THE VOGUE "The Medicals" (Dave)
RAHZEL "All I Know" (Dave)
FIESTA BIZZARA "Arequipa" (Dave)
PODCAST #89 linked here
Remember when I first started this blog back in ? of 2013? No? Understandable. Well, during the first month I attempted to review one band per day and banged out a ton of my favourite bands, including the enigmatic LOFTUS (linked here) who released 'Hugs and Drugs' back in 2004, which I've been utterly obsessed with ever since. In 2020 a digital label rereleased the band's 2003 demo on bandcamp. When I saw that I freaked out. I immediately emailed the label and asked for band contacts. I've been on cloud nine since, having released the 'Trust The Shark' cassette discography (linked here) as well as 'Hugs and Drugs' on 12" vinyl (as of last Friday...right here!).
Early on after we had sent the 12" to press I took time to ask the band a bunch of questions that had been on my mind for nearly two decades. Below is said interview that we conducted over the course of a few weeks in mid-2021. An unending loop of thank you's go out to the band, Erol, Kyle, Dave, and Victoria who helped get this band's name out there again. There are still some cassettes in stock and the 12"s sold quickly but we have less than half left of all of the variants except black (which is the second rarest variant), but the mages are gone and the Orange and Splatter variants are at more like 30% or less. I've also commissioned 24 zip-up hoodies by a local artist here in Ladysmith, BC which should be ready early June, hopefully in time for ZBR Fest, which will likely be the only place to get one.
1) Loftus formed from a previous band, if I'm not mistaken. Can you tell us about the formation and why you chose the name Loftus?
CASEY: Our previous band was Paid in Blood. Davis on vox, Travis on guitar, Steven on Bass, and Stephen on drums.
We were in high school. I went to watch them practice in Travis’ garage one day, then I joined as drummer shortly after. Was that 2001? My main memory of that day I watched them practice was that Stephen had the worst double kick petals I’ve ever tried. They were so hard to use. Haha.
We were Paid In Blood for a good while. I forget when, (2003?) but we decided we wanted to change our name. It was between “The Devil Himself” and Loftus, I think. We chose Loftus. I think it was Trav and I who wanted The Devil Himself but we lost by majority vote.
Mr. Loftus was our wild teacher in high school. He was the definition of brutal. I was in class and our friend John told Mr. Loftus that our band changed our name. He stood me up in front of the class, yelled at me, and threatened legal action for a percentage of every dollar we made.
TRAVIS: Haha! One day after school at my house I played some Point of Recognition riffs and Davis started screaming, this was around Sophomore year. . . We then enrolled Stephen who was a way better guitarist than me to play drums, and Steven to play bass. We were referred to as the "tight pants faggots" by the jocks at school, but one day I noticed one of those jocks had an OVERCOME t-shirt on (Casey). I went to go talk to him, he was super nice and an actual drummer so he took over on drums and Stephen became lead guitarist. All of us were attending Church during the Paid in Blood days, once we started to realize church sucked and there were way too many bands with "Blood" in the name we change it to Loftus. Mr. Loftus was a crazy right wing bootlicker teacher known for making kids cry and sitting in the corner of the room watching Jerry Springer rather than actually teaching. For the record I never wanted "The Devil Himself" name haha
2) Whatever happened to Mr. Loftus?
TRAVIS: No clue what happened to Mr. Loftus; he probably ended up eating a kid or joining the Trump Administration. He's the guy on the cover of the 03 Demo.
3) What kind of stuff were you listening to during the transition from Paid In Blood to Loftus?
TRAVIS: I remember a lot of Converge. . . As the sun sets, An Albatross. I think it was at that time that Casey burned us all the entire Radiohead catalog so we went really deep into their releases, I'll let the other dudes chime in. Also, The Doors had a big influence on Davis' sound.
4) What was the first Loftus recording, the 2003 demo?
TRAVIS: Yes, 03 Demo was the first loftus release.
5) The demos were released on cdrs? How many did you make? Where are they? Give me one lol
TRAVIS: Yes both 2003 and 2004 were on CDRs we probably made 300 of each. We would pass them after shows when the bigger acts were playing Chain Reaction (Anaheim, CA) or Showcase Theatre (Corona, CA) and have them at our shows. They went quick, none of us have either. I am glad Gabe was able to preserve our stuff.
