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Usually, one tries to avoid medical wards, but LIFE IN A HOSPITAL makes a compelling case for checking in post-haste. Eugene Lhymn (piano, synth, guitar, sequences, bass), Jedediah Olsen (vocals, guitar), Mark Bramer (drums), and Jim Beardow (lead guitar, bass) are dispensing songs sure to cure what ails you. Consider the intriguing arrangements of tunes such as “Dance Little Piggies,” which moves from a dense, atmospheric lament to a wistful waltz interlude to a soaring finale; and “Nothing Lasts Forever,” progressing from moody piano into hearty anthem; and the hard-charging “The Descent.” These and more are on the band’s new EP So Much Worse. (Listen here.) We prescribe picking up a copy at the band’s next gig, on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Velvet Lounge, with our old friends the Vita Ruins and City-State.
What equipment do you use and what’s your favorite smoke?
EUGENE: Nord, Roland, Korg hardware synths. Various soft synths—Spectrasonics. Vox AC30, Schecter semihollow, bunch of pedals. GK bass cab and head, Fender Precision bass.
JEDEDIAH: I play a Takamine acoustic guitar and a Rickenbacker electric. My amp is a Fender Twin Reverb. I don’t smoke, but I do like biscuits and gravy.
MARK: Camel Turkish Silver.
JIM: Fender Tele, fender deluxe, various pedals.
What kind of drums do you play and what pets do you own?
MARK: Tama and currently a mix of Paiste and Zildjian. Pets: two cats with a combined weight of 36 pounds.
JIM: Two Betta fighting fish called Mick and Keef.
What’s your favorite D.C. hangout and your favorite automobile?
EUGENE: When I get time to go out, I like any of the music venues around town—Iota, DC9, Velvet, etc. Also, any establishment that serves a good Cuban coffee is good in my book.
MARK: Dr. Dremo’s and a painted Mini.
JIM: Anywhere in D.C. now that there’s no smokers allowed! Am quite partial to and Aston Martin DB5.
What’s the worst place you’ve crashed and your worst haircut?
EUGENE: My grunge phase mop/bowl cut.
JEDEDIAH: In high school, I sported a chinstrap; and not that there’s such thing as a good chinstrap, but mine was especially bad. It was all thick and bushy, and crooked more often than not. My friends in high school must have really sucked, because nobody ever made fun of me for it.
MARK: At a friend’s college house, which was also a huge party house, and I swear there were 20 different peoples’ pubes on the blanket I used. My haircut in high school was by far the worst—a 3-inch high boof on top that melded into a puffy mullet by the time you got to the back.
JIM: If I could remember, I’d tell you! Hair: An aborted flattop at the tender age of 12. The moral of that story is don’t let your brother’s friend cut your hair 5 minutes before he’s got to meet someone at the pub.
Worst roommate and best audience?
EUGENE: My roommate during senior year of college, who was a racist conservative from Texas, had OCD, and never got laid the entire duration of college. He was also a huge Nelly fan, which sealed the deal for me. Sorry, kiddo!
JEDEDIAH: In college, I lived in an apartment with five other guys, one of whom thought it was impossibly funny to walk around the apartment naked and then jump into other peoples beds when they weren’t expecting it. Although, I wouldn’t call him a bad roommate, since he is one of my best friends and I thought it was pretty funny as well.
MARK: Former co-worker who once asked a friend to help him move and then paid the guy in fuckin’ video game currency (like a sword and 20 gold coins, or some shit). Unfortunately, the best audience is always your friends.
JIM: Graham Honey. I dreamt of inventive ways of making him expire.
Any audience that appreciates the sounds (and wants to buy me drinks after).
Explain your band name and define your sound.
EUGENE: Jed can explain the band name. I’m honestly not sure how to describe our sound. We’re really big on incorporating many different types of instrumentation in our songs. The best thing to do is to come see us play Feb. 9 at the Velvet Lounge and see for yourself!
JEDEDIAH: The name of our band comes from a line in a song called “Designed Like Dice” by the band Trophy Scars. Our sound is very organic. When this project started, we all listened to very different kinds of music. I won’t name names, but Eugene had some pretty questionable taste in music back then. Radiohead was pretty much the only band that we all listened to. So we just started playing without any preconceived vision of what our sound should be, and the music has evolved since then.
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What clothes do you like to wear onstage and what do you eat on the road?
