Lotus will crank up the ‘jamtronica’ at Park City Live
Band’s style evolved throughout the years
February 14, 2017
From its early days playing clubs in Indiana in the late 1990s to playing a show on Friday at Park City Live, Lotus worked hard to find its niche in the music world over the past 20 years.
The group — featuring guitarist Mike Remple, bassist Jesse Miller, drummer Mike Greenfield, guitarist and keyboardist Luke Miller and percussion Chuck Morris — is known for its "Jamtronica" style that puts electronic dance music in a jam band format.
"When we first started in college in 1998, there wasn't any examples of what we would become," Jesse Miller told The Park Record during a phone interview from San Francisco. "The current tools that people use to get those sounds live weren't accessible or just didn't exist."
Dragging a full computer on stage at that time wasn't feasible, but the sounds were interesting.
"We listened to a lot of synth punk from the '70s and the Allman Brothers Band to get some jam ideas," Miller said. "At the same time, we listened to groups like the Orb,
Underworld and the late '90s electronica.
"We noticed some similarities, not as far as improvisation, but as far as the sounds and grooves we wanted to get to," he said. "Even before we added sampling and synthesizers, we took those beats and found ourselves on a path of natural progression."
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The minimalist repetitions of Philip Glass and Steve Reich also helped Lotus shape its style.
"We wanted to find that trans state you go into when you hear this music and other great improvisation," Miller said.
As a bassist, Miller has always been interested in composition, something he studied in college.
"You're like the bridge between the rhythm and the melodic elements of a song," he said. "You kind of help determine the harmonies and are always thinking about those things."
Bass wasn't the first instrument Miller played.
"I played piano and guitar, but for bass it all happened in high school," he said. "We put together a band with friends and we needed a bass player. So, I went out and got a bass and that became the instrument for me after that."
Last year, Lotus released its most recent album, "Eat the Light." It's the first release that features vocalists on all the songs.
"We've done songs with singers before, but this was the first time we had the idea of taking some of these sounds and putting them all together in one album," Miller said. "I think Luke came up with that idea."
Other than that, the band members wrote and recorded the songs as they have done since 2002's "Vibes."
"When we make an album, we write twice as many songs that appear on the album," Miller said. "The only difference is that we knew there would be singing on every track and the songs would be more of a pop format with verse and choruses. We wanted to keep everything danceable, but keep our live instrumentation.
"When we go into the studio, we think about how we can play the songs live," he said. "But if there are parts we can't pull off with just the five of us, that's when the sampling comes in."
Lotus tries to keep the studio versions of the songs more compact and precise.
"We do that because we also release our live shows as well," Miller said. "So, the extended versions of the songs are what are special about the live shows."
While Miller enjoys playing live, he loves to learn new things when recording songs.
"Engineers always have some new tricks or can hear something differently," he said. "So, when I'm working with them, I try to learn those things so I can bring them back to Lotus.
"I'm also so into writing and recording music, so if I'm not doing stuff for Lotus, I'm working on other projects with my friends," Miller said. "It's hard to imagine a time when I wasn't working on some kind of music."
Lotus will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at Park City Live, 427 Main St. Tickets are available by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net.
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