Lemuria has been one of the hardest working bands in rock and roll these past few years, touring extensively off 2008’s Get Better before getting signed to Boston’s Bridge Nine Records earlier this year. They’re currently in the studio recording a full-length follow up, and I had a chance to sit down with Sheena, Alex, and Kyle while they were on the road to get the scoop on their life on the road, their upcoming album, and how their van got its nickname. Check it out here! And more pictures from the show are up here.
Thanks again to Stephanie and Chris from B9 for helping me out on this. Alex, Kyle, and Sheena are nicer than my mom, which is saying a lot, so thank you guys for taking the time to sit down and chat with me in that parking lot on a summer night in Baltimore.
Other than the fact that you’re in Lemuria, what should we know about you?
Alex Kerns (drums, vocals): We all love Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Sheena Ozzella (guitar, vocals): Alex runs a record label called Art Of The Underground. Kyle is homeless.
Kyle Paton (bass): That’s true. All of my stuff is in the basement of Kyle’s house. Until we get back, then I have to move it out. And I’m Canadian.
You guys have been on the road for a bit now, do you have any stories to share from the road?
KP: We went to the beach in Florida before it got destroyed by the oil spill. It’s such a crazy feeling – being somewhere and thinking that people will never get to experience it like we did. Especially with people you care about, you know?
SO: Our air conditioner ripped itself out of our van. So now we’re unable to cool ourselves in the van.
KP: We took it in to get an oil change in North Carolina, and the guy told us it would be a $900 repair.
AK: It’s all going to work out though – we have a day off in Vegas, so we figure we’ll just triple our money and get the new AC. We’re going to Mike Tyson’s house, too.
[noise from Lemuria’s van parking nearby] Is that coming from your van? And does your roadie always wear a sailor’s hat?
AK: No, that belongs to the merch guy for Polar Bear Club.
KP: But Gary Gashands made it into the interview!
AK: That’s our van’s name, Gary Gashands. It’s named after our friend Eric Neuland – one of his many nicknames is Gary Gashands.
KP: Whenever you touch the steering wheel, your hands end up smelling like gasoline.
Do you guys have any favorite bands to tour with?
SO: Yes! We’ve been able to tour with so many great bands and great fans. But I think my favorite tour was with our friends Gordan Gano’s Army from the UK. We all piled into the van for a 6-weeks tour. Somehow we all fit in there!
What are some bands from Buffalo that we should check out?
SO: My best friend Chelsea plays bass for a band called Coworkers, they’re awesome.
AK: Red Tag Rummage Sale is incredible.
KP: Unwelcome Guests are really good.
SO: I feel like it’s kind of switched – when I started going to shows, it was predominantly hardcore bands. Now I think the hardcore scene has separated itself from the indie scene, but the indie and alternative people are the same people who were in the hardcore scene.
AK: When I moved there, it seemed like a lot of the same people throughout the hardcore bands. Now it’s those same people, but they’re playing indie rock.
KP: Growing up between Toronto and Buffalo and having the option to go to either, I always preferred Buffalo. Everyone there is just awesome and really accepting. I knew a few people when I first went there, but I’ve never felt so welcome and accepted right away when I’ve gone somewhere. Everyone made a really big effort to make you feel at home. There’s a really strong sense of community.
How did you guys end up on Bridge 9?
AK: It’s kind of a crazy story. We played a house show in Nashville. Haley Williams from Paramore came to the show, and we had heard their name but didn’t really know much about them as a band – but people at the show were freaking out! And she bought a shirt, you know – and her boyfriend is Chad Gilbert, from New Found Glory. They put a record out on Bridge 9, and he put us in touch with them about recording but it didn’t work out. But we found out that they were interested in working with us on a recording in the future. When we started writing, we got in touch with them and they were interested. We actually just met them a few days ago in Boston – they’re really great, dedicated people. They seemed really excited, they had all these ideas and they were all giddy about everything, it was very cool.
SO: We definitely feel like we’re part of the family. Down the littlest things – like when we finally made the decision, each member of their staff had written us an email saying “Welcome, and this is what I do for the label” – it was really cool have them be so welcoming, because they’re strangers.
That’s great! Your last album, “Get Better” has been out for a while now, right?
AK: Right, it came out in January 2008 and we recorded it in mid-2007. So we’re really excited about having a new album. We’re recording at the end of July. I think Bridge 9 has set a tentative release for October. We’ll be back here to work with Jay Robbins at the Magpie Cage.
KP: By the end of the year, we’ll actually have 3 new releases out. We just finished recording a split 7” with Cheap Girls, that’s coming out on No Idea Records. They’re one of my favorite bands to see play. Then the album with Bridge 9, and there will be a single with a B-side exclusive to the 7”. It’s kind of crazy to have everything coming out at once.
AK: We’ve done a couple of 7” releases since the last album, but it’s only totaled 3 or 4 new songs since then.
This tour will take you to the West Coast, then you’re doing some East Coast dates with New Found Glory and The Wonder Years later this summer, right?
AK: Yeah, and it’s funny because we we’re scheduled to do this tour with Polar Bear Club and the tour with New Found Glory before we signed to Bridge 9. I think a lot of people assume it’s because we’re on Bridge 9, but it’s really just a coincidence. It’s funny because Stephanie from Bridge 9 emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if we were touring with New Found Glory, and I guess I assumed she already knew. But she was excited for it and everything, so that’s cool.
What are you guys doing after the New Found Glory tour?
SO: We’ll probably do some shows around Christmas, but I go to school for pastry arts. It’s my last year, so it kind of puts a damper on this year but we’ll tour between semesters and then again next summer. It’s so weird because we used to tour whenever we wanted, and now we have to put it on hold.
AK: We used to tour spring and fall, and now it’s summer and winter. And we’ve toured for so long off Get Better I feel like it’s okay to take a break while this record gets pressed. Maybe we’ll make some music videos!
What’s the songwriting process like?
AK: It’s different for every song. Sometimes one person will write most of it and sometimes it’s a collaboration.
SO: We do always write the music first in the songs….most of the time!
KP: Not all the time!
AK: Sheena might always write the music first in her songs, but sometimes I write the lyrics first – Yesterday’s Lunch I wrote the lyrics first.
If you weren’t making music right now, what do you think you’d be doing?
SO: I’d be baking more.
AK: I’d be running a record label. And I’d be….depressed.
KP: I’d probably still sailing and riding motorcycles and being irresponsible.
Any other bands or friends you want to say hi to?
SO: Coworkers, definitely. Brown Sugar – they don’t play that much but they’re hardcore punk.
KP: I Object is doing a new release. Biff is one of the best people in the world.
AK: Yes, definitely hi to Biff. He’s been screening our shirts last-minute in my garage.
Alright, thanks guys!
SO: No problem – sorry if my eating bothered you. I was slurping on onions the whole time.
[Editor’s Note: Sheena eats quietly and I was not disturbed by the slurping.]