Interview: Lydia talks tour, 8123 family and new album

By Andrea Belanger. Photos by Winnie Surya. A few months ago, Toronto was greeted with the return of 8123’s melodious indie-rockers Lydia. We had the opportunity to sit down with all three members – Leighton Antelman, Matt Keller and Justin Camacho – for a friendly chat just before their show.

Welcome back to Toronto! Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! You’re about halfway through this tour now with The Early November. Any crazy stories so far?

We’ve been driving like crazy! I think that’s what every tour is, but this tours had some really long drives. I don’t know if we have any crazy stories. The other night in Denver, our tour manager was driving and I was in the passenger seat and a school bus came to a dead stop in front of us on the freeway – a dead freaking stop. We almost crashed into it and died, so there’s my crazy story. I’m glad we did not die.

Well we’re glad you didn’t either and made it here safely enough! How has it been touring with The Early November and what’s the crowd reaction like? 

It’s been freaking awesome. Yeah, we’re all having a great time. Those guys are great; really cool guys. We’re thankful for them bringing us out, it’s really cool.

Awesome. So, following your return in 2011, it took some time to secure the line-up you have right now… picking the right band members seems very important. What sort of things did you take into account when making sure someone’s a good fit for Lydia, or just to even deal with being cramped into a bus or van with for hours on end?

I guess you have got to first off make sure they’re not an asshole, [laughs]. It’s a very specific gene I think some people are born with, to know when you’re pissing everyone off. Cause lots of people don’t have that and they go their whole life pissing everyone off and no one likes them, so if you’re that kind of person you’re not going to get involved very long. There needs to be some serious silence.

It’s hard sometimes. They have to be a really good musician and then also be able to live with them, cause you’re with them 24/7. It’s kinda tough, but we have a pretty good crew with us right now. Everyone’s really happy with it.

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So, “Devil” was released in 2013, “Paint It Golden” in 2011, and “Illuminate” back in 2008. Should we be expecting the same 2-3 year trenwd between albums or should we be on the watch for a release soon?

It’s hard to say. We just finished recording a new record and I don’t think we ever really planned it out, whether it would be 2 years or whatever, but we are putting it out in the fall! So what, is that 2 years? [laughs] A year and half in you start to get the itch… you want to write something new.

And a supporting tour for that album?

Yeah, we will be doing a headlining tour for that. Which I’m sure we will be coming through Toronto again. We love it here, really. Love the city.

Let’s talk about the record’s sound… Same sound as previous releases or some new directions?

It’s a little bit more moody than Devil; Devil is happy. It’s hard to say, it’s definitely not the same as Devil. We’re not the kind of guys who are even remotely okay with doing that. We’re trying our best to, you know, just write really good songs. That’s always our end goal.

Your current tour partner band is The Early November and they’ve got a pretty distinct fan base. If you could tour with any bands in hopes of their fans coming over and joining the Lydia family, who would it be? 

Is it a cop out to say Coldplay? [laughs] I would love to have their million fans like our music too [laughs].

On the more selfish side, who would you want to tour with just so you could see them play every night?

John Mayer! It would be really cool to watch him every night.

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Normally in between albums you guys are always touring and keeping busy. Do you find time to write while touring or manage to set away time while you’re free from the tour life to do the writing? How does that process work for you?

I think it’s harder to write when you’re touring. It just kind of wears on your body. Especially when Tanner’s your tour manager – it’s hard to eat! Jesus Christ, [laughs].

You guys aren’t getting fed out here!?

No, [laughs] we rarely get fed! We are still recovering.

When I get home, my girlfriend’s going to be like, “You’re a stick. You look amazing.”

The thing with writing on the road is all 3 of us write songs but kind of do it on our own, and then come together and try to work the songs out as a whole. And there’s not a lot of alone time to be had with tour, [laughs].

So after touring, do you find the time to put aside for more writing? Or do you just wait for it come to you, wherever and whenever you may be?

For sure. After tour, I take a huge break from humans. There’s a lot of humans in the world. But um, yeah I don’t know. I think it just comes and goes, you write when you’re feeling it or you don’t. You can’t force it.

Definitely. So promoting your material is another huge part. What do you try to do as a band to make sure what you create is really getting heard?

We try to keep updated on our social media. Then tonight, or every night on tour after the show we stand out and meet everyone who might want to meet us. Sometimes it’s 2 people, sometimes 200 people. It’s crazy because the next time those people are going to bring someone else out here hopefully, and then it just keeps barreling from there. I think that’s one of the bigger things we do to stay in touch with the fans more.

Yeah, it seems like that’s a big thing for everyone in the 8123 family – to keep up fan interaction.

It’s huge, yeah. Fans allow us to do what we love to do. You know, we are all literally living our dream – we play music with our friends and travel. They all make it happen.

What’s one thing you would change about the music industry if you could?

I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked that question.

I feel like the music industry is very fast paced, maybe slow it down a little, get to sleep more.

Um, that’s a good question.

That is a good question.

As it changes, good and bad things happen you know. The internet obviously, it’s the biggest thing in the world, it’s the best and the worst thing in the world. There’s new bands using it to their advantage and there’s older bands who are just like what is this computer thing?!

Yeah, I think if you are one of those people that say,  “ this and this and this is what I would change about the music industry” like, you’re not gonna change that, so you shouldn’t have that point of view.

You just have to do what you do. You can’t cater to what everyone wants. You can’t, you know, purposely go the other way… you just have to do what you do.

Definitely. Well said. Thank you guys so much for chatting. Any last words for our readers?

Thank you for caring! It means a lot.

We got our album coming in the fall, and like we said, there will be the tour to support that so be sure to keep your eyes open for those dates! Thank you guys.

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