6) There's a pretty big shift in style from the 2003 to 2004 demo, what was the catalyst for that?
TRAVIS: The OC/LA hardcore scene was becoming more and more tough-guy beatdown esque. The change in sound was a result of what we were listening to at the time and to differentiate ourselves from the other bands.
7) What were some of the "bigger acts" you played with? Was there a scene for you to fit into with the 2004-2005 material or were you kind of entering new local territory?
TRAVIS: Converge, Bleeding Through, Some Girls, Until the End, etc. . . I guess it was new territory, there was a small crust/grind scene that we gathered some fans from as our music got faster.
8) Demo '04 has a few tracks that ended up on the LP (albeit with much shorter names) and some that didn't. What was the thought process in selecting/cutting the songs?
TRAVIS: After High School Casey left for College in San Diego a friend of mine Jeff Sagud suggested his buddy Trevor Friedrich to drum for us. Trevor was an awesome drummer who really brought Loftus to the next level. He tracked the drums on the 2004 demo first to his own tempo and I just remember thinking these songs were way faster than we had been practicing them haha. Anyways Trevor left to join Eighteen Visions. Little did we know Casey had been practicing his ass off down at San Diego State, so when we gave him the opportunity to join the band he had already had all the new songs down pat. Anyways, we had cut a couple of the weaker demo songs for the LP.
9) What was the best band you ever played with?
CASEY: Man. That's a hard question. I have no idea. I can't remember. I'll say the best was Island Eater.
10) What was a general Loftus show like? What was the best Loftus show?
CASEY: A general show would be at a sweaty venue. We'd pregame a little to calm the nerves. Davis was always late. There were always girls. We'd hit the stage and break our fucking necks. Our friend Chris Crispell attended almost every show in the US. My favorite show was in Ruen France. Everybody there was so inviting. They were hard to communicate with because of the language barrier, but when it came time for us to play, the same people who we had a tough time talking to knew the words to our songs and sang along. There was another awesome show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim when the pit went even more nuts than usual and they cut us off short so the ambulance could come save this kid who was a victim of the Loftus pit. What was surreal for me was seeing Loftus play at the Glasshouse in Pomona with Bleeding Through. Trevor was playing drums for Loftus at that time, and my dudes fucking ripped that show in pieces. You guys were so good! That must've been 2003. Maybe early 04.
11) How did you hook up with Monarchy Music?
CASEY: We knew Scott Arnold from shows and shared some similar taste in music.
12) What was the initial reception like for the album? I bought one when it came out...oooooo baby I love that cd.
CASEY: Thanks! It was highly anticipated and received very well. Rollie did an awesome job, so we have to thank him. Everybody fuckin' loved it.
13) What led to the next stylistic shift aka the 'Euro Tour 7inch'?
CASEY: I can't pinpoint one thing. It was many things. 1) We grew tired of the specific genre, due to the copy-cats and repetitive types of songs amongst various bands. 2) Our brain cells had physically morphed, due to various reasons, 3) We started listening to a lot of Radiohead and Jesus Lizard 4) main reason: we were just trying to express ourselves as uniquely as we could, and we didn't care if we seemed weird, different, or uncomfortably dissimilar to the genre at the time.
14) What led you to press the 7" yourselves?
STEPHEN: We wanted to do something unique for our first (and as it turns out only) European tour and the DIY ethic was always part of who we were as a band and the scene we came from. Also, we knew it was a stylistic shift musically so we thought it was an opportunity to showcase new songs and direction before recording another full length.
15) Can you tell us the stand-out shows, stories and whatnot from the European tour?
STEPHEN: It’s been so many years and all the shows kind of blur together at this point but here’s a quick story that kind of encapsulates the whole tour. Davis smuggled A LOT of a certain psychedelic substance into Europe. Hidden behind a few stickers in his notebook were tabs that he would periodically give out to the band, sound guys, fans, vagrants, random people who looked weird etc he was like a traveling shaman which was further aided by the fact he wore a leather vest for an entire month. At one of our last shows of that tour, I think at a festival in the Netherlands, he gave me some with the explicit instructions to “take after our set”. I didn’t listen. Right around the midpoint of that show I went zero to one hundred and decided it was the appropriate time to improvise some guitar solos and lean into it Jimmy Hendrix style. Definitely got some “what the fuck is he doing” stares from the rest of the band but the crowd seemed to like it haha. I was expecting the guys to be pissed after but everyone was cracking up laughing and it certainly made for a ridiculous albeit hazy memory.
