A Fresh Squeezed Interview
Written by Joshua Reedy on March 6, 2020
Of all the unique qualities that make Albany band Lemon of Choice so fresh, none stick out as much as their affinity for Hawiian shirts and their ability to craft extremely catchy tunes. Joseph Taurone and Daniel Carr are the primary force behind Lemon of Choice’s self proclaimed “goof-rock,” and here they speak on their latest album, songwriting and other fun stories. Lemon of Choice also includes Nicholas Santos and Sam Walczyk, who are the primary forces behind Lily, which features the same cast with Joe and Dan taking the backseat.
RRX: I usually start by asking about origins, so tell me, is there an actual lemon that you guys chose?
DC: No (laughs) I actually wanted to change my gamer tag on Xbox to “Lemon of Choice,” and I didn’t have enough money so I figured that I would just name a band that instead.
RRX: (laughs) So, in another universe you had the money to change your gamer tag and this band would be called something else?
JT: It’s also your Terraria username isn’t it? But anyway, we were brainstorming names for a band and Dan was like: “Ah I’ve been holding this name for a while’” and I thought: ‘Hey that’s pretty good, I’ll take it.’
RRX: Have you guys heard of the band The Books?
JT: Is that the band with the album called Lemon of Pink?
JT: We haven’t heard it but our friend, Scoops, who helped us master the album was like: “Uh is this name like, a play off of that album?”
RRX: I love that first album that you guys have out, I remember hearing you guys way back at the Byrdhouse – is that album (Lemon of Choice) your debut?
JT: Yeah that’s the only thing we’ve put out (as of interview), it’s our first recording, our EP. We recorded it at the Chateau with Dan Maddalone in his basement, we recorded it in two days. It was super fast.
RRX: And you guys are working on new stuff too.
JT: We just finished our first full-length (Lime of Decision), we recorded it here (their house) and had some other people help us with the mixing and mastering. It was all done here and we literally just finished it about a month ago. It should be out next month when we play the Byrdhouse on February 21st for our release show.
RRX: So, last time I was at the Byrdhouse I was working bathroom duty, and there were these two women in the line who were probably in their mid-30s, and I asked them who they came out to see and they raved about Lemon of Choice. I even talked with them about our favorite tracks off of your EP, I said “Blue” and they said “Mittens.”
DC: (laughs) Someone messaged us and said, “Our friend’s having a bad day, could you play that song (“Mittens”),” and I think it was those people.
RRX: So how long have you guys been in this band?
DC: Two years?
JT: Yeah, two-and-a-half years, something like that. Yeah, it’s been a while.
RRX: So how’d you meet and decide to do this?
DC: We met at college, on the orientation day and me and him (Joe) were both wearing Hawaiian t-shirts and baseball caps – we were dressed exactly the same. And we both were like, “You’re the shit.” So we just started playing together and now we play music.
JT: We’re both drummers, he was the only other drummer I’d met at school, or at least he was the first one so I was like, “We should hang out,” and it was just easy, and super fast too – we wrote five songs super fast and said “Let’s get a bass player,” so we got Nick and then we said “We should have a synth player,” and we got Sam and it was super easy.
RRX: I’ve seen you all wearing the Hawaiian shirts at shows, is that sort of your uniform?
Both: Pretty much
JT: Some days we override it, sometimes we figure something funnier, but the shirts are basically the uniform. We just thought it was funny and thought, if you see a band with Hawaiian shirts on you’re expecting something – and we don’t know if what we deliver is what that thing is, but it could be!
RRX: Can you describe an average practice?
DC: Before we lived here we’d have to practice in a tiny room at the school, and that was awful because we had to run the mics through amps and it was bad. And it was next to people playing like, sonatas on the flute and they’d get mad at us. But now we all just get together and we’re like, ‘wanna practice right now? 5p.m., today we’ll go down and practice.’
RRX: Have you guys ever thought about using your space here to set up something like a venue?
Both: We have.
DC: We have some very, well, not angry neighbors because they’re cool but as soon as we got here we started playing really loud and then one of our neighbors came over and started ripping into us. So we realized they wouldn’t have it, it would be bad.
JT: We have talked about the idea of recording bands because we have proven in the past that we can record an album here. So first we can do that (record bands) and second we could do sessions, like audiotree, getting bands over here for that and maybe have like, a small audience for that. Although our basement has kind of a shitty setup, we just have a big water heater thing in the middle, and we have almost no room.
