Lotus will kick off its “Gilded Age Tour” in State College next week with a unique blend of rock and electronic music.
The tour supports Lotus’ most recent album, “Gilded Age.” The multi-genre band and infuses elements of rock, electronica, jazz, jam, hip-hop and funk influenced by the improvisational styles of Phish, the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead. And while Lotus strives to experiment with a diverse set of genres, its basic sound will always be rooted in rock ‘n’ roll.
This tour will be a celebration of Lotus’ past, but also pushes forward into new musical territory. The idea of the new album was to advance the band’s live rock sound, with most of the tracks recorded live in the studio to tape with very few overdubs.
“The instrumentation leans to the more organic — guitar, piano and strings,” said bassist Jesse Miller. “There is a little bit of drum machine, but otherwise it’s a very traditional rock sound. We’ve done that to some degree before, but our last few albums were heavier on synthesizers, so we wanted to go in a slightly different direction.”
In spite of the band’s various influences, Miller said he sees it all as an extension of rock, especially because their instrumentation is guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. What makes the sound of the band unique is the combination of composition and improvisation. Most bands tend to focus more on one or the other, but Lotus strives for a balance between those two sides of performance.
“A big part of making something our own is the melodic element — we always try to have strong melodies,” Miller said. “So even if we are using a beat that is inspired by a Chicago House record, we’ll still have a melody of some sort over it. I don’t think we ever try to sound exactly like any given genre of music, but we do like to take elements of composition from different places to make something entirely new that works for us.”
Live music often can be a cathartic experience, what Miller believes is the biggest draw for Lotus’ shows.
“If everything comes together in the right way, it can be very moving,” he said. “We constantly hear stories of people meeting their future husbands or wives, crying during certain songs or experiencing pure joy at shows. We didn’t set out to do any of that. We just try to craft and perform the best music we can knowing that music can be very powerful.”