After first entering this reality on a limited edition beer can, T.R.I.P. is globally available through traditional media, as of 2/1/2017.
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, but when life hands you hops, you make beer. When life hands you a guitar, you make music. And when life hands you the opportunity to partner with one of the finest craft breweries anywhere to release that music on an actual beer, well, you leap through that wormhole, fall all the way down that rabbit hole, and blast all the way out the other side into a reality where sudsy visions of smooth drinkability mesh seamlessly with fever dreams of enraptured faces melting to the music of The Lights Out. That astonishing reality is the one in which we all, including you, dear reader, happily find ourselves now.
In conjunction with our friends at Aeronaut Brewing, for the first time in history, a studio album will be released on a can of beer. Sure, we thought about vinyl, but ultimately decided to take the road less traveled by. Beer is a cooler format, for one thing, at least if you’re drinking American style. We find that our rocking sounds extremely good at around 35 degrees fahrenheit and tastes great with the speakers cranked. Best served and enjoyed with heart firmly on sleeve, T.R.I.P. does not care about being coy, or pretending to check your phone in a crowd, or ironic distance. T.R.I.P. wants you to enjoy yourself with the abandon and purity of heart that you had when your world was brand new! Like the first ladybug to ever land on your arm on a balmy July afternoon. Like the first night in your new apartment in the big city. Like it’s a rom-com and you and your newly found soulmate just met cute at Brooklyn Boulders (where we will pre-release this beer record on November 12). A national digital release will follow on February 1, and you can pre-order it now.
The Lights Out became sensitized to the truth of parallel realities somewhere back in time, and we are here from an alternate dimension to report back that everything not forbidden is mandatory. In the multiverse, you are all your dreams and nightmares realized, and thwarted, and every shade in between. Your free will is your ability to see these alternatives and choose among them which universe you will occupy, moment by moment. When we are together in the music, we are in the space between possibilities, where myriad experiences kaleidoscope out from the wondrous and magical moment known as the present. The beer fuels your trip through the multiverse. The album is the soundtrack to the journey. The journey is always and forever just beginning.
Traveling along a long and lonely road with the guys, I can barely see for the sea and the sand in my eyes. Tears and dreams can indeed both blind a person to the life right before them, prisming vision kaleidoscopically into myriad other possibilities for what you could have become. Middle manager? Letter carrier? Scientist? Illustrator? Homeless? Crazy? How sane can it be to keep making noise in a world inundated with it? What are we doing here, man?
Something was not right with The Lights Out two years ago. We were as tight as ever, made the slickest, tightest, punchiest record imaginable and elevated our live show to tour-level execution for South By Southwest. We were ripe and rotting. I could feel it in my own conviction onstage, wondering how to believe hard enough to put it over. I could feel it in my conviction to put pen to paper. Were we excited enough to still endure walking four hundred pounds of gear down a flight of stairs at six at night, into Tim the van, onto the stage at some club, back into the van, and back up the stairs at three thirty in the morning? Were we getting anything across to anyone at all? And so forth. Every band has its time. Maybe ours had come to an end.
Except, we never really got to that point. Somewhere in the preparation for the band’s annual vacation to Burning Man, the true depth of Jesse’s tinkering compulsion began to reveal itself in the crazy light-up EL wire madness of our Border Patrol costumes, which even in that sea of lights, made everyone who saw us stop and say something nice. The visual edge is a lot, lot farther out there than black jeans and t-shirts, or even sequins and rhinestones. A more bedazzled and illuminated band began to take shape in my mind. Why not let the creative genius at this stuff just run wild? Jesse is the kind of guy who is easily bored, maybe this will hold his attention for awhile. Well, Jesse decided to take it on, to all of our eternal gratitude. But why look this way from now on? What’s the motivation?
Running in parallel to preparing for this trip, it began to blossom in my mind that we all exist, not just in a universe, but in a multiverse. I’d heard Brian Greene on NPR some months back on this subject and it caught my attention for being the second time I’d ever heard that word, the first being from Michael Moorcock’s “The Dragon in the Sword.” Unlike Moorcock’s fantasy flight, Greene argues there is mounting evidence that we really live in a multiverse, where every choice is taken, as originally posed in Dr. Hugh Everett’s Many-worlds interpretation. You are reading this now, but there is a you that stopped reading one second ago, and another one minute ago, and another who never started because you realized you were running late for that thing. Better hurry!
