After roughly five years of dazzling audiences at local clubs and warehouse parties with its droning, psychedelic sound and transcendent live video projections, Oakland five-piece Lumerians recently dropped its debut album, Transmalinnia, on Knitting Factory. The album's nine tracks range in length from three to nine minutes, recalling wispy '60s haze; driving, ominous '70s Krautrock; and even more exotic musics from around the world. Ahead of the band's show tonight at Catacombs in San Francisco, we spoke with Lumerians' bassist/vocalist and founding member Marc Melzer about the band's formation, its incredible visuals, and why its members took their time putting out a full-length album.
You guys have a ton of stuff up onstage for your live shows -- even in a small club, you'll have big cabinets and all kinds of instruments.
Yeah, it's a bit of a pain in the ass. Six keyboards. It's pretty crazy.
How did Lumerians form?
A few of us were working a local record label. We started talking about music, and started playing. We had similar musical interests. We were all listening to Sonic Youth at first, even though we sort of moved a little past that. Also, Krautrock: Can, Neu, also African psych from the '60s and '70s. We were all looking for different types of music. It was probably 2005.
Were you an Oakland band then?
Were all in S.F. at that time. Most of us have moved to Oakland. We have a studio space in Oakland in the Fruitvale, and it was sort of an old church that's been converted to our studio/practice space. It's Church of the Living God, which is the name of the church it was before it was ours. We're set up to record there, so we record most of our practices. It's just cool to be able to record that stuff and capture inspiration when it happens, as opposed to trying to find that in and paying $100 an hour in a studio.
Run us through your discography so far.
We had an EP that was released 3 years ago and that just had five songs it. We put it out ourselves. We pressed 500 copies of that and sold those out pretty fast. We put out a 7-inch, the single was "Burning Mirrors." We pressed 500 of those and we have a few of them left, but those are almost gone, too. Then last year, Knitting Factory [Records] just sort of hit us up on our MySpace and said they were interested in the band. We were actually almost done with our record (Transmallinia) at that time. They said they were going to handle it for us. So we went in the studio and mastered it.
So it took five or six years from the start of the band to put out a debut album. Why so long?
There were a few things. We had some other songs that didn't really fit with what we were doing in trying to make a really coherent album. Part of it was we were still trying to find exactly what our sound was, and not just be repeating somebody else's music. It was that, and we became a little bit maybe too obsessive about getting everything exactly the way we wanted it on the album -- and that combined with everybody having full-time jobs.