Interview ~ John Strickland of Lullwater

Athens, Georgia rockers Lullwater have been called many things during their career, some of which we can’t even print, but I am pretty sure that they’ve never been called psychic until recently. A track on their latest album Revival entitled “American Glutton” has been referred to by some as the “pissed off” song. The album was released on October 23, 2015 and that song has suddenly become even more relevant that it was when the guys wrote it roughly two years ago. I mean, were they channeling the current events of 2017 back in 2015 and knew exactly what they were doing when the y wrote the song or is it just pure coincidence? Call it what you want to, but the release of the song and its accompanying video has put the spotlight back on these guys and their kick-ass album Revival. In today’s industry of short attention spans, this chain of events is a welcome sight for any band and especially for this band who are one of the best bands to come out of Athens, Georgia in a very long time. We caught up with lead vocalist John Strickland recently and we talked about “American Glutton” and its video as well as the band’s upcoming plans.

John Strickland/Lullwater: What did you think of the new video?

I remember first looking at the press release and thinking ‘oh cool, Lullwater has a new song out’.’ Then, I did a double take and thought ‘ this isn’t new; this is the pissed off song from Revival!’

Very much so and it’s funny because you’re right, it’s not a new song. People tell us that they like the new song, but we released that record in October/November of 2015. The timing was perfect thought; we knew that we had to do a video for “American Glutton” because it’s just out of control right now. It’s very relevant, for sure.

I love the monitors that are behind you guys in the video and the imagery that you used. It’s one of those videos where you don’t catch everything the first time that you watch it. What made you decide to release a video for this song at this point?

Honestly, our bass player Ray (Beatty) told us that we needed to do it and everyone else was all for it and then it really came together. Ray had the initial idea to do some sort of video for the song because of how relevant it is and then we got ahold of our videographer Jason Thrasher who is a total bad-ass. He’s done a lot of work with REM and Drive By Truckers and he also did our “Albatross” video. We tossed around ideas about projection screens and throwing images up on that and then it ended up progressing and becoming the way it is now. So, let’s do forty old tvs and in theory it’s a great idea until you have to load those tvs during two days of prep. It was just us and Jason and we pretty much did everything ourselves. It was a lot of tvs and everything was working and then it kind of dawned on us. The metaphor in this video is that it’s all static; you’re getting static from the major news media and all of this bombardment of content and media. It represents everything from pop culture, Facebook, Instagram, social media and how everything is being shoved down our throats. I think that played into the video better than any other video that we’ve done. I think that between the video and the message of the song that they really connected. They’re synonymous with each other now; when you think of the song you’re going to think of that video.

It’s crazy to think how relevant it is and you wrote it over two years ago.

It’s never a hard thing to write about corrupt political organizations of corrupt financial establishments because those will always be around. I think of how polarized this election was and how passionate and crazy everybody got about the political landscape. It had its time and place and I’m glad that we recorded it two years ago, but for some reason with everything that was going on in current society, it just really hit. For me, and I think all of us were saying more or less that it’s not necessarily an anti-Trump video because it’s conveying what we’ve been saying. Trump comes in and who the hell knows how we’re even in this shit today, but the fact that it happened and we’re talking about politics and the corrupt financial institutions. A lot of that song for me was based on 2008 and the scandals with the Lehman Brothers and the recession. I’m 33 and I remember that period of time when it was really tough on everybody. I’ve been pissed about it ever since and that song was the outlet for it. When Trump was elected, we were talking about a lot of the same things that affect people every day, regardless of whether you’re into politics or not. I try not to be very political myself because I’m a skeptic when it comes to any kind of political party or whatever; I’m not a trusting person when it comes to the political leaders of our country and I never have been.

Have you guys experienced any backlash from the video?

You know, not as much as thought; we knew going into it that with the message that we were conveying through the video that it was going to cause a stir. In our way of looking at it, that’s what rock and roll is. If you can’t say what you mean or something that may be controversial or not welcome by some fans, then that’s just a risk that we’ll have to take because we’re being true to ourselves. Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad and for the most part people have been very supportive about it.

These days, the whole political correctness thing has gotten way out of hand and everyone seems to get butt hurt over something. You just have to stay true to yourselves and go out and do what you have to do.

