After drinking margaritas and toying with the notion of crossing the Mexican-American border, indie pop-rockers Lemuria packed into the band’s van, traveling from El Paso to Phoenix for the next destination of their winter tour.
The trio has been through this routine many times since the band’s inception in 2004; however, given the context of the 2017 presidential election, this time around provides a different context. The bandmates aren’t just travelling through the United States playing their music at small venues; they are simultaneously exposing themselves to the unrest and insurrection that resulted from a clash of political opposition.
“The kind of stuff that’s going on now is nothing we’ve never had to experience before, in my opinion, with conversations turning hostile, turning violent … there’s a lot of feelings from both sides that could be very hard to communicate with,” said lead singer and guitarist Sheena Ozzella. “I think it’s important to just have conversations with people. The country is so divided.”
D.C. has traditionally been Ozzella’s home city—she is a Silver Spring, Maryland, native—as well as one that supports her political stance (90 percent of D.C. voters opted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton). Touring has provided her and her bandmates with the opportunity to become vulnerable to conflicting views, an initiative Ozzella believes more people should be willing to take.
“D.C. is very much a comfort blanket for my personal political opinions, so to step outside of the city and see some of the cities that I feel are tricky to be in is definitely eye-opening,” she said. “It either puts pep in your step to do something about it—which I think a lot of people are doing now—or at least allows you to try to converse with people who don’t think the same things as you.
D.C. is a bubble. I think a lot of the East Coast is a bubble, [and] it can be a comfortable bubble to be in. You’ve got to get out. You’ve got to see some crazy shit.”
Lemuria — compiled of Ozzella, drummer Alex Kerns and bassist Max Gregor — is touring in celebration of the 10th anniversary of their first LP, Get Better. Playing the album in its entirety is a surprising milestone for the group that Ozzella describes as having a “unique, soulmate, musical connection.”
“It’s kind of crazy when you really think about how long you’ve been doing something, how long something’s been out, how long you’ve been playing that song. It’s definitely a reason to liberate,” she said.
The group has previously toured with bands like Against Me!, Screaming Females, The Menzingers and Tigers Jaw, amongst others. This time, they are embarking on their celebratory excursion with Philadelphia all-female rock band Cayetana and long-time friend Mikey Erg.
“We wanted to make it very much a friend tour, and a fun little party package,” Ozzella said.
Like the many bands before them, Ozzella notes the most difficult part of tour as sleep deprivation–and, in turn, the growing dependence on coffee.
“The lack of sleep is usually the worst part of tour. Sometimes you don’t know where you’re gonna sleep—[well, okay] we’re all adults, if we have to we’ll get a hotel—but sometimes you don’t get to sleep until three or four in the morning and then you’ve got a long drive the next day,” Ozzella said.
“I’m starting to definitely feel the effects of not getting the pristine eight hours of sleep. We do have to function as is, but that’s why there is coffee.”
To combat the unhealthy habits, the group wants to incorporate light yoga into their pre-show ritual. Ozzella, however, realizes that that goal may be easier said than done.
“I think we all want that to be a routine thing you do before shows. It really gets you in the right mode to move around and open your vocal cords,” she said. “It’s the thing you’re supposed to do, but you never do because it’s exercise, you know?”
Known to “often frequent the Taco Bell [on Route One]” and Ten Ren’s Tea Time, Ozzella will be returning to the nation’s capital with Lemuria this Sunday, Feb. 19 at D.C.’s Black Cat, one of her favorite venues in the country. The fact that her husband works sound at the venue makes the space that much more “homelike.”
“It’s got the best of everything. I love that place,” she said.
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Piece originally published by The Writer’s Bloc on February 15, 2017.