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Riff Radar: Lotus Eater

Be warned: Scottish noisemakers Lotus Eater have enough riffs to give you a serious bang-over. For this month’s Riff Radar, we chat to vocalist Jamie McLees about how the band got started, what’s coming next, and his top tips for surviving lockdown.

How did Lotus Eater start their journey as a band?

Jamie: We were a band previously, which wasn’t as serious I suppose, we were quite young. We started when we were like 14, then I left, then a few other members joined, and then when I was 18 I joined back. We wrote a really good song and our producer Eric, from Loathe, said “I’m not letting you release a song that good with a band name that rubbish”, so we decided to rebrand ourselves as Lotus Eater. Decided to take it a bit more seriously and try and get somewhere with it.

What went down at the first Lotus Eater show?

Jamie: It was in Cardiff, I remember we practiced like a couple hours before our van was supposed to show up, and I remember we were panicking that the guy just wasn’t going to come and we were going to miss our first show. The guy eventually turned up, we drove all the way to Cardiff, played our set – I don’t think I said one word to the crowd, because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! So I just played the songs and walked off and that was it. We drove home and I thought it was a terrible first show but apparently it wasn’t that bad as more shows came in!

Who or what inspires Lotus Eater?

Jamie: A lot of different stuff to be honest, we all like a variety of different things. Douglas, our guitarist, he likes really complicated music, like his favourite band is Veil Of Maya, so he likes to write a lot of very riffy, complicated stuff. Stuff that doesn’t really make sense, if I’m honest! I quite like angry, heavy music, like guys shouting abuse at people, so that’s where I get my stuff from. My biggest vocal inspiration is Landon Tewers from The Plot In You. He’s like my main guy. When I was learning how to do everything I can do I was just basing it on him to be honest.

How would you describe your sound to an alien?

Jamie: An alien?! I suppose an alien would probably get it more than a normal person! They’re all about the bizarreness I suppose. I think our music is really exciting and you don’t know what’s going to come next and it’s very unpredictable. I get very bored of music easily nowadays because I know what’s going to come next, so I like people not being able to predict what will happen in our songs.

What would you say has been the highlight of the band’s career so far?

Jamie: I’d say sharing a stage with Bring Me The Horizon, as that was probably where a lot of the attention came from, because I came out to do the song and people were like “who’s that? Who’s on stage?”. Then we did a song with them on their EP and some people discovered us from that. That’s probably one of the best things we’ve done so far.

You released your song ‘Narco’ last month – does this mean there’s a full length album finally on the way?

Jamie: I think I can say that we do have an album coming! So yeah, ‘Narco’ is the first release from the album!

These are strange times we’re living in – what is your top tip for getting through quarantine?

Jamie: Struggling myself to be honest – I’ve only left the house like twice since it all happened. I suppose learning a new skill. I don’t really do much of the writing in Lotus Eater – I do lyrics here and there, but I’ve been trying to write stuff on my phone and branch out into new genres and do my own thing. I’ve been doing a lot of drawing as well. So yeah, learn a new skill and make the most of your time. But I’ve also been making the most of all the TV shows to catch up on if I’m honest!

Do you play any video games?

Jamie: Yeah I’ve been playing a lot of The Last Of Us. I grew up as the biggest Call Of Duty fan in the world, I used to play for money believe it or not, I was that good! Well, not the best, but I would win like a fiver here and there. I’m kind of off that now, I don’t really like the direction it took, it feels a bit weird to me now playing that game. But I really enjoy The Last Of Us, and I just downloaded Uncharted 4 and I’m about to start that.

Lastly, if you could take Download Dog somewhere in your hometown, where would you take him?

Jamie: Probably this nightclub that’s filled with very strange characters, you don’t know what you’re gonna get. There was one night I went there and there was a very strange drunk man stood outside all night who didn’t get in, and he just stood outside singing songs and dancing to people. Hopefully he’d enjoy it!