Interview with the Lost Sounds: They Brought a Huge Dildo of Musical Talent By Erika

After catching the Lost Sounds in Los Angeles at Spaceland, I’d like to believe that the turn out was shitty because fans had family deaths, expired bus passes, or horribly disfiguring STDs on their faces. RIGHT?! The Lost Sounds brought a huge dildo of musical talent with them and I left more pleased than a hooker at happy hour. So, my co-pilot, Richie, and I ventured to the north to see them at Café Du Nord in San Francisco. I want to say sorry to him for freaking out on the way up there. I seriously thought we were going to die and they’d be scraping my flesh out from the grooves of diesel truck tires. San Francisco proved to be a clusterfuck of gothic-transvestite-disco queen-hippie-midget-hipsters and also a show that was “hella” fun. I finally got to sit down with most of the Lost Sounds in a taco joint in the wee hours of the morning; tired and very delirious we began. If you have some sort of crap-shoot opinion of new wave, I think the Lost Sounds provide enough balls to make you reconsider your previous notions. All I ask, before you listen to one of their albums or read this, is for you to open your noodle and leave the Reatards at the door.

Saturday @ 2:30 a.m. San Francisco- San Jose Taqueria

Interview and pictures by Petite Paquet

Petite: So break down the line up that’s on tour right now.
Jay: Jay, I’m a synthesis and I play guitar.
Alicja: Keyboard and guitar.
Jonathan: I’m Jonathan and I play the cello.
Jon: Jon, and I play the bass.
Alicja: Rich isn’t here. Rich plays the drums.
Jay: Rich plays Jameson bottles.
Petite: How does the Lost Sounds differ from the bands each of you has been in?
Jon: Jay’s the only one who hasn’t played in Death Ray.
Alicja: I think he almost did.
Jay: No.
Alicja: It functions more as a band instead of individuals just trying to use each other to make their music.
Jay: It doesn’t suck.
Petite: The Reatards didn’t suck.
Jay: I think so and I beg to differ.
Jon: I got a few of their records.
Petite: [To Jon] What about you? Have you been in any other bands?
Jon: In Memphis, just Death Ray. Also some really bad ones that I’m not going to mention.
Jay: He was in Memphis’s premier heroin chic rock band.
Jon: It was all for the drugs.
Petite: Whose idea was the Lost Sounds?
Jay: As a band? I guess me and Alicja. Then we swindled Rich into playing. Then it became everybody’s idea.
Alicja: Swindled… ha ha.
Jay: Yeah, we swindled him.
Alicja: We promised him beer if he’d come and play.
Jay: No, we said, “You can play bass, I’ll be the drummer, and Alicja will play guitar and sing.” Then he got to practice and we made him play drums.
Alicja: That wasn’t what it was at all! First, we all switched around on drums, keyboards and guitar.
Jay: There was no keyboard.
Alicja: Yes there was. We didn’t have a bass.
Jay: Oh, okay. I wanted to be a ’60s garage band, when that stuff wasn’t in Spin Magazine. Alicja forced me into playing keyboards. I didn’t like it but now I like it. I think she pushed it more in this direction than anyone.
Petite: How’d you guys end up with a cello? Jonathan’s very quiet.
Alicja: [To Jonathan] What’s your perception of that?
Jonathan: Uh, well, uh, uh…
Petite: He’s like, “I’ve been kidnapped. Please get help.”
Alicja: Basically, I think right now he’s very unhappy to be this far away from Memphis.
Jonathan: No, no. I’m starting to have fun. At first it was, uh. I’m really starting to have fun. I really enjoy playing with these guys.
Alicja: We kind of had these complex melodies in our heads that we couldn’t really do. So, we had Jonathan on some of the recordings and play some shows around Memphis.
Jonathan: I don’t play with these guys all the time.
Jay: Just the occasional fling.
Petite: What made you guys change your sound as opposed to the way you’ve sounded in previous bands? It’s a pretty big jump, I think.
Alicja: I don’t think it was me. I think everyone already knew that they could do a rock’n’roll band and make rock’n’roll sound good. Maybe everyone was just ready to do something more complex or weird.
