Lemon Sun @ Cinespace

Donning a top hat modeled after Johnny Depp’s in Jim Jarmusch’s film ‘Dead Man,’  lead singer Rob Kolar took center stage at Cinespace maintaining his reputation for fancy eye grabbing apparel.  Lemon Sun was off to a slower start than usual, despite beginning with a big energetic bang to introduce their first song, Three Words.  At first seeming a bit tired and loose, Lemon Sun quickly picked up by their third song Congratulate Our Thievery where they finally took command of the crowd and started pulling them into the undeniable energy of Lemon Sun.  Being the last night of Camerata Sundays at Cinespace (due to Cinespace closing), Rob shouted to the crowd ‘Comeon, this is about the last time youre ever going to see a band in this place!”  

For their fifth song, The Answer, the crowd had been a bit shy so Rob insisted “this is an old one, its time to shake those beautiful butts.”  Guitarist, Patrick O’Connor not only showed off his new short haircut but also his amazing guitar skills during his psychedelic guitar solo.  Afterwards, Rob took a moment to introduce the members of Lemon Sun, including Scott “no one actually knows his last name.”  The introduction transitioned into the high-spirited and fun Same Old Ground.  Former keyboardist Timothy Morales jumped up on stage to dance with the band and sing back-up vocals with Patrick.  Bringing some of the classic Lemon Sun energy back to the stage, Timothy got the band and the crowd moving and shaking.

Electric Love was dedicated to “all the ladies, this is a love song.”  This newer Lemon Sun song is much more rock oriented, heavily driven by bass and drums, with creative guitar riffs while incorporating soft harmonies from all the members.  Quick-paced and catchy, the song includes all the elements of Lemon Sun and sounds like a great upcoming single.  Lemon Sun finished their set with another oldie-but-goodie, Telephone.  A perfect finale, the song has strong beats that ensured the crowd would not forget Lemon Sun’s name.  The band looked like they were really having a great time, with big smiles and genial body language as the crowd danced through the last note.

Rob addressed the crowd with a sincere “Good bye” and a big smile and wave.  

Well folks, the answer is YES, Lemon Sun has returned from their short hiatus so be sure to check their MySpace/Facebook for upcoming shows.  Also, watch their new music video for Electric Love: 

Electric Love on YouTube

-Britt Witt

Astra Heights+Lemon Sun @ Bootleg Theater

Never have I ever walked into a venue and been simultaneously surrounded by good-looking people, phenomenal music blasting from the speakers and an all-encompassing great energy; however, the Astra Heights CD Release show at Bootleg Theater featuring Lemon Sun instantly hooked the crowd.  The acoustics and sound system at The Bootleg Theater are some of the best I have heard in L.A.—surprising because it is a simple room with nothing but a stage, standing room, and a bar.

Astra Heights hit the stage on time and amongst cheers as Mark  (lead vocals) announced, “It’s been a while, we’re really glad to be back.” “How Little We Know” started off their set proving the strength that all of their voices possess individually and as a whole, delivering a powerful and deliberate performance.  Their set-up was captivating, including two female back-up singers, a stand-up bass, and Timothy juggling keyboards, guitar and piano.  Things got a little mellow during “When the Ground Gives Way,” as  Astra Heights’ powerful harmonies and the distant echo effect on Mark’s voice created a soothing and calming atmosphere for the concentrated crowd.  Mark’s flirtatious mic moves created the proper visual during their fourth song, “The Push.”  By this point, the guys loosened up a bit and were more active on stage.  In general, their set felt laid-back and more like a sound check, but this surely did not mean that you could not see the sweat from drummer, Lyle, or that the power behind the guys’ harmonies wasn’t at one hundred percent.  The crowd’s response was consistently positive and excited, featuring shouts like “Timothy I love you!”  Their sixth song, “Ticking,” had the band showing off some of their signature dance moves—James and Timothy playing back to back to Lyle, Mark singing with his hands, James moonwalking and lots of hip shaking amongst all of them.  Astra Heights incorporates many elements of an old rock band—long and complex instrumentals that are very focused and strong, combined with great vocals and distinguished beats.  Mark prefaced “Let’s Go Boys” saying, “This is for everybody who moves out to L.A. and thinks they’re going to make it big…suckers!”  This energetic song finished off their big set with powerful snare rolls, bass riffs, and psychedelic keys.  Their individual personalities were prevalent as James continued his bobbing dance, Bernard remained intensely focused on his guitar, and Timothy embellished his signature slick dance moves.  There were a lot of joyful smiles and movement intensifying the juxtaposed complex and focused instrumental riffs and vocals.  Naturally, the crowd wanted an encore with comments like, “That last song was so good, they were good!” and “They’re excellent!”