What this means is that any possible kaleidoscopic facet of an alternate reality you can concoct in your dreams (or nightmares) is literally true somewhere in the infinity of the multiverse, as long as it obeys the laws of physics. You’re never a god, but somewhere, a quantum offshoot you literally rules the earth as a pharaoh. Suddenly there was again an endless bounty of things to write about. Everything possible is true!
It’s dark in the space that separates this reality from the rest. You need a light to find your way through.
A new focus led to rediscovered joy in making music together, and we went back into the salt mines with willing hearts: two years of writing, rehearsing and tightening a new body of material, with Jesse building a void-shattering light element on top. A visual illustration of every moment of every song. If you’re going underground, really go. So we laid low, and waited. We still got after each other sometimes, but mostly we lined up. Finally, we began playing out a couple months ago, starting with a few warm-up, kick-the-tires shows in our beloved sister city of Worcester. The new, visually- and conceptually-enhanced The Lights Out is working as planned, and we’re finally ready to share it with the world at large, and Boston in particular. On May 22, we are pleased to take the stage at TT the Bear’s Place in Central Square. We are even more pleased to share this special bill with new friends City Rivals, good friends The Luxury and our especially simpatico friends Planetoid.
The Lights Out came unmoored from linear causality somewhere in the spring of 2012, when we were imbued with the power to travel among parallel realities in the multiverse, and the responsibility to report back and rock out. When we don the goggles and the gear, we are your dimensional pilots into alternate possibilities of reality, any of which could be true here as well. When we take the stage, we are in the space between possibilities with you, and who can say what will happen? Whatever it is, it will certainly rock.
A few months ago, I wandered into the jam room a little late and found myself in the middle of a conversation between Adam, Jesse and Matt. Jesse was amused and delighted. Delighted because his little sister, Roxana, was marrying the guy of her dreams! Amused because Mr. Right-for-Roxana Salucci’s name in real life is Vincent Staria. Just two crazy kids from Long Island starting their life together, ain’t it sweet?
I don’t think any of us remembers quite how it began, which is the way it can happen when things coalesce in that special way that is the beginning of a creative burst, but Jesse thinks I said it, whereas I think he first said it and I just ran with it. It doesn’t really matter. SOMEBODY said, “Seriously? Vinny and Roxy? That sounds like the name of a song!” And you know, it really did. To all of us, it immediately sounded like a retro-Springsteen Jersey Shore tale of two young, about-to-become-special-to-each-other people, told as though they were a couple of gearhead muscle car freaks and sung in the spirit of Phil Lynott arisen from the dead in all his “andiftheboyzwannafightchubetterLETUM!” glory. Once it became clear that there are exactly two awesome rhymes for Roxy (“foxy” and “moxie.” There might be one more somewhere, but not without contorting yourself to make it fit in a sentence, like, “epoxy.” Not so much that last one.) I realized that two verses were essentially done, and this one was going to basically write itself. It did.
That’s when we started thinking it would be fun to record it and give them a little surprise wedding present. So up to Silver Top studios in Georgetown to record with Jason Meeker (drummer for OldJack, and also kickass producer of other people’s stuff). The drums were all set up and ready to go, we were ready to go, and eight hours later we’d laid down all the tracks we needed, and it was over except for listening to mixes over the next few days.
This whole thing has been a great example of how having a laugh and not worrying too hard can really help a thing along. It’s possible to get bogged down in your magnum opus; it’s almost impossible NOT to get bogged down if that opus is more than seven or eight songs long. Trust me, it happens. But when it’s only one song, and you’re primarily doing it for someone else’s happiness, and it’s got to be quick because the wedding is approaching, it can add up to a whole lot of, ‘let’s just get it together fast and have a great time making this,’ which cut away a lot of care and let us all relax. Which made for a superior result. Meeker was all, ‘that is one of the more fun days I’ve spent in the studio’ precisely because of the efficiency of it all, and I agree.
We could say it was a present for Vinny and Roxy, but it just as easily could be said that they gave us the present of inspiration, and now we have something to show for it. So thanks, Roxy, for picking a dude with an awesome name. And of course, good luck you crazy kids!