Jay: I came to the conclusion that all the people who I worshipped, who I thought were punk rock icons, were just fuckin’ shitty scum bags and that I didn’t wanna play the same shit anymore.
Alicja: I think I’m just kind of a nerd.
Jay: How many times can you rip off G.G. Allin?
Jon: You can only stick the microphone so far up your ass until it just gets boring.
Petite: Are there any direct influences for what you’ve become?
Jay: The Kings of Norway. Seriously.
Alicja: I think that when we saw that The Piranhas were doing something kind of like us, we felt more comfortable. I wouldn’t say that they influenced us.
Jay: Devo is my favorite band. That might be a little bit of an influence, but I don’t think so.
Alicja: Direct influence? You mean band-wise?
Petite: Yeah, well, there’s always something that sparks your ideas.
Alicja: One of the things that sparked my ideas was that I was sick of hearing and writing songs that were about the same kind of garage rock subject matter – about girls and guys and your sexual self esteem or something like that. I had a really apocalyptic view of the world and I think Jay does, too. We’re all a little bit mean spirited.
Jay: My favorite band is Emperor. Alicja has an Emperor shirt that Rich’s girlfriend found at a strip bar.
Alicja: It says something really stupid on the back.
Jay: [cryptic voice] “Dark is the spirit of my token. Dark is my call.”
Jon: The drummer is like, great. He’s like the best drummer in the entire world.
Jay: Let’s get him.
Alicja: Black metal’s good. It sounds…
Jay: And she doesn’t mean Living Color.
Petite: So what’s your new album like? The new one that you brought with you, Lost Sounds Demos and Outtakes Volume I?
Alicja: [in a southern drawl] It’s a bunch of home recordin’s. I haven’t even listened to the record yet, actually.
Jay: Yeah, it’s all just random stuff that isn’t really supposed to be a record, but it is.
Alicja: It’s a CD-R that we put on vinyl.
Petite: The last album you put out (Black Wave), sounds a lot different from the one before it (Memphis is Dead). Why’s that?
Alicja: The earlier stuff we wrote was when we had less a concept of us as a band.
Jay: I think most of the songs on our first record we wrote before we were even a band.
Alicja: Yeah, and the second was written when we were a band and we had all the millions of ideas of things we could do. And the third record, which isn’t out yet, was stuff when we were very understanding of what our band’s abilities were.
Jay: I think the recorded medium, when you manifest an idea on a recording, is kind of the end of your idea. So as bad as that is, why even try to do your idea twice on a recording? There’s no reason to try and duplicate a record or a specific sound.
Petite: Was there anything you guys were worried about when you started doing this?
Alicja: Well, people think that if you’ve got keyboards you don’t rock, that you’re not playing rock’n’roll.
Jay: Or people think that just ’cause you have keyboards that, yeah, that you’re not rock’n’roll. “Oh you can’t play with us ’cause we’re a punk rock band.” They don’t realize that The Screamers were one of the biggest punk rock bands in L.A. and they had only keyboards and drums.
Alicja: I was mainly worried about people taking my keyboards.
Jay: Yeah, I was worried about alienating the thousands of Reatards fans.
Alicja: I was worried that people were gonna make us dress up in space costumes.
Jay: I was worried we were gonna play with goth bands.
Petite: There’s been some criticism about The Lost Sounds and your sound. Do you find it encouraging, discouraging, or do you just say, “Fuck it”?
Alicja: There’s been a lot more positive stuff than negative stuff. As long as the people who don’t like it or are pissed off by it explain themselves, then that makes it really interesting.
Jay: Most of the people who review bands like us that give bad reviews – it’s totally based on the fact that they’re punk rockers. Punk rockers are morons most of the time – like, most people who consider themselves to be a “punk rocker” or would ever refer to themselves as that – are just fucking close-minded. They can’t listen to anything outside of their influences because they’re fucking fake anyway.