I agree and I was actually in a conversation with someone; one of my idols and favorite band’s is Pearl Jam. I mean, look at Eddie Vedder; if anybody knows anything about Pearl Jam then they know that Eddie Vedder is very outspoken when it comes to social issues and issues that he is passionate about. I remember back in 92 or 93 when he wrote Pro Choice on his arm and it wasn’t taken very lightly. He’s always had that kind of punk rock attitude and we’re no different. You can only write about love songs and getting hammered and shit like that in rock music today until it gets nauseating. As a writer and lyricist, I take value in deeper topics and that’s what I’m thinking about; we approach social, political and current issues a lot more than some bands we know. It’s not necessarily the most popular thing to write about, but at the same time we have to remain true to ourselves.

I like fluff music every now and then, but dammit I eventually need something to sink my teeth into!

Me too man; I love me some fluff and if anybody says they don’t then they’re crazy.

Has the touring cycle for Revival ended or has this song and video breathed a little more life into it?

It’s not the end of the touring cycle; we’re pretty much waiting on the call from management right now. We don’t know anything for certain yet, but we have a lot of irons in the fire per say. We’re going to try and do as many shows as possible between April and August and there may be some festival stuff in the works which we’re really pumped about. After August, we’re going to be strictly focused on doing a new record. It’s been too long and everybody’s antsy. Revival was great and it did well, but you can only listen to your favorite record so many times. I like Pearl Jam, but come on dudes, give me some new music.

Are you guys doing any prep work for the new album or do you wait until you’re off the road to start writing?

It’s going to be a little different on this record; we’re writing now but there are going to be different parts. It’s going to shift a little bit, but we want to get the majority of the new record written before it’s recorded and then tour on it a little bit. We want to see where the songs take life in a live setting. In the past we’ve written songs and then went into the studio and put the tracks down, but they’re going to change when you tour the live. You’re going to have different reactions to them and they’re going to be played differently. Once you play that song fifty or sixty times in front of a live crowd, it’s going to shift and kind of take a new form. We have a new guitar player now and Daniel Binnie is going to be to adding a lot of creativity to the new record. The guy’s a total bad-ass and he has so much to offer the band because he’s also such a great songwriter. It’ll be the Lullwater style that we already have with Daniel’s input on the sound, so it’s very exciting.

You recorded your first album in Seattle and Revival in Texas. Is it too early to tell where this one may be recorded at?

I don’t know and it’s all up in the air right now; we were actually joking about this while we were on tour. Texas was a great location for us because it was in the middle of nowhere and away from everything. It was in a pecan orchard in the middle of nowhere and it was immaculate; it was almost like a compound. We had full maid and cook service in this incredible studio and we were in this adobe house which was about a half a mile from the main house. We were isolated and we had nothing to do except focus on the music and being creative. We did a record in Seattle and it was mostly work and not a lot of play, so it’s good for Lullwater to be isolated. If you put us in a city or near a bar somewhere, then we’re going to get in trouble. Texas is definitely on the forefront because it was such a great experience for us, but we are looking at some other studios through some other contacts.

Pick up your copy of Revival HERE

If you’re game, we’d like to throw some really tough questions at you before we have to take off. Are you a binge watcher of anything?

I don’t really watch tv on the road, so I wait until I get home to watch it with my girlfriend. Stranger Things was one of my favorites and it was incredible; I can’t wait for the second one to come out. As of lately, I really haven’t been watching much tv.

Do you remember the first album that you bought with your own money?

Offspring Smash was the first CD that I ever had, Pearl Jam Ten was my second and Green Day Dookie was my third.

If you could perform with any artist that is no longer with us, who would you choose to perform with?

That is a tough one, but I think my first go-to would be Kurt Cobain. With me being a 90s kid and the love of the whole Seattle rock scene, it would be Kurt and probably Layne Staley.

Last one: toilet paper over or under?

Over dude, for sure; under pisses me off. It’s a pet peeve and the OCD or something kicks in and I’m not going to have that. I had this conversation before and you can tell a lot about a person by how they like their toilet paper.

Lullwater is: John Strickland (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Roy ‘Ray’ Beatty (bass/vocals), Joseph Wilson (drums/vocals) and Daniel Binnie (lead guitar/vocals).

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