Posts Tagged ‘The Lickerish Quartet’

Lickerish Quartet

Jellyfish were one of the great powerpop bands of the 90s. Now three of their former members, The Lickerish Quartet, have released their new EP. With their blend of psychedelic indie powerpop, Jellyfish became one of the great cult bands of the 90s. Led in part by songwriter Roger Joseph Manning Jr, they produced two highly influential albums. For his new band, Manning has hooked up again with Jellyfish bassist Tim Smith, who has been part of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds for the last decade, and Eric Dover, who joined Jellyfish in their later years before going on to front Imperial Drag and Slash’s Snakepit. Their current EP, their second, Threesome Vol. 2, is out now and they have now dropped the video for the song “The Dream That Took Me Over”.

Set in Los Angeles, or is it set in a dream? Has this happened before or is this the first time? The Dream That Took Me Over reflects on longing as well as the uncertainty of desire and it’s addictive pursuit. While the singer of this track, Eric Dover roams the dark shadowy alleys and neon-lit cityscapes, curiosity mixes with elements of danger and the surreal. Shot over the course of only a few hours in Downtown LA and the San Fernando Valley, The Lickerish Quartet with their in-house production team filmed gorilla style; not unlike the quest of Eric’s character lurking in secret. The music video was filmed from the viewer’s perspective playing up the voyeur element our world has grown so accustomed to over the last year of lockdowns. You are along for the ride, but keep your eyes open, things aren’t as they seem.

On the song, Dover says: “You are driving without a destination lured by the wanderlust of your own making. You turn up the stereo volume and continue along, moonlight reflecting off the chrome of your vehicle. We invite you to put the top down and take a ride into the inner dialectic of our conflicted protagonist as we answer the question: Is there equilibrium in the chaos or does science hold the key?”

The song has a dreamy 70s vibe as the music shimmers, the visuals fitting perfectly with it. The video is a follow up to the track “Snollygoster Goon”, which drives a more typical psych-powerpop force, just like their previous band.

“The Dream That Took Me Over” · The Lickerish Quartet · Roger Joseph Manning Jr. · Eric Dover · Tim Smith The EP is available directly from Lojinx

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Jellyfish co-founder Roger Joseph Manning Jr. is returns with a new band The Lickerish Quartet which also features Tim Smith and Eric Dover, two other musicians who played a part in the Jellyfish story around the time of the second album.

Jellyfish flirted with UK chart success in the early nineties, but never quite crossed over into the mainstream, despite the creative core of the band – singer/drummer Andy Sturmer and keyboard player Roger Joseph Manning Jr. – delivering some timeless, melodic power-pop, with influences coming courtesy from the likes of The Beatles, Queen, and ELO. They were, in many ways, a band out of time, with the release of 1990’s Bellybutton coinciding with the ‘Madchester’ scene in the UK and follow-up Spilt Milk (1993) being issued at the height of the Grunge movement emerging from Seattle.

If Eric and Tim are unfamiliar, then let’s establish their credentials; Tim Smith was brought in to play guitar on “Split Milk”, while Eric Dover joined the band on the road for the tour of the same album. Jellyfish broke up after that tour, but since then, the three musicians have forged their own paths with occasional overlapping projects. Roger is probably best known as being the keyboard player in Beck‘s band for over 20 years, Tim has worked with the Finn brothers Neil and Tim, Sheryl Crow and Noel Gallagher, while Dover was in Imperial Drag with Roger (they released just the one album before disbanding in 1997). Andy Sturmer has no involvement in The Lickerish Quartet , Roger Joseph Manning Jr. explained that their goal “wasn’t to resurrect Jellyfish, it was simply to get together and write original music we love”.

The first release is Threesome Vol. 1 a four-track EP which will be issued on vinyl and CD that is brimming with the kind of joy and invention that made those two Jellyfish albums so good. It includes ‘Lighthouse Spaceship‘, six minutes of harmony-driven classic rock with all those aforementioned influences clearly in place, alongside the exquisite production values that made Jellyfish so highly regarded.

