Lotus return with a new sound

BMS talks with bassist and singer Jesse Miller about the band's new album

, Staff Writer

Not two years after releasing the double EP Oil on Glass/Feather on Wood, Lotus is back in the spotlight with a brand new self-titled album. This is the band’s fifth full-length release, and in a lot of ways sounds like a culmination of the sound they’ve been cultivating for quite some time. To mark the occasion, Lotus will be embarking on an extensive tour this fall, starting in Boston this Thursday. Bassist and singer Jesse Miller was kind enough to speak with us about the new album and what it means for the band.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): This new album is definitely a musical shift for Lotus. Was there anything in particular that led to that much more electronics-heavy sound?

Jesse Miller (JM): I don’t think there was anything in particular. I always think of Hammerstrike and Oil/Wood as one big project, because we were recording them all at the same time. We put together Hammerstrike and found we had all this material left over, which became Oil on Glass and Feather on Wood.

BMS: A lot of that post-rock sound that defined many of your songs is basically gone on this album.

JM: Yeah, we were definitely exploring more of a post-rock sound. That was something we were going for, more of a gritty sound. We were recording a lot as a full band and going for that live rock sound. So in some ways, [the new album] was more of a reaction to that; just kinda wanting to go in a different direction. I feel like we explored a lot of angles and wanted to move along to something else.

BMS: Was there anything that influenced the more hip-hop-styled songs on Lotus?

JM: We’ve always incorporated an electro influence [into our songs]. When you say hip-hop songs, what you’re talking about are the songs between 85 and 95 beats per minute. [We were just] exploring different grooves and seeing what we could go with in that direction.

BMS: Did you have any musical influences that found their way onto the album?

JM: Well, we were working on it for such a long time that some of the compositions are more than two years old, and a lot of the time time what I’m listening to, if it is influential on the music, it’s in very particular ways. I listen to a lot of stripped-down indie music, like Spoon, which seems really far from Lotus. So I’ll be like, “Oh, I want to do something in this tempo range”, and that’s how my inspiration may come into play.

BMS: Kind of a corny question, but is there any symbolic significance to the album being self-titled?

JM: I think there is! It’s an album that I’m personally really proud of and it really represents the sound of Lotus. It was stuff we were road-testing for quite a while, so to me, it’s the culmination of a lot of work. I like our other albums, but… each album is a progression from the last.

BMS: This one does seem to capture Lotus’s fundamental live sound better than the others.

JM: There’s definitely more of that energy of the live show represented in the album.

BMS: What energy is that?

JM: Well, even though there’s no improvisation on the album… there’s something [that happens] live where there’s this feedback between the audience and the band, and there’s this energy of not really knowing what’s happening, and hoping that you can take it to the next level. We went for this urgency and energy. We were trying to compose everything really tightly. In some ways, it’s the opposite of improvisation, but it translates the energy in a similar way.

BMS: What do you look for when testing new tunes on the road?

JM: We started playing that stuff at least two years ago. I think it’s, first, to test out the composition and see how it works in a live setting, and just being able to tweak and test them out. Another thing is that it sometimes takes quite a lot of playing to be able to really tighten the band on a composition and really hone in on the groove. It was definitely a benefit playing these out. We’d been going back and forth between recording and touring, so we’d record a bunch of stuff, then go on the road, come back, maybe make some tweaks where we’d need to and bring that back to the live show. It was an evolution over the last two years.

Lotus will be perform at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Thursday, September 22. Tickets for the show are available through Ticketmaster for $18.

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