16) What information can you tell us about Loftus' time between the European tour and the band's very unfortunate end?
STEPHEN: After 2006 we we’re all burnt out on touring and the direction most of the hardcore/metal scene seemed to be going. Davis and I briefly had another project called TwoShaman that was more psychedelic / Jim Morrison inspired. We played a handful of shows to mostly confused people who were expecting something sounding like Loftus. At some point Davis made the decision to move to Costa Rica to get cleaned up and away from the negative things in his life. The rest of the us took some time away from music but eventually found ourselves back talking about what we wanted to do as a band and ended up recording 4 new songs.
17) Were there vocals written to the final 4-song unreleased EP? If so, what did they sound like? I can't imagine what he would have come up with next for that. When/where was it recorded and what was the tentative plan for those songs?
STEPHEN: We actually recorded that EP with our friend Dan at his Grandmas house in a few whirlwind sessions. The original idea was to release another 7” ourselves as Loftus, but with Davis still in Costa Rica in early 2008 we began exploring options for different singers. We we’re toying with the band name “No Apollo” and talking with a singer from another band who had more of a Mr. Bungle vocal style. After a few meetings together we decided it wasn’t the best fit and all agreed to wait for Davis to complete the recording. A few months later Davis had moved back and was living on an old boat in Long Beach CA. I went to visit him and show him the EP and we listened to the new songs on repeat for an hour. By the end he was searching his lyric notebooks and ad libbing along to the music like a manic poet. I left on an insane high (figuratively and literally) completely re invigorated by the thought of playing music together again and what this next EP would mean for Loftus. That was the last time I would see him, and we never had the opportunity to record his vision for those songs.
18) What bands have you played in since?
STEPHEN: We’ve had a few different projects spring up over the years with Travis and Casey playing briefly in a heavy band called Island Eater. Travis and I also played in a psych/indie group called Bear Face before that morphed into a full blown Shoegaze band called Highlands. I did that for a few years and we released some records that I’m really proud of (check out the video for the song Show Me)
19) What the shit are you doing now?
STEPHEN: We’re all spread out across the US, some of us with wives, families, and various responsibilities etc. as is the way with time. Our bass player Steve runs a successful business in NYC and I live in Colorado while Travis and Casey are in Southern California. We’re still close and see each other every few years. When we do we often commiserate about the Loftus days with laughs over some whiskey .
20) Anything you wanted to add?
STEPHEN: Playing in Loftus was one of the all time joys of my life. Digging through the time capsule of those years I remember the good times: pushing boundaries with our music, the incredible scene that spawned so many lifelong friendships, and all the people who screamed along with us at our shows. Most of all I remember the charismatic and kind person that was my friend and brother Davis Miller. RIP.
Well shit, let's do the history, eh? Years ago I came across and fell in love with Milwaukee's Snag. I reviewed the band. I ended up releasing their stuff. At one point Snag did a split cassette with Social Caterpillar, at which point I became aware of the band's existence. I didn't check anything out besides the split, from my recollection, but was eventually sent their 'When You Woke Up To Dances Of Light' and asked if I could help release it. After listening I realized I couldn't put it out on Zegema Beach or Tomb Tree because it wouldn't be reaching the right audience, so I started a "softer" label called Softseed Music specifically to put this album out. It's that good.
So it was obviously a pleasure speaking with them and finding out about their creative process as well as their personalities. An overview of things discussed: pressing plants, Green Day, tabs aka zeros and twos, Billy Ray Cryus and the mane, not seeing At The Drive In, The Fall Of Troy and 'Doppleganger'...best or worst?, Social Caterpillar's creation, metamorphosis, songs to get kids moving, additional instrumentation in screamo, lyrical themes, approaches to making noise, lotsa Kyle compliments, the origins of Lazer, Alta, Scowler, The Great Redneck Hope, a new Social Caterpillar split and full length!, etc. Bands played in this podcast: The Gap Band, Heathers, Old Man Gloom, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Sinking Steps Rising Eyes, Songs: Ohia, and Soul Glo. Listen to podcast #88 which is available to stream and/or download for free via this link.