Interview: Lesser Key
Thu, 15 May 2014 09:10:52
Music's got the power to open up some potentially life-altering doorways. Sometimes, it can lead you to a self-realization. Other times, it can just serve as the soundtrack to a good time. Either way, it leaves a mark on the listener. Lesser Key will definitely impact you. Their self-titled EP for Sumerian Records teeters between artfully constructed psychedelic soundscapes and heavy brooding catharsis. It's all fueled by warm guitars, rapturous percussion, and a haunting vocal swell. When you arrive on the other side, you might not be the same, and that's the most wonderful thing about the doors Lesser Key opens…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Justin Hanson of Lesser Key talks the EP and so much more.
What ties the EP together for you?
We definitely were trying to keep in mind how it would musically or sonically flow together. It’s not a concept EP. The only common thread between the songs is they all serve as a cathartic outlet, but there’s no concept tying them together. As far as the flow, we tried to prioritize that with the sound instead of any preconceived idea or theme.
Was it written as one piece?
Yeah, a lot of the songs were written around the same time period. Those songs are a few years old. It has a vibe from that. We were getting in a room and jamming it all out. Those ideas arose from those jam sessions. A lot of them were written back in St. Louis. We’ve done a lot of work to them since we moved out here to L.A. though. We re-approached them with Paul D’Amour our new bass player. It’s been cool nurturing them along for an extended period of time. The gist of them got jammed out a few years ago.
Is it important for the songs to conjure visuals?
In this band, we’re really inspired by film and art in general. The visual aspect, whether it’s painting or a movie, can be just as much of an influence as music does. We really like the works of Kenneth Anger. That’s actually how we chose our music video director for “Intercession”. He was an associate for Anger. His name is Brian Butler. The visual aspect is important for sure.
How did “Pale Horse” come together?
Musically, the sounds were some of the very first to come up when we were playing together. I want to keep what it’s about open-ended. If you pay attention to the song, some obvious themes are popping up. That was a focus track. When we heard it, we thought it would be a focal point, but it ended up being “Pale Horse”. It’s got a really powerful chorus, and there’s a lot of soul in the song. It’s one of my favorites.
Were there many layers to “In Passing Through”?
We definitely spent some time on that one. We tweaked it, analyzed it, and listened to it a million times over. It’s our epic journey song on the EP. By Journey, I don’t mean the band [Laughs].
What influences did you guys bond over?
For us, we were pulling from all of the common artists we like in the progressive rock world. We just bonding over different mediums of art other than music. Some of the artists we enjoy are Deftones, Paul’s old band Tool, Mastodon, and Karnivool’s doing cool things. We can appreciate any rock band who has an experimental or progressive edge.
If the EP were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Maybe The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky, because we have occult concepts in the EP that have a common thread with those of Jodorowsky’s film. I’m not going to go into those though [Laughs]. It’s all there.
Have you already begun working on more music?
We’ve already got a collection of songs. A long time ago, we embarked on doing a full-length with Aaron Harris of Isis and Palms. We may rework some of that material. We’ve got some other things too. Hopefully, the fans can see a full-length within the next couple of years. We have to tour and support our EP first.
Have you heard Lesser Key yet?