Well, as predicted, nothing has changed. We flew down to SXSW in four separate planes (that’s just how it worked out, it ain’t no thing), stayed in one room together, got amazingly, tragically wrecked (at least I did), played one of the best sets we’ve ever unleashed on an audience, hit the town in full light-up Luchador regalia, reconnected with some old friends and made a few new ones, and came back in four separate planes, and life is the same as it was a week ago.
Except…except…something is a little different in me. It took a lot of money out of our pockets, and now we can say we did it. The experience, though…that is something that can’t be translated, except in language. So I’ll give it a shot.
I always knew that the shows themselves weren’t going to be an issue. We have worked very hard over the course of years to build ourselves into what we consider a legitimate contender. Not that we’ll ever get our shot, but that doesn’t matter much. The odds are astronomically long for all of us, you included. The main thing is to literally get out of hell through the act of creation, to paraphrase Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud. So that’s what we do: chase peak experiences when we play live, attempt to create timeless artifacts when we record and have more fun than the average bear. It is extremely satisfying to say we achieved our peak experience onstage. Berklee College of Music was so kind to have us down to showcase our talents in Brush Park, and I daresay we validated their faith in us and then some. I’ve said it many times now; if you can hook the bartender, bouncer, soundguy/woman, or server, you’ve done it right. They’ve seen everything, and only that which truly stands up to the rigors of realtime live testing will cut through the clutter to such a person. Believe me; I’ve bounced before, and almost everything that came through that club wasn’t even particularly bad. It was just nondescript. So that is why it made us all so happy to hear yet again that the bartenders (who couldn’t see us from where they were kicking ass pouring drinks), mentioned, “those guys were great.” They’re like canaries in a coalmine, only in reverse, because they’re alerting us all to what actually works. Everyone else who doesn’t see 20 bands a week can get caught up in their own tastes if they want, but when it’s immersion time, certain truths become apparent. Namely: try to look like you’re enjoying it up there! Learn your instruments well. If you’re Adam, run offstage to the (free!) oyster bar, get an oyster (Pre-shucked. This is show business, man; we actually think about details like this.), run back to the stage, shoot it down, toss the shell and without missing a beat, rip into a beast of a guitar solo. Rock and roll! And most importantly for anyone writing songs: REALLY write songs. That is the great separator. You can get a sound and fool people for awhile, but if you don’t have good songs, it won’t last. Conversely, if you have good songs, that is enough, even if they never wind up paying for a jet ski.
It’s hard to judge Austin by SXSW. It was just mayhem up and down, like being in our rehearsal building, except outdoors, with glorious cacophony spilling into the street from every door and all the hipsters emptied out from every city with a music scene to congregate on 6th Street. As for the locals, my first impression was a really warm one, and it didn’t change as the week drew on. For one thing, Southern manners are better than they are in New England, as are the bloody marys. We ate brunch at Zax, which was amazing. The waiter looked at Heather, who was down for a couple days to catch the show, and said, “I’ll start with you ma’am.” It’s a simple thing, really, but I’ve never seen that happen before in these parts in all my years. And the bloody mary was bloody good indeed, all celery and pickled okra and garlic and pepper and olives. It was a salad in a cup dressed in a nice vodka vinaigrette. Then a whole lot of walking back over the bridge to hit the shows. And that’s the other thing; most of what I saw was pretty freaking good! Some high points: the dirty, dirty psychedelic soul of Monophonics, immediately followed by the melancholic and sublime Dawes in a record store parking lot. When they got to “A Little Bit of Everything,” I actually started tearing up. And when I said so to Adam, he was all, “I’m really glad I’m wearing these sunglasses right now, duke!” Heh heh. We all call each other duke. A story from another post. Just to be there in the presence of that kind of power, and to be moved that deeply, was a gift. The phenomenal acoustic afterparty at The Chicago House that Richard Bouchard and Dan Nicklin put together for the Boston contingency was one of the high points, not just of the trip, but of my musical life. And I do mean acoustic; no mics, no amps, no drums, nowhere to plug anything in at all. Didn’t matter. We all showed each other that if the apocalypse comes, we will still be able to make music! Boston really does have a lot of fine talent kicking around, and not all of it was even in Austin by a long stretch.
