Lost Sounds are an amazing band, their music speaks for it’s self. We drove three hours to get to this show on a freezing cold January night & it was worth it. Interview with ALICJA & JAY: Keyboards, guitar, vocals. January 22, 2003 in Columbia, Missouri.
FB: TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THE BAND GOT STARTED? I KNOW A LOT OF YOU GUYS WERE IN DIFFERENT BANDS BEFORE THE LOST SOUNDS STARTED UP.
Jay: Me and Rich used to play in a really crappy punk band called the Reatards, and we went to Europe, and went through twenty six members and multiple tours before we imploded. I became friends with Alicja and she introduced me to playing instruments besides guitar, so we decided to try to incorporate keyboards. Originally I was so close minded, I wanted to play like sixties frat rock stuff, she obviously pushed against that. Now that garage is popular I'm way more comfortable with pushing the limits rather than, uhm, playing three chords all the time. I guess that's how it evolved.
FB: WHEN WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE LOST SOUNDS OFFICIALLY STARTED?
Jay: March of '99.
FB: I HAD READ A QUOTE WHERE YOU SAID THAT YOU HAD DISOWNED ANYTHING THAT YOU HAD DONE PREVIOUSLY?
Jay: Not disowned but definitely embarrassed. (laughs) Including that record (the Bad Times LP).
FB: WHICH IS NOW GOING TO BE AVAILABLE ON SYMPATHY.
Jay: Yeah, the CD. Yeah, Sympathy's been paying my rent for months.
FB: TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PROGRESSION ON THE SECOND & THIRD ALBUM VERSUS THE FIRST ONE. I JUST READ AN INTERVIEW WHERE YOU HAD SAID THAT A LOT OF THE STUFF ON THE FIRST ALBUM WAS WRITTEN BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY BECAME THE LOST SOUNDS?
Jay: Yeah, some of those were left overs from the Reatards band and some of them were old four-track songs that Alicja had made as far back as three years before we were formed. When you first form you have a lot of material sittin' around that you didn't write as a band, you try it out. And so I guess you could say it wasn't quite developed, it wasn't quite a band. By the second album we had a year to write material together and add a fourth member. By the third album we had better equipment and better recording quality, and another year to write a new record.
FB: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT EACH ALBUM AS A WHOLE? WHEN YOU GO BACK THROUGH AND LISTEN TO MEMPHIS IS DEAD, BLACKWAVE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THOSE?
Jay: I suppose, I think they're all good in their own right. I see a natural progression. As long as you can see a progression from the album to next it doesn't necessarily have to better, but as long as you'rechanging I'm more satisfied than being stagnant like numerous bands that make the same album over and over.
FB: FOR ME I CAME IN AT BLACKWAVE AND THEN WENT BACK AND GOT YOUR FIRST ALBUM, AND I LOVE BOTH OF THEM. A LOT OF PEOPLE KIND OF COMPARE THE NEW ALBUM AS A COMBINATION OF THE FIRST AND SECOND ALBUM, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
Alicja: I don't really think it is because--well yeah, maybe in a sense it could. I don't think its very much like Blackwave, I think its more like the first record but like obviously after being a band for several more years. I think Blackwave was like, "Okay, lets just throw out a bunch of different kinda songs".
Jay: Yeah, I think when you do a double LP it's really hard to do the same idea over and over, you're much more apt for experimentation. On the new one we had a concept and all the songs are loosely based around a concept. We didn't make a concept album though.
FB: I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU GUYS ARE, BUT FOR ME PERSONALLY SOMETIMES I'LL GET AN ALBUM AND KEEP IT IN MY PLAYER FROM THE DAY IT COMES OUT. FOR ME YOUR NEW ALBUM HAS BEEN IN THE PLAYER SINCE THAT DAY IT'S COME OUT, IT'S A REALLY, REALLY GOOD ALBUM.
FB: LETS TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CDRS THAT YOU GUYS DO, VERY LIMITED.
Jay: Yeah, they're more like uh---I guess we write so many songs having multiple song writers that we're prolific enough that they're just kind of something to hold people over between an album. I think having an album come out every year is too long. Major label bands go two or three years, sometimes they go six and they burn out and they're coke heads by the time it comes out. I'd rather be prolific as fast as you can and eventually every CDR thing that we do the songs turn into real songs on a real album or the CDRs get released on vinyl.
FB: YEAH, YOU'VE GOT THE VINYL THAT CAME OUT IN ITALY AND NOW YOU HAVE THE RECENT TRANSMISSIONS THATS COMING OUT ON ON/ON SWITCH.
