Interview: Lemuria

Written by Daniel Rourke

Lemuria's Get Better proved to be a cult hit upon its release, ten years ago. Between the dual vocals, emotive lyrics and transcendent melodies, the album threw the band into a whole new world. We caught up with Lemuria during the tenth-anniversary tour to discuss the cult album and what comes next for the band.

Burn After Writing: You’re in the UK for the tenth-anniversary tour of 'Get Better', how’s it been going?

Sheena Ozzella: Fucking sick!

Max Gregor: [Laughs] Can we say fucking?

BAW: Sure!

MG: Okay, good. [Laughs]

SO: But yeah, it’s been good.

Alex Kerns: We’re halfway through, Mikey Erg did the whole US tour with us, so it’s been nice. Mikey rides along with us, then we’ve been talking to Colour Me Wednesday for six or seven years about doing a tour together. I’m glad it’s all come together.

BAW: There’s also been some confusion surrounding the anniversary, can you clear that up for us?

AK: So it’s been ten years since it was leaked. [Laughs] The official release date was in 2008, but the album was recorded early 2006 and leaked in 2007. Everybody had it who wanted it.

SO: It’s the tenth year leak-iversary. [Laughs]

AK: The leak-iversary! [Laughs] We would have waited another year, but we have already recorded a whole new album and we want next year to tour on that.

BAW: As well as the tour, you’re also re-releasing the 'Get Better' LP to go with it, can you talk a little about that?

AK: Unfortunately the pressing plant didn’t finish them up in time, so we haven’t got them with us, but we should have some for the US.

BAW: You mentioned you have a brand new album ready to go, what can you tell us about that?

MG: We’re really excited about it. I have a different perspective, I didn’t play on 'Get Better', I joined right before the second album came out. I’ve been a huge fan of 'Get Better', I’ve been playing this album on this tour and really appreciating it, it’s like being in the band since shortly after that album came out.

Playing those songs for the past six months – or however long we’ve been doing these anniversary tours – it’s an interesting and fairly stark contrast to what this next record is going to be.  When we’ve shared it with friends, we’ve been told that it’s recognisably Lemuria, but it’s also clearly different.

BAW: In what respect, sound, lyrical content or both?

MG: Sound, definitely.

AK: We recorded with this guy Chris Shaw, he did the first Weezer album and a bunch of other crazy stuff. Sonically it sounds like way bigger and more lush than our other stuff. Lyrically it was definitely… well, it’s ten years later, so I think it’s certainly a little more uplifting in a way. There’s a lot more light hearted songs, there’s still some sad tunes, but it’s a little more uplifting.

SO: Yeah, I think it’s more uplifting. On the last two records I lyrically only wrote one song, but on this record I’ve written a few more, and I think they’re a little more stripped down than Alex’s, but still relatable. It’s a relatable album.

BAW: You’re a band that’s very personal, you write about your own personal experiences. How is it revisiting the songs from 'Get Better'?

SO: The songs I wrote were about a long distance relationship that didn’t end up working out and I’m married now, so it’s a little different. It’s more appropriate because I feel like more people can relate to that, it’s more just for other people at this point. The songs Alex wrote are probably still pretty accurate, being about his dad.

AK: Yeah, 'Get Better' came out right after my dad died, so a lot of the songs are about that. Obviously it’s not as emotional ten years later, but it’s neat to go back to it, it’s almost like a journal. A lot of the songs have imagery in them, so when we’re singing the words it takes me back a little bit, it’s weird revisiting some of those emotions.

BAW: In terms of the songs themselves, do you play them exactly as they are on record, or have you changed things up a little with time?

AK: I like to think we’re better musicians now compared to ten years ago. [Laughs]

SO: I mean Max is a far… I won’t say it, but…

AK: Max is a great bass player, you know.

MG: Thanks!

SO: Yeah, Max is a great bass player.

MG: We’ve added some odds and ends to the set to mix it up a little bit. We play everything in order, we play it like the record.

SO: We spent a lot more time nitpicking at things as well. Originally we thought we’d just have somebody play acoustic and keyboard with us, but then we created the double guitar parts and some vocal harmonies to fill it out more. It’s cool, it’s the best the album has ever sounded live.

AK: We’ve brought our friend Tim (Woahnows) with us and he’s doing the keyboard and all the extra stuff.

BAW: How is it playing the album front-to-back?

SO: It’s fun to not have a setlist. We’re at the point now where we’re locked in pretty tight, so it’s starting to feel good.

MG: When the album came out, I was a huge fan of it, so I get to play this record every night as a fan.  It’s pretty awesome. [Laughs]

BAW: Obviously some of the songs from 'Get Better' have worked their way into your sets before, but how was it learning the ones that haven’t from scratch?

MG: Good, for me I hadn’t listened to 'Get Better' in a while; since I joined the band I hadn’t listened to the record much. The songs still meant a lot to me, but I had to put the record back on and remember, it was like: ‘Damn, Get Some Sleep, awesome song.’ I had to sit down and learn them, I guess I was kind of surprised at how quickly they all came back.

BAW: You’re also offering fans on this tour free enamel pins, how did that come about?

AK: We like to do something fun like that with every tour. A big part of it is I like to do a mailing list, it’s a grassroots kind of thing where I can reach individual cities and be like: ‘Hey, we’re playing a show here.’ I’ll do that and I’ll be like: ‘Hey, I’ll give you a free gift.'  So then every time we come through I can let them know. It’s a gift for everybody so we can have a resource to self-promote ourselves a little bit.

BAW: Finally, what does the future hold for the band following the anniversary tours?

AK: We’re hopefully getting the new album mastered this month.

SO: There are some little details that still need to be worked out as well, but it’s pretty much done.