Lemon Sun brought instant energy that electrified the since-dispersed crowd.  It was only a matter of seconds before the crowd caught onto Lemon Sun and got roped in.  Their set featured psychedelic wall visuals that complimented their melodies and styles as well as the overall vibe of the room.  Timothy—yes he plays keys for both Astra Heights and Lemon Sun!—took a moment to thank the crowd, “It took [Astra Heights] a year to make [Ship of Theseus] and this is the most beautiful sight we could ask for so everybody dance your fuckin’ asses off and thanks for coming!”  Lemon Sun’s second song, “The Answer,” had quite a captivating instrumental breakdown that continued to pull the crowd further into Lemon Sun’s energy.  All of the guys were extremely energetic; Rob playing in Timothy and Patrick’s faces and rolling around on the stage floor while Timothy shimmied, Felipe pounded, and the great alternative entertainment of Patrick’s singing expressions.  They were all smiles the entire set!  During “Telephone,” Rob lost his hat amongst his exuberant dancing on and off his knees, letting his long curly hair droop over his face as he sang.  Everyone in the crowd seemed to be dancing to the songs almost unconsciously.  The set was going so well that Scott bowed half way through to which Rob responded, “Scotty bowed and we’re not even done yet!”  “Same Old Ground” featured the skilled tap dancing of Lauren Brown while Timothy and Patrick shared a mic for harmonies.  The band was very talkative resulting in instant crowd interaction, like a pick request half-way through the set.  Felipe proved his endless multitasking skills by breaking out his shakers while continuing to play drums as did Timothy who managed to clap with his Newcastle in hand and keep up with harmonies.  They all looked very happy performing which incidentally played into the passion emanating from both on and off stage.  “Wanna Have You” had the band emitting fervent energy—Timothy jumped into the crowd while playing his tambourine, Rob paced and wobbled about the stage pulling his best rock-and-roll moves, knocking over the mic stand yelling “Everybody let’s party!” and Felipe on his feet clapping and hammering his drums.  The song continued to blend in and out of Lemon Sun’s cover of “Melt With You” so well that it sounded like a real recorded remix of the two songs.  Again, Scott bowed at the end of the song, removing his bass in satisfaction.  Without needing to catch his breath, Rob shouted to the crowd, “If you like Supergrass, please make your way to the stage, but you better know the fucking words!  Anyone with sideburns, long hair, looks greasy—that’s great!”  About seven people joined Lemon Sun on stage for the show finale—although they seemed to be quite shy, especially in comparison to the wild moves of the band.  Rob and Tim shared a mic as they danced together and Patrick moved back and forth between his mic and Felipe.  Lemon Sun executes such an energetic show, you don’t even have to know their music to be completely sucked in and enjoy their performance.

Britt Witt

Originally published on LARecord.com: Astra Heights + Lemon Sun / LA Record

Lemon Sun

Lemon Sun may not live very close to each other or rehearse very often but this bunch sure can put on a remarkable show. After finding some new members and playing shows for a crowd full of rock stars, Lemon Sun is getting ready to head into the studio and record a new album. But first, they made some time for lunch and a little chat about themselves. This interview by Britt Witt.

