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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Artist Interview: The Black Lemons

For this week’s interview we have Stephen from the band: Black Lemons – they’ve recently released a new video “You’re Never Gonna Have Enough Money” featured below:


MW: So, more than anything I really want to discuss the song and video for “You’re Never Gonna Have Enough Money.” It seems like a very timely sentiment within the current political climate, was that intentional?

Stephen: There were a number of motivations behind the song, and certainly one of the main ones was the growing income disparity in here in the U.S. It's a topic I've written about before. It's the kind of universal topic that everyone can relate to. It's the title of the EP we just released, and often when I show the CD to somebody, they'll read the title and say something along the lives of, "Ain't it the truth."

MW: Have you ever had the opposite reaction?

Stephen: Not yet. Give it time. That’s what keeps songwriting interesting. You can’t make the audience understand what you write, the way you understand it. Once you put it out there, it’s not yours anymore.

Years ago, I sent a song to a college radio station. The song was about race relations, and whoever listened to it, took it in exactly the opposite spirit of which it was intended. They wrote me a very angry letter about how they would never play this “racist crap” on their station. I was stunned. In the end though, I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m glad they won’t play racist crap. So, at least there’s that.

MW: Well, the effect was certainly engaging – have you been shooting film for a long time?

Stephen: No, but I’ve been working with our drummer, Scot Sax, on a pretty regular basis, over the last year. He made a well received documentary on songwriting, called Platinum Rush, and he shoots a lot of music videos locally.

Getting familiar with his process has been very helpful. I’ve also done a little bit of film acting, and I learned a lot from those experiences, as well.


MW: Was it difficult stuffing your face with those dollars?

Stephen: The stuffing part was easy. Keeping myself from gagging once they were in there was tricky.

MW: It is easy to hear some of your influences – from a David Bowie ala Stevie Wonder funky clav rift to a very Iggy Pop lyric structure and still, with its own unique qualities. Did it take you a long time to hone your style or did it come more naturally?

Stephen: It's taken quite a while. I think a big part of the process has been learning how to be honest with myself when I'm critiquing what I've written. Being able to tell when something works, and when you need to take another swing at it, is crucial, and to be honest I've often lacked that kind of self-awareness.

The song "You're Never Gonna Have Enough Money", was especially tricky, because I quite clearly had David Bowie in mind when I wrote it. There are sonic references to specific Bowie songs, and it was a big concern for me, that it not end up sounding too derivative. Now, of course, everyone is going to have their own opinion on where that line is, but every time anyone hears the song and says anything other than, "I hear a lot of David Bowie in this.", I count that as a little victory.

MW: Any future projects for Black Lemons on the horizon?

Stephen: We hope to be starting a residency this summer at a local club here in East Nashville. I’m excited about all the possibilities that opens up. I’m really hoping we can get some of our friends to come and play with us. We have some amazingly talented friends.


Also, I’m planning to shoot another video for a song from the EP. The plan is to rope some of those aforementioned amazingly talented friends into helping me pull off a shoot that’s on a bigger scale than the ‘Money’ video.

MW: Where can folks learn more about your music?

Stephen: We’ve been putting a lot of effort into increasing our web presence, so we’d love it if you’d check out our links.

Our website: theblacklemons.com
Twitter: @blklmns
Facebook: facebook.com/wearetheblacklemons
Instagram: theblacklemonsband