In a town where good bands are a dime a dozen, it can be hard to make a name for yourself in New Orleans. It helps that The Lollies aren't a good band, they're a great band, and with a following that shows it. The road to fame in New Orleans has been a short one for these boys, and having a strong and enthusiastic work ethic has proven to be beneficial. Leader by default Zachary Quinn, playing guitar one and sharing vocals with Brian Pretus who plays second guitar, gives explanation to their strong fan base. "I think that one of the reasons we've gained some popularity is that in the beginning we just played like 100 plus shows in our first year." Pretus follows "Yeah every punk show coming up we made it a point to play." The rhythm section of the band is supported by co-founder Alex Talbot on bass, and Joey Mercer on drums. All members have come from musical backgrounds, either having a resume for playing in bands or musical talent running in the family.
In Quinn's case, it's part talent and heritage. Having a keyboardist father, who earned part of his income writing jingles like "Come on over to Copeland's" and spent half the year playing the keys at a Florida resort is a great background for any band member to have. But instead of being the band's financial backer, Quinn's dad actually took a shot at recording. Quinn explains: "My father has been a keyboardist for 30 years. I gave a copy of our EP to him and he was interested in it. So I guess it was musical enough to grab his attention. At first he wanted to be the financial backer but then decided he actually wanted to record it himself. He had never recorded an album before but he actually did a pretty good job." Having done the band's full-length Potential on Community Records, which came out last year, his dad now helps them record.
The Lollies started out with just Quinn and Talbot brainstorming ideas and doing some recording, as Quinn explains "The whole first EP is just me and Alex. I played drums and sang and played guitar and did some vocals with Talbot on bass." With the inception of the band starting off simple enough, these guys went on to open for super groups such as Rise Against and The Adolescents. Guitarist Brian Pretus has been in different projects over the years and currently plays bass for his brother's band The Breton Sound. As far as joining Quinn and Talbot, it all happened in a very New Orleans way according to Pretus. "One night I was partying with Zach and I got drunk and told Zach I really wanted to be in his band. I figured I would take Zach's weird music and help shape it into the punk rock that we're playing now." The equation worked well, having created a layered and powerful punk rock sound. After some disappointment with their original drummer, Quinn says they recruited Joey Mercer "Our original drummer Brice was going through a lot of personal stuff and it was getting really hard to work with him," Quinn said. "Joey and I had been talking for a while so he took his place."
Mercer started off in The Suburban Rats, playing in Fat City for the all ages shows. Mercer eventually caught the attention of some of the older, heavy-weight players in the DIY scene. Shortly after playing with these technical hardcore bands, he started to develop problems with his wrist. "When I started playing with the older guys like Face First and Grant from haarp, I was trying to keep up with all this technical stuff and at a point my wrist just started really hurting bad. A lump started to develop on my wrist." This is right around the time The Lollies approached Mercer about playing with them. "I was worried about hurting my wrist again. I hadn't played in two years and asked Zach to not book us on a big show." Mercer had surgery and bassist Talbot's father was his physical therapist...talk about keeping it in the family! So after recovering as best as any person can after a surgery, Mercer began work as the group's new drummer.
The new band proved to be refreshing for Mercer. "I've been in plenty of bands where the main idea was a lot of fills. I wanted to focus more on cooler beats for the verse and chorus, more interesting back beats. The new material has me writing different beats. We've been working on different patterns." Quinn chimes in: "When we want there to be a change, we just tell Joey to go for it. In my mind, the beats are really simple. So we ask Joey to go for it. Joey's drumming has changed our style a bit, and the new material is going to be a lot of Joey's influence."
Quinn tends to write lyrics that are personal—themes about the dynamics of relationships between people, or whatever seems to be going on in his mind at the time. The bittersweet relationship people end up having with their hometown, wanting to get away only to eventually come back home because you miss it. Quinn even takes a swing at organized religion on the track "Potential". As expected from a punk band, their new record coming out at the end of this year will have some anti-state and anti-war themes as well. As far as promoting their band, The Lollies have made a few commercials to get fans, friends and anyone interested in going out to their concerts. Quinn explains: "My girlfriend makes movies, and her and her friend more or less directed the ones that we've made. Before the Rise Against show we wanted to pose as them for one of our commercials suggesting people go see The Lollies."
The commercials are pretty hilarious and can be seen on their Facebook page. Pretus explains his rehearsal for the commercials "The first one that we did, I just got real f***ed up and, did my thing." So yes, multi-talented these boys are, and since recruiting a new drummer they're only going to get better.
Check out the commercials—they are pretty clever, cute and really funny. I've said it before people… there is a lot more great music in our city than just the heritage, and the Lollies represent that.