Sons of An Illustrious Father on “Deus Sex Machina: Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla”

Running Rhythmic Gambits

May 30, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett
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Sons of an Illustrious Father's 2017 single "U.S.Gay" may sound like an anthem for young, marginalized queer Americans. After all, the track (which is featured on their new sophomore album, Deus Sex Machina; or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla), sports triumphant lyrics about having "a revolution in my bed." But as much as it may inspire others, that wasn't the exact intention when Ezra Miller and bandmates Lilah Larson and Josh Aubin wrote and recorded the song.

"We endeavor to express ourselves in ways that allow us to make it through any given day. The great byproduct of that expression is we can offer the same for others," says Miller. The singer/actor has openly discussed being queer in prior interviews and is probably best known for playing DC Comics superhero The Flash in this past fall's Justice League and the frequently maligned youngster Credence Barebone in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Larson agrees, adding that she hopes the band's music can offer such solace in different capacities. "There's a range. There are times when you want music to reflect and reverberate the sadness that you feel. And, for me, Patsy Cline has always been the soundtrack to that. There's times I felt angry about the patriarchy, and then I want to listen to Bikini Kill, or other riot grrrl bands. 'U.S.Gay' was an effort to try and do both things at onceto try and be sad but also irreverent, and try to hold multiple kinds of space."

Larson and Miller's friendship dates back to their middle school days in Wyckoff, New Jersey, where they traded music in the cafeteria. "I remember 10-year-old Ezra giving me The Smiths' Meat Is Murder and telling me: 'You should really be vegetarian,'" Larson recalls with a giggle.

Adds Miller: "And now I'm a voracious meat eater, and an aspiring hunter!"

Miller and Larson took their friendship beyond the lunchroom by the time they reached their late teens, meeting up for band practice with a rotating crew of cohorts whenever they could find a space to play in. One night they secured time in a professional studio, but only from midnight to four in the morning when it wasn't being used. Aubin joined the band for the first time during that rehearsal, despite the setup being far from ideal.

As Larson recalls: "We were drinking energy drinks and booze all night. We were all such wrecks, and were so bad at being loving toward each other. At one point both Ezra and I were crying. Then we were outside smoking a cigarette after we realized we had to take a break, and I texted everyone and said 'Can we tell Josh he's in the band now?' And for some reason he accepted the invitation."

In the same way that the band has gone from fighting for wee hours studio time to touring the road for an ever increasing number of fans, Miller hopes that Sons of an Illustrious Father's new album will also be dynamic and ever evolving for listeners. "Throughout the whole album, you'll feel an emotional range or, better still, an emotional journey," he says. "Some of the new songs exist in a place of quiet introspection and observation. And then, sort of explode into something more fortified and more determined. I think there's definitely a lot of songs that run gambits on this new album."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.sonsofanillustriousfather.com

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