with Doug to play his wedding. Doug and I have also hosted The Hearts, as well as members of, at Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies Pre-Game show that Doug produces. I guess the point I am trying to make is that the "roots run deep" and this was a very fitting return to music for all of us. Not to mention J.B. who I have worked with a handful of times and who lived next door to my cousin and his wife in Denver, was running sound.

We chatted with Doug's wife Lindsay, who was bouncing around the yard being an epic host. Just before Andrew and James began, we grabbed our chairs and cooler and headed up to the front where there were a few open circles on the lawn. The set began with Widespread Panic's "Porch Song" as folks danced blissfully and soaked in the experience. The original "Goes To Show" went into "Sakajawea’s Reel" and was followed up with another older Drunken Hearts original "Don't Go" before Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." I looked over my shoulder to a full yard, comfortably and safely spaced, full of EZ-ups, blankets, chairs, coolers and familiarity and I smiled. Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" was a fitting selection and sounded beautiful with James' piano work. Andrew featured a new original song, "I’ll Say it First" followed by "Prom Night" before going into the clear show highlight for me in the form of "Raleigh & Spencer," played in memory of Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band). In that moment I really began to reflect on the music community, but more specifically the Colorado music community and the depth of its nuances. The set was rounded out with another original, "Make It Out Ahead" and the Eddie Vedder cover, "Just Breathe," played in memory of Jude Wargo. After hearing a number of classic Hearts songs, it became clear that James was the pianist from the first Drunken Hearts album Live For Today, which holds a special place in my heart.

Hummingbirds buzzed over the outdoor "venue" as the duo saddled up for set two. They set started with one of the neighbors in white slacks and boat shoes singing an Eric Clapton cover. More entertaining than the cover itself was the man's cheesy cruise ship entertainer or MC vibe inclusive of crowd interaction and a number of jokes that fell very flat. The non-shtick was almost masterful. The duo forged ahead with Passenger's "Let Her Go," followed by one of my favorite Drunken Hearts' songs, "Dean Moriarty's Blues." I couldn't help but continuously glance off to my right to see Red Rocks towering in the distance, its Lower South lots completely empty. I had the realization that this would be the closest that we would get to a Red Rocks show this year and it was heartbreaking and strangely healing all at the same time. To my delight Andrew and James performed a couple of Lyle Lovett songs, "If I Had A Boat" and "LA County." Very fitting selections to round out the second set which concluded at 8:00 PM sharp with "Holes In My Shoes."

With our cups full, we packed up our setup and said our goodbyes. Walking uphill down the residential street felt eerily similar to our walk after a Red Rocks show. The air was sweet, the energy palpable and for a brief moment in time things felt normal. So much so, that we headed to our backyard in a far off corner of Denver for a campfire, some additional beverages and grateful reflection. Something that I continued to reflect on was the fact that here I was, a promoter and yet that day, I was getting my live music fix from music fans, creating a space for something that we all love so much. When the pandemic hit and the large companies, as well as, mid and small time promoters ceased operations; in many cases it was music fans themselves that picked up the reigns and made live music happen again...


Set One: Porch Song (Widespread Panic), Goes to Show > Sakajawea’s Reel, Don’t Go, For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield), The Way It Is (Bruce Hornsby), I’ll Say it First (new original), Prom Night > Raleigh & Spencer (traditional, played in memory of Jeff Austin), Make It Out Ahead, Just Breathe (Eddie Vedder, played in memory of Jude Wargo)

Set Two: Eric Clapton Cover (with neighbor Jonny on vocals), Let Her Go (Passenger), Dean’s Blues, If I Had a Boat (Lyle Lovett), LA County (Lyle Lovett), Holes in My Shoes

Monday, April 20, 2020

Getting The Scoop on Rose Room

Words by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)

Let’s talk about Rose Room. Never heard of them? Well that’s why we’re here. MusicMarauders is here with the scoop on a new duo project that is putting out some frighteningly fresh new music under the radar, yet soon to become ubiquitous. The music is a synthesis fused from the minds of Thomas Lafond and Dimitry Bolotnyy. You may know Lafond from Banshee Tree, a successful modern swing band in the area. Some elements of that music can be heard in Rose Room as well, yet leaning more heavily on the hip hop/R&B side of things.

Bolotnyy and Lafond have been making music together since their teenage years in New York. Eventually making their way out west, Lafond settled in Colorado and Bolotnyy was drawn to the Los Angeles area. After they had both spent time travelling between Colorado and California to record music, it became apparent what direction the music was taking. Both of them now reside up in the hills of Nederland, CO. Which is perhaps the environment that inspired the title of their newly released single “Look High Over the Mountain,” the second of two tracks they have put out thus far.

Upon listening to Rose Room, the sound strikes one as distinctively familiar to contemporary R&B/Hip Hop. We hear this especially with “Look High Over the Mountain." You begin to feel the music as autobiographical after knowing the background of these the musicians. There is a nomadic freedom captured by the lyricism and the mountainous imagery while also illustrating the pulse and grit of a big city (LA maybe?). The essence of the track comes out in the opening lyric of the song “Home is a language I never speak,” a sentiment that conveys a feeling of isolation while simultaneously being comfortable in any surroundings. Sparse percussion and lush keyboard sounds lend a wistful groove, decorated with synthesized embellishments and playful chimes.

