Badass Band #14

             This band has continued to blow my mind with their unique lyrics and psychotic energy every time I have seen them in the last year. They never cease to get a crowd pumped up and dancing! Eyes Lips Eyes is an LA based band that originally formed on the salty plains of Utah.  They describe themselves as ‘Disco Punk’ and I would say that is pretty damn accurate, so let’s roll with that.

               I actually heard of this band through another band I have been a fan of for a while, Toy Bombs (who has also been featured here on the blog). They posted one of the ELE videos to their band page and I was intrigued so I clicked. Boy am I glad I did. I was hooked. I immediately looked up ELE and the rest is history. The first time I actually got to see them live was at Lot 1 Cafe in the Echopark area, and if you have every been there, you know it’s a RIDICULOUSLY tiny ‘venue’. I wasn’t sure how the energy I heard in these songs was going to play out live. Well, it did, they blew the roof off of Lot 1.  They played to the small crowd as if we were a crowd of 50,000. Tony (the lead singer) even came out into the crowd dancing and singing (which he frequently does at shows, pretty awesome!). It was epic! I knew I would have to see these guys again. They are just a talented, balls to the wall, flailingly  (Yeah, I made up a word), fun band.

               The band is made up of four members: Tony Hello- Lead vocals, Spencer Petersen- Guitar, vocals, Aaron Hatch- Bass, vocals and Thomas Carroll- Drums, vocals. I am not sure I can even describe accurately to you the intensity that each of these guys brings to the band. There are few bands out there that play as ‘hard’ as they do. They are running around,  dancing, and seizing on stage while they expertly plug, sing or bang away at their respective instruments.  I would love to bring a few bands that could use some stage presence lessons to see these guys. They would walk out of the show not realizing that a show could be that badass by just enjoying themselves and letting loose on stage.

               Another thing that needs to be mentioned about ELE that makes them stand out are their lyrics. Many of their songs use unique metaphors and funny quips to get their point across. Songs like ‘Marilyn Monroe’ boast lines like, “Imma drop a neutron bomb in your porcelain teacup…you can be the Pocahontas to my Gertrude Stein…” or ‘Tickle’ in which Tony belts out, “You make my crow’s feet truffle shuffle..”. Now by themselves those lines may sound odd, but they work SO well in the context of the songs and you definitely ‘get’ the song in a whole new way. Their songs are more poetic than most because of the imagery that they call forth while you listen.  You can pick up their latest release, ‘Blue Red’ or their first album ‘Self Made Beast’ on Itunes or via their website.  Now, I must interject here to note one other uniqueness, the band actually released one single, one B-Side, and one video PER MONTH for a year, directly from the band to their fans,  in which twelve of those releases made up ‘Blue Red’. How is that for a killer idea to keep fans interested and up to date with their music?!

               Recently, the band was in Seattle working on their next album, but Spencer and Tony were awesome  enough to take some time to do an interview with BBB. Read on to find out how they met and also why listening to their tunes is, “better than the bubonic plague.”

 

1. When and why did each of you start playing?

I began playing about the same time every kid gets the urge to play (5th grade?).  Just started tinkering around with my dad’s classical guitar.  When 6th grade came and I had to decide between Band and Orchestra, my friend and I decided that if we wanted to start a rock band one would have to play drums and the other guitar and since band had percussion (practically drums) and orchestra had string bass (practically guitar), that would be the perfect segue to rock and roll.  We flipped a coin, Matt got drums, I got bass.  –Spence

I got interested in music in high school when I had this ambition to do a jazzy cover of Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” on bass.  I got the cd to learn the song and then I lent it to this other student so he could learn the song.  Sadly, the performance never happened and I never got my cd back.  If anyone has a Quiet Riot album they’re willing to part with, let me know.  It’s a classic.  –Tony Hello

2. How did you all meet and how was ELE birthed?

Tony and I (Spencer) are cousins.  Aaron and I met while studying music at BYU.  Tony and I met Thomas at a battle of the bands when he was still in high school. —Spence

It started as a joke at parties to be as wild and outlandish as possible with just vocals and an acoustic guitar, but we noticed that a strange crowd was starting to follow us and we were getting on bigger events.  So we pulled the full band together and toned down some of the antics a bit  …. And voila.  C Section.  —Spence

