Lemuria Crosses Over to the Punk Side

The Buffalo-based band Lemuria’s smart, indie-leaning rock and strong pop sensibilities aren’t automatically associated with Bridge 9 Records, the home to a slew of influential hardcore bands from Agnostic Front to Sick of It All… until now.

Lemuria, a trio comprised of guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella, drummer/vocalist Alex Kerns and bassist Max Gregor, signed to the Boston punk indie label months ago and are already out with their first release, the full length Pebble. The record was produced by J Robbins (Government Issue, Jawbox, Channels and a several other bands you should already know about).

With a (relatively) new bass player and new album to flog, Lemuria is about to hit the road for the first part of 2011, but Alex Kerns answered a few questions before loading up the van.

Innocent Words: What was behind the decision to sign to Bridge 9? It’s a great label, but seems like an odd pairing.

Alex Kerns: At first glance, it does seem like an odd pairing because the genres represented on Bridge 9.  But the way the label is run, and the way we run our band, makes the Lemuria/B9 pairing a perfect match.  We had asked around to a bunch of friends who have worked with different labels, and the most consistent praise was directed toward Bridge 9.  So far, we have been very impressed with them!

IW: Did you start working on Pebble before signing to the label?

Kerns: We had a few songs completely finished, but for the most part, we wrote the album prior to the leaving for our 2010 summer tour, which had an intermission of recording with J Robbins in Baltimore.  We had talked with Bridge 9 a long time ago about the possibility and then followed up to see if they were still interested when we started writing the new songs.

IW: Lyrically, Get Better seemed a bit darker than some of the earlier releases. How does Pebble compare to Get Better?

Kerns: Get Better was dark because it was covering some pretty sad topics. Pebble is pretty dark as well, maybe darker.  This time around there is a little more anger and resentment shown through the lyrics.  But at the same time, we feel musically Pebble is a little more upbeat than Get Better.  Both albums are pretty optimistic, which hopefully balances out the topics!

IW: Did you know all along you wanted J Robbins to produce this one?

Kerns: We have always known that we wanted to work with J Robbins, but we didn’t always know it was an option. I randomly sent him an e-mail one day that I found on his website, with a link to our music, simply asking if he was interested.  He responded promptly, and we set some dates, and we were very excited.

IW: What was he like to work with?

Kerns: Very easygoing and relaxed atmosphere to work in.  Also, we loved how open he was to our weird ideas, even the ones that clearly weren’t going to work.  We definitely walked away from that studio with exactly what we wanted our recording to be.

IW: You guys have had some bass player changes recently. Is Max Gregor now the full-time bassist? What happened to Kyle Paton?

Kerns: Max is our full-time bass player.  He has been there for us since the first weekend tour Lemuria ever did outside of our state.  Being one of the most supportive people, we were excited to have him be a part of the group.  Kyle went on one U.S. tour with us, which Max was our roadie for.  He went home to visit his family in Canada, where he is a citizen, and when he tried to return back to the U.S. to play some shows with us, the border patrol said no.

Kyle wasn’t exactly legally doing everything he was doing in the U.S., including his residency, job, and they considered Lemuria another employment.  Kyle had talked a great deal about how he wanted to someday get everything legit, but it’s very expensive.  Unfortunately, they caught him before he could get on his feet himself.

IW: Do you guys plan to tour much behind the new record?

Kerns: Definitely.  We’re immediately doing a tour when the album comes out.  We’re also already planning our spring and summer.  Europe, Japan and Australia are all in the works for 2011.  We’re excited to be playing these new songs live!

IW: What’s next for the band?

Kerns: Touring! We’re also going to make a handful of music videos for songs from Pebble.  This is new to us.  We also have a split 7-inch with Cheap Girls coming out on No Idea Records.  That should also be coming out sometime this winter.  But for the most part, we just want to play a ton of shows right now.