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LIT Returns with Tastes Like Gold

LIT Returns with Tastes Like Gold

Photo by Nick Fancher

LIT Returns with Tastes Like Gold

Lit is back with a dynamic new album entitled Tastes Like Gold, jam-packed with the high energy rock and roll tunes the band has become known all over the world for. With songs that could give their iconic A Place In The Sun a run for its money, Tastes Like Gold presents Lit at the very height of their creative prowess. Highwire Daze recently interviewed bassist Kevin Baldes a few days after their triumphant House Of Blues headlining show in Anaheim to find out more about the almighty Tastes Like Gold, their new drummer Taylor Carroll, their early days on the Sunset Strip when they were known as Razzle, and more…

What was it like playing brand new songs at your hometown House Of Blues in Anaheim the other night?
It’s funny you ask, because I’m the guy in the band whose been trying to get a lot of the new songs into the set and bail a lot of the old ones. This is the first album where I actually want to play a lot of the new material. Honestly! I would have never said this for any other interview for any other album. I mean I loved all of our albums, but I’m having a lot of fun with these new ones. Tastes Like Gold, The Life That I Got – those are the next two that I want to add. We already have four in there – we were doing a fifth one Yeah Yeah Yeah – but it’s funny – sometimes we’re headlining – sometimes we’re supporting somebody – and when we’re supporting somebody it’s usually a 45-minute set. And it’s tough, because there’s staple songs we have to play. I get it – when I go see Iron Maiden, I don’t want to hear a bunch of new stuff – I wanna hear old stuff. I get that they want to play new songs because they get off on that and they want to promote their new album. It’s a tug and a pull situation. You hope that people like the new album enough that they’re okay with the band playing a bunch of new material. So right now, we’re at four new songs live.

Tastes Like Gold by LIT

What does the title of the new album Tastes Like Gold mean to you?
I haven’t really thought about that too much. We have a song called Tastes Like Gold, and I’m the one that suggested calling the album that. It’s kind of a classic move – having a title track on your album. We did it with A Place In The Sun – we didn’t do it for Atomic and A View From The Bottom or the Self-Titled album. We didn’t have a song called Tripping The Light Fantastic. So, there’s been two albums in our catalog with a title track – A Place In The Sun and now this one Tastes Like Gold. Hopefully Tastes Like Gold follows the road that A Place In The Sun did. That would be cool.

A Place In The Sun was your breakthrough album…
Yeah! And I love the songs on Taste Like Gold too. So, for anybody out there – definitely listen to those songs. Taste Like Gold is probably my favorite song on the album.

You had some very cool special guests on this new album. One of them was Adrian Young from No Doubt who you worked with before. He was on the song Mouth Shut. What was it like working with Adrian again?
It was cool. He has that home studio, and he does a lot of production work out of there. And so, we were fortunate enough to have him play drums on it. And those drums were recorded in the thick of Covid. And I remember him asking “Hey, Kevin wants to cut bass. He could do it from my backyard and we’ll run lines out there.” And as appealing as that sounded, I thought it would be really cool to go to Adrian’s house and record bass there with him – we ended up doing it at a buddy’s studio – at Straitjacket Studios in Fullerton. Because I like to be right there on the console – air conditioning and what not (laughs). But maybe one day I’ll do something – now that Covid has kind of run its course a little bit. If we were to do it now, I would probably be in the control room. I would absolutely do that song at Adrian’s house – it would have been a lot of fun. I was thrown off a little bit like “man, I gotta be in the backyard by myself with a line” – with headphones I’m sure and the whole bit – so I opted not to do it there. But it was great – Adrian’s awesome! He’s a bro. We just released a new video today for Mouth Shut, and Adrian’s the drummer in the video.

Kevin Baldes of LIT – Photo by Jack Lue

You have the amazing American Authors on the song The Life That I Got. Tell me how that came about.
To be honest, I don’t know how that came about. I know that Jeremy wrote with them out in Nashville, so I’m assuming that one or two of those guys live out in Nashville and they got together and wrote that song. Another favorite – that song is actually going to be in our set here soon. It’s a fantastic song and people have been gravitating towards it now that the album has been out for half a week. We’re getting feedback already, and that song has come up quite a bit. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s always interesting when the albums been out a while to hear what people have to say and what they gravitate towards. Miserable off of A Place In The Sun was not going to be a single until we were on the road for a while. We came back and told RCA that this song is really reacting live. People are gravitating towards it. And they were like “Really?” And we were like, “Yeah, that’s possibly got to be another single.” And it was – it ended up being a single and it did very well for us. So sometimes it take a little while to see what people gravitate towards.

You have Butch Walker on Let’s Go – The Cars’ cover. Butch was in a hair metal band called Southgang back around the time you were doing Razzle. How did collaborating with Butch Walker come about?
Butch has been a friend of ours for many, many years. We both tackled the Sunset Strip in our formative years. It’s funny, because Let’s Go was just going to be a fun track – I think we even tacked that before the pandemic hit. Jason Freese from Green Day – a really good friend of mine – he did the synthesizer part first – and then we cut drums to it and then we cut bass to it. And then we had Sean Holland who was originally in our band when we first started when we were little kids – be actually plays guitar on it as well. He played a scratch track. Then we sent all of the tracks over to Nashville where Ajay and Jeremy finalized it. That was not going to be on the album – we were just doing that for fun. And as the song came together, everybody was like “Man, this sounds really cool!” Everybody loved it, so it ended up being a song on the album. Of course, Butch Walker was out there near Jeremy in Nashville somewhere and he hit him up – and literally in one night he sent back all the vocals. He cut all the vocals at his house – everybody knows Butch is a big studio guy. So, he just cut the vocals real quick there at his house – they spliced it up and the rest of history. But yeah, anytime we ask anything of Butch, he totally helps us out – he’s totally down to do anything we want him to do.

