"What Muse once was, and now only pretends to be, Lotus Effect is."
That's how Chatter described Lotus Effect in 2010 when they had a death grip on the Houston music scene. The group's EP Rabbits and Royalties was one of the top releases of the year, and they picked up a Houston Press Music Award for Best Rock as proof. Since then, though, the band has slowed its ascension, and recently suffered the loss of founding drummer Gabe Lewis.
"I left the band to maintain a stable family life, as well as to be able to pursue my education and career in health care," Lewis says. "It was a tough decision. The band meant everything to me."
With Goodnight Neverland and The Dead Revolt, 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14 at the Mink, 3718 Main, 713-522-9985 or www.minkonmain.com.
Lewis was a driving force behind Lotus Effect's unique progressive approach, and we wanted to touch base with vocalist Dre Giles to see where the band was headed now.
Chatter: How did Gabe leaving affect the band?
Dre Giles: That decision left the band with mixed feelings because we were right in the middle of recording. It felt like we were starting over again from scratch.
And also, it was a bit of a transition, not only finding another quality musician who was as creative and comfortable approaching songs a little from left field, but we also had to decide on our direction moving forward because we were a heavily progressive band under Gabe, and Gabe was mainly responsible for that.
He was the one pushing us and challenging us with new ideas and motifs. In many ways, he changed the way I look at music and what I expect from music. Now that he's gone, it was a challenge to maintain our "progressive" identity with the more "mainstream" direction our music was heading.
Ultimately, it's a balance I believe we've struck well.
C: Were there any hard feelings?
DG: As much as we'd like to say everything was cool, I don't think there could help but be some hard feelings no matter how much we love the guy. It's funny because Gabe initially told us he got into med school, and with his demanding family life, he just wouldn't have the time for the band any more.
My dumb ass, not wanting to let him go, figured we could work around his schedule, but what ended up happening was we went from practicing every week to not hearing from him for months. Everything ground to a halt: No shows, no writing, no studio.
We made the decision to keep our eye out for other drummers because the situation was driving the other guys crazy, including me.
C: Do you still consider Lotus Effect a prog-rock band without him?
Dre Giles: Yeah, even though we are definitely a different band without Gabe, we are still a prog band in the same way a System of a Down, Tool or even Deftones can be considered prog, in that they express themselves in a more unconventional way.
Honestly, though I never really considered us a prog band even with Gabe. I just considered us a rock band that expressed ourselves in a more oddball way than the norm. But that said, we feel good about the new direction we've been heading.
C: Tell us more about this new direction.
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Dre Giles: In the past, a lot of our songs were either literary reinterpretations or I'd end up writing a song about some tragic figure that I'd become fixated with, like Pat Tillman when we did "Fireflies" or Edie Sedgwick when I wrote "Warhol."
I'm still fascinated by tragic figures like Vincent van Gogh and the gothic and dark aspects of children's fairy tales and nursery rhymes, so we explore that on a few songs, but for the most part the songs are a lot more personal now, and instead of telling other people's stories, we're expressing our own frustrations and introspections about the world that breathes around us.
This time around, we stripped down a lot of the songs to their core. We took a less technical and cerebral approach to the writing process, and those songs came out more soulful and intimate than a lot of our previous work.
We're releasing our first singles in the fall and the album will follow at the top of next year. Contingent on that there is a next year.