Kyle VandeKerkoff is to be credited with a fantastic mixing/mastering job on these tracks. His reputation of artists he has worked with lines up appropriately with the sound here. You can feel the style come through in spades. Kendrick Lamar, SZA, & Dr.Dre are just a few names Kyle has worked with. The whole production comes off really clean and meticulously mixed. Hat’s off gents!

“Fighting Feeling” was the first single from Rose Room and takes on more of a soulful and slinky funk. Stuttering staccato guitar, Rhodes-like keyboards, and thick, punchy bass give the impression as if Vulfpeck could have been the backing band. Incredibly tight stuff, and it’s all Lafond and Bolotonyy here. The spanky groove of the song segues into a contrastingly tense but driving interlude which then releases a triumphantly joyous gospel return, “I know just what you need!” Enter church choir and soaring Leslie driven organ (the layering and versatility of Lafond’s vocals really come through here). And then with only about a minute left in the song, a melody that hooks like the best of ‘em comes and hits you when you least expect it, but wanted it most. That feeling is parallel to the sound of Rose Room overall and is a sign of fresh and genuinely impassioned music, where you didn’t even know you wanted it until you hear it. Rose Room has that “Fighting Feeling,” and it’s just what you need.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

Album Review | Pearl Jam's Gigaton

Words by Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

Pearl Jam is back at it with their 11th studio album Gigaton. In conjunction with the release they announced a US and European tour that has subsequently been postponed after the full extent of the Covid-19 pandemic became clear. It seemed that Pearl Jam was ready to reignite their still burning fire in 2020 but alas fans will have to be content with the studio output for now. Gigaton is their first LP since 2013’s Lightning Bolt which was praised critically as Pearl Jam’s triumphant return to the sound that made them a household name in the first place. Gigaton continues with the heavier, in-your-face tone that fans have come to know and love since the early days. The foreboding Paul Nicklen photograph of the melting polar ice caps which graces the cover and acts as the first indication that these songs are about more than shaking of the shackles of fame. In fact the term gigaton is a unit of measurement equal to a billion tons and it is how scientists are measuring the amount of water being expelled from the poles currently.

The ethereal tone introducing “Who Ever Said” gives a false sense of wonder before the listener is slapped in the face with Vedder’s vocals backed by his stalwart brothers in Pearl Jam. Rolling Stones writer Kory Grow called it “Grown up grunge” and I think that fits. We’re onto the next phase and Pearl Jam is celebrating all that that made them who they are musically. “Super Blood Wolf Moon” one of the early singles off the album features some incredibly satisfying riff-heavy jams and a pop sensibility that seems to be ever-present in Pearl Jam’s songs. “Dance of the Clairvoyants” another single, again reminds us that bigger things are at play currently here on Planet Earth. “Quick Escape” is some sort of globetrotting post-apocalyptic shred-fest that attacks the senses.

“Alright” is the break this album needs after the onslaught of the first few songs, but this isn’t a throwaway track. It’s perhaps the most poignant and shows a wisdom and self-reflection that was not as obvious in previous releases. “Seven O’Clock” is a wordy mouthful for Vedder and is one of the flattest on the album. “Never Destination” steers the ship back on course with it’s straight forward-rock tone and amazing execution from guitarist Mike McCready. Drummer Matt Cameron penned “The Long Way” and this song is heavy on the rhythm. Gigaton shifted gears with the Stone Gossard penned “Buckle Up” which takes on a bouncy almost playful quality.

“Comes Then Goes” is perhaps my favorite song on the entire album. It shakes away the need to be heavy for the sake of authenticity and the lyrics reek of maturity. Sonically the transition to “Retrograde” is masterful. This song takes a god’s eye view on the planet and delivers us a stark warning. Even the term retrograde means “moving backward.” The album closes with the haunting “River Cross” featuring a Victorian pump organ recorded during a session in 2015.

The rock-centered side A juxtaposed against the slower more lyric-driven Side B gave many critics their only complaint. Gigaton is a bit uneven, but overall it’s an amazing snapshot of a band embracing who they are and writing songs that carry meaning to their aging fanbase. Bands either flare up and burn out or they find true satisfaction in the sounds that made them popular. After a relatively long hiatus from the studio Pearl Jam has made a triumphant return and a stellar record. They continue to be the torchbearers of true rock and in these crazy times they are a voice of reason. You can stream Gigaton wherever you listen to music and I highly recommend giving it a listen. It may be some time before they can get back to do doing what they do best, playing live.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Spafford 3.11.20 (Photos)

Steamboat Springs, CO

Photos by Jason Myers (Memorandum Media)

View Jason's Full Photo Gallery Here!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Fruition & Katie Toupin 3.7.20 (Photos)