As far as you know, has anyone from The Cars heard or commented on your cover of Let’s Go?
No, but we played with Todd Rundgren on a festival some months back, and I had the opportunity – and at this point, we didn’t know that Let’s Go was going to be on album. At the time it was just a recording that we were working on. But the keyboard player for The Cars was playing in Todd Rundgren’s band. I met him and spoke to him briefly, but I didn’t bring that up. I would love for them to hear it. As a matter of fact, for a minute there after we did that show, I thought about getting ahold of him about him playing the keyboard parts since he’s the originator of it. But then again, I didn’t want to shit on my friend Jason’s part he did – that would be unfair. So, we said, “Let’s keep Jason in there – Jason did a great job.” So we didn’t do it. Maybe we’ll do another Cars song and have the original guy do it – I don’t know – that’ll be cool. We love The Cars. We actually did a song in our set for years where we jumped into a Cars song – we had to take that out of the set because now we’re doing Let’s Go in the set. We just love what The Cars brought to the table of rock and roll.

Taylor Carroll of LIT – Photo by Jack Lue

You have a new drummer since I’ve seen you live – Taylor Carroll. I met him when we were doing a photo shoot with Diamante, and he told me that he was in your band. How did Taylor become involved with Lit and what’s his background?
He’s a little bit younger than us – actually quite a bit younger than us, which is okay, because he definitely brings a fun energy to the band. He’s like the most positive guy in the world. He is an incredible drummer! I’ve played with a number of drummers – and beyond Lit I’ve played with a bunch of other people. When you got a good drummer driving behind you, it really, really kind of helps set the tone – especially in a live setting. And I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus, but the drummer we had prior to Taylor cancelled shows on us. We had Southern California shows – they weren’t Orange County shows, but they were in Southern California. And literally the day before these two shows were supposed to happen, this guy cancelled on us and just said “Dude, I’m ill.” And there’s a lot more to the story than that. And I don’t blame him for being ill or anything, but it just kept happening throughout. I’ve never cancelled a show on Lit, and he cancelled what was going to be his third and fourth show. So, I called him and said “We gotta let you go. We gotta pick somebody new.” And literally on a day’s notice, Taylor was able to come in and know our entire set – rehearsed one rehearsal with us ands then we played Pasadena and the following night we played Big Bear. And I think from there on, every weekend he was out with us. He was great! He obviously played on this album, except for Mouth Shut. And dude, he’s awesome – you gotta see him live with us. He’s a monster on the drums!

Jeremy Popoff of LIT – Photo by Jack Lue

When you look back on your days in Razzle and Strain, what do you think of those songs and those days now in retrospect?
You know what – I won’t even remotely shy away from the Razzle days or the Stain days. Those were very special days. When a lot of people were doing their thing, I was in a band with Jeremy and Ajay and Allen, and those were such special moments. I remember those moments very well – some of those early shows we did – and we busted our butts to really pack them in. We were in high school – and when you’re in high school, you have a ton of friends. We packed out all the clubs in Hollywood. We just wanted to perform. We wanted to create – and that’s exactly what we did. We put a lot into it. You look at photos and everything – it’s funny – you can laugh at them or whatever. I laugh at them – whatever – it doesn’t bother us anymore. We had long hair and that was the temperature at the time – it was very rock and roll – it was very what we were into. And I still listen to a lot of those bands – Ratt and Van Halen – I love that stuff! We were just a variation of that or trying to be a variation of that – and that’s all that was. And then with Stain, we got a little bit older, and we started realizing the pop rock and then we kind of got a little tougher and shied away from the clothes and stuff. Things just change. Anybody looking back on when they were 15 years old and then 21 and then when they were 25 and then when they were 30 – I mean anybody’s gonna change, you know – for the most part. That’s exactly what we did. They were all very special times, and like I mentioned earlier, Sean Holland played on Let’s Go and he was the guitar player for Razzle. And him and I talk every day. We’re best friends. Him and I reminisce every once in a while. He’ll come over to my house on a Saturday and I’ll be digging around in my garage going through stuff. Dude, I’ve got boxes – I’m the guy in the band who collects everything. I’ve got boxes and boxes of flyers and shirts and memorabilia from Razzle. He wasn’t in Stain, but I have tons of Stain stuff. And obviously all the Lit stuff throughout the years – I’ve got everything! It’s a little crazy.

Ajay Popoff of LIT – Photo bu Jack Lue

I saw Razzle once at The Troubadour a long time ago back when Highwire Daze first started.
Really? Those were special times. So, what’s funny, I hang out with Sean. I hung out with Sean on Sunday, or Monday I think it was – we went up to Big Bear and we went mountain bike riding – which was awesome. And every time I’m with Sean, it somehow come up. When we played The Roxy when we were really young, we went up onstage and the curtain opened, and it was sold out – I must have been 18 or 19 years old. And I told Sean, “Look over your shoulder and let’s never forget this moment.” And because I said this, to this day we always reminisce and say “Hey, remember that time we looked over the shoulder?” When we say that to each other, I have a snapshot in my mind of what that looked like. It was very special, because we were young – we weren’t signed – we were just like a local band writing music in our warehouse and being able to work our butts off to draw enough people to put on a big show and all that on that level – it was very, very special.

And now back to the present. Do you have any messages for Lit fans who are reading this right now?
I would say definitely give Tastes Like Gold a shot. It could be your new favorite album for sure. I would put Tastes Like Gold up against A Place In The Sun for sure. I love A Place In The Sun – obviously, it’s got a very special place in my heart. It opened more doors than I could ever imagine. But Tastes Like Gold is right on its tail quality-wise, song-wise and everything. I hope people give it a shot.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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