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An interview with Chicago band

Lying in States

Interview by Chris Auman

Published in RW #21, 2005

Lying in States

Lying in States is a five piece band from Chicago, Illinois who after six years, one name change, an EP and a full-length CD, are gearing up for their next assault on our tender senses. Combining the force of punk, the immediacy of emo and the danceable beats of danceable beat music these young fresh fellows* are ready to stake their claim in the current music territory. (How you like this introduction so far? Pretty good, huh? Be honest. ((But enough with the parentheticals!))

Justin Trombly: bass
Fergus Kaiser: guitar
Ben Clark: vocals/guitar
Mark Benson: drums
Jeremy Ohmes: keyboards

RW: So you guys are recording?


RW: With who? For what?

FERGUS: With Mike Lust. For a new record.

RW: Out on the same label? Flameshovel.

FERGUS: Flameshovel, yeah. It's going pretty good. We just finished, I guess.

MARK: We just finished tracking, then we got overdubs and vocals. Can't have a record without vocals. Unless you're an instrumental band, I guess would be the only time.

FERGUS: That was funny.

RW: It's going to be a full-length.

FERGUS: Yeah, we recorded thirteen songs and we'll try to bring it down to nine or ten. It's gonna be weird.

MARK: I don't know how we're going to do that. There's going to be some hair pulling and some kicking and screaming.

FERGUS: That conversation is going to suck.

RW: Do you guys write all together or do different people write?

FERGUS: No, we write all together pretty much. Ben does his solo stuff too. He's got his little folk hippy thing as well, so we usually take one or two of his really good songs and put them on the Lying in States records. There's one on the last record. There might be two on this one. But hopefully there'll only be one. I think I'm the only one who doesn't like the second song. It's not that I don't like it. I don't like the recording of it. It could be done well.

JUSTIN: Yeah, I don't think that recording should go on there.

MARK: We aren't going to re-record it?

FERGUS: We could re-record it.

JUSTIN: That's true.

FERGUS: The record should be coming out in September and we might, might be putting out a split seven inch with Tight Phantomz. Hopefully.

RW: That's Mike Lust?

JUSTIN: Yeah, he's recording the record and he's pretty into it.

FERGUS: That's not for sure yet.

RW: Is it a lot different than the last record (Most Every Night)?

FERGUS: Yeah, it's pretty different. Shorter songs.

RW: I think you told me that by the time the last record came out you had already started playing shorter, more rocking songs.

FERGUS: Yeah, yeah, well every time we-what we've put out two records so far? It's standard as soon as it comes out you don't like it anymore.

RW: Yeah, well.

FERGUS: But this is the first one where after initial tracking that I'm totally stoked. I'm always wary after initial tracking.

JUSTIN: I still love the last record.

FERGUS: I like it too. This one's a lot better though. Songwriting's a lot better.

(Door buzzer buzzes)

FERGUS: I don't know if it's gong to be more, if people will . . . what's the word I'm looking for . . .

MARK: Like it?

FERGUS: Yeah, if it's . . .

JUSTIN: Accessible?

FERGUS: Accessible, yeah.

MARK: I think it's a little more accessible.

JUSTIN: Much more accessible.

FERGUS: We definitely retained the weirdness to it too.

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MARK: We kind of have our mandatory weirdness, like if the song it going too normal, we just tack on a forty second weird ending and then it's us.

FERGUS: As long as Ben doesn't drop the ball on the vocals it should be pretty good.

RW: Have you heard the vocals? You practice with the vocals right?

FERGUS: Yeah, but you can't hear them at practice with the shitty PA. We have five songs with vocals right now.

(Enter Jeremy)

RW: (to Jeremy) We just started. I just asked about the new record.

FERGUS: I gotta take a poop.

RW: You don't mind if that's in the interview?


RW: Yeah.


RW: Cool.

FERGUS: Can he just take that (tape recorder) into the bathroom with him and talk?

RW: Oh yeah, just maybe riff a little bit, five or six minutes.

JEREMY: Yeah, I don't know, not that kind of riffage.

FERGUS: Hey, were you a Mitch Hedberg fan?

RW: Who's that?

FERGUS: He was a comedian. He's dead. He just died. We're gonna dedicate our record to him. Most of the new songs are about him.

MARK: Was he lying in state?

FERGUS: I think he was lying in state face down in his hotel room for five hours. There wasn't a long line to see him but he was there. He was fucking hilarious though. If you ever see any of his CDs you should listen to them.

RW: Did he die a tragic death?

JUSTIN: I think he died of drugs.

FERGUS: Yeah. I think he was twenty-seven too.

MARK: Who did he have an interview with where he said he was going to die at twenty-seven?

