This article was contributed by Gabe Connor, founder of THICK FOG. The second issue of THICK FOG will be out early this summer.
You might remember Will Ivy (guitar/vox) and Kirsten Knick (keyboard/vox) as your 24th St. neighbors, but they have fled the fog and are now live in Los Angeles. The band’s other members, Chrys Nodal (bass) and Jon Wujcik (drums), still reside in San Francisco. The NorCal/SoCal divided Lilac are reunited in SF to play a show in support of Noise Pop Festival’s 20th Anniversary Festival on Friday.
Gabe Connor: Is there an intentional homage to some patron saints of music in your song titles? “Cathedral” is also a Felt song, “So Young” a Suede song, “Cease to Exist” a Charles Manson song, “Christine” a House of Love song. Or are some of these actually covers layered in slaying blissed-out grunge and I haven’t noticed?
Will Ivy: “Cease to Exist” is in fact a Charles Manson cover. But I feel an overall sense of “there’s nothing you can sing that hasn’t been sung” so I feel like it is with good intentions that I give my respects to the bands and songs that inspire me. This is especially relevant with the title “Christine”. I was first drawn to the name in the House of Love song, and then realized the name is in so many other songs (Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc). So the name became a way for us to write love songs to music without just outright saying “I dig music.”
GC: Has moving to LA marked anything new for you guys as a band? Do you think the songs will be less sludgier and overcast now that the weather isn’t like painkiller grey?
WI: New territory, new inspiration, new challenges, new everything. I feel like we were getting a little burnt playing tons of SF shows and practicing the same songs over and over (the songs are still always sloppy too, haha). So now when we get together it’s more invigorated. Who is to say what our next record will be like…dreamier?
GC: I know you recorded your last EP (Lilac, out now via Omega Records) with Different Fur Studios in SF. What’s it like working with them? Do you expect to record the full length with them and release it with Omega as well?
WI: Working with Different fur is amazing, and we are very lucky to work with the very talented Patrick Brown. We actually already recorded the new LP there, as well as material for two 7” releases. During the EP we were still getting acquainted, and the band was so new, but I think the listener will be able to see our development as a band and the growth our confidence in the studio. I don’t want to talk about release details yet.
GC: I notice there seems to be a trend in your band image and in your lyrics regarding religious and spiritual themes. Whenever I see you guys you’re likely to be bearing eternal ankh pendants (essentially the Lilac trademark).
WI: We are by no means a religious band, but we are spiritual and moved by concepts like eternity. Kirsten especially is always adorned with rings and crosses and emblems and she decorates the house as such. We are also narcissistic artists that want to live forever. Ha.
GC: Do each of you have a particular style icon? I know people say Will’s Doppelganger is Russell Brand, but I beg to differ. He can’t dress like, at all.
WI: Who is Russell Brand? Kirsten is really inspired by the Yeh Yeh French girl scene: Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot. I’ve also seen her looking at a lot of pics of Liv Tyler lately. Will is constantly confused about his style.
(Kirsten Knick of Lilac)
GC: Have their been any sonic or process differences between the writing and recording of the full length v. the EP?
WI: For one we were broken up during the writing and recording of the LP so it’s full of tension, angst and longing. At just a sonic level, both Kirsten and I did mostly all the writing on the EP, and I recorded most of the instrumentation (drums, bass, percussion, guitar, etc). But on the LP we were more established as a band so it was definitely more of a collaborative group effort as far as writing and recording.
GC: As a band you recently joined the Twitteverse. How do you feel about it? I struggle with it every day. Do you have a tweeting mentor?
WI: It’s just a fun place to send all these free flying jokes in our heads. I can’t believe it when I see people with literally thousands of tweets. We are two people contributing to one Twitter and we STILL only have 200 something tweets. It’s fine; no real opinion.
GC: Anything concretely in the works for Lilac? Can we soon expect new releases, videos, and a tour or do we have to wait for armageddon?
WI: “Nothing’s concrete, except for you and iiii”
Tour: Soon maybe
Video: Really soon
Lilac play alongside Veronica Falls, Bleached, and Brilliant Colors tonight at the Rickshaw Stop. Tickets are $12 adv/$14 dos. Lilac are on first at 9 on the dot, so get there early.
This article was contributed by Gabe Connor, founder of THICK FOG - a magazine that will be out in print this fall.
Devon Williams is a Los Angeles based musician who has been recording under different monikers and with many different people for quite a while. Since choosing the eponymous route, he released Carefree, his debut full length in 2008 as well as three other 7’’s. This past week Slumberland celebrated the release of Devon’s new and already gossiped about record Euphoria (now out via Slumberland Records). Standout single “Your Sympathy” has received buzz from noteworthy music sites and magazines alike.
