Philly attracts many talented acts that change the way we look at music, including the band Lotus. This instrumental jam band has been around for 20 years and are returning to the City of Brotherly Love (where they spent much of their early years) to perform at Union Transfer on Jan. 25 and 26. Jesse Miller, composer and bassist for the band, chatted with Metro to talk about what to expect from their show, how the studio can be used as an instrument and how Lotus blurs the lines between typical music genres.
Philadelphian Jesse Miller from Lotus talks new 'documentary' album and what to expect at their show
Can you tell me a little about the band's history?
Jesse Miller: We are coming up on 20 years doing Lotus. We got started when we were in college and moved out to Philadelphia. I think It was in 2002. We just started hitting the road and building the band up. We're primarily an instrumental band but its hard to put Lotus in one genre because we're taking from a lot of different influences. From rock, funk, jazz and electronica, we bring it all together for these shows.
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What sets your new project Frames per second apart from your previous projects?
Jesse Miller: For Frames Per Second we set up and tracked live in the studio and we were filming at the same time. We've done studio recordings a lot of different ways, and I think a lot of times in the past we've used it as an opportunity to treat the studio as more of an instrument. Doing more things with overdubs and changing instrumentation. But for this record, we really wanted to keep it stripped down, keep it really live, kind of just focus on the band playing together. It's all instrumental, I would say Jazz and funk and disco are kind of the main genre features. But again it really blurs the lines.
You mentioned the recording was filmed live, how was that experience?
Jesse Miller: So basically the album has an accompanying film so every song was recorded. You can listen to the audio version and watch the film version. We've never done that before and it was a fun project to work on to show the instruments close up while we're tracking them and use that as another perspective of the band that's not up on stage with a bunch of lights going off. It allowed this up-close look at what we're doing.
Do you have a favorite track from Frames Per Second?
Jesse Miller: I don't know about one particular favorite, I wrote about half the tracks so I'm definitely partial to the ones I wrote. But maybe Faceblind because its one that I use a lot of modular synths in. You can imagine the old telephone switchboard operator plugging together all these modules, so that's pretty featured on that track. It just combines a lot of my interests, it has rock influences but also has influences from classical minimalism and kind of brings it all together and I think that style is pretty unique to Lotus.
How does it feel to be performing in the City of Brotherly Love?
Jesse Miller: It's great! I live here so the fact that I can ride my bike to the show is a plus. We did a two-night stand at Union Transfer last year and that was our first time playing that room and I really love that room. I think the sound is great with that size, it's perfect for Lotus. It's big enough that you can get a good crowd in there but small enough that everyone has a good view and it feels like you can get a good sense of the crowd while you're playing the show.
What can the people of Philadelphia expect from your show?
Jesse Miller: Lotus shows always have a lot of dance energy that we try to bring. We do a lot of improvisation so we try to feed off the energy of the crowd and really bring these grooves that get people dancing. Even when we're playing more mellow music we like to have this groove backbone. So Lotus shows are usually a party and there's dancing involved.
Lotus will be at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia) on Jan. 25 and 26. Visit songkick.com to purchase tickets