FERGUS: Robbie said he read an interview in Playboy where he said he was going to kill himself when he was twenty-seven.

Lying in States flyer Lying in States flyer

RW: Was he the guy who was found in his hotel room after he was partying with David Spade?

FERGUS: Might have been. I don't know.

RW: How long ago was this?

FERGUS: Couple weeks.

RW: Oh. Never mind then.

FERGUS: He does the Jimmy John's commercials. Have you ever heard the weird stoner narration for the Jimmy John's commercials?

MARK: Wait a second, that's actually him? I thought they just ripped off his style.

FERGUS: No, it is actually him.

RW: Is this the guy with the long hair—

FERGUS: Glasses.

RW: The seventies-style glasses? I know that guy.

MARK: Yeah, he just kind of walks around looking at the floor Steven Wright-style.

RW: Well shit. He's dead?

FERGUS: Yeah, he's dead.

RW: This interview is dedicated to Mitch.

FERGUS: Mitch Hedberg.

JUSTIN: Ok, what else do you want to know?

RW: That's pretty much it; who's Mitch Hedberg and when's the new record coming out.


RW: I think I know the story about why you changed from Kleinfelter . . . Another band had the name? Or was it because you found out what it meant?

JUSTIN: We knew what it meant. I knew what it meant.

MARK: I knew that it meant breasts--dudes with breasts-but it's also-they're web nets, they're midgets and they're half retarded. RW: You didn't want to exploit them or you didn't want people thinking you had it?

JUSTIN: I think we named the band that when we were nineteen.

FERGUS: I was twenty-six.

RW: How long you guys been together?

MARK: Six years. It will be six years in May.

RW: (to Fergus) Are you the old timer?

FERGUS: They're not that much younger.

MARK: He's twenty nine. I'm twenty seven. (pointing to Justin) He's fourteen. Jeremy is twenty-five. Is Jeremy twenty-six? He's twenty-six.

FERGUS: It's Ben's birthday today.

RW: Oh, really?

FERGUS: He's turning twenty-seven. We told him not to die in the next year.

JUSTIN: You know Cobain died when he was twenty-seven.

RW: A lot of them. Janice.

JUSTIN: Jimmy Hendrix.

FERGUS: Keith Moon, was he twenty-seven? (Jeremy returns from the bathroom with a book, The Complete Idiots Guide to Starting a Band.)

JEREMY: Everything you need to know about us is in here, Complete Idiots Guide to Starting a Band.

RW: Is that how you guys did it?

JEREMY: Yep. We just bought this one day and followed the instructions. (reading from book) What Level of Fame Do You Want? Handling Drug and Alcohol Issues. Words to Rock By, Accepting Your Identity and Finding Success.

RW: I gotta read that.

JEREMY: It's got a little clip from Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips.

RW: Sounds like somebody said, Wayne can we put your name on this quote?

MARK: He did the Forward.

RW: Really?

JUSTIN: He's a weird guy.

FERGUS: Yeah, he is a weird guy.

RW: How did you choose Lying In States?

MARK: We had a song called that.

RW: Isn't there a Superchunk song--

JEREMY: Yes, there's a Superchunk song, I think it's just called "Lying in State." There's a lyric in a Gang of Four song too. We didn't know either of those things.

FERGUS: Plus when anyone dies we get free publicity.

JEREMY: Yeah, the Pope has been great for us.

RW: You guys riding that?

JUSTIN: We're riding that all the way to Park West.

JEREMY: Park West and St. Peters Square.

FERGUS: We had Reagan not too long ago.

JUSTIN: Yeah, that was a great one.

FERGUS: That was just awesome that he died anyway.

JEREMY: I was thinking we could name the record, Reagan and the Pope. Pope Reagan. Reagan and the Pope Walk into a Bar.

FERGUS: Reagan and the Pope, Together Again.

JUSTIN: It's been pretty good for us, changing our name though.

MARK: Klinefelfter got banned from the Empty Bottle.

RW: So you had to reform.

MARK: Now they love us.

JEREMY: We sucked. We packed the dressing room with thirty people.

MARK: And we played one song twice in front of seven people, and were on stage for longer than we needed to be, and we were totally loud in the alley and that's a big no-no at The Bottle.

FERGUS: And we wouldn't get out of there either. We were in the alley forever because we loaded out and Ben went to get the van but instead had sex with his girlfriend in the van for like thirty minutes.

RW: So you were officially banned?

FERGUS: No, they just didn't want us to play there.

MARK: Jason from the Spiveys, or was it The Means at that point? No, it was still Spiveys, talked to Bruce and said, yeah, we want to have Kleinfelter on the bill and he was like, I don't know how I feel about those guys.

FERGUS: We want our bands to be a little more professional, is what he said.