What do you do in your free time?
Patrick O’Connor (guitar/vocals): Acting. Rob is Professor Electric!
Rob Kolar (vocals/guitar): Yeah, I found the job on Craigslist. It’s mostly high school science so if you have some high school education, you go through the training process of being taught the fairly typical stuff. They give you a refresher and manuals of all the stuff and different facts. One time we mixed all these horrible chemicals together and it made this glossy muffin and one of the kids heard that it was called a ‘magic muffin’ and I guess thought it was eatable and so I turned to put some stuff in my box and he had yellow froth around his lips. He had eaten the magic muffin which is full of horrible chemicals that could kill you! So I run to the sink and wash his mouth out with water! There might as well be a skull on the side of the chemicals I’m pouring in. I probably should do that. Education is a dark thing—you have a lot of power. It’s also really rewarding.
Do you have an agent?
Rob Kolar: I do for commercials. Patrick and I have the same agent. We go out a lot together as a band. Most of the time we get cast as ourselves so we don’t have to play anything too weird or wear clothes we don’t want to wear. We try not to sell out too badly but it does help fund a lot of things. We did a VH1 commercial once for Latin America—Felipe just pounded for hours.
How often do you rehearse together?
Felipe Ceballos (drums/vocals): About twice a week, if we’re lucky.
Patrick O’Connor: Yeah, but sometimes that even seems like too much.
Rob Kolar: Pretty much, but we’ve been having a lot of shows so those sort of count as well. Plus Felipe and I play in another band—He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, with my sister—so we have to rehearse with that band sometimes.
Felipe Ceballos: I’m their cousin! He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister—she’s his girlfriend, I’m their cousin! I play a different type of drumset.
So if you don’t rehearse that often then do you just have a natural connection?
Rob Kolar: I’d like to say that we do, but we do fight a lot.
Felipe Ceballos: Yeah, a lot.
Rob Kolar: Patrick is the most cordial of all the members. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Patrick fight with any of us.
Patrick O’Connor: I can see everything from all angles. A lot of times I just can’t decide which side to be on.
Felipe Ceballos: I don’t think it’s necessarily that we don’t rehearse a lot because we do play a lot. We have a fair amount of shows. At least 4 shows a month to start with.
Rob Kolar: And the guys that we play with are pretty good players. The lineup was completely different a little over a year ago and I was really fortunate to find really good players to play with. And they like the songs even though we didn’t write them together so I have to give the band a lot of credit too. Getting down the set took some time but now we’ve got it and now we’re just working on a new record. Getting stuff going, splitting a lot of time trying to come up with new stuff. March is recording month for us. It was supposed to be January so we’ve been postponing because we kept getting shows so we’re really excited about it.
Does this mean lockdown in the rehearsal space?
Rob Kolar: Kind of. Certainly instead of rehearsals we’ll be recording and weekends we’ll be recording.
Have you already written the new songs?
Rob Kolar: No, I have a lot of music written but I’ve been having really bad writer’s block for lyrics and singing melodies. It kinda comes in seasons so I’m hoping with this new season just around the corner I’ll get this flash of new inspiration. But as for music, we have a lot of it so we’ll just be putting it all together piece by piece. I think the sound will be different, I’m expecting a new avenue for us musically.
Felipe Ceballos: Yeah, it’s definitely changing. I mean, it still has a lot of the elements of Lemon Sun in it but it’s definitely a bit different than before.
More psychedelic or more rocky?
Felipe Ceballos: I feel like it’s a combination of both.
Patrick O’Connor: I feel like its more psychedelic but at the same time a little bit more earthy or western.
Felipe Ceballos: ‘Raw.’ ‘Raw’ would be a good word to describe it.
Rob Kolar: And with recording, the last album we did was with a pretty well-known producer in a studio and I have issues with how well-produced it sounds. I mean I enjoy the record but I want to do something that sounds more spontaneous and alive and has a frenetic energy to it. I think it’s the right vibe for the lineup that we have now.
Who are these new members?
Rob Kolar: Patrick, Felipe, Scott is playing bass. Scott is the veteran of the L.A. music scene. He’s played with like a hundred bands. And Timothy, who is also in a band called Astra Heights.
Felipe Ceballos: Just one of the brothers. There’s like thirteen. I had a band before that did a tour with them and it was quite fun. When we got to Houston where they’re from, the whole family was there and that’s what tapped out the show! It was just the family in the audience and the whole place was packed!
What is your blog about?
Rob Kolar: The blog is all about what is weird and random.
Felipe Ceballos: I don’t even know about this blog.
Rob Kolar: I have told him about this blog like five times. I haven’t had one post.
Felipe Ceballos: I don’t know about this blog!
Rob Kolar: Oh yeah, you do. I’ve sent at least four or five emails about it.
Patrick O’Connor: I’ve meant to come up with things for it but I haven’t.
Rob Kolar: Well, it’s just a way to put funny stuff up for people to enjoy.
Felipe Ceballos: Send it to me one more time and I’ll probably put something up.
Rob Kolar: I haven’t put anything up in a while but I also put up videos of bands that we like. I used to do ‘band of the month’ or ‘band of the week’ so whatever band I was really excited about, old or new. Sometimes I’ll do a film review or write something, or post a video that’s funny. I used to write for an upstart magazine that never went anywhere. But it was cool because I could get into shows for bands that I liked for free and that was pretty much why I did it. I got a bunch of albums for free, like the Spoon record before it was released. I would review them but no one ever read the magazine. It’s all about who’s running it—the girl who was doing it was in over her head.
Is it more about the lyrics or the music?
Rob Kolar: Patrick, you write lyrics with your fingers.
Patrick O’Connor: For me it’s really about how the lyrics affect the music and how the music affects the lyrics.
Rob Kolar: I think we’re focused on lyrics but I don’t think we’re really recognized for it, I think people are more responsive to the melodies and hooks of the songs. I aim to be socially conscious in my lyrics but I don’t think anybody pays attention.