Petite: What do you think, Jon?
Jon: I agree.
Petite: Shut up. He’s not even paying attention.
Alicja: He’s like, “When do we get to go back to that whiskey bottle?”
Jon: I think people who say bad shit about us are just less talented idiots. The stuff that we do is pretty much really complicated. There’s three to five changes in every song. And every song that they come up with is similar to the song before and they just memorize it. They’re just three chord punk rock bands and if they don’t like it, it’s because they’re simple-minded musicians. They just suck, pretty much.
Petite: Can you characterize your sound?
Jay: I would consider myself a zipedous-phripian.
Petite: Can you spell that?
Jay: No.
Jon: He just made it up.
Jay: As a band? I don’t know.
Alicja: We were calling it “new wave destruction,” but I don’t know. It’s not really new wave. We were just like, “Hey, we’ve got keyboards. Let’s just make it easy on you and call it new wave.”
Jay: Yeah. We only wear spandex on our record covers.
Alicja: Yeah. We actually dressed as a joke on that Black Wave record cover, but there were some articles that were like, “Look at how these guys are dressed! They’re so new wave with their white belts and striped shirts!”
Petite: That’s a relief ’cause I thought that cover was kind of gay.
Alicja: It was kind of fun to do. Everyone was like ha ha ha. I bought that striped shirt and took it back the next day. I made Jay tuck in the tags.
Petite: Don’t sweat on it!
Alicja: Oh, he sweat on it. It went back stinky. I buy stupid clothes ’cause they usually cost three bucks and I just have them sitting around for photo shoots and stuff.
Petite: How’s this tour going compared to your last one?
Jay: Not as good.
Alicja: I’m liking it better. I think that everyone’s just behaving better. I’m not as sick and tired as I have been in the past.
Jay: We’re staying more sober. How much of your brain can you use when you’re fucking loaded all the time?
Jon: When you’re hungover and playing, it’s not as good. If you party one night and get drunk as shit, then play the next night, it’s like you don’t give a fuck and you just stand there going through the motions.
Petite: What’s the out-of-town response been?
Jay: We’ve sold a lot of stuff, so I guess that’s good.
Alicja: A lot of people said they never heard us before and they wanted to buy stuff. So, that was good, but some people say that we’re their favorite band. That’s kind of amazing ’cause there’ll be shows when there’s almost nobody there.
Jay: Jonathan has a following in L.A.
Petite: How’s that?
Jay: Him and his cello. Girls were very impressed.
Petite: [To Jonathan] Can you elaborate on that?
Jonathan: Not really.
Everyone: Aww, come on!
Petite: Is he the Silent Stud, or what?!
Jonathan: You can’t really blame the ladies.
Petite: So what’s been the best city ever?
Alicja: Our last Seattle show at the Rendezvous was pretty fun, even though we were pretty wasted.
Jay: Yeah, I can’t really say ’cause we’ve played so many shows. San Francisco’s pretty fun. We know for a fact that when we come here that people are going to come.
Alicja: I feel really alienated from a lot people. Everyone who asks to be on our guest list, like all the writers and stuff, didn’t even come up and talk to us. I didn’t really get that.
Jay: Yeah, Seattle’s probably the funnest.
Jon: The Austin show was pretty good.
Alicja: Yeah, Austin and Dallas are always really good.
Petite: What’s the music scene in Memphis right now?
Jay: We rule it. Nah! It’s good for five bands and for everyone else it completely sucks. It’s a situation where all these people just turned legal drinking age. And so if you’re already in a band that’s playing out, those kids are just so naïve that they make idols of a few people. So, if you were already playing music before these kids became legal, then they think that you’re different, that you’re cool, or you’re a scenester. It’s totally not like that but their misconceptions and their five dollars kind of smoothes it all over for me.
Alicja: There’s a lot of jealousy going around in a bitchy kind of way.
