(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lobotomite is a five-piece alt-metal band from Fredonia made up of singer/front-woman Olivia Karasiewicz, bassist Logan McGranaghan, Ethan Smith on rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Cody Moran and drummer, John Klewicki. 1120 Press caught up with them on Saturday, Jan 6., at Stamps in Tonawanda where they were headlining a show with BP & the Oil Spills, Lacerate, Tar Bucket and Kill Uncle. We talked about their ever-evolving sound, music theory and how they came to be. Please read our story below. — Photos by Benjamin Joe.)
1120 PRESS: Thank you for speaking with us. To start off, can you tell us how you guys started out?
OLIVIA: Logan can say more about this, but he put out a lot of posters wanting to build a little group of people and we all just kind of responded.
1120: What kind of influences do you each have?
ETHAN: I’m influenced by a lot of ‘core. I like a lot of August Burns Red. Metalcore, hardcore, punk rock. Anywhere from Slipknot, Trivium to Green Day and August Burns Red, Wage War and stuff like that. I love all those bands.
LOGAN: I come from the 80s and 90s era of Motorhead, the Big Four Thrash, but also some Nu-metal. That’s what I like, but obviously we are all expanding each of our palates.
JOHN: A lot of fusion and prog. Lots of that kind of stuff from the mid-70s. I listen to too much of it. Return to Forever, lots of Zappa. King Crimson’s been a big one for the last three years. And in the spirit of them, Black MIDI, more recently.
CODY: Starting out I was pretty big into Nu-metal and metalcore. I listen to a lot of Avenge Sevenfold, Lincoln Park, Slipknot. Deftones are probably one of the big ones. I’m also really into avant-garde and progressive music like Dream Theater, Tool and some solo guitar stuff, like Buckethead. He is probably one of my biggest inspirations. He had a big influence on my style.
OLIVIA: I also like a lot of Nu-metal. And a lot of singer-songwriter stuff. I really like Fiona Apple. My favorite group, as of the past year or so, has been Manic Street Preachers. They’re fantastic. I just really like intense vocals and stuff like that. I like listening to things I can learn different techniques from.
1120: So, you’d all say that your tastes have all changed a little since getting into the band?
OLIVIA: For me personally. This is really the first time I’ve collaborated with a lot of people, so it’s a lot to experience.
1120: How does it all come together when you’re playing?
OLIVIA: How we started, we picked a few covers so we could see how we all play together and from there we made it our own. Our method, when we start writing new music, somebody will bring in an idea and then we all customize parts for ourselves.
JOHN: A handful of songs in this (next) set, Olivia wrote on her own or worked with me. We would bring them in, just chords and basic structure, and everybody else is like, “oh, I want to put this riff here,” and, “we’re going to have everybody around this riff for a minute.”
1120: You were saying everyone but Olivia studies music at Fredonia? That must be pretty cool.
OLIVIA: We have a wide range of understanding of music theory. I’m not a music student so I just do it intuitively while everybody else actually knows. I’ve done a lot with music since I was young, but I don’t study theory to the extent that everybody else does. My background in school is either painting or film. It’s really interesting working with music students because I can throw an idea out there and they can work it in.
JOHN: It’s a fun way to work, sometimes. You just throw something in. We had a song we worked on, and it ended up not being quite right for what the group is right now. I brought in this section and Cody brought up this idea that completely stunted it, but somehow for a month we worked it out and then realized this part doesn’t work for our band. So, sometimes it doesn’t work, but generally we’ve been able to get some really cool ideas. … Usually, we work out the instrumentals first, then we bring Olivia in to work her magic because if all the instrumentals are a little heady and forceful, we have the human element.
CODY: On our most recently completed track we got the furthest we’ve come for our collective sound. What we really want to see.
1120: So, the big question is, what is that collective sound?
JOHN: More than a sound, I think, it’s an idea and an intention of what to play that’s as high a level you can stand and keep pushing to do more difficult things over and over until you make it look easy.
LOGAN: You guys may disagree, but we all have our own influences, but all those things just culminate into one huge melting pot. We create our own sound from all those influences. We have some different-sounding songs, but I feel like without describing exactly what that sound is …
OLIVIA: There’s a consistency.
CODY: There are certain things that I think make it really specific to us. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out how to do that. Figuring out how do we take what everybody wants to do collectively and make it work for everybody in the group. I really like the way that John phrased it, as it’s more an idea than a sound, because as of right now that’s how it goes.
OLIVIA: I think everybody has got their own specific things they do. Like, you two are really solid as like a rhythm. And I know you (John) got a lot of fusion. …
JOHN: Jazz influenced, yeah.
OLIVIA: Yeah. It’s a very interesting force in a rock focused group — to have a jazz background. Cody, you’re just good with the shredding.
ETHAN: Going back to earlier, I guess we just have a group of songs that’s a testament to our experimentation, but there’s also this special sauce that’s in all of them.
1120: How long did it take to get that special sauce out of the packaging?
OLIVIA: Well, originally, we didn’t have Ethan.
LOGAN: Yeah, we didn’t have Ethan until my second semester.
OLIVIA: At that point we were only doing covers. To get used to each other.
JOHN: It wasn’t until we had two or three originals that we had an understanding (how to work with each other). We had four or five originals for the first show and a week before the show we were running through it, and we all had the same idea for a second. It was an improv section in one of our songs and we all started hitting this idea over and over. So, it was like, “OK, we need to do that at the show now!”
1120: When did you guys start playing out?
ETHAN: Our first show was on May 6 of last year, 2023.
OLIVIA: We didn’t get into Buffalo (until) this September, but since then we’ve been mainly in Buffalo, actually.
1120: What are your plans for tonight and going forward?
OLIVIA: I think we want to do this as long as we can.
ETHAN: I love these guys. I don’t want to ever stop.
JOHN: With every show we play and every time we get together to rehearse, we get further with what we want to do. We keep expanding. I want to see that groove for as long as we can.