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    Meet In Lightning. They are a big band and have a big sound but yet no words—they are an instrumental band. Bassist Ben Short will tell you why and more, including their goal to play Waterfront Wednesday in this week’s Louisville Music Spotlight. In Lightning consists of Short, Lamar Cornett, Monica Potter, Ben Taylor Nancy Mok, John Marietta, and Joe Watts.

    LC: Describe your music to someone who has never heard of you.

    BS: “What it might sound like if the Red Hot Chili Peppers dropped the vocals and wrote movie scores. Or, what it might sound like if the Trans-Siberian Orchestra dropped the xmas schtick and got groovier. Somewhere in there.” 

    LC: What’s your musical background?

    BS: “I began playing upright bass in my school orchestra when I was in 4th grade, and continued all the way through college. In the meantime, I also took piano lessons for two years, then drum lessons for two years. Eventually I discovered the bass guitar when I was 14, and there was no looking back after that. That was my instrument. So in high school I played electric bass in jazz band and in a group called the Strolling Strings, then more jazz ensembles in college. I began composing songs in high school as well, even at that time almost always for bass guitar with some ensemble of strings and drums.   

    I'd also like to mention that all my bandmates in In Lightning have similar backgrounds, beginning on their instruments in grade school and having that formal training/classical background.” 

    LC: What are some of your musical (or non-musical) influences?

    BS: “There are two huge influences in particular. 1a is the aforementioned Red Hot Chili Peppers. But, considering that I'm a bassist, it might be surprising to know I've come to realize that despite learning every bass line Flea has played on their albums, my biggest influential take-away from their music is the way John Frusciante dominates the arranging of their songs with his guitar parts and vocal harmonies.  

    1b is a group called Ratatat. I pretty much owe this entire creative endeavor to hearing their first two albums back in 2007-2008. They write instrumental music that is fun, exciting, groovy, melodic and engaging. I think when most people hear the phrase "instrumental music," they think of "background music not intended to hold your attention." I know I used to. So hearing the way Ratatat was doing it really empowered me, made me perk up and think, "Oh!  This is what I'm supposed to do!"  

    LC: What’s your best environment to write in?

    BS: "My apartment's has to be clean. All those "life maintenance" tasks have to be taken care of: bills, errands, etc. So once there's nothing else on my plate to take care of or distract me, my brain is finally free to go full on right-sided mode, I guess. And instead of my apartment's dining room, I've made that space my home studio. So I'll do the work of the composing there. Otherwise, jamming and improvising with Lamar anywhere we have our bass and drums is often where the initial ideas come from." 

    LC: Why did In Lightning choose to be instrumental?

    BS: "Ya know, the answer to that is truthfully because that's just the way I hear all music. I hear and appreciate the vocals just as the melody, just another part of the song. I rarely pay any mind to the content of the lyrics.  Kind of makes sense when you consider that a common reason people may not like the Chili Peppers is because the lyrics are often gibberish.I don't care about that, just the melodies, harmonies, and rhythm. I would honestly fail if you asked me to completely recite the lyrics of a song I've heard 1000 times. But I could completely notate out all the parts for you!  

    So when I write music, that's the way it comes to me. As melodies and harmonies. One day I may write lyrics and sing; fun fact, most of the members of In Lightning are talented vocalists that sing in other bands and projects. But right now, I love the music we're making. I love that what we're doing is unique. We tell stories with our songs, and I love that the listener gets to be their own narrator." 

    LC: How do the diverse instruments in In Lightning affect its sound?

    BS: "Our instrumentation makes us so versatile, while still giving us a distinct sound. We're designed to be a tour-able rock symphony, quite literally.  We have a string section, a brass section, a one man percussion ensemble, piano, guitars, auxiliary percussion. The guitars and drums dig in and groove like a funk/rock band. Then we add strings, making our sound dramatic and epic.  Piano fills it out, and plays the pretty, tinkly stuff. And the French horn is our special sauce. And every different sound will be the melody, the focus, at some point."  

    LC: What’s it like composing an In Lightning song? Does the whole group collaborate?

    BS: "It's happened a couple different ways. So far, it has typically begun with me coming up with some fun bass lines that kind of work together, and I create these kind of solo bass rough draft arrangements, where the parts I'm playing may very well even become another instrument's part in the final song.  I typically initially write all the parts on my bass. Then Lamar and I jam on them. Some kind of form begins to emerge as we're having fun arranging the different ideas. New or better ideas evolve out of it. And once we have a form, I'll take that home and, as I mentioned before, do the work of composing, coming up with and writing the other parts. I'll pass out sheet music to the rest of the band - no markings, just notation - and they make their parts their own as the song begins to gel together. My bandmates are truly incredible."

    LC: What's one thing that could improve Louisville's music scene?

    BS: "Hmm, I'm really proud of Louisville's music scene. The most important thing for the music scene here in town is, and this goes out to all aspiring original musicians, we have to genuinely, positively, and consistently support each other. The more we help support each other, help plug each other, get creative and build fun shows together, and help make each other's shows a big deal, the more the people outside the scene will begin to catch on to that and get excited about it. That's what makes a scene strong. When your parents have heard of local bands just from the word of mouth around town.  

    There's no room for "hating on" another group. There's no room for spitefulness, or envy for another group's successes. Music isn't a competition. It's infinitely consumable, and there's something out there for everybody. Music supports music. Local music supports local music, and Louisville is thriving RIGHT NOW."

    LC: What can we expect from In Lightning in 2015?

    BS: "More, bigger, better. We'll release our debut EP this summer. And ANNOUNCEMENT! We're shooting a music video for our song "Turn It Wild" on Saturday, March 21st at Open Gallery, and everyone is invited! We're basically throwing a wild party and playing a show. We need everyone to come out in their wildest, weirdest getups! If there's one city that will show up to get weird with us, it's Louisville, right?! Zombies, Halloween costumes, cosplay, burlesque, body paint, masquerade... bring it! We're really proud of what we accomplished in 2014: starting and cultivating our own Highlands Summer Concert Series, playing big shows like the Brightside Bash at Headliner's and Louisville Fashion Nite Out at Glassworks. 2015's already off to a great start for us as we were the February featured artist for the Mayor's Music & Art Series, as well as recently interviewed on WFPK. We love playing outside, and we're excited to already be booked for several of the various awesome neighborhood festivals that happen around town all summer.  

    Our biggest performance goal for this year is Waterfront Wednesday!  #InLtoWfW anyone?" 

    LC: If we were to find the members of In Lightning at one local establishment, where would that be?

    BS: "On duty?  Open Gallery at 2801 S Floyd Street across from Papa John's stadium; that's In Lightning's home base, if you will.  Off duty? Probably Against the Grain on Main. Or you're likely to run into me teaching or taking classes at Yoga on Baxter or You Do Yoga."

    Photos provided by In Lightning. 

    Will Ford's picture

    About Will Ford

    Covering Louisville music like it's the 6 o' clock news. I've covered Forecastle, Louder Than Life, Moontower, Starry Nights, and Louisville music news for 3 years. Follow me @parasiticnoise

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