Music Features

FYF 2013: Lemuria(Interview)

Hailing from the city of Buffalo, New York, Lemuria are a trio with a hard-working ethic that understands that the more you reach out the more they’ll reach out to you. Their touring track record proves it – ever since founding members Alex Kerns and Sheena Ozzella formed in 2004, they’ve been gradually building a fervent fanbase despite a flurry of lineup changes. They’ve seen found stability in bassist Max Gregor, an Austenite who’s been a member for the past three years. And the chemistry shows – their polyrhythmic approach to melody and stop-and-go dynamics couldn’t be any more symmetrical, adding a layer of depth and energy to their live shows that’s infectious.

While making the rounds promoting their latest release, The Distance Is So Big, they took some time to talk to Juan Edgardo Rodríguez at Downtown LA’s FYF festival to discuss their thoughts on the influence of nineties music in today’s context, the variety found in playing different kinds of festivals, and how their next record may potentially sound more like Sunn O ))).

How were you guys approached by FYF?

Max Gregor: We’ve known Sean [Carlson, founder of FYF] for quite a while, the guy who organizes it. I’ve gone years past and always loved it so we always had a dialogue going about, “man, it would be awesome to play one year”. And it finally lined up this year.

The Distance is so Big has received much more attention compared to past records. Have you seen difference when playing these new songs live? Has the fanbase increased?

Alex Kerns: I would say so, yeah. We’ve had a lot of people come up to us telling us how they just heard about the new album. A lot of people know a lot of the old stuff, and you have your old fans, but there’s an influx of people that will come up and be like, “Oh, play the new songs." And I’m like, “Oh, awesome”.

The first song on the new record [Michael and Stephen Moon] threw me in for a loop. I thought it was going to sound like a Sunn O ))) record.

Alex: Oh, yeah. (laughs)

Max: Maybe next time.

Something more droney, You never know. So Magpie Cage produced the record, whose known for producing records by Jawbreaker and the Promise Ring. Did you see a connection in your songs when enlisting Cage, and do you think the new album has been unfairly getting comparisons to a lot of 90s music?

Alex: Yeah, we do. Especially Jets to Brazil and Texas is the Reason. Bands that were in the cusp of punk and indie at the time, I think that’s generally where we get thrown as far as being classified.

Do you guys care if you get pigeonholed?

Alex: I don’t want to get pigeonholed.

Max: I never feel like we really are. There is an influence that comes from that direction and at this moment we’re embracing it. Because, yeah, we just worked with J. Robbins, a very iconic figure in that community and that scene for that era. At this moment, we’re just hamming it up, but I think that records of the past and the future aren’t going to necessarily going to draw those connections quite as much as they do right now.

With the nineties comparisons, I feel that that perspective is different because I feel that for people like myself, who are about to hit on their thirties, you relate to it. But now you’ve got a lot of younger listeners and it’s completely new to them. They’re seeing something new and that’s how it resonates to them. 

Max: With all the comparisons to nineties music, there’s a lot of aspects in the way that music was written and produced at the time that we relate to. A lot of the bands, specifically that were into, wrote and recorded music in a very organic way. I love getting comparisons to those elements are pulled out and compared to us, but by no means are we making nostalgic music. So I really hope that it doesn’t sound like it.

Is the band intent in staying as a trio for the time being?

Alex: Yeah, we’ve always been a three piece for about eight and a half years.

But there have been some changes….

Max: This incarnation has been around for 3 years. It’ll be 3 years in September 2nd.  

Does playing at festivals feel like work?

Alex: Not at all. Honestly, it’s more so like, “Oh cool, I get to play at a festival for free" (laughs)

What acts are you guys checking out tonight?

Alex: I’m excited to see the Breeders.

Max: We just watched Metz and it was incredible. Tomorrow, I’m going to watch My Bloody Valentine, and were going to try to catch FLAG later on. I think it’s going to be so much fun.

Sheena Ozzella: I want to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And Joyce Manor. But I’m mostly just excited to wander around.

Being from Buffalo, how do you compare FYF to other festivals in the East Coast? Are you playing other festivals this year?

Max: We’re playing another festival in a couple of weeks called Launch fest up in Sacramento. It’s a similar booking to FYF. And we’re also going to play Fun Fun Fest later on in my hometown of Austin. I really dig that whole style of festivals that are gaining popularity in the last few years. It’s really eclectic, but still focused on indie more so than a lot of very single genre festivals. And while they’re great festivals, with a lot of festivals it’s like “Oh, I play this style of music.” But the general trend with FYF is that it’s a festival for music fans and that’s awesome.

What's next in the agenda? Have you started working on new material?

Alex: We haven’t really started anything new because we’ve been busy promoting the new album and touring a lot. So probably next year we’ll start writing new songs.

Max: We have plans for a 7 inch to come out next year. At least one, so we’re going to have to do something for that.

Lemuria's latest release, The Distance is is Big, is now available for purchase via Bridge Nine Records. For more information, visit Lemuria's official website or the Bridge Nine Records homepage.