Courtesy of Tobin Voggesser
Jesse Miller, bassist for the instrumental band Lotus, is an instinctive musician. His desire to write and perform music comes from a deep need for artistic fulfillment.
“For me music is just the highest art form,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s just something I have to do.”
Miller and the rest of Lotus will be closing out Halloween weekend in Columbus with their performance at the Newport Music Hall Sunday at 7 p.m.
The band has been touring to promote its new full-length, self-titled album, which was released on Sept. 13.
With Miller on bass, Mike Rempel on guitar, Luke Miller on guitar and keyboard and Mike Greenfield on the drums, Lotus has typical rock-band instrumentation. However, its heavy synth-driven tracks, its use of samples, and the overall sound of its music puts the band in a genre of its own.
“(Our sound) encompasses so many different things,” Jesse Miller said. “I don’t think we fit into any genre very easily.”
One way to describe them would be as an electronic-dance-jam-rock band.
Its live shows are centered around heavy improvisation.
“It’s usually a surprise not only for the audience, but also for us what exactly is going to happen,” Jesse Miller said. “And I think there’s a dangerous element to that, which makes the show much more exciting.”
But Lotus doesn’t use this technique during live performances only. It also plays a big part in its creation of material for its albums.
“It’s almost like studio improvisation,” Jesse Miller said of the band’s song writing process. “(The song) kind of shapes itself as the process continues.”
Though Lotus has been playing together for more than 11 years, its sound still continues to evolve.
“I think part of innovating and trying on new things is constantly questioning what you’re doing and if you can improve on it,” Jesse Miller said. “I think that’s basically what drives the creativity.”
Another unique aspect of a live Lotus performance is its method for delivering vocals.
“We don’t sing live, but when we have tracks with vocals we treat them like other instruments that we don’t have on stage,” Jesse Miller said, explaining that the vocals heard during live performances are pre-recorded samples that he triggers with a foot pedal.
“Sometimes we’ll do them ourselves, but a lot of times we write songs and then have guest singers sing the parts,” Jesse Miller said. “Then we bring that into the studio and mix everything and add that as a sample source for the live show.”
Jesse Miller explained that even though in today’s digital world, much of music has shifted its focus from full length albums to smaller releases, such as singles and EPs, Lotus remains old-school.
“Things have been changing at lighting-fast speed,” Jesse Miller said. “But I still really believe in the album and think that it’s something that should be listened to straight through.”
Jesse Miller said he is extremely satisfied with the new album. He even went as far as to compare it to some of the band’s biggest milestones, such as headlining at the famous Red Rocks Ampitheatre near Denver and playing at Bonnaroo, a music festival.
“I think it’s the best album we’ve made,” Jesse Miller said.
Lotus is constantly making new music. They have even written many new songs since the album was released, which they have been debuting on the tour.
Also, they will be performing tracks from the “Oil on Glass” EP at Sunday’s show.
“We’ve never performed (these songs) live before,” Jesse Miller said. “So Columbus will be our first time playing them.”
Though she was unfamiliar with Lotus, Corrine Stillman, a fourth-year in exercise science education, thinks the concert sounds like a great way to spend her Sunday evening.
“I actually love electronic music,” Stillman said. “I think it’s the best type of music out there. It’s creative, unique and a lot of fun to dance to. Even though it’s on a Sunday doesn’t make a difference to me, I love Sunday fun-days.”
Tickets for the performance are $18 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.