The SXSW music festival takes over Austin this week with over 1,400 bands. There are so many reasons why I wish I was there. The hotels have been booked for months. Most people are crashing at a friend’s place and getting ready for music all day, every day. Honestly, I think you could go without a badge because there are so many free shows you could see. All listed here if you want to check it out!
I wanted to talk a little about a small New York band that will be in Austin joining the thousands. They have a pretty full schedule with ten shows in four days. Lily & The Parlour Tricks has been described as a retro rock n’ roll band. They’re a band that could have been created somewhere in the 40’s to 60’s with three-part harmonies, classic rock, and sometimes folk sounding songs.
Their sound makes you want to get up and swing dance- even if you have no idea how. They released their self-titled EP back in October and actually recorded at Daptone Studios- the same studio where Amy Winehouse recorded Back to Black!
I had a chance to talk to Lily Claire, the lead singer of the band, about the band itself, the upcoming trip to SXSW and our shared love for the movie That Thing You Do!.
How did the band get its start?
“We met in college. All of us. First, it was just the three guys (Angelo Spagnolo on guitar, Terry Moore on drums, Brian Kesley on bass) and me. I had just started writing music. We were all friends and we all played really well together. And the more I wrote, the more I realized that we needed three-part harmony. Everything I was writing required that and it was empty without it. We had a really lousy attempt at the guys singing. I wish someone had recorded it. We stopped playing until we found girls we wanted to work with- Morgane Moulherat and Darah Golub.”
Are you all from New York?
“I’m the only one from New York. We’re from all over. Morgane is from Paris. Brain is from Detroit. Angelo’s from Pittsburgh. We’re from everywhere and we all landed here, which is lucky for me.”
What are the band’s musical influences?
“Well, everyone calls us retro, which I guess we are. My influences in writing are stuff that I always listened to, which is older rock n’ roll- Elvis and Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys.”
Are there any covers that you perform?
“We have a Tom Waits song and Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs – Little Red Riding Hood. There are so many songs that I hear like, “Oh this would be so sick if we could cover this.” But then you have to be able to take it and a.) Do something different with it and b.) Do something different that doesn’t sound like you’re trying too hard. It has to come together somewhat naturally.”
So I read somewhere that you’re a big That Thing You Do! fan.
“I know every word of that movie. It’s the best movie! Yes, that is an influence. I mean it is. Fountains of Wayne sang the songs in that movie.”
You guys ever cover anything from it?
“I thought of it. No one wants to do it. It would make my life! I have the soundtrack and I know every word. I’m going to push for it once more. Maybe not ‘That Thing You Do’. Maybe the one Steve Zahn sings ‘Dance With Me Tonight’. We’ll work on it after Texas.”
Speaking of Texas- How’s the SXSW trip planning going?
“We hadn’t even planned on going until mid January. Then Brian, our bass player, was like do you want to go? He knew the coordinator and got us in. This was all planned within like five days. Offers started happening, so we just kept saying yes to everything. And now we have ten shows in four days. It’ll be an adventure. It’ll be fun.
The last day we’re there is my birthday, so we’re not playing anything on purpose. We’re gonna go wander around. We want to go outside of Austin. Brian is determined to go to Lockhart, Texas. It’s like the barbeque capital of Texas. So we’re going to do that.”
What bands do you listen to right now?
“I love Arcade Fire and The White Stripes. I’m really excited for Jack White’s new solo project with an all girl band. I love everything he does. He’s an example of someone who takes really old style sounding music and he maintains it while doing crazy guitar stuff. Dr. Dog is also really great. It’s like happy music- beautiful harmonies. I listen to mostly older music.”
Do you write everything? I love ‘Darwin’.
“Yes, I do. Thank you. I love it too. That’s my favorite song. I wrote it on a ukulele. I’m fascinated with Darwinism and the idea of survival of the fittest. People who do really idiotic things and get themselves into trouble. It applies to everything.”
Favorite live song?
“‘Poison Song’. It’s fun. It’s fun to hear what Angelo, the guitarist, is going to do because he goes crazy. He has all toys to put on his strings to make noise. He has an old Harmony guitar from the 50’s and he makes it sounds like ten different digital instruments. It’s so crazy. It never sounds the same. It’s like Animal from The Muppets comes in. It keeps it interesting for the rest of us. I love it.”
For people who don’t know you which song should they listen to?
“People who don’t know us- ‘Poison Song’. We just made a music video for it. People who do know us- listen to ‘Darwin’.”
Featured Image via Band’s Facebook page.