After 8 years of ups and downs, Lit is ready to release its fifth album: View From the Bottom, on June 19th. We speak with bassist Kevin Baldes about his favorite drink, favorite hangouts, and when he feels the most free.
Members: A.Jay Popoff – Vocals , Jeremy Popoff – Guitar, Kevin Baldes – Bass, Nathan Walker – Drums, Ryan Gillmor – Guitar/Keyboards.
[By Monica Harris]
Using song titles and lyrics as questions, I talk on the phone with Kevin Baldes of Lit:
Q. One of your songs on the new album is called Same Shit, Different Drink. What’s your favorite drink?
Kevin: My favorite drink is Noble Ale. Its called Nobility. I’m the guy in the band that’s really into craft beer. I don’t really drink too much Vodka or Jack Daniels or mixed drinks like that. I drink craft beers. Noble Ale Nobility.
Q. In that same song you guys mention the Mandalay Bay. What’s your favorite hangout in Las Vegas?
Kevin: I like going to the Old Towne area, like the Horseshoe. But the Palms is really nice. We typically stay at the Palms. But sometimes its cool to go to the old school area and maybe hang out at the Horseshoe, at the lower stakes tables.
Q. Is that downtown?
Kevin: Yeah, there’s like an older downtown. Its not on the Strip. I think its in the northwest corner of Las Vegas.
Q. Related to your song Miss You Gone, who do you miss the most when you’re on the road with the band?
Kevin: My son Grayson.
Q. How old is he?
Kevin: He’s almost 9 months. Yeah, he’s my little guy. I’m actually up in his room right now and I have a window in his room that overlooks our living room and I have it shut. I’m watching him sleep on the couch while I do the interview.
Q. You have a song called Nothing’s Free. When would you say is when you feel the most free?
Kevin: I feel most free when I’m on stage, to be honest with you. Because — I can’t even explain it. Being onstage, when you’re up there…and you’ve got 5 guys creating something typically anywhere from 16-18 songs a night, its pretty wild to think that you can get 5 people on stage that play different instruments and we all start at the same moment and we create this song that we play together for anywhere from 2 minutes to 4 minutes long, and its kind of a pretty validating feeling, and it’s a very free kind of feeling, especially when its rock and roll because you also get to let out your frustrations. It’s a culmination of feelings and emotions going on when we’re on stage, because we’re playing rock and roll songs, we’re playing drinking songs, and now we’ve got a hand full of badder songs, I guess. You know? We have a song called “Here’s to Us,” which is in honor of our drummer Allen who passed away. So when we do play that one live, it tugs on the heart strings. But being onstage, by far, is one of the freest moments I ever feel.
Q. I know you have a new drummer, how is it working out with him?
Kevin: Nathan [Walker] is great. He actually knew [former drummer] Allen [Shellenberger] and was friends with him for quite a few years and they were both solo drummers, you know. Nathan played in other bands and when Allen got sick, Nathan was one of the first guys to call and say “How can I help?” Not necessarily meaning, hey, let me fill in for Allen. He wanted to help Allen set up his drums. And just any way he could help. He was kind of there from the beginning. He’s very, very respectful of Allen, what Allen was to Lit, and what Allen did for Lit. You know, Allen played a certain way that was part of the Lit chemistry. And Nathan hasn’t changed that. Even on the new album. I mean, Nathan’s a really good drummer and has the ability to kind of do his own thing, but he keeps it true to the Lit style. And I thought that was very respectful of him towards Allen and that means a lot to us, you know. So, its going very well, to answer your question.
Q. In one of your older songs, Times Like This, the lyric says: “You’re the song that’s stuck in my head.” So my question is, is there a song that’s been stuck in your head a lot lately?
Kevin: Yes, probably “Rocket Man” by Elton John. I love that song. I call my son Rocket Man and I always grab him and lift him in the air on that chorus, and he always laughs. Now that I’m home off tour, I’m daddy daycare, so I’m always playing around with him and kind of doing the airplane thing around the house and he loves it.
Q. Awww. And that’s a great song. One of those timeless songs that won’t ever go out of style.
Kevin: Very, very timeless, yeah.
Q. Any place in Orange County that you really love hanging out at?
Kevin: I got a handful that I like to hang out at. I think the Slidebar is always kind of a home, obviously, the Slidebar is owned by Jeremy Popoff, our guitar player. So I know everybody there. But I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I don’t like the hustle and bustle of a lot of people being around. I like a dark corner with a good beer and a good friend, and just good conversation. So sometimes that might be over at Joey’s. Tonight I’m going to Noble Aleworks in Anaheim, which is a brewery, again with the craft beer, so I’m going there tonight with some friends, and we’re gonna chill. Its kind of quieter there, its not really a huge hang, people getting nutty and scamming on chicks. This is more about people that appreciate really good beer and they go there to try the different flavors and mingle with other people that like really good beer. I used to drink beer to get drunk, now I drink beer because I like the different flavors.
Q. My last question – are you your “Own Worst Enemy?”
Kevin: At times I am, yeah, I can be. I try to keep a tap on it. My manager texted me the other day, my manager, while we were on tour in Alabama or Florida or somewhere, last week, and I think I had just got off the phone with him and I told him, “Dude I’ve been drinking every single night.” Because when you’re on tour there’s not a whole lot to do. I mean, there is, but there isn’t. There’s a lot of down time. So that’s when musicians typically get in trouble and they start drinking. So I had been drinking every single day as well as everybody else in the band. And I told my manager that. And he texted me a little later and said, “Don’t forget, you’re somebody’s dad.” It kind of got me thinking — All right, all right, I got this.