Sons Of An Illustrious Father
Lilah Larson, Josh Aubin and Ezra Miller
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Yes, actor Ezra Miller is in a band. No, this is not some vanity side project. This is a group of talented and artistic individuals who have come together to bring music to a world that needs reminding that whatever your personal identity is, we are all one race. The human race.
Being nervous about speaking to the group I set an alarm to make the conference call and be on time. I wait patiently as the group gets on.
First, Lilah chimes in with a greeting and I’m both thrilled that I’m speaking with her and relieved that this isn’t just a dream. Next, Josh jumps in and shares his lost in the grocery store experience as we wait for Ezra.
We decide to start without him. Typical that “Barry Allen” would be running late!
JOE: Lilah my first question for you is that it’s been well documented that the origins of the current lineup started in middle school when you and Ezra exchanged music. He gave you The Smiths “ Meat is Murder”, but what piece of music did you give him to influence him?
LILAH: Well, I was and will probably always be an avid Nirvana fan and this was before the boxed set was released. It was quite difficult to find their bootlegs and I would go to Bleeker St. Records like every month or so and buy one of the bootleg CDs and I would scour Limewire for bootlegs. So I had an extensively obsessive Nirvana bootleg collection and I made Ezra a couple volumes of burned CDs of like the best bootlegs which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t hold up to this day.
JOE: Okay so there is obviously the Nirvana and The Smiths influence there. What about you Josh? What type of influences did you have growing up that you brought to the band?
JOSH: You know I don’t know if much of the stuff I grew up on came into the band. In my teenage years I listened to a lot of punk like Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion. I feel like a trajectory of my music is away from my childhood and teenage years. There’s some 90s pop that when you go back you just kind of feel gross when you go back and listen to them.
LILAH: I’ve always had impeccable taste.
JOSH: Yeah I never had good taste until I met Lilah.
JOE: I think that anybody who loves music has something that they are not proud of. I’m sure if we went through everybody’s iPod there might be something that we would skip over without showing people.
JOSH: Yeah that would be everything on my iPod before I met Lilah.
LILAH: That's why I smashed his ipod and gave him a new one filled with music. I said you’re not allowed to listen to this trash anymore.
JOSH: That's why the second tour was terrible. I just cried because Lilah broke my iPod.
LILAH: Yeah I broke his toy.
JOE: Speaking of tours. You'll be playing in Philly at Johnny Brenda's. Do you ever get the chance to get out and check out the sights? What do you like to do while on the road?
LILAH: We do a little bit. We like to eat great food. We're very serious about sharing meals together as a family.
JOE: Well when you're in Philly and if you like dumplings I do have to recommend Tom's Dim Sum. It's excellent.
LILAH: Wooow! You have no idea how much that's going to mean to Ezra. He thinks of himself as a great dumpling connoisseur. It's also a great chance to see friends who you haven't had a chance to see in some time. So that'll be fun.
JOE: So I discovered the band while following the venue you will be at and the event page popped up and I'm like, “That looks like Ezra Miller. I didn't know he was in a band”. So I went to Spotify and started listening and fell in love with the sound.
I'm telling people about it and they ask what type of music is it. I can't define it and I hate labeling things so I saw the group use the term “genre queer" which I have now adopted and started using. Do you think in time it will start to replace terms like rock or pop?
LILAH: I can very much see that. It applies to so much and I would live to see other artists in music use it and other artists in other mediums. In every medium there is an epidemic of overcategorizing. I think it would help a number of people to have that term of identification, that kind of fluidity.
JOE: Can you describe the process of songwriting? You all play a part with the writing, vocals and different instruments. I find it very refreshing. It almost lends itself to when you listen to the album it sounds more like a compilation rather than a single band. Is there anything that one may bring more or less of to the writing?
LILAH: We all bring a lot of content and a lot of feedback for one another. As well as space for our creations most of the time. So I think there is some leaning on each other, but its it's all of us leaning forward like in a triangle.
JOSH: It's a trust fall into a triangle.
JOE: I know previous iterations of the band had a few more members. Now that you are a trio, how has that changed the music making process?
JOSH: I feel a little more freedom to explore in this format. More like a “too many cooks in the kitchen" deal where if you have too many songwriters it gets convoluted.
