In Riffraf’s Indie Spotlight, we feature talented indie artists from around the world who create music, record, and tour without the support of a major label or financial backing.
Lot-44, a rocking quartet from Fayetteville, Arkansas, set out to accomplish one goal: prove that rock and roll isn’t dead. Using Kickstarter to raise the funds, they produced their riff-heavy debut album, Do What I Want.
Lot-44 is currently on tour, and we got a chance to ask them how they got started and what’s next for the band.
How Did Lot 44 get started?
The four of us come from pretty diverse musical backgrounds. Our drummer, Jordan, had previously played with hardcore/screamo bands. Kyle, our bassist, came from the punk rock scene. Jacob, our lead guitarist, is classically trained and can play just about anything written since the tenth century. And Preston, our rhythm guitarist and vocalist, has a tremendous voice and is a whiz when it comes to melody and songwriting.
We all sort of met through mutual friends and chance happenings. We initially started jamming just for fun. Shortly after that we had the opportunity to play the University of Arkansas battle of the bands. We needed to play three songs but only had written one. So in the week leading up to the show we quickly wrote two more and ended up winning the competition. After that we knew we wanted to pursue the band full time.
Is there a story behind the name?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cool story behind the name. It’s the name of a parking lot that’s semi-famous in our home state.
What are some of the biggest influences, music or otherwise?
We all have varying tastes in music. Anything from John Coltrane to Valient Thorr can be found on our iPods. We’re especially influenced by all things rock ‘n’ roll. There’s something timeless about rock music that you don’t get with too many other genres. Since rock music’s inception, every decade has had their own version. The past several years have seen a decline, most likely because most everything sounds the same. Our goal is to have a unique rock sound, but yet still hear tiny pieces from the various decades. We love it when we can hear little flashes from different rock artists like Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, and the Foo Fighters.
When we set out to record Do What I Want, we found a studio that we really liked and priced out everything we needed. After that we had three options: 1) self fund the whole thing, 2) find an angel investor that we’d have to pay back later, or 3) conduct pre-orders for the album before we even recorded it. As it turns out, kickstarter is a really great way for bands to conduct pre-orders for an album, merch, or whatever else. We did a lot of research on some other bands that had success with the platform as well as research on other crowd-funding platforms and decided that kickstarter was the best place for us to go. It was a lot of hard work, but in the end we were fortunate enough to exceed our goal.
What was songwriting process like for Do What I Want?
To be honest, we did the opposite of what most bands do when they record an album. A lot of times a band will have a bunch of songs and they’ll pick out ten to fourteen of the best ones. We actually decided to record a full album when we had only written three songs previously. And two of those didn’t even end up on Do What I Want.
We booked the studio two months out, essentially setting a hard deadline for us to get songs written. We’re lucky in that we all work really well together. Usually a song would start with a riff or melody idea and we would collaboratively work to shape the whole song. A couple of times, inspiration would strike and we would write an entire song in one sitting. Mostly, we just dedicated ourselves to songwriting. In the end, we’re really proud of what we were able to do.
What’s the response been like for your debut album?
Thankfully it’s been positive. We’ve had good reviews and get a lot of good comments from folks. The coolest thing is that for every song on the album someone has said, “that one is my favorite.” The biggest compliment we get is when someone says, “this isn’t really my style, but you guys are tight and have a great sound.” For us to hear that from people that primarily listen to pop, metal, or whatever means a lot.
Is there a song on Do What I Want you’re most proud of?
It’s hard for us to choose just one, and we all have our favorites. The one we had the most fun recording was “Memoriam.” It’s the final track on the album. Most of the song is acoustic and delicate and in the last minute or so it gets really big and heavy. We were all able to add vocals to the track, and to us it’s the perfect ending to this album.
What’s next for Lot 44?
Lots and lots of shows and more new music. We just got finished with a tour and are currently working on booking up spring and summer. The goal is to be on the road all summer long meeting new people and sharing the stage with other great artists. We’ve also been working on some new tunes that we’ll start debuting this summer. Best way to keep up with us is facebook (facebook.com/lot44), twitter (twitter.com/lot44music), and our website at lot44music.com.