Aussie metal outfit Lillye recently released their debut album, Evolve, from which, the band have been fairly sought after, featuring in a plethora of magazines and even on Australian heavy metal review channel The Hard Rock Show. In anticipation of the heightened attention towards Lillye, we managed to squeeze in a quick interview with the group to see what makes them tick. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Simple things first – What is your name, and what do you do in the band?
Matt Ellis, the guitarist.
Where are you guys from?
How did you meet?
From my perspective, a few years back, Christian (bass), who I’d played with in previous bands, and myself were on a similar wavelength in looking to write some new material with female vocals at the forefront. There was a recording session one day at Christian’s, Machine Men Studio, for a tribute album of some description where Virginia came in as a guest vocalist and had an immediate impact on him, not just vocally but as a presence. Soon after (a few minutes at least), I get a message from Christian along the lines of “check this out, man, you will be impressed”. So I checked it out, and [it] was tripping. We got together and wrote a few tunes, sent them to Virginia, who then put some magic on them and sent them back. They sounded killer, so we got Bennet (drums) on board and started jamming the songs that would become our first EP.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Our first live performance was back in 2013.
Before you get sick of being asked… Where does the band name come from?
It wasn’t a difficult naming process. Our illustrious vocalist is Virginia Lillye (pronounced Lill-ee), which became the most logical choice for a band name. Especially after we realized that the rest of us had an abundance of L’s I’s and E’s in our surnames. Also, the juxtaposition between the flower and the type of music we were creating provided quite a powerful contrast.
What are your influences?
We are all from very diverse musical backgrounds but have a common liking for bands such as Skunk Anansie, Tool, Sevendust, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Van Halen, and Pantera.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
There’s plenty of energy, passion, soaring melodies, catchy choruses, groove, hard-edged riffs, with a few twists and turns along the way. So maybe adrenaline-infused melodious hard rock with a twist.
Due to Virginia’s background, there is also a nod to the theatrical side (not in a cheesy Meatloaf kind of way), which we think is a great point of difference.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Lyrically we use personal experiences/observations that most people can identify with. The breakdown side of relationships, disconnection of society due to technology, pressure to conform and follow draconian rules, the battle to find a sense of self. Connecting with people on a lyrical level is hugely important to us.
What’s your live show like?
Well, the live reviews we’ve been receiving recently have been awesome with the focus generally on high energy, tightness, playing each show as if it were a stadium, and Virginia’s penchant for getting amongst the crowd, either jumping around with them or climbing anything in the venue, whilst still belting out her challenging vocal lines.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
We were invited to perform for Australian and US troops on a military training exercise a few years back in Northern Queensland. First show of the tour we get driven to the “venue”, which was an open field in the middle of isolated bushland, in a brand new tank. During soundcheck I looked out and there were thousands of uniformed troops heading towards the stage in a cloud of dust. Totally surreal experience.
Would love to mention the debaucherous adventures, but they are a little more frequent.
What kit do you use/guitars do you play/etc.?
Gear wise we use, Fender Stratocaster guitars, Kramer bass, Sleishman drums and Shure microphones. Although I did use a Valley Arts guitar on some of the album recording sessions.
What are your plans for 2018?
Well, we have just released our debut album Evolve through Eclipse records, which is the focus at the moment. We have a new video coming out soon for the song “Chained”, following on from videos for “Run” and “In the End”, as well as one or two more from the album. There have been a few album release shows, including a raucous night in Sydney. Big support show coming up with Canadian rock legends, Theory Of A Deadman, in Sydney as well as some cool festival dates in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Trying to spread the word and garner as much exposure as possible. Also writing material for the next album.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Tough question, using bands that are still cranking. I’ll go with Alice in Chains to headline and Screaming Eagle, cool young rockers who supported us on our recent album release show in Canberra and Gilby Clarke tour last year, to open proceedings.
Evolve is out now and is available to buy here.