Begun in 2010 as the bedroom project of longtime drummer Zach Gilleran, Lipliplip Hands has been through a number of lineup adjustments in its short lifetime but is now a solidified quartet. On the verge of its debut release, Gilleran's initial songwriting effort has won praise from fellow musicians and is a priority project for the band's members, each of whom participate in a handful of local acts.
Lipliplip Hands launched with a reorganized roster of another Gilleran project, O Youth (for which he plays drums), and has evolved with countless interim members before reaching its current state. Gilleran has previously performed with bassist Dakota Smith in Zach and Kota's Sweet Life and with guitarist Travis Bigwood in O Youth. The only member of Lipliplip Hands Gilleran had not previously played with is his brother Nathan (drums), whose encouragement played a sizable role in getting the project out of Zach's bedroom recording hub and in front of audiences.
"I started recording these songs, and Nate heard them and asked if I wanted to play them sometime," Zach Gilleran explains. "I was in Johnny Astro at that point. I was basically just playing in my bedroom when I felt like writing. I guess it was 2010 when I got serious about things. At first I just thought it was fun to record songs on Garage Band and do weird things to them and have something to show for it. I wasn't thinking about (a band) until Nate asked if I wanted to play, and I got excited about it."
"I didn't know he was writing," adds Nate Gilleran. "I didn't even know he was that good on guitar then. I've always been busy with a lot of bands, and by the time I realized he was as talented as he is, he was busy in a lot of bands too. We just kind of made time for it. To me, it's more personal. It's got more heart."
The act centers on Zach Gilleran's songwriting, which diverges from his previous acts. Drawing Bright Eyes comparisons, the folky blend of acoustic and electric guitars slowly builds throughout L3H material as Gilleran's sincere, self-reflective lyrics describe the typical uncertainties of someone in their early 20s.
"I've listened to every band Zach's in," says Dakota Smith. "With something like O Youth, there's this feeling that everyone can sing. It's got this old-timey vibe, in spirit anyway. It's almost gospely or like old folk tunes where it's a big shared experience. With Lipliplip Hands, it's a band up there, but Zach's kind of like the host, if you will. You can tell he's the guy who wrote the songs. Lipliplip Hands could be Zach playing guitar alone or it could be a full band.
"Everyone we know is in a band. What's crazy is that no one plays the same stuff. Lipliplip Hands and O Youth don't bleed into each other. They're all different. That's what's mind-blowing to me is that with all these guys hanging out all the time, you'd think the same type of music would be coming out of these people, but they're all very distinct."
The difference between L3H's demo recordings and live presentation is significant, a fact the band looks to remedy with its upcoming EP release. Recording for the EP, titled "L(I/O)VEP" (said The Live/Love EP), is currently under way with a tentative release date of late March.
Plans to promote the release are in the air, given the band's schedule. With the Gilleran brothers spread across nearly 10 bands, not to mention Smith and Bigwood's multiple projects, L3H's immense logistical struggles inhibit the devotion necessary for touring. While Zach Gilleran seems naturally partial to his own brainchild, he acknowledges that sacrifices may be necessary going forward if any one of the acts is to see major success.
"Between all of us, Lipliplip Hands is the most difficult band to work out," Gilleran admits. "I think it may come across better than anything I've done, but unfortunately we don't even have a place to practice with our own instruments. In the past, we've had so many different people fill in with us because we have so much going on. Hopefully one day we'll be able to give it more focus. It always works out, but it's pretty nerve-racking.
"We're all super busy, but I'd love to (tour) ... maybe if there's buzz about the EP when it's out. We are meeting people slowly through being in five bands. And I probably will have to choose between bands at some point. I'd love for that to happen, because if I have to pick and choose, that would mean at least one of them was going right."
Saturday night Lipliplip Hands takes the stage at Preservation Pub with Guy Marshall and O Youth (Zach Gilleran will perform as part of all three acts). The show kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $5. Lipliplip Hands will also appear at the Rhythm n Blooms music festival (April 5-7; performing venue and date still to be determined).
All Echoes, no bunnymen: Echoes, a rearrangement of Wolf at the Door members, plays its inaugural show at The Longbranch Saloon Friday night. The bill also includes Love Animals and TBA. Music starts at 10 p.m.
Music from the black lagoon: The Honey Island Swamp Band (New Orleans) plays Barley's Taproom Friday night. The show is slated for 10 p.m.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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