Luchadores! We put a little of Jesse’s mad scientist ingenuity out on display just to see what would happen. Well, let me tell you, that sh#t works everywhere, not just at Burning Man. We estimate getting our pictures taken at least 500 times that we knew of, and maybe 2,000 more or so that didn’t come and pose with us. I’m just sorry nobody got a pic of me busker bombing a street percussion ensemble in my light up thunderchicken luchador outfit. I snuck in behind them and just jumped on the empty drum and started going for it. It was all over in 20 seconds, but aside from the bombing part, I did not douche up their jam. I was on it! Then four quick eighth note triplet flams (Berklee!) and boom! Out of there before they even figured out how to react. Aaahahahahaa!
Matty’s cousin in Philadelphia’s The Cold Fronts is a great kid, and I gotta have love for anyone pulling out Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From.” All of a sudden, I’m back seeing the Hanson Brothers wrap foil around their knuckles and asking player coach Reggie Dunlop if he wants any. Adam’s buddy, Perry, from The Sharp Things and Good Cop, treated us to the gut-punch soul of The Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker. And it was equally great to hang with his (and now our) friends Travis and Natasha, who couldn’t have been sweeter and better as they got us out to Frank for hot dogs, poutine, and yes indeed, more beers.
Somewhere in all that, I took too much. Too much heat, too much beer, too much food, too little sleep equals too many trips to the porcelain god that last night. No sleep before getting up at 3:30 a.m. to make our way to the airport. I include this as a high point. At the time, not so much, but it’s a lot funnier now that the stomach bug (Not a hangover; this was only a three-beer-day for me. Well within my factory specs.) has gone. The gospel band at Stubb’s while I was waiting to pick up BBQ for us all was just the right thing for a sore head and a happy heart.
So how did it change me? Well, in the way that Burning Man showed me how much further out the visual edge is, South By softened me back up to the beauty of good music through shear volume of it. For that, we all want to thank Berklee once again. Me, especially. For the first rate musical education, for the opportunity to show it off and for the ridiculous tomfoolery it afforded us. We all gotta get older (eventually), but we can party like rock stars until the very day we die. At least, WE can. How about you?
It won’t get us signed. It won’t make us famous. It won’t line our pockets (in fact, it will do the opposite). But you know what? WhatEVAAAAH! Because this is the year we finally shoot the SXSW can off our proverbial fence! Notch our bedpost. Feather our cap. Burnish our credentials. And of course, represent Boston properly! Our plan is to demonstrate that, even though they say everything is bigger in Texas, The Lights Out know a thing or two about rocking big up north, too.
Yesterday we learned we’d been selected to perform at the Official Berklee SXSW Party, and it’s still sinking in that we’re going to the premier music conference on Earth. One thing I can say for sure is that Berklee is the gift that keeps on givin’! My Berklee diploma got us a place in line to earn a ticket to this particular dance, but honestly, I don’t think a rehearsal, gig, recording session or late-night less-than-temperate composition binge has gone by without my conscious accessing of the foundation poured into me at Berzerklee. And unconsciously it’s there all the time. How many times have I bitten my lip so as to avoid uttering out loud, “No dude, you need to use a mixolydian flat 9 sharp 9 flat 13 scale over that V7/6?” Or, “Diatonic harmony is so played out. Modal interchange is the new hotness.” Let’s just say if I had a nickel for every bite, I’d be a good deal wealthier than your average musician. Berklee was the place where I realized that I better get cracking once I saw the phenomenal talents all around me, some of whom are at a world class level. It doesn’t take but one improvisation lab to understand that it might be a good idea to start practicing a good bit harder than you have been. So in a way, this show will be a kind of homecoming, a chance to tip my cap to the place that opened a lot of musical adventure to me. The guys are pretty stoked too, because while I already said what we can safely expect NOT to happen, we are all expecting some things TO happen:
- We will play this show with all our might and wiles.
- Some number of people will be genuinely blown away, which, considering how many excellent acts are going to be plying their trade at SXSW, is saying something.
