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Interview with Alex Kerns of Lemuria

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Interview with Alex Kerns of Lemuria

Buffalo’s Lemuria is currently on tour promoting their most recent release The Distance is so Big with friends and Portland natives Kind of Like Spitting. The bands will be playing in Ottawa at the infamous House of TARG on July 10. I had the chance to pick the brain of drummer/vocalist Alex Kerns about the band, international touring and owning his own record label.

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What was the first song that you heard that really made you fall in love with music?

That’s a very tough question because I have been a big fan of music since I was very young. I grew up on a lot of 80’s pop. But I remember the first band that really got me digging for music that wasn’t just being played on the radio was They Might Be Giants when I heard the album Factory Showroom when I was in middle school. The song “Metal Detector” blew my mind. I also used to leave a VHS tape running on record while the station was set on MTV2, which at the time was all music videos, most of which that didn’t make it onto regular MTV. I would go away to school for the day, then come home fast forward through and find the videos I liked.

What is the most important part about writing an album?

I think it’s important to have a good flow between songs, so that the album sounds like one focused idea, instead of a compilation of unconnected thoughts.

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Being a band for 10 years now, what changes have you seen in the music industry since you started in 2004?

It’s all pretty much the same to me. The only thing that has changed is that I care less and less about the industry each year and more and more about trying to write songs that we enjoy playing and people enjoy listening to.

What is your craziest tour experience?

25% of our shows in Russia were attacked by neo-nazis. At one of the shows we were locked in a basement room with our friend who was driving us to a few of the shows. He nonchalantly guarded the door while sitting in a chair reading a book with a gun rested on his leg.

How would you compare the Canadian music scene to the American music scene?

I’m envious of the Canadian music scene. It seems that your country’s population generally appreciates artists more. I’ve heard so many stories about bands receiving grants to buy a tour van, make a music video, record an album. I also think it’s really cool that your radio stations have to play a certain ration of Canadian music. Also, Canada has so many killer bands. I’m from Buffalo, so being so close to the border I am lucky and able to pick up Toronto stations.

What do you think about playing in Ottawa?

We have only played Ottawa once before and it was awesome! We played with a really great band, The Creeps. That was a while ago too. I remember the capital area being very beautiful too.

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How would you describe your sound and how did you find it?

As vague of a genre title it can be, I usually say “indie rock”. But we have punk and hardcore roots as well. We have a wide assortment of influences. All three of us are music dorks.

As a three-piece band how do you cope with member changes?

Sheena and I have been doing the band since the beginning. We have had a couple bass player changes, but it was a pretty easy transition. Max who plays with us now has been with us for five years. But in a lot of ways he has been with the band since the very beginning because he would tour and roadie with us before he officially joined.

In your opinion, who is the all time greatest musician?

Tom Waits is my favorite songwriter. But the musicianship of all the members of Thin Lizzy will always win my ears as well.

What did you hope to get out of the band when you started? Have you achieved that goal or has it changed?

My first goal was to release something on vinyl, then it became to tour to places I have never been to. Those goals have been achieved. We are always developing new goals though. There isn’t really a finish line for the band; it’s just an ongoing adventure to us.

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What are some of the challenges and advantages of operating your own label?

It’s easy to become very disconnected when your own band is on tour and you have to leave the office, and by office I mean designated corner of my apartment. But most of the bands I have released records for on the label are bands I discovered from going on tour and playing shows with them.

What are some of the benefits or downfalls of being signed to a label? What does a good label do for a band or artist?

It’s really great to have a home base when you’re on tour. Reliable people mailing you more records, helping out with press, sending posters to the venues so they are hung up. We haven’t had any complications with any label we have ever worked with, but of course any band should always do their research before agreeing to put a record out on a label. There’s ample amounts of horror stories out there.

Where do you see the band going in the next 10 years and how do you plan on getting there?

I would love to travel and play places we have never visited before, specifically places in South America. I’m sure we will continue to write, record, and tour. I can’t imagine ever stopping.

Catch Lemuria in Ottawa on July 10 at House of TARG.

Enter to win tickets to the show here.

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Interview by Griffin Elliot

THE SCENE


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