EUGENE: I like to paint my nails black and wear a biker glove on one hand. Whatever I can do to emulate Jared Leto. He’s such a visionary.
JEDEDIAH: I wear a T-shirt and jeans onstage. No eyeliner or fingernail polish, no headbands or ’80s track suits, no socks on my arms, no bullet-proof vests. I’m just not awesome enough for those things, I guess. On the road, I’m always down to make a run for the border.
MARK: Banana hammock, bananas.
JIM: I run a T-shirt lottery before each show. Usually eat anything that they sell at WaWa.
What’s the worst stage you’ve played and your best payday?
MARK: Hal Daddy’s in Baltimore, now closed because of its contribution to the local crack scene. I’ve blocked out any “pay” from previous gigs, as it’s usually pretty pathetic.
JIM: 2 a.m. at AU, on the concrete, in the cold. College shows usually pay pretty well.
What are your influences and worst equipment experience?
EUGENE: Radiohead. Björk. Anything and everything Thom Yorke touches. The Blood Brothers, who are a more recent influence. Haven’t had a terrible equipment meltdown…YET. Although I have nightmares that my Nord Electro will eventually crap out from the beating it takes on a daily basis.
JEDEDIAH: I really like groups like Portishead, Björk, and Radiohead, and the Beatles, of course. I also like some post-hardcore bands like Hopesfall and the Blood Brothers, as well as bands like Glassjaw and Circle Takes the Square. I like music that is innovative and interesting, which means I think most music is garbage. Vocally, Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke are two of my main influences.
MARK: Mark Brzezicki, Dave Grohl, Jon Farris and NOT Neil Peart (although he is technically proficient). Worst equipment experience: Bandmate flying into set, splitting hi-hat and kick drum about 3 feet, thus testing the elasticity of my crotch.
JIM: Everything from Crosby, Stills, and Nash to Graham Coxon. Someone stealing my guitar during a video shoot could be described as a bad equipment experience. If whoever stole it is reading this—that’s assuming they can read—all I want is the Treble Spanker sticker; you can keep the guitar.
What are your songs about and what’s your favorite drink?
JIM: Ask Jed. Drinks: I don’t like to discriminate.
EUGENE: I’d have to say a Blue Moon.
JEDEDIAH: My lyrics are just collections of my thoughts on subjects that I find compelling. Our songs are about things like the effects of religion on people, the exploitation of the poor, American consumerism, and war profiteering. In the songs, my thoughts are unorganized and I’m not proposing trite solutions to all our problems. Mostly, I’m just trying to get my head around the issues.
MARK: A decent red or white wine.
What’s your favorite tour memory and worst band squabble?
EUGENE: We’ll let you know soon.
JIM: I’ll let you know when they happen.
What’s your transpo and what’s the worst place you’ve ever dropped trou?
MARK: I’ve never “dropped trou.”
JIM: PT Cruiser. Somewhere in Southern Virginia.
What are your current projects and political thoughts?
EUGENE: Promoting LIAH, booking shows, writing new tunes, writing more tunes, getting ready to record again. Our current EP will be available for the first time at our Feb. 9 gig at the Velvet Lounge. Expect our second EP to be available late 2007. We also have a pretty big show coming up at the Velvet Lounge on March 8 with our friends in Boston, Hooray For Earth and Porsches on the Autobahn, and our friends from Brooklyn, Mor Amour.
JEDEDIAH: Politically, I subscribe to a very pragmatic form of Objectivism. Using today’s bastardized political terminology, I fall somewhere between a liberal and libertarian. Ideally, the less government is involved in our lives, the better; however, there are times where the federal government needs to intervene. Destabilizing the Middle East and curtailing our civil rights are not the prerogative of the government. Most importantly, I’m not an ideologue, so I’m always open to new ideas.
MARK: People who can’t separate themselves from the emotion of superficial rousing political speeches that garner fear and promote blind faith shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
JIM: Rehearsing hard and writing new songs. I don’t understand your politics, but I gather your president is a bit of a dickhead.
What’s the stupidest move your singer ever pulled?
JEDEDIAH: In an old band of mine, I once jumped off of a speaker during a show and landed on top of our bassist. Since he was roughly the size of an H2, I bounced of him and knocked over one of our guitar players. Having knocked the bassist off balance, he fell over as well. We were able to finish the song, however, in spite of the fact that we were all on the floor and in pain.
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