With song titles like “PS I’m Horny” and “Dexter’s Meth Lab,” not to mention live shows with enough energy to wear out a sugar-rushed toddler, Light Beam Rider is almost too much fun to handle. LBR’s alt-indie style is an unexpected gift from their Corinth, Miss. hometown. They just released their new album “A Place to Sleep Among the Creeps,” so we sat down with the Nashville-based band to probe their roots and experience as an indie band in the South.
Courtney Creel: When I saw you guys at Rick’s opening for The Weeks, I couldn’t look away. I had no idea who you were, but I knew I needed to find out. How do you prep for a live show?
Thomas Sweat: Drink a few whiskeys, hang out, look for napkins to write down setlists and sneak away at the most inopportune times to do vocal warm-ups.
Jesse Sutton: Beers. Try to get hyped up and imitate the karate Avery is doing.
CC: How did Light Beam Rider start?
TS: In high school I was in a screamo band with some college dudes called “On My Honor.” When we broke up, I wanted to do something that I had a little more say-so in, so I just called some friends and wrote some songs in my dad’s basement. Then we played some shows and recorded an album.
CC: Where did you get your name?
TS: I was kind of going through a weird time in my head, and I started reading this autobiography about Albert Einstein. The first chapter was called “The Light Beam Rider,” because when Einstein was young, he wondered what it would be like to travel alongside a light beam and that thought is what sparked his interest in science. I thought that was pretty rad.
CC: If you had to classify LBR into one genre, what would it be?
TS: Human music. If you watch Rick and Morty, you’ll get it.
CC: If you could be any animal in the world, what would that be?
TS: Hipster Bigfoot. I’d dress so cool and no one would ever see me.
JS: A raccoon. Who doesn’t love a trash panda?
CC: How would you describe the sound of your new album compared to Mississippi? Is the finished product everything you hoped it would be?
JS: I feel like we really got into this darker overall sound. I think all that ’90s grunge started rubbing off on us.
TS: I don’t think anyone is ever fully satisfied with a new album. Sometimes it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard, and then sometimes I think I should just scrap it and start completely over. <laughs> I thinks it’s this crippling self doubt that artists sometimes go through that really pushes people to create the best material they can. You kind of have to separate yourself from an album for a long period of time before you can listen to it without judgment.
CC: What do you want to do differently for the next album?
TS: We just finished recording six tracks for an EP. I hope to just keep refining our sound and spend way more time recording demos and expanding on song ideas, not just stick to classic song structures. I really just want to do something great.
CC: Where are your favorite places to play live shows or tour? Is it the crowds, the venue, the vibes?
TS: We love wherever live music is played, but if we had to choose, Proud Larry’s in Oxford sits most fondly in our hearts. We had our first large and mega-rowdy shows there.
CC: How is Nashville?
TS: It’s a tough city to crack since there are so many bands, but luckily we had some homies here already who were doing cool stuff in the music scene. Now we’re starting to get a lot of local blog attention, and we’re getting put on way better line-ups. We opened up for Into it. Over it. [an indie rock solo project] and Free Throw in December, and we were super stoked we got asked to be on that show. Things are looking bright.
CC: Who are your biggest musical influences or people you just love to listen to?
JS: As of late Kendrick Lamar, Colour Revolt and Foals have been heavily on repeat.
TS: Lately, I’ve been listening to Modern Baseball, Free Throw, Microwave, Pup, Future Islands, The Cure and old Modest Mouse.
CC: If you could plan your own music festival, what would you call it, where would you have it and who would your dream line-up be?
TS: I would have it somewhere at a lake, and it would be just a bunch of old emo bands. I’d call it “Suburban Blues Festival.”
JS: All efforts in making my own music festival would be futile. “The Gathering of the Juggalos” reigns supreme in my book.
CC: What bands have you traveled with? What is it like traveling in a confined space with a bunch of dudes? What can you absolutely not travel without?
TS: Recently, we’ve traveled with a cool band called Ed Monk from Louisville. We also did a tour with The Whigs awhile back, and they were super tight. They are such a well-oiled machine, and it was rad learning from them. We’ve also played shows with Free Throw and Microwave, which have become two of my favorite bands. Traveling in our van is pretty greasy. We’re always fighting a battle against a trash mountain. However, we have a TV in there now so that’s pretty tight. We watch a lot of old horror flicks on it, and I could absolutely not travel without headphones and the biggest bottle of Tums money can buy.
CC: What’s your favorite song to perform live? What’s the story behind it?
JS: “Crawling in My Brains.” ’Lotta energy to that one. It’s about a serial killer.
TS: “A Place to Sleep Among the Creeps.” It’s about trying to not worry about the unknowns in life and trying to be content with just having the best time possible with your friends. I kind of freak myself out a lot worrying about spiritual shit that I can’t even control, so I just try not to think about it much anymore.
CC: What’s the one thing you miss most when you’re on the road?
TS: My girlfriend — and responsible drinking habits.
JS: My bed.
CC: So what crazy shit have you had to deal with on tour?
TS: When our old drummer Ian was in the band, he was always getting us into some crazy shit, but with the new lineup, we’ve been pretty calm and responsible. <laughs>
CC: OK, you have to elaborate on that for me.
TS: One of our first times in New Orleans, we ended up at a super sketchy strip club on a Monday night. We ended up being the only ones throwing money, so we got completely plastered while hanging with some less than ideal women. <laughs> Our old guitar player ended up running to the bathroom and puking in the urinal. He actually completely filled it up. When he came out, he just said, “She’s full”. Jesse and I had to carry him all the way down Bourbon Street until we got a taxi to take us back to Magazine Street, where we were staying. We ended up passing out on a couch on this dude’s front porch where we got rained on all night. We were so out of it, the rain didn’t even wake us up and we got up soaking wet.