Devon is touring the west coast this September to support Euphoria and is stopping twice in the Bay Area. On Saturday he’ll be at Abco Art Space in Oakland with The Mantles and Twin Steps, and on Sunday he’ll be supporting Twin Sister at the Rickshaw Stop with Library Voices opening. Devon spoke with Night Fog Reader this week about pure pop songs, the sun, and why he likes solving puzzles so much.
Night Fog Reader: So you’re playing a weekend of shows in the Bay Area. You’ve been up here several times already in the past few months (at the Knockout and Thee Parkside in June, and at the Slumberland Records showcase in May). What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? Devon Williams: San Francisco is so different from LA. The weather’s different. The people are different. It’s a good pace-changer. The cover art for Euphoria is spectacular. It reminds me of The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers or even Magical Mystery Tour artwork. Could you tell us about the artwork and concept? Why did you choose to format some of the album packages as puzzles? Gage Taylor did the artwork. It’s a painting he did in 1969. I love the painting because it’s so vivid and unreal. The amount of detail and variety of color is what makes it perfect to be a jigsaw puzzle. When I work on puzzles I listen to records and I thought that would be a sort of ideal way for someone to listen to the record. What’s the craziest, most intricate or difficult puzzle you’ve pieced together? What were you listening to at the time? I was desperate for a puzzle one day. I wanted to stay inside and work on one, so I went to a couple different thrift stores where they sell ‘em for like 2 bucks. They had none. I couldn’t believe it. I scoured the store and then I found one. It was a breast cancer awareness puzzle with Santa Claus in the snow and two angels wearing pink ribbons flying around him and some doves and bells, etc. I thought it would be fine, but once I got well into it I couldn’t make a breakthrough. It had too much white and pink and I didn’t care enough about it. So I gave up. I think I was watching a movie though, not listening to music.
Are there any specific artists or albums that come to mind that influenced Euphoria? A lot of bands like sunny radio pop, however your stuff is much more orchestrated and added to rather than copied. Do you think vintage worship is a dangerous game in an uncreative music industry? I sort of have been pulling from my same influences for the last couple years. I’m a huge fan of The Church album Heyday. The guitars on that album are so great and the drumming too. Also Cleaners From Venus, who made really great universes in pop songs. Then there’s other influences like Pete Dello and Nirvana (UK). Pete Dello’s songwriting is so direct while Nirvana is so elaborate.
I always think that garage bands are boring and hackneyed, but it’s also just a legacy that goes on and on and on. Something about just getting together and playing music that you can’t really argue with. The bottom line is if it’s a good song, it’s a good song. No point in talking over it.
What’s LA like as a music haven? I know you guys have had Laurel Canyon, Orange County punk, peak of the 90’s paisley underground and now there’s this whole dark synth and beach pop aura. How would you compare it to other cities? I’m not sure how to compare LA to other cities, but I definitely feel like music in LA is lacking something. But I love the community that Burger Records has created. Even though a lot of those bands are more “wild” than us, I feel an affinity with Burger (Sean Bohrman, Lee Noise, and Brian Burger) because of their values. I’ve known them for a while and they love all sorts of music, and it’s their entire life. And that’s the kind of musical community I want to be involved with.
The tracks on Euphoria are often bittersweet, and about love, but all seem really passionate. Were you going for that “teenage crush”mood when you wrote lyrics? I wasn’t going for anything when I wrote these songs. I just write the things that I feel. [But] I don’t feel nostalgia. I just write songs and add parts to them until they sound full.
Slumberland releases are typically more “lo-fi.” The riffs on Euphoria are really clean. What’s it like being on Slumberland? Mike Schulman who runs Slumberland is a music lover. He loves putting out records as much as he loves listening to them. I can appreciate that. We could talk about music for hours and hours and we have. When I suggested making some puzzles to go along with the LP he was just as excited as I was.
Euphoria feels like beach music. It is like going to the beach with a wine cooler and a blanket instead of getting stoned in the sun. Does the sun influence your music? Living in Los Angeles certainly affects me, so inevitably the climate takes its toll. Euphoria is a dark album to me, more sunburnt than sunny.
What one thing is “euphoric” for Devon Williams? Pop music with great melodies and great words. That’s all I’m after.
I noticed that for this tour you are going by a solo name, rather than Devon Williams and the Fuck Ups or Devon Williams and the Grunge Gods, etc. If you were to give a name to your backing band, what would it be? I consider us all equal players when we play. They are so much more than a backing band. I couldn’t do it without them. If I had to give them a name I’d probably call them “The Good Time Gang” or maybe “Let’s Make The Most of It Band” or maybe something like “The Dustbusters.”
Devon Williams / The Mantles / Twin Steps Abco Art Space 3135 Filbert St Oakland Saturday, September 3rd $5, 9:30 PM
Twin Sister / Devon Williams / Library Voices The Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell St San Francisco Sunday, September 4th $10 Advance $12 Doors, 8:00 PM