Ultra-keen Lemuria fans have a holiday surprise on the way to their mailboxes: the band's brand new LP, Recreational Hate.
Earlier this year, the band began selling pre-orders to three different "secret LP" offerings. The first turned out to be the band's demo CD-R, pressed onto one side of vinyl. The second was a seven-inch of outtakes from the trio's debut, Get Better.
But for the third package, they wanted to reward loyal fans. "We wanted to surprise everybody," drummer and songwriter Alex Kerns tells Exclaim! "People blindly purchased something and had faith in us to some degree that we weren't going to give them the worst live album." Instead they'll receive a physical copy of a heretofore unannounced LP (the record arrives digitally on December 15 and gets a physical release in February).
But there was an ulterior motive behind the move; after fulfilling their contract to Bridge 9, through which the band released their last two albums, Kerns, guitarist Sheena Ozzella and bass player Max Gregor wanted to bring "everything in-house" and start their own label. "We didn't feel like doing a Kickstarter," says Kerns. "This just seemed like a way to fund it."
The band's first record in over four years, Kerns describes Recreational Hate as a "candid portrait of us. All of us had had some pretty big life-changes recently"; he and Ozzella both married their respective partners. "A lot of the songs are us trying to figure out who we are, trying to figure out who we were in the world."
For Kerns, that meant coming to terms with the fact he and his wife did not want children and the disappointment that caused his family. "My mom will read into songs and then we'll have a night, like probably this Christmas, where she's had a couple wines and she'll get the courage to ask me what that song's all about. But sometimes those songs will be a good catalyst — that sparks the conversation whereas neither of us would have had the courage to bring it up otherwise.
"It might seem kind of cowardly," he says, "but it works."
Chris Shaw, who's worked with everyone from Bob Dylan and A Tribe Called Quest to Weezer and Modest Mouse produced about 75 percent of the record at Arlyn Studios in Austin, TX, with J. Robbins returning to finish the final 25 percent in Baltimore. Kerns liked Shaw's try-anything attitude, which resulted in an expanded sonic palette that includes pedal steel guitar and trumpet. "I've always been a big fan of the Clash's London Calling and Sandinista! where they just stepped away from being a straight punk band," he says. "We're in Austin, there are lots of great players here — let's see if anybody has some cool things to contribute."
Not that Lemuria have ever been a band to rest on their laurels, nor have they ever been easily slotted into a particular genre. "We always feel like the odd band out," he admits. It's what's enabled them to tour with pop-punk and indie bands while being signed to a labels most commonly associated with ska (Asian Man) and hardcore (Bridge 9).
"That's one of the reasons we chose to do our own label," he says. "So that we could brand ourselves."
Recreational Hate is available here on Turbo Worldwide and will get a physical release in February 2018.