When I first immersed myself in the independent music scene, most of the songs I loved were worthy of the term "feel-good hit." Bands kept things simple and catchy, making you want to move your body regardless of skill. Best of all, the music lacked the over-production and emphasis on an annoyingly repetitive chorus that made commercial music such a turn off. Then, so it seems, it became a contest to see who could flex the most brainpower, writing painstakingly introspective lyrics or, even worse, needlessly complex songs stretching far beyond the five-minute mark. Even the poppy bands became wistfully reflective. Simplicity simply wasn't enough anymore. Enter Buffalo's finest, Lemuria, who write short, neat pop songs with just the right blend of rhythm and heartache. And for those who can't do without literary referencing, they give nods to Yeartle the Turtle in one song. Read more for an interview with Jason Draper, the bass player of Lemuria, as he explains, among other things, the history of the band and the advantages of putting out singles as opposed to a full length.
Scene Point Blank: Lemuria has been around for sometime now, can you give a short history of the band up to this point?
Jason Draper: Sometime in the summer of 2004, Alex Kerns, Sheena Ozzella, and original bass player, Adam Vernick, started writing some songs. They recorded a five-song demo and played a dozen shows. In March of 2005 Adam left the band and I joined. Since then we've toured as much as we can, and have released a bunch of splits (The Ergs, Kind of Like Spitting, Frame) and several 7" records.
Scene Point Blank: For clarification, does one the members of Lemuria run Art Of The Underground Records?
Jason Draper:Yes, Alex runs Art of the Underground. We were lucky to have him put out our first couple of releases. We're not sure who is going to be putting out our full-length though.
Scene Point Blank: On that note Lemuria has been around for about three years and has never released a full-length, what are the advantages/disadvantages of doing this as compared to releasing a proper full-length?
Jason Draper: We are actually going back to Watchmen Studios tomorrow to start recording tomorrow. The definite advantage of waiting so long before recording a proper album is that it allowed us time to grow and to "find our sound." I had been pushing for us to record a full-length for about two years now. Sheena and Alex both said we weren't ready. It was frustrating at the time, but now I'm really glad we waited. We had written a bunch of songs, that at the time would have made it to the album, but we've since pretty much discarded. We realized we had rushed them, and we weren't really happy with how they turned out. We're all really excited about all of the new songs. If there was anything that one of us was unsure of in a song, we either worked on it until we were all happy about it, or the song got shelved.
Scene Point Blank: Any plans to release the songs from your splits and the Art of the Underground single on another format so people without turntables can enjoy those releases?
Jason Draper: Jan from Yo Yo Records (Germany) is releasing a discography CD/LP. It should be out sometime in late Summer. It will also be made available in the states for those who are turntable impaired.
Scene Point Blank: Going back to the idea of your "sound," it seems that in the last year the Lookout!/ early era Asian Man Records style of pop-punk has been regaining popularity, which I would say is akin to your sound. Have you noticed any changes in the way people react to your music?
Jason Draper:It definitely seems that style of pop-punk is on the rise again. I don't really feel that, as a band, we have been apart of that though (although Alex has put out a handful of those style bands on Art of the Underground). I feel our influence comes more from the late 80's/early 90's "indie rock" scene. We're more Superchunk/Lemonheads than Screeching Weasel/The Queers.
Scene Point Blank: I noticed that each member of the band writes lyrics; does the same goes for the music itself or is the process more collaborative in that department?
Jason Draper: We've evolved a lot in our process over the past few years. When the band started it was pretty much Alex or Sheena would write the song in it's entirety before it was presented to the rest of the band. Then it turned into someone would have an idea for a song and we would work out the arrangements and some extra parts together. For our upcoming full-length most of the songs were written as a full band while at practice. I think we're all a lot happier with how the new songs have been turning out because there's a piece of all of us in the songs.
Scene Point Blank: You're gearing up for a Euro tour soon. Are you "headlining" or part of a package? Is this your first time overseas with the band, if so what are all your emotions going into it? Also will you be doing any detailed U.S. touring before or after The Fest in Gainesville?
Jason Draper: We're really excited/nervous to be going on the European tour. It's going to be the first time any of us have ever toured outside of the U.S./Canada. We're excited because our friends Ringers from Boston are going to be doing the tour with us. Jan from Yo Yo Records set it all up for us, and is releasing a discography of all of our stuff (minus the demo because it made it too long to be put on vinyl). Jan has also done tours for a handful of our friend's bands and they have all said it was the best experience of their lives. As for touring down to The Fest, on the way down we're going to be doing a week long east coast tour with Fake Problems. On the way back up we're only going to play a couple of shows, because we want to be back in Buffalo for Halloween.