The Lowest of the Low's Stephen Stanley
of Ontario’s best bands, The Lowest of the Low have always had
an unusually devoted following here in Western New York, even after
they broke up. Now they’re back together, and coming to town in support
of their third studio album, Sordid Fiction, which will be released
on September 21st. We talked to lead guitarist Stephen Stanley
about his band, their ups and downs, and a cool new twist on the live
BEAST: You guys put on a great live show. What's it
like when you've got thousands of people coming to see you play? Do
you get freaked out?
Stanley: Not really. When you've done it for a while,
with music, you're always trying sort of get to that next level. I don't
know what people are calling it anymore but when a show breaks through
the barrier of sort of a sublime level, it doesn't happen all the time,
but when it does, it's like an amazing experience.
BEAST: Your first album, Shakespeare My Butt,
really broke out in the indy music scene around here in 1992 and got
a lot of attention on local radio. With your new album, are you facing
a different challenge?
Stanley: It's facing the same challenge with a lot of
different parameters, I think, because unbeknownst to us at that time,
radio was really ready to support indy music, and they did, and that's
not so much the case anymore. I think there's still a chance to do radio
and I hope something happens there, but it's not a slam-dunk. Not that
it was then, but radio just really embraced us back then and that's
what gave us a foothold. I think we were always a really good live band,
and when people came to see the shows, that gave them a reason to come
back again and again. But to get people to come out in significant numbers
you need that support from another level, whether it's radio or television.
BEAST: The band broke up in the late ‘90s, and now
you've been back together for a few years. Do you regret the time you
Stanley: I think, for us, had we stayed together, we couldn't
have kept putting out albums in the same format, and I think we would
have alienated people as the years went on. Our next record would have
been pretty different than the first two. The artists for me that are
the most interesting are the ones that continue to change.
BEAST: So this is an opportunity to get a fresh start?
Stanley: It's a bit of a different band too. We've got
two new guys in the band and we've added a lot of different instrumentation,
and I think that will become more evident from the album than from the
BEAST: Has the solo work you and Ron Hawkins have done
affected the sound of the new Low album?
Stanley: I think it has affected us as songwriters. It
has changed the way we thought about music and the way we thought about
arranging, and hopefully you grow as a player and bring that to the
band too. What didn't change was the spark that we have when we get
together. It's something unique, and you can look for it forever. We've
both played with a lot of people outside Lowest of the Low but it’s
never been an experience for us like this band is. There's just this
sort of kinetic energy that makes it work.
BEAST: You’ve guys have played in Buffalo quite a bit.
What do you think about the reception you get here?
Stanley: I remember two years ago doing the Buffalo Rocks
the Harbor show. The whole day was threatening to be terrible weather
and it looked like there was going to be a good chance that it was going
to get rained out, but that didn’t happen and tons of people showed
up. There was a point where Ron and I went down to a level on the stage
where we were like sort of at eye level with the audience. It was like
one of the most memorable moments of the last four years, because it
was just this in your face energy coming off the crowd that makes you
just want to play the best you’ve ever played in your life. When those
moments happen it’s like “holy crap, this is so powerful.”
BEAST: Any surprises planned for the Buffalo show?
Stanley: We’re doing something kind of neat. There’s this
company that has been working with The Pixies called DiscLive that comes
into a venue for a live show, brings a staff of like fifteen and records
the show, mixes it on the fly, and then sells the discs right when the
shows over. We’re working with them for the Buffalo show, so that’s
going to be really cool.
BEAST: That’s cool; we’ll look for that at the show.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Stanley: You’re welcome. See you at the show.
The Lowest of the Low will play an all ages outdoor
concert with The Marble Index August 20th at Club Infinity Festival
Grounds, 8166 Main Street staring at 7pm. For tickets call (716) 565-0110