MARK: So then we changed our name and we already knew what not to do. We already had Ferg dive into an amp in the middle of the show drunk.

FERGUS: I fell.

RW: Is that in this book (An Idiots Guide to Starting a Band)?

JEREMY: Yeah, the amount of alcohol necessary for the perfect amp dive.

RW: They (The Bottle) must love you now because there were a lot of people at that show last Saturday. I mean, they came early. You played first, right?

JEREMY: We hadn't played in three months though, so-

RW: People were jonesing.

JEREMY: Yeah. Exactly.

RW: You guys touring at all anytime soon?

JUSTIN: The record will come out in September and we'll probably tour all of October.

MARK: Probably a week or two before it comes out we'll do a little run and then go back out for a month and then probably this time next year I would imagine we'd go back out.

JUSTIN: I just lost my job for next year so I can tour as long as we want.

JEREMY: Yeah, we'll tour a lot. Weekends, summers. Maybe play on the OC.

RW: How did you guys meet?

MARK: College, baby.

FERGUS: I was in college, but I was in a different college.

RW: You went to Columbia.

FERGUS: Right.

RW: Where did you guys go?

EVERYONE (except Fergus): Loyola.

RW: So you've been up north forever.

MARK: Yeah, we ended up living in the same house together.

JEREMY: None of you guys knew each other before you moved in the house did you?


MARK: I didn't. I knew Jeremy from the dorms.

JEREMY: I didn't know you from the dorms but I knew you from shows.

JUSTIN: Yeah, but barely.

MARK: One of the first times I met Jeremy he came knocking at my door with his girlfriend Lane with loaded water guns and they just were randomly knocking on people's doors and opening doors and hee hee hee.

FERGUS: You were crazy.

JUSTIN: Then we all lived moved into that house on Newberry and lived there for seven disgusting years that I can't really remember.

RW: Is that where you had the recording studio?

FERGUS: Yeah, there was something in the basement going on.

JUSTIN: Chris had it.

FERGUS: Chris (Krailik), the bass player from the Watchers.

JUSTIN: But yeah, that's how we all met and then we met Ferg through Christine, his old girlfriend.

RW: Six years ago.

MARK: Well, no, we were actually playing together before Ferg came along, but that's when we came up with Klinefelter and we played at a battle of the bands at Loyola and that was our sophomore year?

FERGUS: You guys won didn't you?

JEREMY: We came in second and lost to Suicide Bride.

FERGUS: Where are they now?

JEREMY: I know, right? I played saxophone and we did a Rocket from the Crypt cover, a Jawbreaker cover, and then like two fifteen minute songs.

MARK: Originals that just fell apart within the first ten second.

FERGUS: But you still got second?

JEREMY: The competition was horrible.

JUSTIN: Krailik wrote Kleinfelter on his underwear and ripped it off his body without taking his clothes off and threw it onstage.

RW: Where are those kind of gimmicks now?

JUSTIN: Actually, we had a great Christmas party this year where we all dressed up and handed out eggnog chock full of rum. We had a Christmas tree onstage. We still have gimmicks they're just a lot more family oriented now.

JEREMY: That's what Bush would want, family values gimmicks.

MARK: That's what Bush would have wanted.

JUSTIN: We played two battle of the bands.

MARK: I was in Rome at the time and that's when Ferg got into the band.

FERGUS: We just played originals didn't we?

JUSTIN: I don't remember.

JEREMY: Did we win that one?

FERGUS: No we got second. We lost to the Rubber Ducky Band.

JEREMY: The student council band.

FERGUS: Yeah, the people who organized the battle of the bands.

RW: Their band won?



RW: Where's Rubber Ducky now?

FERGUS: I think they're called 90 Day Men now.

MARK: That club rocks. That and Schuba's are the two best clubs to play. Metro's fun 'cause you have dudes load your gear for you.

FERGUS: Big Horse is fun because you can puke on the floor and they won't kick you out.

RW: When's the last time you played there?

JEREMY: Two years.

FERGUS: Was that the last show when I got drunk and fell into my amp?

MARK: No, because Fabian liked it, he asked us to play again.

JEREMY: Yeah, one of our finer . . . distinguishments? Is that a word?

RW: I'll look it up later. I'll fix it if it's not.

FERGUS: All right, cool.

RW: I'll put a better word in there.

JUSTIN: Can you fix all our sentences for us?

FERGUS: Yeah, we've played almost every club in the city. Except for the Elbo Room and The Note and the big ones like the Aragon and that shit.

JUSTIN: I think every other one we've played.

FERGUS: From the US Beer Company to the Underground Lounge.

MARK: We haven't played the Kinetic Playground yet.

JEREMY: That's new though.

RW: How about Silvie's?

FERGUS: What is Silvies?

