MATT GREENFIELD INTERVIEWS ALEX KERNS OF LEMURIA
What was the idea behind Lemuria when you first started? Were you all fans of 90s pop punk and some of the more emo leaning stuff?
The band started in 2004. Sheena and I had both played in a couple different bands, but nothing really like Lemuria. Mostly hardcore based bands. But we grew up on bands from the 90’s, so it certainly was inevitable that we’d be strongly influenced by music from that era. Although, I wouldn’t say that either of us started the band with a mission to sound like any of them specifically.
Do you feel there has been a bit of a “pop punk revival” or do you think the catchy kind of music you play has never really gone away.
I don’t think it ever vanished. There was definitely a resurgence of Lookout! Record style pop punk bands in the mid 2000’s which was very exciting for me. That’s what prompted me to start my 7″ single series from my label Art of the Underground. So many great bands were surfacing and I wanted to have a little bit of a part of each one, even if it only meant releasing a couple songs from each. It’s been a lot of fun. Although, in the past couple years it seems like I’m seeing these bands coming through my hometown less. I hope the revival isn’t declining.
You are from Buffalo which is a city in the rust belt. How do you think your city has affected Lemuria’s music?
As much as I love Buffalo, I don’t think any band who forms here starts with any great advantages like some who are from NYC or LA, or even Chicago. Places that have an abundance of press writers, labels, etc. Bands from rust belt cities really need to make an extra effort to tour a lot and make a name for themselves. I see a lot of bands get crazy buzz on Pitchfork, Spin and sometimes even Rolling Stone and they have never even toured the country. That is a luxury a band from a rust belt city will probably never receive. I really appreciate the humble beginnings of the bands I’ve grown up around.
You have done both bigger club shows and smaller DIY shows. What do you see as the positives and negatives of these very different types of show spaces?
I think it’s good to play an eclectic mix of places. I think it has really improved our musicianship. Playing small DIY spaces can bring the most powerful responses from an audience that only makes bands play even harder and more passionately. Although sometimes the big clubs will make a band sound much more full and every little detail can be audible and you hear the subtleties in bands songs better. But it can go either way. Sometimes you get the natural feel for a band in a smaller space and you get a sound person at a large club who just messes with your sound and you have to ask them to please stop adding weird effects to the mix constantly throughout your set. There’s definitely pros and cons to both settings and as a band we have learned to just take charge no matter where we play. Show up, set up, and try to leave as little amount of variables to our set in anybodies hands besides our own and the people who are there to see us.
I know that members of the band now live in different cities. How has this affected the writing process?
Oddly enough, we have been more productive! When we all lived in the same city we would get together once a week and work on things. Now we have to make a bigger effort to all be in the same place, and when we do we have longer, more dense, focused practices and writing sessions.
Do you see Lemuria ever coming to a halt or do you think it will always remain a work in progress. It seems as if each album has a new and fresh approach. Do you think you have reached your pinnacle or is the best yet to come?
I don’t see why we would ever stop. We may take some breaks here and there when we need to take care of our personal lives. But there would never be any need to actually break up. I would never want to subject the band to the reunion stigma. Our goal is to always create music that reflects who we are at the moment. So the music will always be evolving and changing, and from our perspective: authentic. We don’t plan to ever create the same album twice because we don’t want to repeat history. I have plenty of lyrics already prepared for our next album and EP’s that reflect the topics and moods of the life I’m living right now.
What does Lemuria collectively listen to in the van while on tour?
We listen to a lot of Thin Lizzy, Superchunk, The Marked Men, tons of miscellaneous albums from bands that we play shows with along the way. Fleetwood Mac, Harry Nilsson, Richard Buckner, Talking Heads, Drag the River. Tons of more obvious bands being Descendents/All, Lemonheads, etc. We all listen to a very eclectic mix of bands, not very genre specific.
Do any of the band members have side projects?
I have a solo project that I’ve released a couple 7″s and demos with. Max occasionally plays bass with different Austin groups for kicks when he has time, but none of us doing anything full on that I would say consumes much time of our lives.
What have been some of your best and worst moments on your many tours? Does anything stick out?
We just returned from our first Australia and Southeast Asia tour, which was at moments the best AND worst moments. There were some shows, scenery and experiences we had that confirmed exactly why we love being in a band. There were also many moments where we thought our lives were going to be lost as we transported ourselves between these great moments.
Any closing statements?
Thank you for the interview, and I’m sorry for the long delay in response!
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