Earl Kramer, hailing from Berkeley, CA, got together a few years ago with a friend and some acoustic guitars. Since then their light-hearted but still complex folk has expanded into a full band, with an edge of rock infused with wit and charm. Lime Colony released a long EP entitled The Advantage Of Getting There First, and is now busy recording another one. Earl speaks in his interview about his conversion, the history of the band, and the songwriting process.
Tell us a little about the history of Lime Colony.
A: Tim and I went to the same high school in Vacaville. Tim was (is?) my brother-in-law’s childhood best friend. So we sort of met through him and through our high school’s band classes. We were both really into our music – mostly classical and jazz. Tim played saxophone and I French horn and piano. Right around the end of high school, we started our own jazz group comprised of a couple of classmates and a parent. That lasted a couple of years and kept us occupied. We played a lot of standards plus some original stuff I wrote in my (ample) free time.
Anyway, Tim went off to college in Massachusetts. We both independently started playing guitar and listening to more indie rock, as people do when they go to college. At Tim’s graduation party, we started playing and singing a cover song and realized that there was some potential.
So naturally, nothing happened. Then after a year or so, we both found ourselves living in Berkeley. I wrote my first song and emailed it to Tim and the band was born. We spent a few months going to open-mics, primarily The Hotel Utah, and started recording an EP in Tim’s bedroom. Eventually, Tim invited Colin, a co-worker of his, to play the drums with us. He fit right in. A few months ago, I found out my neighbor plays a mean bass. The rest, as they say, is history.
So you’re the only Latter-day Saint in the band?
When did you join the LDS Church? Tell us a little about your conversion.
A: In 2004, my wife started going to music-makers (a music playgroup for toddlers) at the Davis 1st Ward. She soon started discussions with the missionaries. When they came over, I would take our son and leave. I wanted no part of it. One night, I picked up the Book of Mormon, intent on finding something to disprove it. It was only a couple of minutes before I had an experience that I don’t know how to accurately describe, but all at once, I understood all that I’d heard about the church and knew that it was all true. I went from vocal opponent to convert instantly. It was like a light being turned on. I was baptized shortly thereafter.
What influences do you bring to the table? Who inspired you to pick up a guitar in the first place?
A: I’d say our songwriting background stems primarily from the alt-country/folk scene with a plethora of other artists and genres. Bands such as Clem Snide, Langhorne Slim, The Beatles, The Alan Parsons Project, Frank Zappa, Death Cab For Cutie all play somewhat of a role in the songs.
I worked in a music store for a while, responsible for cleaning instruments, changing strings (I didn’t really know how to do this, so it usually was a disaster), tuning guitars, etc. I played in the afternoon and evenings when it was slow. Additionally, my father-in-law and brother-in-law both play a lot of guitar. I found a nice solid-top guitar at a music store in Davis for $150, so I bought it.
Who writes the songs in Lime Colony? What is the songwriting process like?
A: We both (Tim and I) write them, usually independently. Often, I will hear a little melodic line with some words attached to it in my mind (usually at inconvenient times) and will write down what I can. Once I get some spare alone time, and this does not occur frequently, I’ll finish it up and record a demo so it doesn’t get forgotten. A certain amount of the songs are abominable (e.g. ‘My Mother Died In A Cornfield Fire’), but you’ve got to write the bad ones to make room for the good ones.
What themes can listeners expect to hear in your music?
A: There’s a healthy dose of situations where a narrator is admonishing someone else for unreasonable or irresponsible behavior.
Your music is somewhat reminiscent of another Linescratchers band, The Sweater Friends. Ever heard of them?
A: No, but I will check them out.
Where do you see Lime Colony in the future?
A: Pretty much just where we are now. This is a great hobby and outlet for many many reasons, but I have no delusions of fame or fortune. There are thousands of great bands that are good enough to be signed by a major label and be very successful, but only a few get that opportunity. There’s a lot of luck that goes into it. That said, we are trying to build a name for ourselves locally.
Where does the name Lime Colony come from?
A: It’s an anagram of sorts. Tim and I were talking about tribute band names being anagrams of the inspiring artists’ names. We started thinking of some and we came up with Lime Colony. I’ll let you figure it out.
What shows are coming up for the band?
A: We’ve got a big show this Tuesday, October 13th at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco (which, by the time this is posted, will probably have occurred with great success). We’ll be co-headlining with The Yellow Dress, with The JJ Schultz Band and Passenger & Pilot opening up for us. Also, we’re playing a fun Saturday night show at The Beale Street Bar in SF on November 7th. We’re working on setting up shows for December and January, too.
Where can interested listeners hear more about your music?
A: Our website/blog (http://limecolony.com) which we try to update regularly, and the standard social network sites (http://myspace.com/limecolony and http://facebook.com/limecolony) have everything you need to assemble a Lime Colony shrine in your closet. We have an EP, The Advantage Of Getting There First, which you can buy on the website. A second, longer EP is in the works, and should be ready by Christmas.