Photo by Dirk Mai.
It’s mid-March – the 18th, a Tuesday, to be exact.
I’m sitting in Providence, nearing the tail-end of a very hectic working vacation. I have an interview slot with the guys from Lydia in Boston in a few hours, set to talk all about their current Illuminate tour. As I sit in the living room of my brother’s apartment, packing my camera bag and tying up loose ends, I unexplainably fell sick and asleep. And that, I mean in the most literal forms – I got sick and fell, I ended up asleep, and I have no explanation. But things happen. So, being the great guys that they are, what was meant to be an in-person chat turned into a phone call.
So, now it’s near the end of March – the 25th, the next Tuesday, to be exact.
The band, made up of vocalist Leighton Antelman, bassist Matt Keller, and lead guitarist Justin Camacho, is in southern Florida, preparing for another sold-out night. Their 30-date headline run has made stops nationwide with fans coming out to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the acclaimed Illuminate. Though the tour was initially planned for the previous fall, Antelman told us that they chose to push it until early 2014, so both the tour and the music could get the attention they deserve.
“It’s an album that, to us, deserves special attention. It’s been nuts – the fans are so passionate about this record, and the openers have been great, too, and the whole tour itself has just been crazy,” he adds.
While the songs may be the same, the story is different this time around for Lydia. In the time since the album’s initial release in 2008, the band has endured significant lineup changes and took a substantial hiatus in 2010. Though there had been bumps along the road before, that hasn’t slowed their pace in recent months.
“We’ve always had the same rotating lineup that we’ve toured with from the start,” Antelman says, prompted with the question about if the members felt any uncertainty before bringing the band back from the dead. And by keeping the same members around, it’s given them a chance to breathe new life into old songs.
In order to solidify their new, current identity brought about with 2013’s return, Devil, the band has been taking a second look to update parts of Illuminate. “We’ve been playing the record as what the band is now – we aren’t trying to just regurgitate the same record. It’s still mostly the same, but we’re taking a few different approaches.” With this comes the potential of going too far, however. “Maybe we’ll add something here, extend this part there, play this part a bit differently, but we make sure to stay true to the original pieces, because that’s what the fans know and love. We don’t want kids coming out thinking we’ve changed everything on them.”
Changes or no changes, that doesn’t seem to be impeding fans’ interest, with the majority of the shows easily selling out. And when they show up, they’re being treated to a more prepared, refined Lydia. After spending the fall on the road opening for The Maine and Anberlin (on what would turn out to be one of the latter’s last tour runs, though Antelman assures that there was “nothing but positivity” coming from the Anberlin guys), Lydia gave 110% in preparing for their headlining anniversary, starting practices earlier than they would for a normal tour and practicing stricter, making sure to get everything right and give Illuminate the treatment it deserves. With some songs having not been played for a while (including “Sleep Well,” which he says has been great to play again), it makes sense to be paying extra attention to rehearsals.
So, with proven support from the fanbase, what can we expect next from Lydia?
“There’s been a lot of writing going on,” Antelman laughs, “we’re always writing, so we’ll take a few months off and really dive into the new music. We’re going to work on finishing up a new album, and hopefully we can get it out by the fall.”
And as if new music wasn’t good enough news, after a lengthy struggle over recording rights, the band recently revealed that Illuminate will finally be given a wax treatment in the near future.
After spending some time away, Lydia came back in full force and have been steadily regaining their footing within the music world. Since their return, it’s been a stretch of successful opening spots, a new record, a massive headlining tour in support of their definitive record, and the promise of even more new music on the horizon.
Just making up for time lost, I suppose.
Interview and article by Eric Riley.