Jay: I guess it's like unofficially kinda like a thing for people to just check in with our website soon enough, often enough that they find out about that kind of stuff, so.
FB: TALK ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF RAT'S BRAINS, DO THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR A BAND TO TIE THEIR LYRICS, THEIR ALBUM ART WORK, EVEN THEIR IMAGE TOGETHER AS FAR AS A WHOLE CONCEPT ON AN ALBUM?
Jay: I think so on an album because initially when you're flipping through a bin the first thing you see is a cover, if it doesn't represent whats on your record then you're misrepresenting your music and that's the worst thing you could do. Not having things tie in together, I don't see the need in creating something if it's not going to make a little bit of sense I suppose, at least to yourself.
FB: A LOT OF THE STUFF I'VE READ ABOUT YOU GUYS HAS MENTIONED A LOT ABOUT YOUR NEGATIVE ASPECT, OUTLOOK ON LIFE. I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING TO HAVE, THERE'S TOO MANY "HAPPY" BANDS OUT THERE, AND TOO MANY BANDS SINGING ABOUT DUMB STUFF.
Jay: I see most bands that use keyboards they make synth pop and I represent (associate) that with bad '80s music. It's kind of hard for me to write a happy, I would run the risk as coming off cheesy. I don't think the world is quite an optimistic place now. I don't think the state of politics is anything to be happy about. So I think you're almost dilusional if you write a happy pop song at this point, because there's nothing more than suffering and death going on every where but in select few Nations that hold the money. I don't really have anything to be happy about, I mean I'm happy about waking up and taking a breath every morning and eating breakfast and recording a song, but as far as everyone else we're just creatures. The older I get--when I was a kid I was very optimistic, I suppose the older you get the more you figure out that people are out for themselves and you become skeptical of those sort of things. I definitely think that happy people are just sheltered, they're not happy they're sheltered.
FB: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE EXPLOSION NOW OF BANDS THAT HAVE KEYBOARDS?
Jay: I generally think that most bands that have keyboards are going for a schtik. We like parodize that schtik like we parodize it on our record cover there (points to Blackwave LP) by wearing New Wave attire. I never really was a fan of New Wave music per se, I like Joy Division, I like a select few bands that could be clumped into that. As far as I'm concerned to quote the guy from Catholic Discipline and Decline Of Western Civilization, "New Wave never existed to me, it was a term for major labels to water down Punk Rock". At this point I would rather be called New Wave than Punk Rock because Punk Rock is so watered down at this point it doesn't exist either.
Alicja: I think new wave and punk rock are as uninformative terms as the next.
Jay: We get clumped in a lot with bands that are arty for the since of being arty, I mean I like rock & roll. I like being creative with rock & roll, but I like rock & roll, and as long as our music is always based in rock & roll I don't think we're succumbing to any sort of gimmick. I think rock & roll's a timeless and new wave was a passing fad, and fads come back in twenty years later it's just called retro and I suppose that's the faze that we're looking at now.
Alicja: I think keyboards have always been in rock music with pianos and stuff and some real people see a keyboard and people associate trying to look modern with it and it's just like "No, they've always been there". It's not like because we have a keyboard it make us new wave or '80s.
FB: I KNOW PEOPLE WHO ARE CLOSED MINDED AND IF THEY SEE A KEYBOARD IN A BAND THEY THINK THE BAND SUCKS.
Jay: Yeah, I mean I suppose that goes back to the---most people are pretty close minded. I mean Bad Religion had keyboards on their second album and they had skinheads that wanted to beat them up. I suppose we deal with that stuff every once in a while but I mean if you're close minded enough to think that circuits and electronics can't make something that's musical I guess you could argue and say go start a punk rock jug band that's all acoustic.
Alicja: Black Metal has keyboards, like you know Ozzy has keyboards. Any body that's associated as only rock has probably got keyboards on their records. Actually Black Sabbath used analog keyboards, and it's kind of ridiculous because I'm sure those people that say that are like, "I love Black Sabbath". I just sort of like adds another dimension to it.
(Jay heads out to load his equipment, so Alicja who is selling merch takes over)
FB: TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR OTHER INTERESTS. I KNOW FROM YOUR WEBSITE THAT YOU ARE INTO ARTWORK. YOU WERE IN SUPERSTARLET A.D.
