Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Being in a Band is Supposed to be Dumb; Lousy Robot

Lousy Robot Bio

“Being in a band is supposed to be dumb.” Don’t expect Lousy Robot to take their music too seriously. Jim Phillips, the self-described “cock-eyed optimist” doesn’t. The songwriter, he digs into the universal with his intimate lyrics. 2005’s The Strange and True Story of Your Life, Lousy Robot’s debut album, is a translation of a trying year into fun songs. “Enough of my personal life is already out there,” says Jim. Small talk becomes a cover for tragedy, a bad relationship is summed up in one word, “Gone,” the song that defines the Lousy Robot sound. Distilling sentiment down to its core is Jim’s genius, but the music is total fun that recalls the best of the Ramones and 80’s alternative rock.

“We’re one bong hit away from being a jam band.” That’s not exactly true. Jim and bassist Dandee Fleming, the founding partners of the band, are also a bit obsessive about their music. When it came time to record their first album, Dandee went out on a limb and emailed John Dufilho of the Deathray Davies, known for complex, danceable, fun tunes. John’s “happy chords” fit Lousy Robot’s pop-punk sound. John suggested they record with Salim Nourallah, a good friend who had a studio at his house. Not exactly the recommendation Jim and Dandee expected, they researched Pleasantry Lane Studio before signing on. “Oh, look, that’s a Rolling Stone article,” quipped Jim. Salim’s backyard recording sessions were definitely good enough for the perfectionist leanings of Lousy Robot. Salim and John now consider them good friends, and John even put it in black and white when he thanked Jim and Dandee on his solo album.

In 2003 Jim’s former band, “Hey Dandee!” morphed into Lousy Robot when Dandee joined the group, after which Jim said, “The name was kinda weird, so we changed it.” Lousy Robot’s completing members are Michael J. Fox, the latest, and hopefully last in a Spinal Tap-like succession of drummers, and Jack Moffitt, the keyboardist. Michael is a university-trained, Berlios-inspired, classical percussionist. Brought together by Jill, their hairdresser, Michael and Dandee found their personalities fit well. “I hadn’t been in a band since I was in college in San Francisco, and I missed it,” was Michael’s excuse for signing up. “He’s got the most drums of anyone,” says Jack, who joined the band after answering an ad on www.rocksquawk.com, the Albuquerque music site begun by Dandee and other like-minded musicians. Jack brought his keyboard to a Lousy Robot rehearsal, was only a bit freaked by the compulsive personalities, and joined up. “Dandee said we weren’t going to find a keyboardist,” said Jim, “He was wrong.” Jack’s originally from Dallas, but likes the low-key life in Albuquerque. “It’s big enough to have everything, except traffic.”

Just back from Pleasantry Lane Studio again, Lousy Robot’s still unnamed second album is nearly ready to go, and its expected release is in early 2006. “This time, it’s more rock, more driven,” says Dandee. With backup vocals by Johnny Lloyd Rollins and Cory Watson of Black Tie Dynasty, the next album is an amped-up progression from their first effort. If The Strange and True Story of Your Life is baby steps, the new CD is a good hard run at danceable rock. “The new album, touring, that’s what’s next,” says Jim, who recently left the corporate world to concentrate on the band without distractions. Jim’s urge to hold an audience and Dandee’s charisma put the band in firm running for a break out of the Albuquerque music scene, though they claim to never want to leave. “Yeah, well, we’re all really good liars,” says Dandee.

Expect to hear more about this easy-to-love band when the new album hits the streets. Lousy Robot won’t be only Albuquerque’s favorite band any longer. They’ll be yours as well.

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