After spending years upon years toiling away as a band playing countless shows, traveling thousands of miles, recording various studio projects and building an original catalog, to say it’s a hard decision to change directions, re-brand and move on to something new is like saying it’s hard to beat Mike Tyson in Punch Out: an understatement of the highest order.
After nearly five years, the popular Brooklyn jam/jazz/funk/fusion band, Licorice, decided it was time for a change. Three of the original four members, David Lott (guitar, vocals), Matt Epstein (bass) and Josh Bloom (drums, vocals), plan to stay together in the form of The Whitewalls, but with a new direction, a more song-focused trio and perhaps (gasp) less extended jamming.
Despite the mental struggles that come with debating a name change and a new sonic endeavor: giving up the brand recognition; wondering what to do with the recorded catalog; questioning if the fans will follow; and summoning up the energy to build something new from the ground up, David Lott and The Whitewalls have a reinvigorated spirit and they know they did the right thing. Look no further than Lott’s recent months for proof. He’s already released an E.P. with The Whitewalls, recorded his own solo EP, landed a role as the lone guitarist in an Off-Broadway gig and continued to perform relentlessly.
Ryan Dembinsky: So let’s start with some background; I ran into your lovely wife Emily in Saratoga before the Phish shows and she passed along the news that had Licorice split up, or was at least on hold for the time being. It sounds like the intent is that you are planning to focus on writing for a new band called The Whitewalls as well as on your solo material. So, without digging up dirt, what happened?
David Lott: My wife starting seeing Phish regularly, and so, I had to get out of the jamband race – that’s some stiff competition.
All kidding aside, after nearly 5 years, Licorice had accomplished so much, from our Blue Note extravaganzas to playing with jazz legends as regulars at the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado to the stages in NYC like Bowery, Brooklyn Bowl, Blender Theater, The Knit, Sullivan Hall, etc. We had come to a point, a sort of fork in the road, where we wanted to attain the production level, artistic intention, and lyrical value of the bands/artists we were also learning from in addition the bands in the jamband world.
It was not “Licorice” anymore once we made that choice. The intent was different, and so, the name, had to change. Licorice may always exist – it’s like my first child, but I want to have a bigger family now.
READ ON for more of Ryan’s chat with David Lott…