By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Recommended for fans of Joy Division, The Human League and Depeche Mode, Texas-based synth pop/post punk trio Don’t Get Lemon have released a new single called “S.I.,” a disco-infused track with lyrics that explore the society of the spectacle by French philosopher Guy Debord.
The song follows up previous single “Futures Lost,” both of which will appear on their upcoming EP ‘Forward Not Forgetting,’ slated for an Oct. 6, 2020 release.
Don’t Get Lemon is vocalist/percussionist Austin Curtis, guitarist/synthesist/programmer/drum machine operator Nicholas Ross and bassist/programmer/percussionist Bryan Walters.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the band about “S.I.” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the name Don’t Get Lemon?
Nicholas Ross – We were into the idea of calling ourselves “Lemon” for a while as a nod to The Stone Roses and ’68 protests in France that included many situationist theorists, but once we searched the name, we found out that we’d be grouped together with countless other bands. In order to stand out a little bit and at minimum, get us onto our own artists’ page on Spotify, we changed our name to “Don’t Get Lemon,” which is a line from “The Football Factory,” starring Danny Dyer. It’s a phrase that essentially means, “Don’t get smart.” Aside from contrasting this aggressive connotation against our upbeat music, we liked this change since it gave us an opportunity to use an acronym, DGL, where appropriate.
Music Bugle – What are some challenges of being a musical trio?
Bryan Walters – Everything is more expensive the less members you have. We try to do an even split on a lot of band expenses and coming from a five-piece band previously, the change is noticeable.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your particular genre?
Austin Curtis – The freedom to experiment with different sounds. You can hear us play around with different musical styles on the EP and we have no plans to stop anytime soon. This genre also gives us an opportunity to learn about new ways of writing, recording and producing music, since we come from a background where everything is “live tracked” and the songs are eight to 14 minutes long. Now, we have to focus on what actually needs to be there and how to succinctly do what we want to do in three-and-a-half to four minutes.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Austin Curtis – I’ve really been enjoying the singles Matt Beringer has released. I’m a big fan of The National, but unfortunately, I haven’t connected much with their past two albums, but the three singles he’s released so far this year as a solo artist have been a return to form for me, especially the return of the rumbling bass in his vocals, which have always resonated with me.
Music Bugle – What was it like making your recent EP?
Bryan Walters – A lot of fun, because we got to work with a long time collaborator, Rubio, at Cloudland Studios. Not only has Rubio engineered nearly all of our musical projects going back to 2013, they’ve also had a hand in producing and really helping us shape the songs into what they ultimately become. If you’re looking to record in Dallas-Fort Worth, check them out.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Texas to someone who has never been there before?
Austin Curtis – Probably not what you’d expect. No one is riding to school on horse. There are some amazing things about Texas that creates a real sense of pride in people, another form of tribalism for better or worse. Like most states, the cities are really quite liberal as well, but with the size of the state and how conservative the rest of it votes, we’re consistently a laughing stock. I’ve lived the majority of my life in the Houston area, which I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with and I know that isn’t anything original to me. I think nearly every “creative” person feels that way. Houston has amazing diversity and a thriving arts scene, but it seems like the only way people truly succeed is by leaving it. If you think “indie” in the 2000’s, some of the first names you’d associate with it are Win Butler and Wes Anderson, both of whom grew up in the Houston area and packed their bags the first chance they got. I’ve always had dreams of living in London, Paris or Berlin. Even when I moved to Austin for several years in my early 20’s, I swore to never come back to Houston. Yet, the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve grown to appreciate Houston and its people. It’s a lot cooler than people give it credit for and I like it that way.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Nicholas Ross – Social media definitely complicates being in a band these days, but it does help out immensely in other areas. We have entirely given up on Facebook, aside from the event feature, which is currently useless, because Facebook has become a total wasteland of awful content. Even bands that are much larger than we are just post into the void. That said, please like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram – we are @youdontgetlemon! Bandcamp used to be – and still is – a great social tool for people searching for music and for musicians, but with the shift to Spotify as the primary source for most listeners, we have been debating how best to promote this EP and our future work. We have also noticed a rise in ways to promote music that are thinly veiled “pay to play” models that can easily take advantage of bands that are too naive or eager. Each of us has been morally against the gig “pay to play” model throughout our times in different bands and we aren’t thrilled that it has transitioned onto the internet. Along with these models, we have recognized an increase in bot views and plays and bot likes and it really muddies the line between an authentic following and bands throwing cash into their appearances.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Nicholas Ross – We had planned on just recording two songs back in March, but due to the pandemic and lockdown starting, we ended up pushing back our studio booking. Once we pushed the timing back, we were able to write a few more songs, so we could write a more thematically complete EP instead of just a single or b-side. We were also able to play a show in late February and had a few more booked or in the works in Houston with some great bands, but we unfortunately had to cancel all of those as they approached, since nothing was clearing up.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Nicholas Ross – We would definitely tell ourselves to book more shows for very early 2020. We used that time to focus and write the initial songs we were going to record and had planned on playing more shows to support this release. Looking back, it would have been more beneficial to go the opposite route with our plan. On the other side of that, we probably would have also told ourselves to stick with the gear we had, instead of buying new or different gear. We have plenty of new live equipment that is mainly just collecting dust waiting for our next gig.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Bryan Walters – The three of us have been good friends and have been making music together for a long time, but after we moved to different cities in Texas and had reached a lull in regards to working together musically, we were able to stay close over a shared love of football – soccer. Austin is even a coach. It honestly helped us stay in contact more while apart physically and could be seen as a catalyst for the creation of Don’t Get Lemon. Our DGL “crest” design – that you can buy flags of on our Bandcamp – is actually inspired by football club badges.