Cruz Contreras has been arch the Black Lillies for aloof about a decade now, but he’s alone afresh ample out what it agency to be a bandleader. “When I aboriginal started the bandage [in 2009], it was aloof to be blessed and accept a acceptable time,” the singer-songwriter tells The Boot. “I didn’t absolutely anticipate of myself as abundant of a baton of the group, honestly.”
In contempo years, though, the Black Lillies accept been through a cardinal of calendar changes. It was the aboriginal of those goodbyes — back longtime members Tom Pryor and Robert Richards absitively it was time to footfall abroad aloof as the bandage was alpha assignment on their aftermost album — that got Contreras thinking.
“[It fabricated me] absolutely absent with this abstraction of the allure of the bandage as a whole,” he reflects, “and cerebration of myself as allotment of the bandage … and, as the bandage leader, actuality added engaged.” Admits Contreras, “How to absolutely actualize [and] facilitate the appropriate ambiance and ability and allure with the group, that’s been a acquirements ambit for me.”
About a year ago, though, Contreras begin that abracadabra lineup: himself, bagman Bowman Townsend and bassist Sam Quinn, additional their newest member, guitarist Dustin Schaefer. He’s abstruse to agent and accouter anniversary of his bandmates’ strengths (Townsend is a adept setlist-maker; Quinn pushes them artistically; Schaefer has a drive and bluster that are infectious). And, added than with any antecedent Black Lillies record, their newest album, Stranger to Me was a absolutely collaborative effort.
“We were dedicated, and everybody was in. This was a actual collaborative process,” Contreras reflects. “We all absolutely put our active calm and came up with article none of us could accept alone done on our own.”
The 13 songs on Stranger to Me began simply: as allotment of a claiming the Black Lillies issued to themselves during the summer of 2017, to address one song a week. Collaboratively, they crafted a absolute of 30 songs, which they afresh aggregate with their admirers via account Facebook Live performances they dubbed the Sprinter Sessions.
“It absolutely aloof kept us focused instead of dabbling until the aftermost minute,” Contreras admits. But the activity had addition account to it, too: It let the band’s admirers in on the artistic process, and on how the bandage was absorption in its new form.
“It’s abundant to accept that burning acknowledgment and see what bodies are aflame about,” Contreras notes, “[but] the best benign affair about accomplishing that was, the admirers got to be allotment of the change of the band.”
Contreras describes Stranger to Me, out Friday (Sept. 28) via Thirty Tigers, as “an expensive, big-sounding, adult record.” The band’s four associates ambit from backward 20s to aboriginal 40s, and it shows: Listeners will aces up on the access of anybody from Bob Dylan to Tom Petty to the Gin Blossoms.
While the Black Lillies as a name, and Contreras as a bandage leader, will bless a decade in the music industry in 2019, Contreras confesses that Stranger to Me feels like the band’s actual aboriginal anthology — and, technically, if the bandage is these four people, it is. Still, he admits, 10 years feels like a abracadabra number.
“If you can survive the aboriginal 10 years, you accept a absolutely acceptable adventitious of authoritative a abounding career out of it,” he reflects. “I anticipate we’ve got a lot of rewards in advanced of us.”
That is, as continued as the Black Lillies can chase Contreras’ hard-earned advice, which he delivers with a laugh: “Stay alive, and don’t get beggared again.”
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