EXCLUSIVE ARTIST INTERVIEW: LIES AND CIGARS | PERFORMING JUNE 4TH AT BAR NINE
Lies and Cigars is driving hard rock, jazz, funk, punk, progressive composition, and classic soul and rock n' roll combined, but not for combination's sake. The members contribute their varied musical interests into a synthesized whole that relies on hooks, melody, and tight songwriting despite backgrounds in more exploratory projects
In anticipation of their live show with us on June 4th at 9PM, the band was nice enough to email us to discuss their musical influences, and what inspires them on a day-to-day basis
BAR NINE: What type of band are you?
LIARS AND CIGARS: We play a mixture rock, R&B, adding in some bluesy stuff, a little jazz influence, some pop... You can hear our first EP at https://liesandcigars.bandcamp.com/releases
There’s also some stuff on Soundcloud. If you throw us some likes I might be persuaded to give you a code to get a free copy. (Don’t tell the rest of the band though. They’re only in it for the money and over-the-counter drugs...)
BN: Tell us the brief history of your band
LAC: Two of us (Bryan and Chris) have been friends since college. We reconnected musically around 2010 when Chris moved to NYC. Jammed in various incarnations over the years, but finally found a consistent drummer in Devin around 2015. Oddly, Devin didn’t reveal his wife, Aya, had keyboard skills until a year and a half later. Started playing with her a bit, and now we like her better than him (haha)
BN: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
LAC: It’s a mixed bag. Bryan is big on Zappa, and is a general musical sponge. Devin grew up around D.C. and was into the whole punk scene there during his misspent youth. (The piercing holes have almost healed over completely.) Chris was big into the blues from a young age as well as a fan of 60’s, 70’s era rock. Aya was originally born in Japan, so she doesn’t have quite the same common ground musically, but she’s been absorbing all the stuff we’ve thrown at her like a trooper
BN: What are your dreams and goals?
LAC: Finding a good, comfortable pair of shoes, really getting more into meditation and trying to eat more healthy- oh wait, you mean musically. Okay well the shoes would still be beneficial, but we’re just enjoying the ride and whatever happens along the way. If this means that millions of fans start adoring all of our musical adventures and admiring our comfortable footwear then we’re down with it
BN: Who writes the songs, what are they about?
LAC: Sometimes we’ll just start jamming while recording and we’ll get some ideas as they happen. Individually, Bryan and Chris have been penning most of the songs and then bringing them to the group. Devin’s got good taste and a knack for arranging, and Aya brings her creativity in as well. Some are just for fun, straight ahead rock, and nothin' too deep, but others are a bit more reflective on the nature of the strange times we’re all living through.
BN: How do you promote your band and shows?
LAC: Word of mouth via rumor and innuendo. Also social media, of course
BN: Describe your show, visual and musically
LAC: It’s like heaven. Lol, sorry, I had to do that. It’s a good rockin’ show with some catchy tunes made by some real live humans. Haven’t bought any flash pots yet, considering a fog machine though
BN: What do you think about downloading music online?
LAC: What can one say? It’s where it’s at now. Digital doesn’t sound as good as analog, but that’s a separate debate. It would be nice if people didn’t mind paying for song or if the streaming services operated equitably, but it’s hardly surprising, right? In a lot of ways it’s interesting how music has kind of circled around. Before recording, musicians only made money by actually playing (and of course selling their poofy medieval t-shirts), and now it’s headed back that way for a lot of folks, but it’s good that they can still get their stuff out there to mass numbers of people. Publicity-wise, it’s probably never been easier
BN: What's your outlook on the record industry today?
LAC: I don’t think people really expect to make much money on recordings anymore. Other than the big players, I don’t think most people see a lot of profit on the recorded material. This is probably why the recording industry is going with those 360 deals now and trying to get a piece of the live performances. It didn’t used to be that way, but then that’s when people actually had to buy a physical object to get the music.
In some ways it can be good for the performers though. If they go the DYI route they can effectively have a model more like what the Grateful Dead did. Why not let people trade recordings of shows and basically have the studio recordings (which they’re going to do anyway) and focus on providing a really good live experience. (and selling poofy medieval t-shirts)
BN: What's your claim to fame?