- We will watch and cheer on our talented fellow Berklee showcasers The Field Effect, Holiday Mountain, Rebecca Loebe, Bear Language, Red Oblivion, Chloë Sunshine, Air Traffic Controller, David Stewart Jr. and Melissa Ferrick, who you can hear on Berklee’s 2013 Party Sampler. Congratulations, guys! We’re excited to play with you: some for the first time, some for a return engagement.
- We intend to ourselves be blown away at least several times by stumbling upon random bands who are quietly (so to speak) going about their business of kicking ass in the world. Then joining forces with them for more ass-kicking down the road.
- We are going to get drunk. Very drunk. But we’re not driving anywhere, so relax!
- We’re going to make friends.
- Some unforseen ridiculousness will happen to us, and we will incorporate it into our mythology. Like that time we got lost trying to get to White Castle and wound up in the middle of a massive police sting at 3 a.m. while they tried to determine if the gear in the back of the van was actually a stolen ATM. It wasn’t. But you haven’t lived until you’ve been surrounded by four staties flashing their cherries and shining white lights down your eye sockets. Good times!
So once again, thank you Berklee! For the first rate musical education, and for the opportunity to show off what a Berklee boy can do. Gird your loins and prepare!
TLO SXSW PRESS
- Live High Five: Interview with Matt King from THE LIGHTS OUT; Heading to @SXSW for Berkelee Showcase in March!
- “A pop-rock beer-drinkin’ mayhem machine”
- Berklee Groove: Q&A with Berklee Grad Rishava Green, Frontman of The Lights Out
- “The best parts in music feel like they are discovered rather than composed, so listen to find parts instead of working to write them.”
You gave us a fourth consecutive sellout…and everything that gooooes with it. I thank you all!
Hallo’Queen was the best Halloween show we have ever done, and it wasn’t just because we made mincemeat of some very challenging material. We had a lot of help from our friends in I, Pistol as Nirvana. Who knew they would pretty much nail it to the wall like they did? Rick took the stage in a trademark cardigan sweater over a homemade Flipper t-shirt, Cobain approved stubble and whine and channeled the man himself from beyond the grave. Stoops rocks out like the Jaws poster every time he takes a stage, and this night was no different. Legs spread, tattooed feet a-tappin’, neck veins a-poppin’ as he looks up at the mic like it’s a chum spill on the surface of the water and sings his ass off. And John flailed around in true Grohl glorious fashion. A pleasure to watch, and a pleasure to listen to, as the packed room amply affirmed.
We had a lot of help from our friends The Field Effect as Weezer. Unlike many Halloween shows where it seems the bands want to give you an education in the deep cuts of their favorite semi-obscure artist (however worthy that artist usually is, and let’s face it, most don’t get enough recognition. I get it.), we subscribe to the notion of Halloween show as a chance to get a bunch of people into the room to party to a bunch of songs they know and love all the words to by heart. The Field Effect did a superlative job running with this idea, and we all got to pound our fists in the air and sing along to Hash Pipe, Beverly Hills, Buddy Holly, The Sweater Song and many others as they stuck every landing all night long. In the right pair of glasses, Doug cuts an amazing likeness to Rivers Cuomo, and Annie in vampire fangs and white fright contacts was about as hot as the center of the sun while never missing a note. Nick and Adam rumbled and wailed. Just solid, solid work by the whole band.
We had a lot of help from our friends Sidewalk Driver as Spinal Tap. From Tad taking the stage as David St. Hubbins in a cellophane pod that wouldn’t open up, to the little tiny Stonehenge being lowered onto the stage at the end of a broom handle, to the crack band hitting every note, to Tad’s amazingly consistent British accent, these guys and girls are one of the most fun and best bands around at any time of year.
