Photographed for Reserved magazine in New York City by Alexander Thompson. Interview by William R. Lankford.
The definition of progressive in a nutshell is a happening. Or in the case of the Los Angeles-based band Liily, the happening. For members Charlie Anastasis (bass), Maxx Morando (drums), Sam De La Torre (guitar), and Singer Dylan Nash, it’s a gradual manifestation of like-minded individuals coming together to invoke a level of change. Whether it be through the social means of a single person’s voice, or a piece of music brought on by an idea that eventually reaches the masses. At the end of the day, “the happening” is a stratospherically artistic necessity, and Liily has managed to harness that notion.
When it comes to music and art, or being creative, is it essential for the happening to reach stratospheric proportions to receive that title? Possibly this is the point at which one can turn that ideology of a happening into something that you can call your own. All too often it’s easy to neglect the romance laced throughout a particular artistic medium for something perceived as big and impactful, i.e., the medium of music now coupled to our newer musical connection via streaming that is never-ending. After all, streaming music is like microwaving popcorn. It’s fast and nonsensical, (antiquated) and perhaps for some, the utter carelessness of that “random popcorn” stream is all too real.
But when it comes to sheer progressive, shoe-gaze, avant-garde, rough static melodies, combined with strategic, off-the-wall syncopated rhythms, the band, Liily humbly commands and dictates the musical medium. That formidable nuance of telling it like it is. Not in the obvious sense, but rather through a youthful, timely progression that is musically cementing and steadily becoming concrete and setting the stage for an impactfully stratospheric entrance. The band’s recently released full-length album titled TV or Not TV which was released October 22nd, 2021, holds steady to their otherwise melodic elusiveness.
How’s it been being back on the circuit again. Touring etc.
It’s as great as it is terrible, you know. It’s been so long and there’s a certain level of stamina that I almost forgot that is required for this. Some shows there’s a million people there and some shows it’s kind of hit or miss”, said bassist Charlie Anastasis. “It’s kind of been hit or miss with some shows, I think more hit than miss. But even the missed ones when there are only five people, those five people who come are super hyped”. Said drummer Maxx Morando.
I know a lot of people, namely musicians and artists who have been steadily coming back to touring, and also due to the obvious circumstances during the pandemic, all have their struggles and stories. How have you guys been handling that?
“Well in the context of the tour, which is kind of funny actually. We were using the lower attendance shows and Covid as sort of a crutch, and we found ourselves in Burlington not too long ago. There was a venue where there were two rooms that were split down the middle. Two bands were playing that night, and the two rooms were divided by a shared backstage, and the backstage had a balcony for viewing both rooms. So after we played for about 15 to 20 people in a big room, we finished and I walked upstairs to the viewing balcony for the other room just to see who was playing, and there couldn’t have been more people there. There were like a thousand people there, and I was thinking to myself, who the fuck is playing at this venue tonight. I saw on the road cases, and it said “The Machine”. I had never heard of this band, but I was so blown away that they had sold so many tickets. And these guys take the stage and they start playing their first song, and I’m thinking, fuck I’ve heard this song before. It turns out they were a Pink Floyd cover band. Like the premiere Pink Floyd cover band. So at that point were like it’s not Covid necessarily. But then you could also argue that the Pink Floyd cover band may have been selling out shows since April of 2020, so I’m not sure. It was a humbling moment”. Said Anastasis.
From what I understand you guys are a Los Angeles-based band. Can you tell me a little bit about how you all met?
“We kind of all met in different ways. I met Sam and Dylan through music school and I met Charlie in high school. We were all playing in different kinds of bands, and doing other projects. We had the same group of friends so we were always hanging out, and at a certain point, since we were all playing the same shows together we just decided to kind of start a band”. Said Morando.
So with the recording process on this album, given that it’s your full length. It’s a big deal for any artist to push out creatively in lieu of everything that went down this year. How did you guys handle that? And was your current album “T.V. or Not “recorded during the pandemic?
“So after the E.P. and because we wrote the songs way before we recorded the E.P., by the time it had already come out we had already started to write this album (T.V. or Not) This was pre-pandemic and we kind of had a bunch of ideas laying around, and In January of 2020 we took a trip to Joshua Tree for a week and did some writing and tried to hone in and focus on somewhat of twelve ideas to then take into the studio. As we were gearing up to go into the studio, March came around, and the pandemic happened. Then it was almost like a blessing in disguise, because we couldn’t see each other, and we’re normally writing together in a room. This time around it was like we couldn’t meet up. So we were all kind of individually working on our own material electronically and sending it back and forth to one another”. Said Morando.
The idea that so many artists this year had to adapt to the transference of simply exchanging ideas to one another via zoom, email facetime etc, seems a bit daunting. Especially when your craft is somewhat reliant on ear-to-ear and eye-to-eye communication. It’s the gathering of sorts especially when it comes to laying down tracks when shit truly goes down.
“It was a completely different way of writing. But it birthed about four songs that made it onto the record. It kind of gave us a nice like, okay so we have all these songs going into the studio, and the pandemic happened. Now we have some time to rethink what we’re going to put on the album and be more selective of what we’re going to put on it, and out of the pandemic, we came up with a couple of songs that made it on the record. But after that, we were finally able to meet up again to start working on pre-production. Soon after Joe Chiccarelli the producer came in and we did some pre-production with him around July”. Said Morando.
The seasoned producer Joe Chiccarelli has worked with artists and musicians such as The White Stripes, My Morning Jacket, Cherry Glazerr, Morrissey, The Strokes, Bleached, Cafe Tacvba, Frank Zappa, and more.
“I think without the pandemic there was such a duality to it. But I think we wanted to do something different, and I believe If we didn’t have that extended time away from touring, everyday life, pressures, and schedules we couldn’t have done what we wanted to do. I think the time that was allotted to us gave us the freedom to do something different than what we were doing before”. Said Anastasis.
I ask a lot of artists, musicians, visual artists, etc, etc, and everyone has their own opinions and statements….. Did you guys think that with everything that went down, do you feel it had any effect on the way you wrote as a whole? And how maybe you kind of approached the year, going on tour, your album, etc.
“In terms of how we approached it. There was a difference that Maxx spoke about just physically. You’re not able to inhabit the same space and write music the way that you’re usually writing it. Which was a big difference. But I don’t necessarily think that any of us really approached writing music cognisantly. I don’t think there’s a lot of extra thought put into how we construct a song or sort of moles or emotional connotations that we wanna bleed into, and a piece of the music thereby expressing ourselves laterally. I think all input or lack of input in our daily realities just sort of manifest itself in whatever it is that you are doing. All of it is connected one way or another. I just think for us it’s not as calculated or intentional as others might be”. Said Anastasis.