Felipe Ceballos: Yeah, I don’t care about lyrics. I mean—
Rob Kolar: Both are very important.
Patrick O’Connor: You’re a drummer!
Felipe Ceballos: No, I mean I like lyrics too, but very rarely I like a song because of the lyrics. Generally it’s usually because of the melody and whatever that grabs me. And then it certainly happens that I recognize the lyrics and they’re amazing but it’s just usually a secondary thing for me.
So no SXSW for you this year?
Rob Kolar: No, we’re making our record! We went a couple years ago with a different lineup and unless everything is set in stone and everyone is like ‘that’s the band I want to see,’ I kinda feel like—is it worth spending all the money when we could be recording an album?
Felipe Ceballos: It seems like there’s a lot going on and if you’re not a big buzzing band—and by buzzing I mean about to completely break to the world, a band that everybody knows about. Being buzzing in L.A. means nothing if you’re going to SXSW and spending all this money just to get there and play one show when at the same time Spoon is playing two stores down.
Rob Kolar: We do well here and we have a name here but, you know, we’re not the number one band on like ‘My Old Kentucky Blogs’ or whatever. I’ve found that you almost have to get in with the blogs before anything.
So what is success to you?
Patrick O’Connor: Extreme fame and extreme riches! Limos!
Felipe Ceballos: Girls!
Rob Kolar: Massages.
Felipe Ceballos: Massages on demand!
Patrick O’Connor: I feel successful after a good show. And a massage.
Felipe Ceballos: If we could have a massage therapist every time we play, I think that would be successful.
Rob Kolar: It’s been a good year for us. The two shows we did with Supergrass in January were really fun. We were playing with people that we try to emulate and then having them embrace you and wanting you to play the show and being really cool guys. And there were some fun rock ‘n’ roll celebs in the crowd, other people that we look up to. Thom York was at both of the shows. Britt Daniels from Spoon.
Patrick O’Connor: Dave Davies.
Rob Kolar: Yeah, Dave Davies was at one of them. Steve Jones.
Patrick O’Connor: That was a fun week. They were all there for us—not Supergrass!
Rob Kolar: We’re getting music placements—that’s kind of cool. We were on an NBC show like two weeks ago?
Patrick O’Connor: Yeah, I saw it! It was like, ‘Where’s our song going to be?’ And then they were in a bar—there’s our song! It’s like ‘Shots!’ and our music in the background.
Were you mentioned in any credits?
Felipe Ceballos: No. Generally they don’t do that. Some shows will do that—at the end they’ll say some of them, but generally they don’t really do that. We just get a check.
Are you signed to a record label?
Rob Kolar: Lemon Sun records.
Felipe Ceballos: Your wallet records!
Do you have a manager?
Felipe Ceballos: Your wallet manager!
Rob Kolar: Felipe and I are the managers. We’d like to find a label and do that whole thing but for right now it works out okay because we can self-release things. Amoeba has been really cool and put all their stuff in their stores and iTunes is great. It’s amazing getting a check for that.
Felipe Ceballos: The thing is, when there is not that much money rolling in, there’s not much other people can do for you. I’ve had experience with managers before where you end up doing all the work and they still want a check.
Rob Kolar: I think the industry is changing. You aren’t making much money off of a record and music videos should be promotion.
Felipe Ceballos: You could make a lot of money through placements. To me, records are more of a souvenir at a show than anything—you go to a show, ‘Oh! You have a CD or vinyl’ I’m down for vinyl, put that shit on vinyl! That’s what we gotta do. Vinyl and download for free!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad review of you guys. 
Rob Kolar: There was one. Kevin Bronson from Buzzbands described our music as somewhere in the realm of Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows. But it was so scathingly bad that it was great. He was raging on my voice but the funny thing about Kevin is that now he always talks about us and we were in his top one hundred songs of the year. Even worse than that, we played NoisePop and got a review saying ‘I want the last thirty minutes of my life back’ as the main quote for the show. He spent most of the review talking shit about L.A. and how we so obviously were an L.A. band and how we looked like we had been put together by a stylist which I was like, ‘Well, hey, we didn’t have to spend any money on our outfits so that’s great!’
How does positive feedback affect your performance?
Patrick O’Connor: I always feel a little nervous but I think it’s good nerves—it brings energy to the performance. When I’m not nervous, I don’t play as well.
Rob Kolar: I’ve been less and less nervous. I think the more you perform—especially after you’ve got a few drinks in you! That does make quite a big difference I’ve noticed.
Felipe Ceballos: Here’s the reality—I usually have my one.
Patrick O’Connor: Yeah, his rule is that he usually has one.
Felipe Ceballos: I usually have one drink before I play. But on the last four dates of our tour we were going on kinda late and getting there kinda early and I had a bunch of drink tickets so…
Rob Kolar: No, no—that’s at the end of the night.
Patrick O’Connor: Definitely on those nights, there’s a lot more talking to the audience by the band going on—which I like.
Rob Kolar: Definitely like a wall comes down. My crowd interaction goes way up. But there is a threshold—you don’t want to go over that threshold.
Felipe Ceballos: Oh, no—not me.
Rob Kolar: Oh, it’s been done. I can get belligerent.
Patrick O’Connor: Felipe, you’ve gotten angry at the crowd! I think we just go up there and do our thing. It’s pretty hard to tell. Our experience on stage never lines up with the feedback. Sometimes when we think we’ve played a shit show, people tell us it’s our best stuff or the other way around.
Does it make you more uncomfortable to know that specific people are in the crowd?
Rob Kolar: I think it used to be that way—like in the beginning. But we’ve just had so many times where someone is going to come to the show and then they don’t that I think at this point we just do what we do.
Patrick O’Connor: You tend to get yourself in trouble when you overthink things.
Felipe Ceballos: Just got to rock!
You’re going on so late on Saturday!
Rob Kolar: Well, its Astra Heights’ CD release and they’re playing at eleven so we either play at ten or at midnight and we rather get the drunken people riled up. And no band likes to go after us!