Manning’s ‘Bluebird’s Blues‘ as is a slice of folk-guitar power-pop with cheeky 10cc-referencing intro, while the Dover-driven Fadoodle is a ludicrously catchy, and rather humourous number, which according to Roger, “has the distinction of being a pop song that has the world’s oldest slang yet is released in the 21st century” (Fadoodle apparently means fornicate).

”Our intention is always to keep the point of the song fairly straightforward and very catchy right from the onset. We enjoy having fun with production and arranging intricacies here and there, but we never want those to overshadow the raw, innocent beauty of a song. This whole song, both musically and lyrically, is pretty much from myself. Obviously, Eric and Tim are in there, they help with the arrangement and some sections, like the intro, outro and some stuff in the bridge. But the lyric and the core of the verses and choruses came from me.

My gosh, I wrote most of that song in 1988! The lyric was written very recently, in the last couple of years, but most of the music came right when I graduated from college and I was living on my own in San Francisco. Jellyfish hadn’t even formed yet, but I was working with Andy [Sturmer] who was going to be my partner in that band. I was writing lots and lots of songs and that was just an idea that popped out. There were so many songs to do over the years in Jellyfish and other projects that it never got completed and I thought it would be a perfect song to try for the Lickerish Quartet.

The lyric basically is the old familiar tale of Cyrano de Bergerac. That’s me taking that theme and running with it. It’s really about any young man who wants to get the attention of a woman he’s attracted to but has no self-confidence, he has no social skills. He’s inept to speak his heart. Very often that’s a lot of musicians or poets and they’ll do that through their art because they often don’t have what it takes to simply walk up to a woman and tell them directly that they’re attracted to them.

When I work on songs and create ideas I never really have a lyric in mind, that always comes later. I would sing made up words and gibberish just so I can create a melody, so when I first wrote that song I was singing this ’bluebird’ word over and over again. I decided to run with it to see if I could create an entire lyric that way. So yeah, the bluebird is the one who serenades the girl because the man is ill-equipped to do so for himself, ha ha!

Everything you hear in the song is very, very intentional. It takes us a very long time to create this music. We always try to hold the listener’s attention, we never want the listener to start nodding off or for things to become too repetitive or too boring, so we love all the games, earcandy, playfulness and seduction we try to do as audio. The intro is mysterious, ’what’s about to happen?’. It’s sucking you in ideally to this mysterious world that happens in the first verse which is very stripped down.

We love having fun with background vocals. So many of our heroes inspired us over the years, certainly in the sixties and seventies. Rock and pop artists could really harmonize and sing very well, certainly a lot of the psych pop in the sixties. They experimented with the power of vocals. We enjoy doing that too on our own terms.”

Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

Finally, ‘There Is a Magic Number‘ a gorgeous yearning Smith-penned rumination on lost love, blame and attribution. Mid-paced soft-rock perfection.

Manning said with some regret, that it was clear to him back in 1993/4 that “both Eric and Tim were fantastic singer-songwriters in their own right” but that because Jellyfish broke up “we never got to conduct that experiment and continue on in that Jellyfish writing tradition.” He also makes no apologies for his musical influences: “You’ve got to be honest with yourself and what excites me and motivates me for the most part, is the record collection I grew up with as a young boy and a young man.”

The Threesome Vol. 1 EP will be released on CD on 26th June and on vinyl on 31st July 2020.

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Supergroups have been an integral part of the rock mystique practically since the beginning. The so-called Million Dollar Quartet, consisting of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, first birthed the concept during an impromptu jam session at Sun Studios in 1956, a time when rock and roll was still coming of age. Just over a dozen years later the idea came to full flourish with the deliberate convergence of such star-tilted ensembles as Blind Faith and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the former a reflection of their uncertainty and the latter a banner more befitting a law firm than a casual conglomeration. Nevertheless, the appeal was obvious — gather a group of stellar players, each with a fabled resume of their own, allow them the ability to combine their talents, and then witness what results.