LAC: If I was famous you wouldn’t have to ask this question. Boom!
BN: Tell us a story about a day in your life
LAC: Well I was an orphan and had to go live with some horrible relatives until I got to go away to this amazing magical school called Hogwarts, and – oh sorry. I have a rich fantasy life. It’s the deal most of us are in, my friend. We wake up and take care of bidness. When the bidness is done we play… as hard as we can
BN: What inspires you to do what you do?
LAC: Music is freedom through self-expression. It always amazes me how a few sounds and some well-chosen words can say so much more. I guess it’s kind of fractal that way
In that vein it’s also infinite by its nature of endless permutations of ideas and tones, so it’s one way (like art or dance or what have you) that people can touch and be affected by the transcendent
The cheap beer at gigs is good too
BN: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
LAC: You should come to all our shows and buy all our crap. Oh wait, you mean advice for them to succeed and thrive, right? Gotcha. Well, it’s like Bill Hicks said, “I want my rock stars dead!” Just kidding, oh that was horrible. No really though, he did say you should play from your heart and that is true. We’re at an interesting place in history with all this technology and change coming at us so fast, but some things are still true, and connecting with people, really forging links from soul to soul never goes out of style. And that will always require the individual touch that can only come from someone’s heart
Damn, I should write greeting cards. You’re Mom is probably reading this right now and tears are welling up in her eyes. And she’s saying, “Yes! Yes it’s so true. It’s like that time your Aunt Janice sewed me that needlepoint of our old pet chinchilla, and…” Well you get the idea...
BN: What are some of your pet peeves?
LAC: North Korea, popcorn kernels stuck in teeth, popcorn kernels stuck in other parts of body… popcorn kernels stuck in North Korea. Wow, we had a six degrees of Kevin Bacon moment there didn’t we...
BN: How does music affect you and the world around you?
LAC: It depends on the music. In the case of Nickelback, it transports me to an alternate hell dimension that is ruled by bad songwriting. If it’s the right tune, it’ll be a time machine that takes you back to a place and space where you were hanging with your best friends getting up to no good, but making some memorable stories (that they still won’t let you forget about haha)
BN: What's new in the recording of your music?
LAC: We actually need to head back to recording soon. We did our first EP Dzud in 2016, and we’ve written a lot more since then, but other life stuff has been demanding the attention of band members. Still people have been making noises about doing something this summer, so we’ll probably be back at it soon...
BN: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?~
LAC: Ego? Haha, but this if probably true. A drummer friend of mine years ago said something I thought was very astute. He said most musicians are egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. There’s probably something to that
If you can find a good group of people AND keep the band together then a lot of it is probably mental. People find a way when they want to. Now this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to get rich and life will be a dream, but I believe if you have the will then you’ll find a way
Actually this might be a pet peeve as well, but I would say that as far as playing around New York, I’ve seen a lot of venues that lock the band away in a room and you only get seen if people pay a cover. I get it that clubs need to make money, but for up and coming bands, I’d imagine that a lot of them wouldn’t mind playing for free if the venue was more open air and they got a chance to really put their music in front of other people who might not otherwise come across them
BN: What's the best and worst thing about playing clubs?~
Worst thing, spilled beer on equipment? The occasional drunk giving you a hard time. Ah well, this is the life we’ve chosen, and it has certain occupational hazards, yeah?
When everything is right though, you can have some really amazing times. It’s like riding a wave of different emotions, for both the musicians and the crowd. And those times, there’s just nothing quite like it
BN: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
LAC: We’ll be part of the Make Music New York festival on June 21st at two venues, William Hallet at 6:30PM and The Strand Smokehouse at 9PM, both in Astoria. You should be there because I’ve been hypnotizing you this whole time. Look deeply into my eyes. Yesssss, you’ve never heard of such an amazing band before. Of course you will come to all our gigs and buy our poofy medieval t-shirts. Everyone will want to be your friend and they’ll wish they had been there…
Seriously though, there’ll be a lot of great bands playing that night. Check out all the info at makemusicday.org. Go out and see somebody play live. If it’s us, great! We’d love to see you there