Image: Ally Newbold

July 7, 2014
by Paul Blest

It’s been a whirlwind of activity for Lilac Daze. Since forming last year, The Frederick, Md.-based band—guitarist Evan Braswell, bassist Patti Kotrady, and drummer Matt Henry—released a demo in January 2013, followed the very next month by the six-song EP On Forgiving Myself. Just eight months later, they released Creatures of Habit as a four-song digital EP, and already they’re back with more songs, which may very well be their best yet. Sedated (Black Numbers) is six tracks of loud, smart guitar punk that rocks like Pixies and Green Day at some points (“Life Scout” and “Frederick Rock City”) and brings to mind Superchunk or maybe even Mac McCaughan’s other project Portastatic at others (“Kathleen” and “Knives”), while Kotrady and Braswell deliver straight-to-the-point, unwavering lyrics.

We spoke to Braswell and Kotrady about the band’s new record, which you can stream in its entirety below.

The Runout: So, how did Lilac Daze get together and start making music?

Evan Braswell: Well, Patti was given a book on Riot Grrrl as a gift and was inspired to learn bass. Patti proposed the idea to Matt and I, who had been together in bands for 8+ years and we were into it. Patti got a bass and we started writing our On Forgiving Myself EP.

What were you all listening to and influenced by when you wrote that record?

Braswell: We all have a mutual love for punk rock and ‘90s alt rock. Bands like Pixies, Weezer, and Green Day influence us all. On our first EP I was listening to a lot of Yuck and Pinkerton.

Patti Kotrady: I’m always listening to a lot of the Crutchfield sister bands (P.S. Eliot, Swearin’, Bad Banana) so that was on heavy rotation back then too.

Braswell: Matt pretty much loves everything from MC5 and Nirvana to Dark Sister and Lana Del Rey. He’s the music connoisseur of the band.

What’s changed since the recording of On Forgiving Myself and Sedated?

Braswell: We self-released On Forgiving Myself and Creatures of Habit whereas the new EP Sedated will be released on Black Numbers. I think the main change in songwriting between our first 2 EPs and our upcoming one has been the use of a more collaborative approach.

Kotrady: Each of us used to write songs independently and bring them to practice, but now we all write together and bounce ideas off each other. The new EP definitely feels more fluid and representative of each of our ideas.

Can you talk a little bit about that songwriting process? Like, do you write your records with a few specific themes in mind or do you just let the songs do their thing?

Kotrady: We seem to write our songs and recognize a theme afterwards.

Braswell: We don’t usually have a grand idea to write a record about. We usually write about what we’re currently dealing with, whether it’s bad habits, shitty people, or the death of a pet. It’s kind of all over the place, but once we have it all together we realize it typically portrays a theme.

I ask because there’s that line in “Porcelain God” (on Sedated) that’s like “So much focus on forgiving myself” that throws back to that first EP. I thought it might be kind of like an update on that record?

Braswell: Yeah, “Porcelain God” definitely speaks to our first EP. A lot of the issues I wrote about on On Forgiving Myself are still relevant so naturally I felt compelled to write another song about it. I always liked how some of my favorite bands would bring back themes from their past records and reuse them. Daniel Johnston always had a way with recycling ideas.

My absolute favorite parts of this band are the bass and guitar tones – “Life Scout” is a perfect representation of that. What amps/pedals do the two of you use to get the guitars sounding so warm and thick?

Braswell: We actually use a really simple setup. I run my guitar through a volume pedal and go directly through my Mesa Roadking amp.

Kotrady: I go through a Seymour Duncan Power Grid, which is actually a guitar pedal, but it works. Other than that I just go directly through the amp. I just blew out the speaker so now there’s plenty more distortion [laughs].

Are there any plans to tour on the new record?

Kotrady: We have a brief tour planned in August before the school semester starts back up from August 6-10 – Frederick, Philadelphia, New Brunswick, Brooklyn, and then somewhere in PA or Delaware.

We should have it all booked up soon. We’re also planning something longer in the fall and winter.