Jay: Yeah. It’s a bunch of rats that snort cocaine and fight over a little piece of rotten cheese.
Alicja: We work our asses off, though.
Jay: Yeah. They’re, like, five bands that do well and everybody else just sucks.
Alicja: Five?! I can name three.
Jay: It sucks for us ’cause everyone in Memphis is a complete derivative of a trend that was popular in major cities years ago. So, it’s like we barely have bands that are playing the type of indie rock that was popular in 1996. Or we have bands that still think it’s cool to sound like the Velvet Underground. People like to go see bands that cover “Chinese Rocks” and AC/DC covers.
Alicja: Personally, I’m hearing too much Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.
Petite: That sounds pretty fucking dismal.
Alicja: It is depressing.
Petite: I’ll move on.
Petite: Do you think a lot of bands have jumped on the new wave bandwagon?
Alicja: Yeah, but I think most of them figured out they’re not going to be able to do it very well.
Jay: Yeah. I definitely think it’s a trend. People like to dress up and be silly and that’s fun. But when you become pretentious about it, I mean, keyboards are supposed to be funny sounding. It’s not supposed to turn into some completely pretentious, fuckin’ Phantom of the Opera, theater-esque painting your butthole black, and wearing butt tear-away pants. It’s a joke. It’s funny. People don’t get the irony of being dark and being fucking new wave. They don’t get the irony. They take it seriously and that’s just stupid. I was born in 1980. At that point new wave was already radio music. So why try to emulate radio music if you think you’re in a punk rock band?
Petite: [To Jay] You have a pretty big reputation. Does that follow you? Do you think people expect certain things from you?
Jay: People expect me to break shit and throw up all over their house. I can be pretty uptight sometimes. I think it’s funny when you meet somebody and they expect something from you just because you were in a band that sang about beating people up, throwing up, and breaking stuff. I mean, when you meet a person who’s an actor in a soap opera, are they that person always? No. They’re playing a character. I see music as entertainment and self expression but people who get caught up in exactly what they create come off as pretentious jackasses. I guess it does follow me, but not anymore.
Alicja: I’d say you were that person. You’ve just grown up a lot.
Jay: I get kind of mad when people call me Reatard.
Petite: How do you guys see it? Do you see people treat him different, like he’s a special case?
Alicja: Sometimes we have to treat him like a special case because he’s anal retentive. There was one guy who tried to beat Jay up who didn’t even know him. Of course, he’s definitely got problems. A lot of people who like that music have problems already, so why worry about their problems?
Jon: We had a kid last night going, “I love the Lost Sounds but I’m a huge Reatards fan.”
Jay: Yeah, I don’t know. I denounce all that stuff.
Alicja: Like Cat Stevens.
Jay: I’m gonna become a Buddhist and denounce everything.
Alicja: A Muslim.
Jay: Oh yeah, he was Muslim, Orthodox Muslim.
Alicja: By the way, to the guy from Taco Cabana, Rich’s got your number. He’s gonna turn you in.
Petite: What’s the future looking like for you guys?
Jay: As a band, I hope okay, but as lives, pretty bleak.
Petite: Why is that?
Jay: Except for Jonathan.
Jon: ‘Cause he actually has a real job.
Jay: Well, Alicja has a real job. I guess I was just speaking for me, Rich and Jon ’cause we have crappy jobs.
Petite: What do you do for a living?
Jay: I work at a crappy bar.
Petite: [To John] And you?
Jon: I work in a coke bar.
Jay: And Rich just silk screens shirts. I think he gets a little too many chemicals in his brain. They say that stuff gives you cancer. I don’t know… bleak.

You can check out the Lost Sounds website at www.geocities.com/lostsounds or contact them at [email protected].

I think we’d all like to dedicate this to that little old man who bit it in front of Café Du Nord and cracked his head open.

Tthe Lost Sounds next album is October 21, 2002. Titled Rat’s Brains and Microchips on Empty Records.