Sydney, a hotbed of hard rockers that birthed such acts as the legendary AC/DC, brings a new group up to the podium: Lillye.
“Imagine if Led Zeppelin and Heart had a child that grew up with a passion for the likes of Halestorm, Skunk Anansie, and Sevendust” is quite a bold statement to make, but according to the band vocalist Virginia Lillye fits this category. Originally a stage performer for such musicals as Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, Lillye (searching for a more rock-oriented career) met bassist Christian Lauria at his recording studio during a session in 2012. Joined by guitarist Matt Ellis and Bennet Livingston on drums, Lillye was formed. By 2014 the band had already gained enough steam and released their own original, 5-track self-titled EP.
Four years later, and Lillye have released a full length debut, Evolve, back in May, as well as gained numerous spots supporting big names like Canada’s Theory of a Deadman. During 2018, they’re expected to perform at large-scale festivals like Wallapalooza and Amped. The band is gaining momentum, to say the least.
The Frying Pan interviewed Lillye drummer Bennet Livingston for the very first addition of A Word With.
TFP: Who are you?
BL: Lillye are a 4 piece rock band from Sydney, Australia. My name’s Bennet Livingston, and I play drums. Virginia Lillye’s our fearless singer, Christian Lauria on bass, and Matt Ellis on guitar. The formation of the band began when Christian and Matt, who’ve been good mates for many years, had a new project in mind with female vocals. Through a twist of fate, Christian, who has his own studio (Machine Men studios) soon met Virginia via another project he was working on, and was instantly blown away by Virginia’s energy and insane vocal ability. I’d been playing gigs around Sydney with Virginia for a number of years, and in 2012 we got together as a band. We released our debut EP in 2014, which won a bunch of awards, and since then we’ve had some amazing experiences and tours while working on our debut album; Evolve. It’s only just been released, but we’ve had amazing reviews from different parts of the world. We’ve been stoked by the response so far! It’s great to finally have it out in the world and we can’t wait to see where it takes us!
TFP: How would you describe the music you play?
BL: Loud, heavy rock, but with melodic twists and turns. Lots of energy, incredible vocals, big choruses, cranking guitar, rumbling bass and thumping drums. The type of music made for loud speakers and big stages!
TFP: What artists/public figures/individuals would you say have been influential to you and your music?
BL: Each of us individually have quite different tastes, but influences for the band include Skunk Anansie, Tool, Sevendust, Living Colour, Pantera, Cog, Beth Hart and many, many more!
TFP: Which would you say is more comfortable for you, playing in-studio or live? Any good examples of either?
BL: Personally, I love playing both live and in the studio. The perfectionist part of me loves the studio, and the pressure of trying to nail the perfect take (if there is such a thing). The drums for our new album; Evolve, were recorded in 1.5 days by Tom Garnett at REC Studios (formerly Studios 301) in Sydney. The drums are all pretty much live takes. I love throwing down in the studio, trying to capture as much energy as possible. Nothing’s been quantized or edited into perfection. It’s fun trying to capture the energy of a single take, as opposed to recording a song in sections (i.e. intro, verse, chorus etc). I love listening to drum tracks that breathe and make me move. A great example is Vinnie Paul from Pantera, who sadly passed away a few days ago. He was one of the most technically proficient drummers around, incredibly inventive and was always on the money live and in the studio, but for me it was his groove that made him stand out from the pack. His parts had so much air and space. His drumming was a huge influence on me and many others, so I just wanted to give him a shout out. RIP Vinnie.
As for playing live…I live for live shows! There’s nothing like the transfer of energy between performer and audience. It’s a very powerful experience. After a great gig I can be buzzing for days!
Every time I play I’m striving to make it the best gig possible, for myself and my bandmates. As a drummer, I have a unique position where I’m driving the band but also keeping everyone on track, and when you have as much energy onstage as we do, it can sometimes be a fine line between order and chaos! We like to tread a fine line, so it’s exciting for us and the audience!
TFP: What are your upcoming plans for the future?
BL: As Evolve has just been released, our focus is on making sure it gets out to as many people as possible. The album’s already getting airtime on radio all around the world which is amazing! We’ve released a couple of singles and videos, with another soon to be dropped, so there’s lots happening! We’ll be playing more shows and we hope to head overseas in the not too distant future. We’ll also continue to write. It’s a really exciting time, with some cool things in store. Follow us on Facebook, Spotify (if you dig our music please feel free to add our tunes to a Spotify playlist!) or any of the social media platforms to keep up with the latest developments, and we hope to see you at a show soon!
Lillye’s website: www.lillye.net
Check out Lillye’s Bandcamp and their new album here: https://lillye.bandcamp.com/album/evolve