Tunes: The Lemons

The Lemons are a Chicago-based group comprising of John Lemon, Chris Twist, Juicy James, Kimmy Slice, Kelly Lamone, and Billy Sour. They released their first album, “Hello, We’re The Lemons!”, this past November.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Hello, we’re The Lemons! We write jingles about our friends and play them at parties. We released our debut album, “Hello, We’re The Lemons!”, on Tripp Tapes in November, 2013, and then on Gnar Tapes in January, 2014. We’re releasing a split 7″ single with Teen Runnings from Tokyo on Gary Records this spring. The Lemons are usually Max, Chris, James, Esther, Kelly and Billy. Sometimes more, sometimes less.


 

Describe your current studio or practice space. We practice and record in Chris’s basement apartment. Max lives right above him. He has a living room with a rug in the middle, a shelf of records on one wall and a comfortable couch on the other wall. There are twinkle lights and lamps to get the vibe going, and a spiral staircase that goes up to Max’s apartment.

Tell us about your work process and how it develops. We write a lot of jingles, and throw most of them away. The really good ones we’ll record demos of, and get the whole gang to sing on them. Then if those are good, we’ll learn them as a band. A good 80% of what we come up with doesn’t make the cut. We try to spice up the recordings so they don’t all sound the same. Usually this means switching between real drums, a drum machine or a sampled drum beat, then adding different combinations of guitars, keyboards, and other things that are lying around the room. Then we get the gang to sing and that’s where the magic happens.

Where is your favorite/ideal place to perform? We like playing house parties the best. Our first show was at Animal Kingdom, and we’ve played there many times in our brief time as a band. House parties have the best vibe, and folks seem to be more at ease than at rock clubs. We also really dig playing record stores, especially when we can get real chill with acoustic guitars and let folks hear the melodies. Any place that is intimate and friendly is our favorite.

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Do you have groupies and what are they like? We have some great fans. Our number one fan is Sam. He comes to most of our shows and takes photos, but he really kicked it up a notch the last time we played Bric-A-Brac Records. We have a tune called Ice Cream Shop, and early on we spread the word that we do different “scoops” of the songs—different arrangements that we’ll sometime play back to back. Well at that show, after we played Ice Cream Shop twice, Sam busted out a sign he had made in his sign making class that day that says TRIPLE SCOOP on a street sign style sign. Really floored us and showed that Lemons fans are amazing!

What are you reading right now?  Max is reading “Commando,” the auto-biography of Johnny Ramone. There are lots of great inspirational ideas in there. He saw the Beatles play Shea Stadium in ’65, and they played a 35 minute set. So when the Ramones started, they only did a 17 minute set, because they weren’t even half as good as the Beatles. When the Lemons started, we only did a 8 minute set, because we weren’t even half as good as the Ramones. Play your best songs and leave them wanting more!



What do you want a viewer to walk away with after hearing your music? The Lemons are all about a good time, so we want people to walk away thinking that they can’t remember the last time they’ve had so much fun, and really do some reflecting on why they don’t have unbridled fun more often in their lives, and make a commitment to start having more fun. Hopefully that means they’ll come to our next show and bring a bunch of friends.

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If you were a drink, what drink would you be? Shortly after the Lemons started, I found a glass in a thrift store that says “Lemme have a Lemmy!”, which is apparently some kind of drink. It has a drawing of a lemon with a man’s face, who looks like he’s really craving a Lemmy. So we’d probably be a Lemmy.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We have a brand new single that’s out on Gary Records on June 5. It’s a split with Teen Runnings from Tokyo. Both sides are fantastic. We’re also working on a single for Metal Postcard Records, out of Hong Kong. And we’re gearing up for a big national tour with The Memories, who released “Hello, We’re The Lemons” on their label, Gnar Tapes, as well as some dates with Flower Girl from NYC. We’ll be hitting both coasts and all of our favorite cities in between.

 

Any upcoming shows or tours we should know about? We’re about to hit the road with the Memories for a summer tour, but we’ll be squeezing in a few Chicago shows along the way. We’re doing a tour kick-off show 5/23 at Animal Kingdom, a mid-tour record release show 6/5 at Walter’s House, and throwing a big ol’ party 6/20 at the Auxiliary Arts Center with Pookie & The Poodles, Primitive Hearts, Flower Girl, and The Yolks. Probably a tour wrap-up gig in mid-July, too!