3. Why did you pick the name Eyes Lips Eyes?

Who doesn’t like kissing girls?  —Spence

4. How often and for how long do you practice?

Depends on the circumstances.  We strive to practice 3 times a week for 2-3 hours a piece as a band.  More often than not, the practices stretch out to 4-5 hours.  We live together (except for Tony) so it makes it easy to pick up at any time with new ideas. —Spence

5. Do you get nervous before a performance?

Not anymore.  When we first got the full band together I would take jogs down the block before the set to work up a sweat and mellow the nerves, but now I’m usually scrambling to write the set list. —Spence

6. Any rituals before a show?

Tony usually disappears for a few hours until right before we go on.  Who knows where he goes.  I’ll run a few scales and arpeggios to get my hands warm.  Same with Aaron.  Tom and I will usually be dancing around to the other bands and watching the show. —Spence

7. Describe what it’s like to perform for a crowd.

It’s very interactive, actually.  Both the band and the crowd have quite an influence on how the other will act.  It can really escalate a performance when everyone is on board.  I’ll always have a good time playing music with my friends on stage, but when crowds decide to take part in that, you end up doing things that wouldn’t usually happen.  I’ve looked up to catch Tony climbing the ceiling pipes or Thomas playing a drum while crowd surfing. —Spence 

8. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Power through.  Never stop.  It’s usually handled through eye contact and cues.  Unless it’s equipment failure, in which case, the remaining members will break into a jam or something while the problem is remedied. –Spence

No matter what, keep a smile on your face. –Tony Hello

9. How does your creative process typically work? Many of your songs have unique metaphors, lyrics and imagery, are those come up with at random?

No one knows what happens in the misty caverns of Tony’s subconscious.  A lot of songs start as jams while we’re joking around at practice, but we try a lot of different processes.  —Spence

Always keep a full stomach.  That’s the origin from which creative fruits spring. –Tony Hello

10. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

I think admiration is different than just what you like on the radio.  I really admire musicians like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk because they were able to see past conventions of the time and do things that I can’t fathom.  There are also writers like Paul Simon that somehow say things that feel very personal and relatable. 

But to simplify, The Strokes, The Smiths, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steely Dan often times show up on our stereo on tour. –Spence

I love Frank Sinatra.  He’s got that rare smooth swagger.  –Tony Hello

11. If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

I’m not a big fan of the big “give everything away for free” philosophy going around.  I realize that there’s a lot of incentives/motivation behind it, but at the end of the day I think it’s devaluing music itself to the average consumer. —Spence

12. What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?

We just released a limited release hand-painted 12” vinyl record for our “Blue Red” album.  I’m very proud of this and happy to finally have it out.  For our next we’re going to head up to Seattle to produce an EP with John Goodmanson (Death Cab For Cutie, Pavement, Nada Surf, etc..).  Doing a lot of writing at the moment.  –-Spence

13. Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique?

Never been much of a self-promoter.  People should listen to our music if they like it… and to support your blog.  –Spence (Thanks Spence! :))

It’s better than the bubonic plague.  –Tony Hello

Unique feature: how many bands do you know that live together in a factory in Chinatown?

 

Random Portion

One song you never get tired of.

“Naima” by John Coltrane – Tony Hello

“This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads – Spencer Petersen

 

What is the best live show you have ever gone to?

Stretch Armstrong w/My Man Friday in Provo, UT.  That or GWAR. – Spence

 

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?  

Is the Bear Jew fictional?  – Spence

Cool Hand Luke –Tony Hello

What is something no one knows about you but you wish more people did know?

I have an exceptional hook shot.  – Spence

I wasn’t ashamed when I tried the bacon ice cream and liked it. –Tony Hello

 

Best prank you have ever pulled or had pulled on you?

Printed 1000 fliers and through a big 80’s party at girls house that we’d met the night before without telling her. – Spence

 

Thanks again to Tony and Spencer for taking the time to do the interview! You guys kick ass!

 

You can find out all you need to know about ELE here:

Twitter- @EyesLipsEyes                                         Webpage: eyeslipseyes.com

Facebook- facebook.com/EyesLipsEyes

 

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