The idea has apparently fallen out of favor in recent times — the one notable exception being the Traveling Wilburys a top-heavy gathering featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty whose brief tenure was a testament to untenable circumstance — but the idea still holds magic and mystique, especially to those who are star-struck by the possibilities.

The latest outfit to lay claim to a similarly distinct designation is a band that calls themselves The Lickerish Quartet. Granted, it’s actually a trio and not a quartet, and the pedigrees are nowhere near as hallowed as the aforementioned ensembles. However for power pop aficionados, there will likely be a decided lure regardless. The band’s charter members — Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Beck, Air, Cheap Trick, Imperial Drag), Tim Smith (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Finn Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Umajets) and Eric Dover (Imperial Drag, Slash’s Snakepit, Alice Cooper, Sextus) — obviously boast impressive credentials of their own, and their initial offering, a four song EP dubbed Threesome Vol. 1 offers a hint of their potential prowess with the promise of more to come.

The common connection for all three players was their initial partnership in Jellyfish, which last found them working in common on the band’s Spilt Milk album some 27 years prior, but regardless, the new combo marks a belated return as far as all three.

The results are predictably flush with plenty of power pop references, from the assertive opener “Lighthouse Spaceship,” with its plethora of Beatles/Badfinger references, to the semi-psychedelic swirl of “There Is a Magic Number,” the harmonious ELO-sounding ballad “Bluebird’s Blues,” and the fanciful “Fadoodle,” a playful look at practical ways of rekindling a relationship as it might have once been imagined had Queen given it their own regal treatment.

“I think we share many influences together, though it’s hard to quantify,” Dover suggests. “Between the three of us is a massive knowledge of music past and present. We never really go into it thinking it has to sound like any one in particular. Sometimes we’ll play each other something we dig as an inspiration, but it’s usually more for arrangement, vibe or timbre purposes. At the end of the day it’s up to the three of us coming together with the music and lyrics. It’s a very fluid process.”

Naturally, hints of their former associations find their way into the mix, and with them, a willingness to indulge in lush production and heavenly harmonies as the key components of their pop perfect sound. Both the energy and enthusiasm are apparent, evidence that even at the outset that the three musicians clearly clicked immediately. Each man has stated their satisfaction with the set-up while promising that there’ll be more music to come. With a determination not to allow egos to interfere, it appears that democracy and desire will prevail.

“There should be a reasonably quick follow up as we have a dozen tracks in the can at the moment, and yes it will be called Volume 2,” Dover insists. “We have enjoyed reconnecting immensely, so I think it’s safe to assume we shall record more music together.

While the arrangements are elaborate to a great degree, the circumstance that brought the trio together was decidedly straight forward. “It was Roger who got in touch with Tim in 2017,” Dover recalls. “They then reached out to me. I think we all were very enthusiastic to reconnect. Once we got into the workflow, it was like the old riding a bicycle adage.”

That said, Dover dismisses any chance that even after the pandemic subsides, the band will choose to tour.

“The short answer is no,” the musician replies when asked about the possibilities. “We may endeavor virtual engagements in the future, but for now, with the world in turmoil over the virus, I have grave doubts that live music performed to a crowd will ever be the same as it was again. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s the reality we must deal with.”

Dover also discounts the need to typecast themselves by tying themselves to any particular style or sound. After all, categorization can be misleading. “Speaking for myself, I don’t follow genres as much as I do songs and songwriting,” he says. “It could be any genre really, and if it’s something that connects with me, I’m in. I hold a huge place in my heart for power pop in the classic sense, but I couldn’t tell you much about its current landscape.”

The Lickerish Quartet Released on: 2020-05-15 Musical collaborations between Roger Joseph Manning Jr, Eric Dover, and Tim Smith

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