mini-interview with kurt heasley of the lilys

true story: after the first time I saw the lilys in concert (june 3, 2003 at the crocodile with swirlies and explosions in the sky!), I dizzily said to my (now ex-)husband, “his last name is heasley, and mine is headley—I’m gonna go tell him that!” and he put his hand on my arm and said, “don’t,” with a serious look on his face.


kurt was sweet enough to answer some questions after a chickfactor dress rehearsal show at the lilypad in cambridge, ma. the lilys play chickfactor 22 with withered hand, jim ruiz set, and amor de días on thursday, march 20 (night one of two) at the wonderful bell house in brooklyn. eeeeeeeee!!!

photo by gail o’hara • interview by janice headley

well, to start off —how did it go last night?! what’s the line-up gonna be like for CF22?
Last night was great. Awesome, a lot of fun. It was more like a gala, grrr and I’ll be playing on Thursday with Nightime Gallagher.

are you still in cambridge right now? you’ve got old ties to that town! does it feel good to be back in yr old stompin’ grounds?
Yes, I am literally in Cambridge RIGHT now. I’ve worked with so many creative and enterprising friends here in New England, Providence, Northampton. This just seemed like the obvious place to come when we left the ashram. I like the four seasons in Massachusets. It’s not just about coming back to this area. We do have connections here, people we care about that live here, but from other places, too, like Virginia. Also, it’s close to New York, where I like to record.

how has it felt reuniting for chickfactor? I saw you play solo last year in los angeles for CF20… have you enjoyed revisiting these older songs?
I’ve had nothing but fun with these last rounds of chickfactor, 20, 21 and now 22. I see playing songs from the first four albums as some sort of measurement of time and it offers a change in perspective whenever they’re revisited. Any opportunity to re-learn songs from those albums again proves to be enlightening and fun. I see how my approach to music has differed. I’ve loosened up significantly since I wrote those first recordings.

do you think you’ll ever do a show playing the Better Can’t Make Your Life Better-era material?
I do see playing live a lot more over the next few years. We did play a lot of those songs the last time I was in California working with the full band. Having the sound and feel of Better Can’t Make Your Life Better and Services for the Soon to Be Departed live all hinges on having the exact right players in the line-up. And I love playing with them. So, yes I’m thinking that we will find the people interested in making that happen and materializing the mythology.

are plans still in motion to reissue In the Presence of Nothing? will any other albums be reissued? in particular, Eccsame the Photon Band??? (on a personal note, I once drove three hours from portland to seattle listening to NOTHING but “day of the monkey” over and over again on repeat… for THREE HOURS… and I could’ve done three more. that song is so special to me!)
We had some archival issues with that reissue of ITPON that are still being addressed. There are so many people that I have worked with over the years that it makes reissuing the work challenging, but it is definitely something that I want to do and have been working on putting together for many years now, In fact, I am currently negotiating the reissues of three records over the next year and a half with Mike Schulman of Slumberland Records. He just sent me some old DAT recordings today that I am looking forward to hearing. We’ve also talked about recording a new project.

I read you were working on a K Heasley album at one point! are you writing new songs? will you be playing them this week? will there by a new lilys album anytime soon? what are the new songs like, stylistically?
Everything I do is a K. Heasley album at some point! I did record a split 7-inch with Big Trouble that I finished last year—I think you can find it on SoundCloud. (ed. note—you can!) I’ve been working on a number of new songs, I record all the time and on whatever’s available as part of my writing, but it will take actually getting in to the studio with the people from all over that I love to work with and have great respect for before you’ll be seeing that new lilys album. Actually, it is possible there will be no more lilys and that there’ll just be something new, I do have some other projects in mind. I’ve been working a lot with Nightime Gallagher recently. Whatever it is, it’s not just about the music anymore, music is visual and physical, it’s a whole show and I have a lot of ideas for the next project that include a big multimedia environment. Stylistically I’d say these new songs are solar pop.