New York's Lip Critic talk live shows and their genre-dodging debut album 'Hex Dealer'

Interview Lip Critic: “When people come see us, they can get involved without there being this huge wall of seriousness”

Throwing punk, hardcore and electronic influences into a uniquely frenzied blender, NYC’s most thrilling new exports just want to entertain.

Catch a ride in the van with Lip Critic - the quartet of genre-dodging New Yorkers who’ve been blowing up stages from their hometown right across the Atlantic in recent months - and you might be surprised at what you hear. “We’ll listen to anything from Tyler [the Creator], to the soundtrack from Willy Wonka to Babymorocco. I was playing haunted house sounds the other day - creaking doors and chains and clowns laughing,” grins vocalist Bret Kaser. “Anything that’ll get a laugh out of the dudes, I’ll put on the aux. We just like music that’s entertaining.”

Though the band and their imminent debut album ‘Hex Dealer’ trade in the sort of hardcore-leaning electronic punk that’s earned them justifiable comparison to Death Grips, their penchant for capital-E Entertainment is what’s setting Lip Critic truly apart. A live band first and foremost, they play with two drummers while Bret - one of two manning sampler desks - describes his frontman persona as having “a lot of preacher vibes, but a preacher that’s not doing well…” It’s abrasive and thrillingly relentless. The band pound through songs without breaks to the level where sticksman Danny Eberle, sharing the camera today with his bandmate as they Zoom in from playing SXSW’s protesting unofficial stages, explains that he’s started stamina training to try and keep up with the exhausting demands. But it’s also purposefully inclusive and ridiculously fun.

“If we’re having fun on stage, I feel like that energy goes out to people who are at the show and then comes back to us. When people come see us, they can get involved without there being this huge wall of seriousness,” says Danny. “Coming into playing live again [post-Covid], we were approaching it from a totally different mindset; jamming even more songs in, having everything be tighter, getting more bang for your buck for each second that we’re on stage,” nods Bret.

“We’re combining the best sound in the world, which is a fat sub-bass, with the best instrument, which is the drums - and we’ve got two sets of them!” - Bret Kaser

Formed somewhat unintentionally back in 2017 after a last-minute gig dropout threw the four friends onto a stage together, Lip Critic have spent the years since creating a niche entirely of their own. “Always on the edge of a lot of scenes” in New York, their fusing of ideas, explains the frontman, made them “a little too jokey for the hardcore people, and a little too hardcore for the pop people, and we don’t have any guitars so metal dudes look at us weird.” They’ve found a home on live bills that celebrate this sort of genre diversity, playing just as happily alongside rappers as metalheads; on more than one occasion during today’s interview they namecheck Skrillex as a formative influence.

“The whole thing is that dance music [mentality] where you want everything to be super bassy and punchy, and then live we have these more metal or hardcore sensibilities where it’s this really tight band working together,” Bret continues. “The best instrument ever is the drums because they’re this whole-body instrument and watching a drummer play is so engaging to me, but you can’t have a fat 808 come out of a drum kit; it just can’t happen. So we’re combining the best sound in the world, which is a fat sub-bass, with the best instrument in the world, which is the drums - and we’ve got two sets of them!”

Seeing their live shows as essentially a “remix” of their recorded output, ‘Hex Dealer’ is filled with new toys to play with. A surreal, post-apocalyptic trip filled with boogeymen and body parts, it was lyrically inspired by childhood summers spent driving across America and a particular interest in “miracle churches and faith healers”. They’ve also put out two online video games, have plans in the works for a third alongside a trading card game, and have begun work on LP2 alongside the announcement of a rigorous early summer tour including a handful of UK shows.

“We’ve just got too many things we wanna do. We need to strip it back and pick one…” laughs Bret of their current crammed calendar. We’d argue, on the contrary, it’s exactly this appetite that’s making Lip Critic a band to savour.

'Hex Dealer' is out now via Partisan Records.

Tags: Lip Critic, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the April 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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