Then there was us. Halloween for us is a chance to give ourselves a month-long master class in some legendary act or another every year. It’s a great way to stay fresh and also to stretch in new ways. For example, our groove quotient went way up after Zombie Michael Jackson last year, and now it’s basically a regular occurrence to see asses shaking when we play. ZMJ is a big part of that. This year I think we really cranked up our vocal harmonizing as a result of having to figure out and nail the opening section of Bohemian Rhapsody alone. Yeah, we did it! And I mean, we really DID it right. When we first sang it and got it right in rehearsal, we gave ourselves the chills, and I’m not too modest to say we actually played the middle part live. Even Queen did never did that! As Adam said, when we got done playing that it was like we kicked a field goal from the fifty yard line, and the room let us know it went through the uprights. I’m going to go ahead and give Adam a shout-out as MVP on this one, for pulling triple duty on guitar and keys and vocals (on Stone Cold Crazy!). Jesse nailed his vocal turn on Don’t Stop Me Now and kept us all dancing all night with his immaculate Roger Taylor drumming. Matt owned the crowd on We Will Rock You while I went back and changed from the catsuit into something even more ridiculous for We Are the Champions. We also played Fat Bottomed Girls, Killer Queen, Tie Your Mother Down (I saw Bouchard as The Spirit singing every word right along with me!), Under Pressure (with David Bowie!) Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Another One Bites the Dust, and some interstitial teases of Flash to keep it moving along.
We had a great deal of help from you, if you were there. Thanks! It is one of our points of pride that we put on one of the premier Halloween parties in Boston, but it’s only a party if people show up. Thanks for showing up and singing along and shaking your fists and shaking your asses and making us and all the bands that night feel special. It was a bed of roses, a pleasure cruise!
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BOSTON’S KINGS OF HALLOWEEN TAKE QUEEN
“CITY IN CHECKMATE” (SAYS KENT BROCKMAN)
The year 2012 seems to be the Year of Mercury. With a new biography, an Angry Birds character and now a movie in the works, there’s more Freddie around today than in the 20 years since Wayne and Garth brought headbanging to the masses.
This Halloween, Boston arena rockers The Lights Out are raising his shiny half-microphone stand scepter skyward – or at least as high as a Fenway ceiling.
Having built a reputation on their stadium-sized shows in small clubs, Queen was their tribute choice, in a Boston Halloween tradition stretching back many years. “In 2009, we bald-wig’d Phil Collins,” said bassist Matt King, who will be playing the part of John Deacon. “In 2010, we bearded Madonna. In 2011 we teamed up with Chef Jasper White to zombie Michael Jackson. But we knew 2012 was going to be Queen before our sequin-gloved hands even touched our instruments….heh.”
The 2012 Hallo’Queen show will fluff up the crowd, with Freddie Mercury stick-on mustaches for all. It will even feature a surprise appearance by a glittery Boston rocker, playing David Bowie.
“The Lights Out are Boston’s Kings of Halloween,” said Dan Millen, the show’s promoter. “Their last three Halloween shows have sold out Church with a line down the block, and have become the center of many a Bostonian’s Halloween party calendar.”
The band threw itself into prepping for this year’s performance, beginning Queen rehearsals as far back as August, between tour dates and writing material for a follow-up album to 2012’s “On Fire.”
Ever obsessed with detail, The Lights Out are putting everything under the magnifying glass for their performance – literally. Guitarist Adam Ritchie, who will be playing Brian May, visited a rare coin shop to purchase a sixpence: the out-of-circulation British coin May uses as a guitar pick. “I asked them if they had something on the more utilitarian side than the rare side, and walked out with a 110-year-old sixpence that plays great and leaves my fingertips dusty with silvery bits of King Edward VII’s head.” said Ritchie.
“We have four solid singers in this band,” said drummer Jesse James, who will be glamming it up as Roger Taylor. “For songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, we isolated and assigned each of the vocal harmonies to its best-fitting band member. Then they all lined up and soccer-kicked me in the balls.”
“Our Halloween shows are like our annual master classes,” said singer Rishava Green, a Berklee-trained musician who will strut around in a Freddie Mercury harlequin cat suit with the chest cut out, preening a rich, velvety coat of untamed man hair.
The Lights Out bring Freddie back to life at Church (69 Kilmarnock Street) on Saturday, October 27, along with Sidewalk Driver as Spinal Tap, The Field Effect as Weezer, and I, Pistol as Nirvana. The show begins at 9:00 p.m., is 21+, $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
ABOUT THE LIGHTS OUT:
The future is looking bright for Boston-based rock quartet THE LIGHTS OUT. Since forming in 2005, the band has showcased at music conferences from CMJ to MidPoint, released two albums and three EPs, placed songs on MTV, appeared in Billboard and sweated out enough High Life to fill the Carrier Dome. The band released its third full-length album, “On Fire,” this summer. For more, visit www.thelightsout.com.