LILAH: Yeah if our trust fall was five people falling forward it would get a lot messier. When we had other members that left that was the instigation for us to switch up instruments more and really informed the songwriting in every aspect as well as performance.
Another one chimes in, “Hello. Sorry". Now we are joined by Ezra.
EZRA: Literally just sitting here with the phone in my hand waiting for the phone call to start for 15 minutes. Look, I don't know what happens sometimes guys.
JOE: Well Ezra thanks for joining. Better late than never. Now that you're here let me ask, for the
video of “Extraordinary Renditions” with your dancing, do you also have a background in dance as well?
EZRA: Really the only back ground I can claim is that my mother, who choreographed the video, was a modern dancer and I grew up around dancing. Probably the only true performance I had was when I was seven years old and I did a dance with my mother about maternity. That would be the legitimacy of my dancing, she was very legitimate, but it was nepotism that got me the role.
JOE: Well there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
LILAH: A leg up!
JOE: One of the things I've noticed since I've recently followed you on social media is how tight and how well you get along. It's like you've been friends forever. One of the things you did was Game Night. I didn't catch the whole thing. I need to know who won, if there was a winner because sometimes Monopoly can take forever.
LILAH: Josh won because he's a dirty capitalist pig.
JOE: Well unfortunately that's kind of the name of the game in Monopoly. Will we see another Instagram Game Night in the future?
JOSH: We had another one on the night of the album release we played this game called Boss Monster.
LILAH: We still plan on doing Settlers of Catan at some point.
EZRA: Yeah which is a great follow up to Monopoly in terms of a horrifying social commentary game. It reveals to you unintentionally or maybe intentionally on the part of the game makers reveals to you another horror of modern civilization. In the case of Settlers of Catan it’s resource, consumption and imperial colonialism.
JOSH: Then after that we can play Risk.
LILAH: Oooh great call!
EZRA: Yeah jingoism and nationalism and also, imperialism. It’s a scary world in board games.
JOE: It can be yeah. I know when me and my wife play board games we kind of get into and when we play Scrabble, we let the expletives fly. When I get that triple word score she is not a happy camper.
JOE: For your Deus Sex Machina album that was just released, how would you define that album?
EZRA: That’s such a great question that I don’t think we’ve heard in that language before. I think it’s an album about the modern relationship between us humans on the planet, all that surrounds us and all that’s created us and then all that we’ve created into it’s midst. Which is a broad definition. Um, yeah how do we define our album guys? An album by us.
LILAH: 51 minutes...um...of music. Josh you got anything?
JOSH: No it’s just kind of our interpretation of both a sense of end times in a certain way and sense of understanding of other things that could have also been and coming to terms with both of those realities. You know we kind of explore our own individual ideas and terms on that so I guess definition gets cloudy there. It’s defining an artwork which when you’re talking about your own artwork gets kind of muddy. Like, am I making art or am I being a vessel for a mode of creating.
JOE: Well I think we are almost up on time so one final question for you. Since you are playing in Philly next week, have you ever or will you run the steps from the film Rocky?
EZRA: I have done that. I have done that 100% and I’ve jumped up and down at the top. I’d love to do it again pretty much anytime. Josh and Lilah if that’s something you haven’t done and are interested I think we should consider it.
JOSH: And how many steps are there?
JOE: A lot!! A whole bunch.
JOSH: Is it like...I can do it. Yeah I can do it. It’s just sometimes I trip going up and down stairs and it hurts my knees.
LILAH: To be fair Josh sometimes you just trip when you’re standing, so you might as well give it a shot.
EZRA: Maybe, Lilah and I could carry Josh up the stairs. Then, we could collapse in exhaustion at the top while Josh raised his arms in the air and jump.
LILAH: I like it.
JOSH: Yeah. We are the triangle of trust.
JOE: That has to be a shirt now. Triangle of Trust!
LILAH: Triangle of Trust, baby. Can it be like I just said it? Triangle of Trust, Baby!
EZRA: And can it be Trustbaby? Like, one word?
JOE: Well, I’m going to let you guys go. I know you have a lot to do. Thank you so much again. I really appreciate you taking your time to talk with me.
LILAH, JOSH & EZRA: Thank you!