If you have had your ear to the ground, you may have heard Lunar Ticks carving their way through Chicago’s local jam scene. Each show is an extemporized event, making for a once in a lifetime experience that will stick with you for years to come. You can join them on the next journey at Sleeping Village on July 27th ($10 advanced / $12 doors), or camp out at Shoe Fest August 30-September 1.
Lunar Ticks is:
Faraz Chaudry- Guitar/Vocals
Josh Levine- Keyboards/Vocals
Ryan Mannix- Guitar/Vocals
Joel Masinter- Bass
Carter Stirtz- Drumset
RM: Ryan Mannix
It's been a bit since we talked Lunar Ticks. How has life been treating one of our favorite local jam outfits? (You went through a bit of a line up switch this year. Can you fill us in on the new member?)
RM: Things have been going well for us. We’ve had a lot of great gigs this year including opening for Jazz is Phish, Kung Fu, Summer Camp Music Festival, and a Dead and Co aftershow. We added Joel Masinter from Rusty Gates on bass. He fits right in because we have all played together for years. It was very natural.
Lunar Ticks' sound expands the reaches of Jam band territory- at times drawing from punk, metal, and video games to bring your improvs to a welcome new level. How has your onstage communication grown to allow for these live excursions?
RM: Well, we’re always trying to think of what we can do that will stand out. So those styles are things we all like and try to incorporate into our vocabulary to try and add something new to the jam conversation.
We definitely incorporate some hand signals and visual cues, like gesturing backwards to go into a different section, or holding up 2 fingers to hit the 2nd beat or play the 2-chord of the key. The more comfortable we get with these different styles and cues, the farther the improvisation can go, and I think we’ve definitely managed to go to some more interesting places as we’ve gotten more comfortable with those ideas.
You all are becoming a Summer Scamp staple, even adding a second set this year. How was your third round in Three Sisters Park? (We were bummed we couldn't make it for the first time in five years.)
RM: It was really great, as usual. We added that second set last minute and really just threw together a setlist on the fly, and it was one of our most fun and loose sets in a while. We debuted a new original and cover which is fun for our fans and newcomers. The Scamp crowd is very responsive to improvisation and risk-taking.
Your Sleeping Village debut is Saturday night, and your Shoe Fest set is just around the corner. What would you say is the most notable shift in preparation and performing experience in playing a large fest, to a mid-size camping fest, to a coveted local venue?
RM: The biggest thing to me is just kind of playing the “room” or “vibe” for lack of a better word. Our own shows in clubs we can really do whatever we want because people are there to see us do our thing. You can maybe get a little crazier and heavier as opposed to like an afternoon set outdoors with families hanging out, where you probably want to play more pretty and mellow stuff. We definitely don’t stay stuck to those rules and always try and throw something in that might not be expected, but that’s something general I’ve noticed. We always end up just doing our thing when we start playing.
Preparation-wise, we will come up with a setlist that might suite that vibe we’re going for and we’ll make sure to rehearse the ideas since we have a lot of different songs and things that could happen in a given show. We don't always stick to the script, though. I think we try and be really specific and tight in preparation and then the show is usually loose and fun.
You have been riding the crazy trajectory of Unknown Gnomes/Neon Hearse for a bit. Any plans to record another record sometime soon?
RM: Well we did a “live in studio” kind of thing with Caleb before he left that should be coming out digitally really soon. Just us playing some newer songs, alternate versions, and some improv.
Once Joel was added to the mix, we recorded a more proper studio album in March, which is basically already tracked. Just have to do vocals and mixing/mastering and some minor other things. It’s definitely going to be way different than Unknown Gnomes/Neon Hearse. Gonna say it should be coming out early 2020.
Is there anyone out there who you are listening to that pushes the envelope of rock like you all? Any local acts who you think aren't getting enough attention?
RM: Well, that is a very nice thing to say. Thank you! There are a lot of great local rock and jam groups. Probably too many to name. I’m biased because I have played with them a bunch, but I love Captain Coopersmith. They are the best people, and their old stuff was definitely in a ‘70s rock vein, but their newer songs are crazy; progressive, psychedelic, genre-bending, but they all have this core of a catchy song.
I also love Arbor Creek. They mess with blending progressive rock with roots music in such an organic way. Again, just great songwriting, and they are all fantastic players and super nice guys.
On the jam side, I love Groovy Louie and the Time Capsules. They are a weird funk band that has a great sense of humor in their music. They also take the improv about as far out as anyone else going in the scene right now which is so cool. Another group of awesome people, too!