Originally published on LARecord.com: Lemon Sun / LA Record

Lemon Sun @ Hotel Cafe

Gotta love a jam session before the real show to get you ready for the real thing.  But with Lemon Sun, the music and the talent blend in so well that you can hardly tell the difference between the real thing and practice. The stage was filled to the edge with five full-grown men and eventually even a tap dancer, Lauren Brown. Lemon Sun had the comfortably packed room excited for more before they had even started.  “We are Lemon Sun, nice to meet you,” said lead singer, Rob Kolar, as the band dropped straight into their first song “Congratulate The Thievery.”  A perfect mesh of harmonious vocals, guitars, bass, drums, piano and even a trumpet made their performance worthy of more that just the cramped stage at Hotel Café.  Their presence in the room was much bigger than they were, and judging by the lack of sweat, I’d say they do it without even lifting a finger. For a crowd originally expecting a calm acoustic set, Lemon Sun took the audience through an amazing dream sequence.

Hotel Cafe has designed itself like an old jazz club, with tables near the stage and standing room in the back.  This may have proven beneficial for Lemon Sun, however, putting them in more of a spotlight and enhancing their presence.  This was most obvious during “Fall For You,” their semi-love song that made even the guys in the room feel like they were the You the song refers to.  Kolar’s continuous smiles throughout the song gave both the song and performance even more credibility. As the set moved from a ska sound to a more blues-y vibe, the band relaxed, emitting a Southern feeling to the Hollywood crowd.  Laura Brown’s tap dancing added to the realness of this sudden dip into the South and gave the band a very unique addition to their live performance. It is clear these guys didn’t just find each other on Craigslist.  The vibe they give off during their performance implies a much deeper relationship and talent. Lemon Sun successfully incorporates music through the decades to produce a very likeable performance. Their eleven-song set ended in what seemed to be a rock opera, including a cover of “Melt With You,” with a strobe light, Felipe Ceballos on his feet slamming the drums and the whole stage illuminating the dim room with their energy.  It is no surprise that Lemon Sun is essentially based on a dream Kolar once had—by the end of a set, they have glided you through your own dream sequence leaving you refreshed and desiring more.

—Britt Witt

Originally posted on LARecord.com: Lemon Sun / LA Record 1