Arizona four-piece Lydia have spent a decade mining from a melancholic, ethereal and hauntingly beautiful vein of indie rock. Their 2013 album ‘Devil’ sees the band turning their eyes towards brighter shores, shining a warmer light on their well-honed tropes as they settle into an adjusted, post-reunion lineup. Vocalist, guitarist and founding member Leighton Antelman spoke with Killyourstereo.com about the album and their upcoming Australian tour alongside Cartel (US) and Wake The Giants.
‘Devil’ marks a departure from your longtime working relationship with producer Matt Malpass. What drove the decision to have the album produced by Colby Wedgeworth?
We had just been with the same people and same team for a few records. I think it’s always good to try and step outside your comfort zone when you can. I think it felt like we were getting too comfortable with our writing approach and just needed a change of scenery.
Your material has been described as having depth and intricacy. How does the band approach their musical composition to consistently achieve this result?
I’m not sure to be honest. I always try and throw out as many ideas/melodies as possible and surround myself with a team that I really trust. They are really good at working through my ideas. Whether they are shitty or not. The people you surround yourself with can truly make a world of difference, at least for me.
Lydia has always exercised a diverse spectrum of instrumentation and stylistic influences. In what ways did you explore new aspects of music when writing ‘Devil’?
Well, I did have new people around me to bounce ideas off. That was a big part of it. Other than that, we really tried to put in the hours. I feel like some musicians and people think songs are just written in a day, or an album happened in a week. Songs can come that quick, but it certainly doesn’t normally happen that way. We spent a full month going through each song, each part, and trying to improve them everyday. Only then did we finally take to the studio to actually track Devil.
Critics have described ‘Devil’ as having a warmer, sunnier disposition in comparison to the band’s previous work. Was this an intended stylistic shift?
It wasn’t actually "intended" to sound happy or anything. We get asked this a lot about Devil. It really just turned out that way I guess. We took the best 10 songs, out of about 16 or 17 we were messing with, and those were the ones that made it to print. I certainly don’t want to make the same record over again so I’m happy that everyone is calling it "different" from previous work. I think you should always try and get out of your comfort zone and risk trying something new.
‘Illuminate’ is widely regarded as Lydia’s magnum opus. What, in your opinion, justifies the album’s deeper resonation with your fanbase in comparison to your other material?
That’s a good question, in short I’m really not sure. Illuminate was released on a major label so maybe it just reached more people? But yeah, that record does seem to be the Lydia fan favorite tattoo.
Do you ever feel shackled to the past by the enduring impact and appreciation for ‘Illuminate’?
I wouldn’t say that. I think sometimes when die hard Lydia fans come to shows they really want to hear everything old. But that’s not the band we are. Don’t get me wrong I love the old fans and they have a lot to do with us still writing and performing music, but I’ve never been someone to try and stay still. Let along try and hang onto, or even worse regurgitate music from the past. I think it’s great that people love that record so much. We aren’t going to stop moving forward and creating brand new ideas though.
Lydia is set to return to Australia alongside Cartel. What is your relationship like with your tour mates?
We’ve played a few shows a couple years back but haven’t got the chance to tour together. They are all really nice guys though. We’re definitely looking forward to this Australian run together.
What can fans of the band expect from set lists and live performances on the tour?
They can expect a whole lot diversity. We will be playing songs off of all our releases. Other than that you’ll just have to come and check it out! We love interacting with fans, on stage and off.
What are your sightseeing plans while visiting our fine shores?
If I’m being honest I think we’re all more excited to see some of your amazing people you got over there. We all have some really good friends there that we can’t wait to see, and catch up with for a crazy night or two. This will be our third time over there so maybe we’ve seen most the tourist stuff? I don’t know.
Tell me about the craziest thing Lydia has ever done.
I don’t think anybody involved with our team would suggest I answer that truthfully.
2013 marks the tenth year of Lydia’s operation. How has the band evolved over time?
2014 will be the 10 year anniversary of our first release. It’s crazy really that it’s going to be that long. The band has definitely evolved. We’ve always been really laid back with who wants to play what live. We always like to bring out friends to jam on stage and have a good time. When someone else wanted to come we made a spot for them somehow. Nowadays we actually have a set line up that won’t be changing anytime soon. I like that we were able to play with a bunch of different people over the years. It was interesting and I think it helped the song writing overall.
Do you feel that the band will continue its longevity?
I never really try and think about it to be honest. I sort of go with what feels good. If one day it doesn’t make me happy to write and perform music anymore then I will move on and do something that does. For now though we are playing music.
Thanks a lot for your time. Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
Thanks and see you guys real soon.