Interview: Catching Up With Jesse Miller of Lotus
Lotus has been making waves this summer – they’ve recently released their newest album Gilded Age, they have another in the works, and they’ve been blowing away both fans and competition on the summer festival circuit. Gilded Age hit the shelves on July 22, and features six tracks by the band (three all-instrumental tracks and three featuring vocals), as well as four remixes of those tracks by some of the band’s favorite electronic producers. The album is a return to organic instrumentals and features several guest musicians on strings and horns. Check out our full review of the album here. Sensible Reason recently got to chat again with the band’s bassist Jesse Miller and got the skinny on recent and future albums, upcoming festivals, and more:
Ali Kramen: Your new album, Gilded Age, just came out on July 22. What is your favorite song to play off of the album and why?
Jesse Miller: We have only played a couple songs off the album live before. The title track, Gilded Age, has been a lot of fun to play. I’m looking forward to playing Sunset of the Giant Dipper.
AK: Regarding the new album, is there an interesting story behind the creation or naming of one of the new songs, or a particularly fond memory during your time recording in the studio?
JM: Sunset of the Giant Dipper is named after an old roller coaster in Santa Cruz that was built in the 20s. The name ties into the cover art and the album title.
Out of Focus as a bridge section that is a very big rock/noise section. While we were mixing the track, we used a number of different mixing techniques to really make that part hit. But, it still needed something else so we tried adding a synth bass. We tried out a Korg MS20 and it sounded pretty good, but then I set up a patch on a modular synth and it got huge. I think that just goes to show that the writing process never stops until the final masters are sent off.
AK: Are there any songs off the new album that will be off-limits during live performances, or is there a chance we may see all of those songs yet to be performed live?
JM: We’ll be performing all six live.
AK: You have another new album in the works, which I believe you previously indicated would be more in the vein of funk, due out in early 2015. Will it include any songs you have already been performing live?
JM: There are some funk elements in the new album we are working on, but I would describe it as more as dance songs with very concise pop arrangements. It is all brand new material that has not been played live.
AK: Is there anything else you’d like to tell your fans about this album in the works without giving too much away?
JM: As has been the case the last couple of years, this album will be completely different stylistically than any of our other albums.
AK: Over the past two years you’ve brought back a number of songs from deep within your catalog. Is there a funny anecdote regarding the choosing of a particular song brought back?
JM: One composition we brought back was Opo. I think we brought it back after seeing Lettuce play some fast, syncopated funk at one of the festivals we played. I remember thinking that we wrote some music in a similar vein many years ago. So, we dusted off Opo and rearranged it a little bit adding an Afro-beat inspired improvisational section. The name has a story. Someone told me that the band Ulu (some older readers may remember them) was named after the male anatomy. I said that “Opo” would be more accurate and then we used it for the song title (apologies to anyone who will never be able to read that song title again without thinking of this).
AK: Regarding touring plans, it has been said that there won’t be much added beyond what has been announced so far. Do you have any plans to return to the band’s home city of Philadelphia before the New Year?
JM: That is correct. After festivals end our only shows this fall are Red Rocks 9.19.14 and Dominican Holidaze in December. We will be doing a run for New Year’s Eve, but I can’t disclose details yet.
AK: Your performances on this summer’s festival circuit thus far have been noteworthy, particularly your recent Talking Heads Deconstructed set at Gathering of the Vibes. Given that this year’s Peach Music Festival, the last before the current members of the Allman Brothers will part ways, is particularly special, is there any chance we might see some surprises during your set there?
JM: There may be some surprises. For Peach, since we are one of the few bands there that use a lot of dance elements, we’ll definitely be playing up that side of things and keep the wave pool/ski slope party jumping.
AK: SummerDance is coming up as well. Two bands are yet to be announced. Is there any chance you know whether we should expect an announcement soon?
JM: I think the final announcement will be next week. This is probably the best line-up that has been put together for Summer Dance. Looking forward to it.
Many thanks to Jesse Miller for taking the time to answer our questions! Jesse, no apologies necessary for that story about Opo (in addition to killing it in the classy clothes department and the melt-your-face-bass department, he’s also got one hell of a sense of humor – triple threat!). Fans can catch Lotus next at Peach Music Festival this coming Saturday, where they will play late-night on the Mushroom Stage, starting at midnight. You can find out where they are playing through the end of the year, and where to buy tickets, here. You can grab a copy of their newest album Gilded Age here. Check out a video of their Talking Heads Deconstructed set at Gathering of the Vibes below – this video features their cover of Talking Heads‘ “Found a Job” into their own bright and cheery classic “Shimmer and Out”: