Lipstick and Cigarettes are an alternative rock/indie infusion band from New Jersey and are the latest SonicBids feature interview competition winner. The band consists of Chris Orsi on guitar and lead vocals, then Sarah Mac with bass and backing vocals and Erik Cabral on percussion. Read the full in-depth interview below where they discuss their musical inspirations, their creative process for creating a track and exactly what its like living in New Jersey.
Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?
The broadest category we fit is alternative. Then pop. Then rock. Then 80s. Soooo…alternative 80’s pop-rock!
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
How about, “An untamed alt-rock infusion, with a little retro spice, and a lot of sexy swag.”
Q: What is your musical background?
We each have a different story. Chris was into music since he could walk and went from project to project with friends throughout school. Sarah was the high school marching band geek and Erik was actually cool. He had a steady band to rock out with.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was a working year. We formed in the later part of 2009, but had a rough start to 2010 because our lead guitarist left. So, we spent most of the year reworking our set as a 3-piece and making contacts at local venues. It was a real time of discovery for us—solidifying a direction and evolving our sound. We’re still evolving, but it took the better part of last year for us to get on the right track and start to build an image.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
Sarah: “I love the grit and attitude of Debbie Harry and Gwen Stefani. I’m inspired by all kinds of music, because there’s something about every genre that’s necessary to pump passion into all your experiences. Blondie, No Doubt, Offspring, Muse, MIA, Ting Tings, Black Eyed Peas…”
Erik: “I love all types of music. For drum inspiration I get fueled by the Foo Fighers, Radiohead, Queens of the Stonage, System of a Down just to name a few.”
Chris: “I look back at stuff that that got me hooked on music in the first place. For a while I was all about The Cars, but I’ve been feeling a lot of Talking Heads stuff lately and I’m really drawn to their weirdness.”
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
Sarah: “Anybody who’s taller than me. Just kidding. I look up to performers who are edgy and brass—those who never show a trace of doubt in their work. Gwen, Fergie, Lady Gaga. I want to be like every artist I’m inspired by, in some way.”
Chris: “I’m really drawn into the epic stuff Muse is putting out. I also admire artists like The Killers, TV on the Radio, and Phoenix because of their distinct vocal styles. That and the fact that they purposely don’t try to sound like everyone else.”
Erik: “I recently discovered a new band called Awolnation. They’re amazing! I also love a band called A Silent Film from the UK. The UK actually has some great new talent emerging on our scene. Plan B and Jesse J are others to keep an eye on.”
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Honestly, the chance to play with any 80’s band on a comeback tour would be wild. Cheap Trick and The Cars top the list. But I think it would be great to collaborate with anyone even from different genres, just to see how we could blend songwriting styles.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Chris: “I got a lot of Steely Dan on one iPod. Mix that with The Drums, Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Def Leppard, Howard Jones, its all over the place.”
Erik: “Wow! Let’s see… Cee Lo, Jesse J, Foo Fighters, Plan B, Kanye, Grace Potter, Hellogoodbye. The list can go on and on! I eat up new music like biscuits and gravy!!!”
Sarah: “Muse, definitely. Likke Li, too.”
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
We’re always open to new song ideas from any band members, but the way it usually works is that Chris comes up with a concept song structure—vocal hooks, riffs, etc—and we jam and feel our way through it. Then we write lyrics over that, drawing on the vibe it communicates. That’s usually Sarah’s part. Erik does a lot of the polishing by throwing in backing vocals and working on dynamic breakdowns and build-ups for song energy.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
Melody. Don’t get us wrong—lyrics are totally important, and to some songs, more important than melody. But for a lot of our stuff, we like the tunes themselves to be catchy and driving. Sometimes a song’s verbal message can be mindless, but the way it makes you feel is still meaningful.
Q: Where are you based?
We’re based in central Jersey. 2/3 of us live in Princeton, the other 1/3 is from Woodbridge. We have practice in Woodbridge, though.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
People think Jersey’s a dump, but that’s just a misconception. It’s more like a giant sewer with mutated puppies. But where else can you live and be only 45 minutes from NYC, Philly, the casinos, the beach, and snow-covered mountaintops?
Q: What are you currently working on?
Everything! Right now we’ve got a bunch of songs in the works. We’re bringing Sarah in on more main vocals, and really punching up our set. Erik and Sarah are teaming up on the side to boost our channels of promotion since we’re pretty unknown.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
We were asked to perform at a televised fundraiser for WP88.7 FM’s Brave New Radio, in support of William Paterson University’s broadcast programming. We met a lot of great people and got to perform with a number of other popular local acts.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
We’re really focused on writing new material. Our goal this year is to put out some more live videos, hopefully an official video for one of our singles. Or, if we have a creative streak, it would be awesome if we got an album of songs ready to record for release next year.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
Next month we’re teaming up with a few other local bands to put on a great show at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ. We’ve been there tons of times, but this night is going to be really special. We’re also going to be featured on the Aquarian’s Project Greenroom, so that’s currently in the works. Stay tuned for that.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Sarah: “I think both of them would say that I don’t really relax, except to go to sleep sometimes! I’m usually not into sitting around, so when I’m not working on stuff for LnC or playing Plants vs Zombies, I’ve got pole dancing and a little green Ninja to keep me moving.”
Erik: “I’m a movie junkie. So I like to kick back, invite some friend and fam over and have movie festivals. We’ll watch like 2 or 3 movies in a row. I’d like to say playing video games is relaxing. But that actually stresses me the *bleep* out. Being stuck on a level for 3-4 hours is not relaxing! I either suck or they need to make games easier.”
Chris: “I sleep. Actually, to relax I write songs. I go through phases of movie watching and video game playing, too, but just picking up a guitar and jamming helps me get away from things. I find myself doing that more than anything.”
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
Yes, check us out on Facebook and tell us which tracks you like best!
Editor’s Note: If ever we’re around NYC or NJ we’ll make sure to check out a Lipstick and Cigarettes gig and you should to. Their pop-rock infused songs should have incredible commercial appeal and are definitely a band to watch in 2011 and beyond.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact Lipstick and Cigarettes, just follow the links below:
twitter link: @lipsncigs
facebook link: facebook.com/lipstickandcigarettes
myspace link: myspace.com/lipstickandcigarettes
web page link: lipstickandcigarettes.net
soundcloud link: soundcloud.com/lipstickandcigarettes
reverbnation link: reverbnation.com/lipstickandcigarettes
Youtube embeds: http://www.youtube.com/user/LipsNCigs