Lifeguard on double EP 'Crowd Can Talk' and 'Dressed In Trenches'

Interview Lifeguard: “Three people in a room making music is always relevant”

With a Matador-signed double EP that landed in July, meet the fertile Chicago punk scene’s brightest new hopes.

Home to bands such as Friko and Horsegirl, who released their celebrated debut album ‘Versions of Modern Performance’ in 2022, the music venues of Chicago are currently a hive of DIY activity. And the newest prospect making waves far beyond their homeland? Lifeguard.

In July, the trio of Kai Slater, Asher Case and Isaac Lowestein released a composite of two EPs; ‘Crowd Can Talk’ and ‘Dressed In Trenches’. Together they are a searing fireball propelled by unrelenting, youthful energy. The band met through playing in various projects in their hometown scene, and the surrounding culture has helped them to thrive. “It’s magical to connect with people at shows and through ‘zines and being at the same concerts,” says Kai. “You can’t replicate that over the internet, just playing with other people.”

There’s a tendency by some to see younger musicians as terminally online, glued to phone screens, making and consuming art solely in their bedrooms, but that simply isn’t true. Lifeguard are proof that young people are just as involved in live music as any other generation has been. “I think we’re naturally drawn to connecting,” Isaac begins. “Actually seeing live shows, buying vinyl, I do think there’s a natural need - especially with creative stuff - to see it and feel it.

“The internet is an interesting medium, and I’m in support of people who can make it work, but for us specifically making loud punk music, it’s important to have a physical connection,” he continues. “You can’t replicate live shows, it’s always going to thrive,” agrees Kai, nodding to the recent upswing in AI technology. “There are always going to be people that want to make music because people are naturally creative”.

At one point in today’s conversation, Isaac sets out a very simple mantra: “If they can dance to it, it’s punk.” It’s an effective summary of the band’s ethos, where across ‘Crowd Can Talk’ / ‘Dressed In Trenches’ you’ll hear songs that are much denser than their Chicago contemporaries. Excitement fizzles out of labyrinthine riffs, and you can feel the spontaneity translate from the sessions into the recordings, where each drop of intensity is met with an even higher leap into bursting, ecstatic territory.

For Lifeguard, punk music is all about the expression of young people. “Punk is a mindset of youthful energy and loudness. Kids making music has always been a thing; three people in a room making music is always relevant,” Kai says. For Asher, it’s a medium for inclusion. “Is it inclusive or is it exclusive? Inclusive music is friendly and for anyone who wants to be a part of it, which is maybe a better description of what we do or what all of Chicago is trying to do.” And for Isaac, it’s about spreading this ethos as far and wide as possible: “This scene continues everywhere. It’s always exciting to see young punks showing up regardless of state.”

As featured in the July 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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