Alicja: Oh yeah, that was just a--that was just somebody who was my friend making a movie asking me at the last minute because the other girl ran away from the part and was like, (hesitantly) "Okay". I'm not into that kind of thing. I like to do the record covers, and I've always--I went to art school and I ended up thinkin' how annoying it was that yet you're suppose to make some one piece of art and wait for some rich person to but it and hang it in their house for their friends to see, I really like the idea of making record cover stuff where every one can see. Where it's like, you know, cheap enough for any one to own and see like what you're doin', you get an idea from it. I think it's more important to do stuff that's graphed (crafted??) like that. I make a lot of different kind of stuff because I get really bored easily.
FB: BEING THAT YOU'RE INTO THE ARTISTIC SIDE OF THINGS DO YOU THINK THAT THE LOST SOUNDS WILL EVER DO A VIDEO TYPE PROJECT?
Alicja: Oh yeah, we've done a video. Somebody---a friend of ours made for Memphis Is Dead. I would definitely like to do one once I had some time. Just mix in animation like with--I don't even know what it would be, I haven't dreamed it up yet at all but I have the computer programs to do it. It would be fun to do some time. We don't have a camera yet but I'm sure we'll get one. It's just all technology the price of digital cameras will go down soon, by the time I have time to make one. Yeah it would be really fun to make a video.
FB: I KIND OF THOUGHT BASED UPON THE ARTWORK OF THE ALBUMS THAT THAT WOULD BE A PERFECT THING, LIKE A FULL LENGTH VISUAL TYPE OF DEAL TO GO ALONG WITH THE ALBUM. IT WOULD FIT YOU GUYS WELL.
Alicja: It would be really hard, it like takes for ever just to make a record cover, just to get every one to agree on it.
FB: I HEARD THAT ONE BLACKWAVE YOU KIND OF DID IT AS A JOKE WITH THE CLOTHES THAT YOU WORE ON THE COVER.
Alicja: Yeah, we were trying to be humorous because we didn't want people to take it too seriously. I guess we were making fun of the fact that we have keyboards and stuff, but we purposely didn't put keyboards on the front of the next record. I don't know, it just didn't look right, it just didn't have the right look.
FB: TO BACK TRACK A LITTLE, WE TALKED ABOUT BANDS THAT HAD KEYBOARDS. DO YOU THINK THERE ARE ANY GOOD BANDS OUT THERE THAT DO AND ANY BAD ONES THAT DO? I ASKED THE SAME QUESTION TO THE SPITS.
Alicja: New bands?
Alicja: Well I think the Pirhanas use keyboards really well, I like this band the Subtonix a lot, they're not together now, and the Vanishing use keyboards really well. The bands who I don't think use it well I don't really want to name names. But yeah, I think there's bands that use keyboards well, it's like they pick a cheesy digital keyboard that's not specific to their personality just because it's easy. I think kind of the fun of collecting keyboards is getting something weird and different, not just payin' two thousand dollars to get something that does a little bit of everything. You've got to get something personal to you.
FB: IT'S KIND OF LIKE THREE YEARS AGO WHEN PEOPLE WERE INTO THE MC5/STOOGES THING WHEN THEY ADDED GUITARS NOW THEY'RE ADDING KEYBOARDS.
Alicja: Yeah, it's hard to know if it's going to be a trend that continues or if it's kinda over. It seems like a lot of people get up there and they're like, "Cool I have a keyboard, I can make cool noises", then they're like, "I don't know how to play this thing".
FB: YOU ARE CONSTANTLY RECORDING YOUR OWN STUFF, AND NOW YOU'VE STARTED RECORDING OTHER BANDS RIGHT? YOU JUST DID AN ALBUM WITH THE BLOWTOPS. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO DO?
Alicja: Yeah, it's just uh--well we're getting a lot better at recording. Jay definitely did most of the Blowtops stuff. It's just a really easy way for your friends or your friend's friends to make them sound a lot better than they think they can ever sound. Sometimes you just let the band do what they do and you just record it well, and sometimes you have to kinda force the band to play better. It's a much better way to make money than working jobs.
FB: I KNOW FAR AS YOUR FUTURE PLANS YOU HAVE THE RECENT TRANSMISSIONS (DEMOS VOLUME 2) IS COMING OUT ON CD FROM ON/ON SWITCH. WHAT ELSE IS COMING OUT?
