I’ve written about and have photographed the Northeastern Pennsylvania-based shoegazers and JOVM mainstays The Stargazer Lilies quite a bit over the years. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of founding and married duo John Cep (guitar, bass, vocals, drums, production) and Kim Field (bass, vocals) and a rotating cast of live drummers can trace its origins to when Cep’s and Field’s previous band Soundpool broke up.
Although Soundpool had built up a national profile, touring with Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, A Place to Bury Strangers, School of Seven Bells, Black Moth Super Rainbow, TOBACCO, and a list of others, Cep and Field desired a change in sonic direction. With Stargazer Lilies’ full-length debut, We Are The Dreamers, the duo established a signature sound, which meshed elements of dream pop, shoegaze — but with a muscular forcefulness. Their sophomore album, 2016’s Door to the Sun firmly cemented their sound and approach while expanding upon it. Since the release of Door to the Sun, Cep and Field have been relentlessly touring as both an opener and headliner, frequently with JOVM mainstay TOBACCO and his Black Moth Super Rainbow, and a list of others.
Slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Rad Cult Records, the band’s long-awaited third full-length album Occabot finds the duo collaborating with their frequent tourmate TOBACCO (a.k.a Tom Fec). Interestingly, their collaboration with TOBACCO can be traced to a Stargazer Lilies show a couple of years ago. “It just hit me they were way heavier than they seem,” TOBACCO explains in press notes. “And that wasn’t translating in their recordings. Their old stuff is panoramic and smooth; I wanted 3D and bumpy.”
Wanting to help get the duo where they all felt they wanted to be, Fec signed the band to his Rad Cult Records imprint and agreed to work on their third album. But not right away though. He let Cep and Field work on the material in their own idiosyncratic image first. When the members of Stargazer Lilies had completed things on their end with eight raw and primal tracks, Fec then stepped in to distort, bend and burn the material’s overall sound even further.
Cep likens the creative process behind Occabot to what Andy Warhol did with pop art prints and The Velvet Undgeround and Nico. “Lou [Reed] said Andy was the best producer because he basically let the group do whatever the fuck they wanted. Tom did a similar thing with us; he let us have complete creative control, then added splashes of color and made it rough around the edges. Those embellishments make his artistic stamp on the project unmistakable, but leave the essence of our music very much intact.”
“Living Work of Art,” Occabot‘s boundary pushing single finds TOBACCO scrubbing the song with sandpaper then mangling Field’s and Cep’s work in a blender and throwing it into an acid bath while still retaining the hazy shoegazer quality of their previous work. Sonically you’ll hear blasts of hi-hat driven drums skittering across a thick wave of heavily distorted guitars that sound like broken and fuzzy synths while Field’s vocals ethereally float over the mix. It’s shoegaze for the impending end of the world.