RW: Did you play the Lyon's Den?

JEREMY: No, we didn't. Fuck. We don't have any distinguishments.

JUSTIN: Did you see me under the table last night?

FERGUS: No, I heard about you being under the table last night.

MARK: What is this bullshit about you saying I was more drunk last night than I've ever been? Was that you?

FERGUS: I don't think so. Were you more drunk last night than you've ever been?

MARK: I don't think so.

FERGUS: I might have been more drunk last night than I've ever been—at least for awhile.


JUSTIN: Can you make sure that's a quote?

RW: It's all goin' in. Where'd you guys come from to get to Loyola?

JEREMY: Originally?

RW: Yeah.

JEREMY: All parts of this great nation. I'm from St. Louis. Go Cardinals.

JUSTIN: I'm from Detroit.

RW: Go Tigers, er Lions.

MARK: Denver.

FERGUS: Go Rockies or Broncos. And I'm from Virginia. Richmond.

RW: Go Redskins.

FERGUS: Go Richmond Braves.

MARK: Ben's from Washington somewhere.

JUSTIN: Spokane.

JEREMY: Go . . . Modest Mouse.

FERGUS: We don't have anything in Virginia. We have no teams.

RW: Cheerleaders, something.

FERGUS: No. Nothing. The Redskins stadium used to be in Virginia, now it's in Maryland.

JUSTIN: We've always argued about whose city is more ghetto, but I think—

FERGUS: Your city's way more ghetto. My city's beautiful.

MARK: What!?

FERGUS: You're city's cool too.

MARK: You're city's not beautiful. (Some sort of fight ensues)

FERGUS: You guys are nuts.

JUSTIN: I think we've played in everybody's hometown now haven't we?

FERGUS: Except for Ben.

JEREMY: Except for Spokane. But we played in Seattle. Boy that was a great show.

MARK: Jesus.

JEREMY: So many high hopes for the Northwest.

RW: What was Seattle like?

FERGUS: Seattle is beautiful.

RW: But I mean, the music scene?

MARK: It's kind of a sub tropic climate.

JEREMY: The music scene is awesome we just did not have a good show there. But that's only one show.

FERGUS: Out of many shitty shows on the West Coast. Long Beach was a good show though.

MARK: San Francisco was an awesome show. Denver was our best money-wise touring show and we got pizza.

FERGUS: We got three hundred bucks in Richmond that one time.

RW: Was that at Hole in the Wall or Holy Chow?

FERGUS: No, we played Nancy Raygun. Hole in the Wall is on an off all the time. It keeps closing and then opening

JEREMY: Richmond sure has problems with clubs.

FERGUS: Yeah, they do. You play Hole in the Wall?

RW: Yeah, but it was Holy Chow then.

FERGUS: Was Partin still working there? (John Partin gtr, RPG)

RW: He didn't work there but he was there.

FERGUS: Did he ever tell you his Makers story? When The Makers played there and he was bartending and they pulled a knife on him?

RW: Naw.


RW: Are they that badass?

FERGUS: I think they are that badass.

RW: No joke?

FERGUS: I think they're pretty serious.

RW: I was gonna make a comment there but I'm gonna keep my mouth shut. If they're that hardcore, I won't diss 'em.

JEREMY: That's respect.

RW: I think they're awesome to be honest with you.

FERGUS: Pulling a knife, that's cool, dude.

RW: Now that story is gonna circulate. It probably should have been squashed right there. I can change it to, "he pulled a comb out and feathered his hair with it."

JUSTIN: That's still pretty badass.

RW: Are you guys badass? Do you carry knives--I mean, I know you don't pull them out on people, but are they there?

FERGUS: Emotional knives. (Laughter)

RW: You guys ever get in to any barroom scuffles out there?

MARK: I punched a whole in a punching wall-no, I didn't punch a whole in the wall.

RW: In a punching wall?

MARK: In the bathroom. It was in this bar in Arizona, I went in there and there's this wall next to the urinal that's just pocked full of punch holes. So I thought, this wall must be easy to punch, so I just kinda (makes taping noise). I didn't make any marks on it or anything like that and it--

RW: Broke all your knuckles?

MARK: I didn't really hit it very hard but it was definitely a solid wall. I was like damn, kept peeing and the bouncer came in. You punching a hole in the punching wall? No, no I didn't touch it. What's that noise I just heard? No-I-no. I have no idea. I'm peeing. Don't punch the punching wall. Then less then twenty seconds later a police officer comes in.

RW: Did they call 911?

MARK: You punch the punching wall? No, I didn't punch the wall. Well, what was the noise that guy heard? I don't have an answer for that. All right, well don't punch the punching wall.

FERGUS: Mark has been arrested on tour too.

MARK: That's where that story ends.

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