Alicja: We've got a lot of singles that we're suppose to do. I know we're gonna do one for a guy in Memphis, I don't know his name, it's some one Jay has been talking to, but we want to do one for something local. We're supposed to do seven inch for Dirtnap, and we want to record that--(to Jay but get no response) What's the label called in Memphis or the kid's name that we're doing that? Anyway then I'm sure eventually we'll get around to do another album for Empty. And there's some other things we want to try, like we might try something experimental for Swami, which is Hot Snakes guy. But we've got to like get time (laughs). We kinda want to do our own release too, like I want to do one maybe on my label and do it as a tour only sort of seven inch or something. I don't know time just like gets sucked up.
FB: TO BE HONEST I WAS KIND OF DISAPPOINTED WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE A NEW CDR FOR THE TOUR BECAUSE THIS WAS THE FIRST CHANCE I'VE HAD TO SEE YOU.
Alicja: If you really have to have a CDR, like I don't advertise 'em or sell 'em but some of those people will write and they say, "I'm ordering this", they just order it and send me money for it. I'm like, "Well okay I guess I gotta burn them one".
FB2: A LOT OF THE '80S HORROR MOVIES USED THE SYNTHESIZER FOR THE SOUNDTRACK, DID YOU TAKE ANY INFLUENCE FROM THAT AT ALL?
Alicja: I definitely know that there was this one time in my life where I watched like everything in the cheesy horror section for maybe like half a year. Like I'm definitely impressed by the decor of this place (Horror movies posters and figures, etc) and stuff because of maybe that time where I watched all that stuff but...
FB: THERE IS A SONG ON MEMPHIS IS DEAD WHERE THE KEYBOARD INTRO SOUNDS LIKE A NINTENDO GAME.
FB2: IT SOUNDS LIKE A LEGEND OF ZELDA GAME.
Alicja: Is it right before the last song?
FB: ITS THE TENTH OR ELEVENTH SONG, WE KIND OF LAUGHED ABOUT IT, IT'S A GOOD SONG BUT WE THOUGHT IS WAS KIND OF FUNNY.
Alicja: I'm so embarrassed that I don't know what it is. Yeah, some body said like Castlevania before, I guess it's a video game. Yeah I guess those sounds totally do influence you whether you want to believe them or not. I started playing Atari when I was a little kid, I know he (Jay) had Nintendo, I'm older so I had the first Atari games and stuff. And yeah, those sounds are like they sound cool to you but mainly I got pushed into keyboards because this Clears band that I was in and the guy who was in charge of it was keyboard crazy. If he played guitar he played with his fingers, like he wasn't even a guitar player. It was all about keyboards and they had to be analog, and they had to be cool, and they had to be original, not 'cause he was following any--I mean it was in the mid '90s that he started collecting all of this stuff. It was kinda before he knew he knew was gonna be popular. He definitely lives in a vacuum of his own. I know Jay used to be in a band. I was always kinda like embarrassed because I was much more into punk rock and garage rock, but I played in this band and it was just fun because they were my friends for a long time. It took for ever to get Jay to be like, "Let's use something besides just an organ", well we didn't have an organ. We probably would have used one if we had one, but we didn't have one.
FB: WHAT IS YOUR SONG WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
Alicja: Uh, the reason we have all the demos is usually you just get up one day, dedicate a day to it and just make something. Either sit there with a guitar/ keyboard and come with an idea and then bring it to him (Rich) to play drums on, we make a recording. Or just make the whole thing by yourself, I think both of us make full recordings by ourself. That's where we get all those demos from. Those are like our ideas, like we have to hear them first if we want to record them.
FB: FROM WHAT I'VE READ RECENT TRANSMISSIONS IS GOING TO HAVE 20 SONGS ON IT?
Alicja: It's gonna have---most of the songs on it are actually not gonna be--there's only two songs on it that are from a single on Cochan, which isn't out yet...which I guess that's future plans. A split with the Vanishing for a San Francisco label, and then a few of the songs are demos for Rat's Brains & Microchips but most of them are home recordings going, "Are these songs we want to play? What are we going to do with songs?". Like future songs, something for the future.
FB: RIGHT NOW YOU'RE STILL KIND OF UNDER THE SURFACE, AT LEAST IN THIS AREA. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WHEN YOU FINALLY GET THE RECOGNITION THAT YOU DESERVE?
Alicja: I think of course it makes you really happy because its not like we've been a band for a year and we're like all shitty and sloppy, I mean we are definitely shitty and sloppy sometimes. I think we've like paid our dues to get people to come to our shows. The main thing is--I think if they like it--we don't ever want to go on a fully mainstream scale because it's just there's so much already business involved just in making records and making T-shirts, and money and stuff that why would you ever want to get bigger than that? I think we all want to stay on a somewhat independent scale. If people like it we've definitely put something that we think is real into it.