Lotus lights up the Orange Peel during Gilded Age Tour

By Katelynn Watkins – kwatkins@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Feb. 11, 2015 |

What does a band do to celebrate its 10th anniversary debut of a breakout album? Release a remastered version and go on tour, of course. Lotus is no exception.

Originally from Indiana, the band fostered their sounds while attending a tiny liberal arts school, said Luke Miller, Lotus guitarist and keys player. Reaching this milestone was an interesting experience for him and the rest of the band members.

“It makes you feel kind of old,” Miller says, “reaching that many years with the same group of guys, just playing what you think sounds good. But it’s not a bad thing, for sure.”

The original release of “Nomad,” the band’s debut album, had a lot less money invested in it than the remastered version, released Dec. 16 of last year. The difference in quality, Miller says, is evident since the band’s current resources allowed them to release the newest version on white vinyl.

Several weeks into the Gilded Age Tour, Lotus returned to Asheville’s Orange Peel Feb. 6. The venue is a favorite among the members of the band, Miller says.

“We’ve been to Asheville a lot, played at the Peel a lot,” he says. “We always love coming. It’s always been the highlight of the tour.”

Miller says the band’s style has historically been well received by the Asheville crowd, but he refuses to specifically nail down the genre Lotus fits best. From dance-rock to electronica, the band’s music smoothly crosses lines between categories without regard.

Miller isn’t the only one reluctant to pin down Lotus. Lifelong fans and new arrivals to the party alike stumble over labels for it. Elly Cushing, Orange Peel Krewe member, says she first heard the band’s music when the venue announced the date for their recent show.

Having never heard them before beginning her Orange Peel career in August, Cushing says she was shocked to find the show sold out as quickly as it did.

“I’ve realized that Lotus is big enough to have real die-hard fans,” she says. “The show here sold out super fast, and the venue holds 1,150 people.”

Cushing says she identifies Lotus’ style with mostly-upbeat electronic dance music with beats ready to please masses.

“It’s the kind of stuff people can really get down with,” she says. “Plus, they’ve really got a handle on that typical electronic dance music, so even when they’re a little different, people can identify and enjoy what they know.”

Part of what makes Lotus so popular is their versatility, evident when one fan’s description of their music is completely different from another’s. Jensen Salas, a sophomore high school student from South Carolina, says she loves the band’s music because of its ethereal mood.

“I first heard their music on the radio in the car and I was just amazed,” Salas says. “This is actually my first concert – my dad and brother were more than happy to bring me!”

Apparently a love for Lotus runs in the family. Salas said her dad was the one who introduced her and her older brother to the band after he’d been listening to them for several years. A trip to Asheville was a small price for the three of them to pay to enjoy the music live, she said.

As a longtime listener, Salas said her favorite part of Lotus’ music is that its progressive and exciting, yet introspective at the same time. It has a very calming effect, she says.

Whether the band makes you want to jump up and down or sit on a comfortable sofa and slip into the nuances of their sound, Lotus’ influence stretches far beyond the borders of specific preferences. For Miller, the features and the structure of the music have to be connected harmoniously and artistically in order for the song as a whole to be worthwhile for audiences to take the time to listen to.

“I look for inspiration everywhere, but mostly in structures of things like movies and stand-up comedy,” he said. “The unexpected thing that comes out of nowhere, the punch line, that’s what I like to draw from.”

It’s all about the way people react to those punch lines that make them a hit or a flop, Miller said. They try to blend their musical interests by finding what personally inspires them and by pulling in elements from other sources.

“I’ve got this concept of incongruity I like to toss around,” Miller said. “Structure it tightly, make it something people can hold onto, then switch it up and make it something unexpected.”

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