In today’s society, the realm of romantic relationships can often find itself amongst the whirlpool of us seeking instant gratification. With countless dating apps and sites that are as easy as liking or swiping, there has never been a more connected world that is incredibly disconnected when it comes to matters of the heart. Through seeking validation from others as a form of our own self-worth, we deprive ourselves of living to our fullest potential and we dim our light so as not to be seen. By being present with others during both their joys and sorrows of life, this is where love begins romantically and where our compassion for all of humanity as a collective unites us as a whole. In their latest single, ‘Bus Stop World’, released on February 6, Cartoon lizard explores the trials of young romance with a psychedelic sound reminiscent of the ’70s.
Cartoon Lizard is a five-piece experimental and psychedelic folk-pop band based out of Victoria BC, composed of Shilo Preshyon (writer, multi-instrumentalist, miscellaneous sound maker, engineer), Trevor Lang (writer, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, graphic design), Alex Maunders (writer, multi-instrumentalist), Ritchie Hemphill (writer, multi-instrumentalist, mixer, engineer, videography, and photography), and Brennan Doyle (writer, multi-instrumentalist, videography).
As a band, some of their main influences include Animal Collective, The Beatles, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Harry Nilsson, and the Beach Boys. Individually, their influences take on a wide array of artists such as Joanna Newsom and Olivia Tremor Control (Trevor), MBV and Dirty Projectors (Ritchie), Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, Talking Heads, and Queen (Alex), Shilo adds, “[I’ve been] influenced by my peers and thrift store new age cassettes. I hung out with Robert Pollard in a dream once too; he was drunk and complaining about the weather while wearing flip flops, not sure if that changed the way I think about music though.” Brennan also chimes in, “I’ve always had a hard time trying naming the most prominent influences in my music as my taste is all over the place. Over the years I’ve noticed myself tending to write a lot of orchestral style string/brass arrangements, though. I’ve always felt I need to keep experimenting with my writing, so I consciously try to start with a blank slate and experiment each time.”
When asked about the origins of how they met and their band name, Trevor recalls, “Ritchie braved entering my basement after responding to my Craigslist ad looking for somebody to play music with back in 2011. We played together for a couple years then split when Ritch moved to Vancouver. I went off, made a couple solo records and played with Brennan for a while in Victoria after meeting him at a show we were both playing. I then moved to Vancouver to work with Ritch, who was living with Shilo at the time. He and I ended up going on tour with a local psych-rock band called Cult Babies and at our return show, we met Alex, whom Shilo knew from music school and spoke very highly of. Shi, Ritch, and I wanted to make a project and we instantly hit it off with Alex so he was in. Then I suggested Brennan after playing with him for years and slowly everyone moved back to Victoria to pursue the dream together,” he continues, “While living in Vancouver, Ritch & Shilo became close friends with their laneway neighbor, a lifelong musician, and artist. Over the course of a year, they listened to his stories of mystery, deaths, and musical heroes. Cartoon Lizard is named after his older brother’s band from the late ’80s, which fell into obscurity. Their origin story came on a winters day while cloud gazing on LSD. They saw a Cartoon Lizard in the sky. We are carrying on in their honor.”
Many of the band members got started into music at a young age. Brennan explains about his journey, “I was in elementary school and really wanted to befriend someone a year older than me (older = cooler). His dad had a home studio, and he played the drums. Thus, I really felt the need to learn the drums.” Shilo chimes in, “I started to play music in grade 2 so I didn’t have to go home.” Alex elaborates about his early years, “Growing up in a musical family, parents that had an intense enthusiasm for music and having access to lots of instruments.” Richie’s start was more about his ability to create, adding, “A feeling of total freedom to create worlds and emotions.” Having a similar desire to create as Richie, Trevor quickly says, “I came from a very musical family.”
In their new single, ‘Bus Stop World’, features subtle piano melodies, clean electric guitar, soft vocals all mixed with a ’70s-era psychedelic vibe. As for the inspiration behind their single, the band says, “In a general sense, ‘Bus Stop World’ explores the universal feelings of instant admiration of strangers in day to day settings. On a more personal level, ‘Bus Stop World’ is a saturated autobiographical swirl of intense introspection. It tells of one’s struggle with a long term relationship at a young age, presenting an internal battle between fighting for a relationship and looking to the dating world with an uncertain wonder. Freedom, faithfulness, and fulfillment are plaintively pondered on this succinctly produced guitar pop track.” The band adds that the core components of their single were written by Alex Maunders while he was attending music school in 2015. After shelving it for a few years, he presented the song to the rest of the group during a band trip to the reserve Ritchie Hemphill grew up in Port Hardy, BC. From there, it blossomed into what it is today.
Curious about if the band might have any wisdom to share from their collective journeys, I asked If there was a single message that the band would want to put out there to make the world the kind of place that they would aspire to live in, what would that message be, they reply, “Engaging in the deep reeds of interpersonal relationships is a challenge you cannot sidestep. This band is a 5-way marriage, and with no hyperbole, every single note of every instrument is nitpicked and curated to suit every band member’s taste. This process involves a lot of heartbreak, careful, thoughtful critiquing as well as knowing when to compromise.”
Their new single was written, performed, engineered, and mixed by the band themselves and is from their upcoming EP entitled “Bless You Thank You”, which is set to be released in March of this year. Ritchie recorded and edited the music video at the studio (Risque Disque Records).