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Lotus: Monks of a Different Order

The most analogous thing to Monks that I can think of is Galactic’s 2007 album From the Corner to the Block…

I was trying to think if anyone else had really done anything like this. Galactic did that one thing. And then the other thing I thought of was The Black Keys’ BlacRoc thing.

What’s interesting is that some of the emcees that appear on Monks are actually on From the Corner to the Block, like Lyrics Born and Gift of Gab. Were you guys familiar with this record going into it? Were there any crossover albums that influenced you or were you working with a blank slate?

I honestly haven’t listened to that Galactic album. I heard that it came out 6-7 years ago but I never listened to it. I was listening to a lot of RZA beats that are kind of slow and dirty, stripped down. That’s the kind of stuff I was listening to.

What’s next for Monks? The album has some appeal outside the jamband scene. Do you plan to market it that way?

We did a little publicity push. One of the songs was put on a blog that just does hip-hop before the album came out. We are not going to do a tour with a bunch of emcees and try to totally change our sound. This will just be something we slip into our live shows now and then. Hopefully the record reaches out to people that could never bring themselves to listen to a jamband but are into hip-hop. But if not, so be it. It was a fun project to put together.

Are you hoping hip-hop audiences will pick up on it themselves?

That would be amazing if they did. I would be kind of surprised if that happened. If it does that would be amazing.

So there’s no chance that we might get a random sit in from one of the emcees from the album on the upcoming tour ?

No that’s highly possible and planned.

Beyond Monks, are there plans to record another more traditional Lotus album in the near future?

Absolutely. We actually have our next project about 90 percent recorded already. We need to put some final touches on it. It’s going to be more of an EP, summery vibe thing.

You guys released Monks for free. Can you talk a little about that model for distribution and why you moved into that?

Typically we don’t do that with our albums because we put a lot of time and effort into them and we think people should pay for them, if possible. But this was such a different project and so outside of our normal sound, we wanted to get it out to people that might not take a chance on a jamband otherwise. That was our thinking behind this.

You can still buy it on vinyl. That’s the best quality sound, on vinyl obviously. We did a separate mastering just for the vinyl. If they want to chip in, they can do it via the vinyl. We wanted anyone to hear it, without having to pay the money.

A music video for “Canon in the Heavens” ft. Lyrics Born was released a few weeks ago. Any chance we’ll get any other music videos from this album?

Yeah, Jesse made that video and that was the first one he made. I think we’ll definitely try to do more. He got some equipment, some software and camera to do simple stuff on our own. That’s something he’s interested in doing. If we can put it together cheaply, they are a lot of fun. I know a lot of people are discovering music on YouTube, so we need to find a way to present the songs there.

Lotus recently announced a New Year’s run at the Electric Factory in Philly. You guys keep coming back to Philly for New Years? What’s make Philadelphia so special for you guys?

Even though a few of the guys moved out of Philly, that’s our hometown. We are based out of there, that’s where our rehearsal space is. Just going back there and seeing a lot of hometown friends…It just has a good vibe.

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