Rothbury Proves Hippies Are Still In Fashion

7.1.2009

By Courtney Nichols

My friend
actually calls Lotus game disco --

Game disco?

Yeah
because he thinks you have the dance element of disco and the video game sound.
Do you think that dancing is a huge part of Lotus? At many concerts
people barely move but at Lotus concerts everyone is moving.

That’s true
and that’s totally something I haven’t thought about because at our shows
everyone is dancing and when I go out to other shows I think, What’s going on
here?
No one’s dancing. Something we’ve always aimed at -- especially at the
live shows -- is to keep that dance energy and write the set in such a way that we
can bring it down at certain times but then keep the crowd going through the
peaks and valleys of the set. It’s always been a focus that we’ve had and
whenever we’re improvising usually my thought is how to get it dance-ier or how
to get to a spot to send the crowd to another level.

I noticed
that at your shows you improvise for minutes on the end and then the crowd is
really shocked when you return to that original chord. Do you think your
improvisation has evolved over the course of your albums?

Yeah,
definitely, just from playing over time and developing new ways to improvise.
It’s hardly a complete free-for-all when you improvise. It’s usually just
something that is very much apart of the composition that we are playing. We
usually have a pretty good idea of how a progression is going to happen and
whether it’s the movement between keys or the subtleties of the grooves
throughout the course of the improvisation. Of course that can change over
tours as we find other things that are successful. We’re always looking for new ways to
improvise because that is a 25 or 30 percent portion of the set, if
we’re always improvising the same way, it would get really boring real fast.

Do you have
a favorite song that you like to improvise with?

A new one we’ve been doing -- it's
called “128.” We just started playing it out this tour. It’s really fun. It’s
named after the tempo. 128 is the perfect tempo for minimal techno and kind of
taking that tempo and kind of using that style in our context, which has led to
a lot of really cool improvisations.

So, in the
same vain, how do you typically name instrumental tracks?

It’s hard!

Do you
think it sounds like the title? Like with “Suitcases” for instance. How did you
name it that?

Some of the
older songs come out of inside jokes and things we tossed around. Sometimes you
try to find an abstract word but that kind of wraps up what you are trying to
get at with the sound. It’s such an abstract thing in some ways. When I'm
trying to name something that is instrumental, I try never to get too
programmatic and try and describe some sort of theme. I think the music is the
important part, not what’s outside of that. It can be tough to find a good name
for instrumental songs.

That makes
sense. How did you create the name Lotus?

The group
had that name before I started playing with them but I think the idea was to
have a Lotus flower as a natural element. That’s something we have always tried
to use no matter how far we have delved into electronic influences. We are
always organic with natural instruments. But also I think the original deal was
some of the connections to Eastern philosophies and the Lotus flower being a
symbol for all kinds of different things from meditation to this beautiful
flower that comes out of mud image as well.

Totally. So
much of the scene deals with spirituality. Do you come from that background?

Sometimes I
am weary of that and I can understand using that as a metaphor for what they
experience when they listen and experience music but I don’t know if it is
necessarily the same thing.

Would you
consider yourself a hippie or no?

I don’t
know. I am in a need of a haircut.

Well the
modern day hippie is all about grooming. As far as your crowd goes, who did you
originally see yourself attracting versus who you attract today?

When we
first started and we were playing smaller bar gigs it was more of my peers and
a 21+ crowd. As we have grown the crowds have gotten younger. It’s not so
much a surprise. The young kids make up a good part of the energy of the crowd
and they are the ones who are always yelling for changes and losing their
minds. That is one of the things that has changed throughout the years.

Are you
excited about Rothbury Festival in Michigan this summer?

I am quite
excited about Rothbury! We played the inaugural year last year and it was a
great festival. It’s really diverse and I always get to see friends and
a lot of groups out there. I had a really great time last year. Hopefully the
weather cooperates again this year.

In terms of
festivals, how do you think the festival circuit has influenced your genre of
music?

More than influenced, it has kind of established it. It’s such a weird
genre -- "jam band" -- because it really doesn’t refer to the music at all. It refers
to the bands that work well at these festivals. If you play festivals or are on
this circuit, you are a jam band, no matter what you sound like. It’s kind of a
strange scene in that sense. You can have a band that is very country and
bluegrass influenced right next to a band like Lotus that is more dance and
electronic influenced.

For more info on the Rothbury Festival, including a full line up, directions, and tickets, head here.

-- COURTNEY NICHOLS

Tags: Popnography
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