Lilybandits – Storybook beginning
In the inside sleeve of the Lilybandits’ new album, @ 33 1/3, there is a fictional story about how the band formed. It portrays them as an oddball foursome sucking the lime out of life in a tequila-soaked Mexico. When slipping down to Columbus to interview the band at the Blue Danube, one of the more infamous haunts that dots High Street’s campus backdrop, such stories continue to flow.
And flow. They remember the time that Todd May (vocals, guitar) wrote a song about Randall Adams, the Ohio native wrongfully committed for murder of a Dallas police officer and the subject behind Errol Morris’ 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line. “They did a story on Adams on ‘Current Affair’ and they ended up using our song during the piece,” Jose Gonzales (guitars, vocals) interjects. “Adams, went to school with my father, and he heard the song. So, when they were doing the ‘Current Affair’ thing, he told them he wanted it in the piece. He made us 500 bucks,” May happily recalls.
Whatever the subject, the Lilybandits will unravel a story about it — and make it interesting. The tales range from Trent Arnold (bass, vocals) expounding upon the drinking adventures of Ned ‘Hoaky’ Hickel, the Dash Rip Rock bass player known to cause a wicked hangover, to band members sharing parental secrets to keep up on the latest children’s craze.
This characteristic carries over to their music: The Lilybandits play a song the way they would tell you a story. It will draw you in and make you feel at home, whether it’s the floating pop of “Past Few Days”, the slow-waltzing twang of “Beautiful”, or the rollicking punch of “Fire In The Hole”. These songs vibrate a certain warmth through their simplistic messages and homespun feel.
Which is not necessarily the feel you would imagine from co-producer Tony Maserati, a producer and mixer known for his work with hip-hop and R&B artists such as Puff Daddy, Notorious B.I.G. and Mariah Carey. Working in the Brooklyn studio name-checked by the album’s title, the Lilybandits had to hand over some degree of trust. “Sometimes, I got the feeling Tony didn’t know what was going on, but we guessed he’d figure it out,” Gonzales says.
“He has to. That’s how he pays bills,” May states.
Arnold adds, “Not with us. We cause bills.”
Perhaps, but whatever intriguing or compelling follies may follow that opening, you can be assured it’s going to be a story you’ll want to hear.