Interview with Andy Deller (keyboardist)
Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward
It’s all about the nitty gritty.
Lucid, the hardest working band in the North Country (Upstate NY and VT), careens across the musical spectrum as a V8 blend of genres emerge, from jazz to rock, honky-tonk blues to reggae. Formed in 2003, their latest album, “Dewdmanwah”, was released this past fall to regional acclaim in the northeast.
The group consists of Kevin Sabourin (guitar/vocals), Jamie Armstrong (saxophone/vocals), Lowell Wurster (percussion/vocals), Andy Deller (keyboards/vocals), Chris Shacklett (bass/vocals), and Ryan Trumbull (drums).
Though the melodies entice arms to flail and legs to gyrate, a keen sense of live improvisation remains at the core, ready to strike at any moment.
And with 2010 aimed at being their breakthrough year, Deller looks forward to gracing the country with a healthy dose of Adirondack soul and passion.
Garret K. Woodward: What is Lucid?
Andy Deller: We are six guys trying to entertain, inspire, and party with as many people in as many places as we possibly can. The more we get people dancing, singing, and letting loose, the better. We’re a brotherhood of musicians, artists, intellectuals and psychedelic soul searchers.
GKW: How would you describe the sound? Who are the influences?
AD: Our sound is catchy yet eclectic. Our songs get stuck in your head, and there is a very distinct tone, but our influences, and the styles we play are wide ranging. Notorious BIG, Johnny Cash, Weather Report, Bob Marley, R.L. Burnside, etcetera, the list is long and varied. Always at the center of it all is thick thread of rock tying everything together. The music has a little something for everybody.
GKW: What does improvisational music mean to you? How does it affect your approach to the band?
AD: A tight-knit form of sonic communication within the band, improvisation is an attempt to dig deep, completely immerse yourself in the moment, and then let your soul shine out into the universe. It is an attempt to bring along all of your friends, and anybody else who happens to be standing nearby. To allow for improvisation, our approach in the band is walking along a fine line between preparations and flying by the seat of our pants. Some parts of songs we define pretty rigidly, and others we vaguely set out a rough idea to allow them to breathe. While we work on song structure, and perform material in ways people can recognize from performance to performance, any member is allowed to add a new layer or reinterpret a defined section at any time. And we always leave wide swaths of space to allow us all to completely fly off the handle. It is a very risky thing to do, and it can lead to brainfarts, and train wrecks, and other awkward moments on stage, and it leaves a performer completely vulnerable and exposed. But the risk pays off with magic when everyone is just there, in the moment, dancing and playing and moving together as one with no thoughts but the sound. It’s the best drug ever. And then you’re out of the moment again, and your looking around smiling and asking, “did that just happen?” and then you’re demanding, “let’s do that again!”
GKW: How did you guys come about? When? Where? Why?
AD: The answer to “how” can get quite longwinded depending on how deep we get into the evolution of the band’s name, and the names of members coming and going as the band congealed. And that crap is boring. When, is early 2003. Where, is Plattsburgh, New York. Why? Six guys simply found each other in Plattsburgh with an instant brotherly camaraderie and complimentary tastes and skills in music, and end up deciding to become a band. In short, we were lucky.
GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want Lucid to be different, or contribute to the evolution?
AD: We are living in an amazing time when anyone with a little capital and an idea can produce, publish, and deliver their works of art to the world at large. You would think this would have destroyed the music industry, and the concept of the pop icon, but, sadly, this is not the case. The time is coming though, record execs be warned! But the point is things have changed so drastically none of the old rules apply. It’s not necessary for a band to fit into a mold. It’s not necessary for a band to follow instructions from some investor who wants the next big hit based on the last big hit. In the old industry there were few bands that could pull this off. Rush was able to do so through the 80s and 90s, but few others. It required a lot of work swimming against the stream. Now anyone can do it, a band can just be themselves. Another part of the evolution is that people are exposed to so much different music. They literally have the world of music to choose from. This was not always so. Now a band has to be similarly worldly, and embrace and recreate all kinds of styles. Listeners looking for novelty demand this of their bands. You have to widen your scope and recreate yourself all of the time. How many songs will you sell online if each one sounds like the first one? The answer is one. What will never change is the need for live performance. Nothing can replace it. Perhaps its importance diminishes as a delivery mechanism, and an advertising campaign, but there’s nothing like a good concert, or a great jam in a backwoods biker bar. Finding our place in this changing landscape is a daily challenge for Lucid. The old formulas for success are nearly obsolete, so we’re basically writing a new book as we go. Performance is a large part of that book. The web is another large part, continuing to create new material, and rearrange old material, staying fresh. Another part of a new approach to the industry is coupling our efforts with likeminded musicians and artists. The scene is muddled with music, and getting out there to new markets, venues and areas is tough. We’ve found that investing in other bands we like who have similar musical philosophies, teaming up with them, mutually expands our coverage and has been advantageous. Our contribution to the evolution is to stay a part of it.
GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?
AD: Our audiences are extremely receptive. Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to play a wide array of venues, and to play for a wide array of people. We’ve developed the ability to tailor our sets to our surroundings, whether we’re playing an outdoor festival, or a coffee-shop acoustic gig, or full on rock and roll throw down. But hey, we’ve had our share of bad gigs. Every starting band has to know the sting of outnumbering the crowd in some dive where your sound is simply not appreciated. We’ve paid our dues. But now audiences all over are very appreciative. We get applause, we get hooting and hollering, and sometimes we get nakedness. They’re always dancing.
GKW: Why do you like playing in the Plattsburgh (NY)? What’s your dream venue to play?
AD: Audiences in Plattsburgh are simply the most receptive, appreciative, interactive audiences anywhere. These guys scream and dance and party like nowhere else. It is a perfect birthplace for a band. Our dream venue is some combination of the Monopole (Plattsburgh), 20 Main Bar (Ausable Forks, NY), a local coffee house and Higher Ground (Burlington, VT), someplace old and steady, filled with friends having a good time, and readymade for a six-piece band to rock socks off.
GKW: Why do you like playing in the Adirondacks?
AD: It’s our home. The summers might be short, but they’re unbeatable. The winters might be long, but they keep us busy enough. We’ve got mountains and lakes to enjoy all year long. Good friends and good beer. What else do you need? And the people are an unbeatable combination of small-town ideals with new-world open-mindedness. Everyone knows the value of family and friends and good times, yet they’re always ready for something new. And they are not afraid to dance, something that sets them apart from a lot of other places we’ve played. No matter how far we go on the road, the Adirondacks will always be home.
GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?
AD: We just want people to go away thinking, “that was a good time!” And maybe for the next week or two they can’t get that one song out of their heads, but it’s a good thing, like burping four hours after a meal, and saying, “oh yeah, that lasagna WAS good!”
GKW: What’s on the horizon for the band? One year from now? Five years?
AD: We’re going to step up our web presence. We’re also stepping up our physical presence, keeping busy on the home front, revisiting established venues in places we have already traveled to, and branching out even further around the northeast. A year from now we want to be self-sustaining, where every member only works another job because they love it, and otherwise can afford to be devoted to the band full time. Five years from now we want to be fending off zombie hordes, and holding down our paramilitary compound nestled in the Adirondacks, turret guns mounted on the tour bus, just a few more doomed survivors of the apocalypse.
GKW: Thoughts on your next performance?
AD: We’re going to face it like every other performance, and do our best to entertain, inspire, and party with as many people as we can.