Watch out for the Ticks this year!
And no I’m not talking about those pesky little parasites– although, I hope none of you suffered from those either. I’m warning you guys about an incredibly skilled Chicago band named the Lunar Ticks. This quirky fivesome is bringing a fresh creative edge to the jam scene with upbeat lyrics and a malleable style. From funk to metal to bluegrass, these guys can and will take your mind for a ride.
They’re longtime SCampers, attending the festival as fans prior to even being added to the bill. They’re restless musical talents, constantly extending their sound to other realms. But best of all, they’re just a bunch of goofy guys you’d love to share a beer with.
So please let me introduce you to the Lunar Ticks; you’ll be hearing that name a lot this year!
Emma: Hey guys thanks for catching up with me, how was your Summer Camp?
Ryan Mannix: We had a lot of fun! We were pretty busy, but it was awesome to get to play an extra set. Our Thursday set was so last minute, and that was pretty cool to fill in that slot. We weren’t prepared at all and we just kinda made it work. It was one of my favorite sets we’ve played in a while.
Emma: You guys have had a cool uprising at this fest, starting as the musical winners from the Chicago round of “On The Road” tour three years ago. Can you elaborate on how that experience has affected the Lunar Ticks?
Josh Levine: It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since then.
Carter Stirtz: Yeah, that’s been kind of a catapult to a lot of things. Once you get added to a festival like that, it increases legitimacy a lot of times. You get offers you normally wouldn’t have just because more people see your name. Being able to say that you’ve played a festival is super helpful to move forward as a band.
A relic to the Lunar Ticks legacy — a sticker promoting their 2018 Summer Camp set found at the water spigot this year.
Emma: For those who may be unaware, how would you describe your style?
Ryan: I’d say we mix alternative indy rock 2000s/90s stuff with a progressive jam approach. We have a lot of catchy alt-rock garage pop kind of songs.
Faraz Chaudry: Pop influenced by the 60’s, John Lennon kind of pop
Ryan: We write the songs and record. When we play live we’re always experimenting, trying to improvise different ways. We try to construct setlists that are interesting and unique.
Emma: What can fans expect from a Ticks set?
Carter: There is always heavy improv throughout all of the sets. Our biggest thing that would make us unique, is that depending on the setting we’ll play the same songs in different ways. We’ll extend out a section of a song that we never have or put a bluegrass hard rock sound in. We try to make things different every time. There’s never the same approach to our material.
Emma: What kind of artists influence your sound?
Ryan: Everybody brings in their own tastes but I’d say for me obviously the big jam influences are there as we approach writing and playing live. Then there are also influences from Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Ty Seagall and Broken Social Scene. All the stuff from the 2000s and a lot of garage rock.
Carter: It’s off the model of the Grateful Dead, doing catchy songs that people can latch onto and extended chaotic jams with exploratory sections. So we can earn the right to get more exploratory by doing songs that people know.
Emma: You guys came out with a second album late last year, Unknown Gnome/ Neon Hearse, with a really creative underlying concept of featuring two individual genres in one album. Can you give the readers some background on the inspiration for that album?
Ryan: On our EPs we try to be different bands with different styles because we all like a lot of different kinds of music. On that album, we started focusing on garage rock and punk because that’s a genre a lot of us are into. But it’s not really in the jam scene as much so that was a way to explore improv and jam band ideas in a new context, and it was pretty well received which was cool. Also when you’re in a band with your friends, you find yourselves making up a lot of goofy band names. It came from a mind that we would be able to have each of our albums be a different kind of project; we could be a garage rock band, then let’s be a funk band then jazz. We are definitely a jack of all trades, masters of none so we like to try our hand at different things. My idea of it is the more styles you throw in, you’ll eventually find a unique sound out of it. We’re still working towards our sound and seeing what we can bring in along the way.
Faraz: In addition to that, I think jam bands showcase a lot of different styles on one album. Where they’ll do a blues song, a 60’s rock song, then bluegrass thrown in there somehow and it’s not always cohesive throughout the whole album. So I think by diving into one genre for an extended amount of time, writing songs in that style then putting twelve on an album you can really explore and wring all the juice out of that genre before you go onto the next one. It’s a little deeper dedication to each genre.
Ryan: Albums are another art completely and we love to put as much effort into that as possible. What’s interesting is, since most of our albums are just straight song and not as much jamming, most people don’t know we’re a jam band until they see us live.
Emma: We’re Looking forward to seeing more from you guys! Any upcoming projects or shows fans can look forward to?
Ryan: We’ll be playing a Dead and Company aftershow on June 14th in Chicago which will be pretty cool. We’ll be doing some covers that the Dead covered at that. We’ve got some Wisconsin shows too, but our big thing will be playing at Sleeping Village on July 27th with Goose Corp. and Railway Gamblers. That’s a big show for us, we’re headlining and doing lots of cool things.
Faraz: We are also recording and just released a bunch of new live videos. We’ll have a new EP that will probably be out late this year/ early next year. So keep on eye out for that too!
So check these guys out in the Chicago area this summer! You’ll easily forget you’re in a crowded city bar and not Three Sisters Park.