The wall of sound and fuzz that encompassed The Stargazer Lilies’ first five albums seemed very much a part of the frigid Northeast where they came from. Their downcast vibe, reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, felt emblematic of the cold New York City and Pennsylvania stomping grounds where they were conceived and recorded.
Not so for their newest LP, “Cosmic Tidal Waves,” due in October. “We moved to the Tampa area to help John’s ailing mother,” singer Kim Field told PureHoney in an interview, referring to her husband, band co-founder and guitarist John Ceparano. “We’re Florida-based now.”
Their new location, Ceparano said, has infiltrated every aspect of The Stargazer Lilies: “Florida inspired the entire record right down to the fact that there’s the word ‘wave’ in the title. Living in a tropical climate, all the palm trees and the sandy beaches seeped into the record.”
The pair describe it as a summer record, so it’s only fitting to release the album’s first single, “Bending the Lines,” on July 29 with the mercury is at its highest. “We wrote ‘Bending the Lines’ down here,” Field remembers. “Before we moved here we were visiting and rented an amazing home in Lakeland. It was an all-glass house that was architecturally inspiring to make music.”
Before anyone will have a chance to hear “Cosmic Tidal Waves,” the album, South Florida fans can experience the new tracks in a live setting when The Stargazer Lilies headline Bumblefest in downtown West Palm Beach on Saturday, September 3. The festival has particular significance to the band since they met half their members at the 2016 edition of Bumblefest. Field and Ceprano were impressed enough by the opening act of former Pompano Beach psychedelic rock band Peyote Coyote that they recruited two of their members, drummer Cari Gee and multi-instrumentalist Jake Stuart, to join The Stargazer Lilies.
Ceprano said, “Gee was the one who instigated this record. We’d toured with her, but this was the first time we ever collaborated together. I was the one who always drummed on the albums before, but I sucked on the drums.”
The new album will be the first release on the band’s brand new Floravinyl Records imprint. “It’s a label for our music. We will [also] release music from Soundpool, our former band. Maybe somewhere down the line we’ll put out music from other people.”
Soundpool was the band that Field and Ceprano were in before The Stargazer Lilies. When this writer interviewed them last, six years previously for Miami New Times, the duo said it was because Soundpool had grown a bit too dance-oriented and electronic for their tastes. Field specified, “We had a mood shift. We wanted to do something moodier and more melancholy that was also loud and powerful. We wanted it to be simple and stripped-down.”
Ceprano at the time wasn’t too keen on being described as shoegaze, the guitar-effect genre of dream pop. “Bands like My Bloody Valentine were way ahead of their time,” he said. “They were doing real rock future with their guitar effects. It took audiences 30 years to catch up with. I guess we come across to a lot of people as shoegaze, but to us we’re a lot more.”
He thought at that time they should be classified instead as classic psychedelia, “”We’re into cosmic, space stuff. We think of ourselves as updated versions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream. We try to be a three-piece putting out the biggest sound possible, but we keep the future in mind.”
Nowadays the Stargazer Lilies couldn’t care less what bin you put their new album into, rather they’re just happy to be in the hot Florida weather. “I’ll take the hottest heat over the coldest cold any day. You don’t have to go outside to shovel feet of snow here just to get anywhere. Just about every one of our car accidents took place because of inclement weather. We totaled a tour van on the way to a show at Mercury Lounge in New York due to inclement weather,” Ceprano concluded. “This is much better.”
The Stargazer Lilies perform Saturday, Sept. 3 at Bumblefest in downtown West Palm Beach. bumblefest.com ~ David Rolland