Pick Of The Week - Lilys
Melody Maker, January 24, 1998


It's pop music, but not as we know it ...

(Band photo - left to right - Dave, Kurt, Aaron and Michael - caption - "Lilys? What kinda name is that?)

"We're living in a country that's churning out so much food for so many people that soil is being depleted of its nutrients. In 1922, a bowl of spinach had 144 micrograms of iron, whereas now it's only 27. People eat Doritos and soda for breakfast and wonder why they have no energy!"

OK, it's not your average point of discussion, but Lilys are not your average band. And 24-year-old Kurt Heasley is definitely not your average frontman. He doesn't even know the meaning of the word.

"In my last interview, I was asked who my contemporaries are and because I deal with archaeological digs from 12,000 years ago, 2,000 years seems recent. So I'm thinking Ray Charles and Carl Perkins," he enthuses. "The interviewer, though, wanted someone now. I mean, they aren't even dead, so they must be recent. They're my contemporaries. The only young band that I respect and who have a singer almost as bad as me is Belle & Sebastian. Of course, they're from Scotland where my relatives are from ...". And he's off again.

You've heard Lilys already. They're the hip-wiggling, sound of summer, the ram-a-lama two-minute rush of single "Nanny In Manhattan" which adorns the new Levi's white tab advert. It's the one which sounds like Beck covering the Beach Boys with Austin Powers mixing cocktails at the bar.

As we know, any Levi's band is the next big thing, right?

"Well, we wrote the record three years ago, recorded it quickly and didn't take enough time over it. We didn't really car about it and then Roman Coppola who was a friend of a friend wanted a specific sound, well the sound of young America so, of course, he chose our song!"

And how would you feel about having a worldwide hit on your hands?

"It's funny, you know. The bassline was written by my ex-girlfriend. Her band was given like half a million dollars to record for a major label and yet ended up selling only five thousand records. The fact that she just rattled out this bassline in one minute when we were having sex and playing guitar naked makes it seem really ironic. That's the way to write songs, man, because they'll always mean something tu you afterwards!"

With an ever changing line-up since their conception on America's East Coast five years ago, Lilys have grown into a five-piece act unashamed to steal from The Kinks, The Monkees and Brian Wilson, although not The Beatles ("Why would anyone want to sound like The Beatles?"), yet still sound fresh, new and completely modern. This is illustrated on last year's "Better Can't Make Your Life Better", the third album that saw Lilys leap from layered broodiness to mind-bending, poppy quirksters.

"I don't want to appear soppy, but I know that I'm going to come over all Paul McCartney-ish in a minute. OK, the woman I was having a relationship with when we recorded "Eccsame The Photon Band" (Lilys' second, more downbeat album) left me for a younger man. I didn't have the head-space for making a bright, chipper album like my real inner personality. The next one was recorded in the summer with a full band, it was much more up. And you know what? Jerry Garcia died on my birthday so I was like 'Hey! Let's write another song!' My original peer group was the late Eighties British music scene, stuff like Slowdive, Ride and Kevin Shields. Now, though, I've gone back to the stuff that I listened to as a kid : Link Wray and rock'n'roll."

Kurt could well be the next perfect pop star. And you'd certainly never hear Stiltskin and Babylon Zoo discussing musical trends within Islam or conducting improvised sociological studies on Pittsburgh down the phone.

"Even if it goes all wrong," he chuckles, pausing for the first time in 30 minutes, "we'll still come back home and be pop stars ..."

Pay attention : this man speaks the truth.

BEN MYERS

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