RRX: If you could record bands in here, what kind of bands would you get?
DC: It’s tough because a lot of them we know record at our school, and they would probably rather do that than use our shitty basement.
JT: We haven’t really been able to find bands that need our help that we also really like.
DC: Most of the bands we like around here already have places to record and stuff and they don’t want our help.
JT: We’re trying to scout, we’ve been looking. Eventually I think we’ll stop being picky and just ask the random people on the street to come record.
RRX: On the topic of Saint Rose, I spoke with Pacer Test a lot about what it’s like being in other bands, and I know you guys are also in bands like Lily.
JT: Yeah, we’re all in Lily, it’s just the same people switched around. Dan and I also play in Laveda. We’re all in like, five bands. It’s unfortunate but also very cool.
RRX: So something I always wonder is, when you come up with a song idea how do you decide which band you want to use it for first?
JT: That’s a good question.
DC: At least for me, I’ll do stuff and I’ll make it just a me song, and all the songs that don’t sound alike we’ll make it like, a Dan and Joe album. And if we make a song and it feels pretty stupid, we’ll be like “yeah that’s a Lemon of Choice song.”
JT: Also for me personally it’s like, I think Dan hit it on the head, if it sounds dumb, that’s kind of the vibe. General goof. We can get a little serious at times, but it’s very rare. And it’s very positive, it’s very rock-and-roll.
RRX: One thing I always like to ask, is what are your favorite places to play around here? Have you guys been on bigger tours?
JT: Not really, we did a tiny mini tour. We’re doing a really big tour in February and March which I’m really excited about and that will be our first time really getting out there and doing other things. Around here we haven’t played a whole lot of places, we have played in Jersey once, Philly once. We’ve played other areas in Upstate New York but mostly just like, the Capital Region because we’re all in school and the easiest way to do it. Favorite places to play, Pauly’s Hotel number one, right!
DC: Oh no (laughs). No, definitely not.
JT: Anyway, probably like, the Byrdhouse, the Chateau.
DC: We’ve been known for getting places closed after we play there.
JT: We have a curse, want me to list em’? I can list em. We shut down the River Street Pub, someone got stabbed in it right after we played.
DC: Shot, they got shot
JT: They got shot, and then the guy tried to cover it up.
RRX: While you guys were there??
JT: No no, that was a week after (laughs) we were just the last band to play there. It’s a curse, we were also the last band to play the Orange Peel.
RRX: Where was your first show, what was that like?
JT: It was at the school, for the class that we formed for. That was pretty good. Last year around September we were playing locally almost every weekend, and then, last semester, we didn’t play much at all.
RRX: Were you guys graded on your first performance?
JT: Well we weren’t even in the class, we were just a band that someone was managing.
DC: Like a test subject.
JT: But, we were favored by the teacher. She liked us. She forgot our name. Recently she asked someone, “What was that band with those two guys? And they play by themselves and then they had a full band?” and everyone was like, ‘Oh, Lemon of Choice’ but she said, ‘No! It’s not Lemon of Choice!’ She was just wrong.
RRX: I notice you have Xs on your hand, what show did you see recently?
JT: Yeah, we just saw Pacer Test last night at the Low Beat. There was a lot of people there, for the Low Beat.
RRX: I see you (Joe) have a Top Nachos shirt on too, any bands you want to shout out?
DC: uh, just the bands that we’re in (laughs). I play drums in another band called Waitress, and also Pacer Test, and Laveda. Also This Strange Paradise, I don’t play with them but they’re sick. Top Nachos is incredible.
JT: They’re (Top Nachos) one of our inspirations. Trying to think of some other bands…
RRX: Do you guys want to talk about Lily?
JT: Oh, fuck, yeah! Uh, Lily, There’s an EP coming out soon that we recorded recently, it should be out probably in the Spring or so. That band is our bassist Nick’s, he writes the songs and he sings them; it’s a lot more serious and emotional.
DC: It’s funny that it’s the same people and ours is so stupid.
JT: And his is so good. We have a roommate, Charlie, who is a biochemistry major that we wrote a song about; we play our songs and he doesn’t like our music, so he’s like, ‘Ah you guys suck.’ Is he in the other room right now? Yeah, you don’t like our music right?
C: I tolerate it.
JT: (laughs) But you like Lily, you like Nick’s music, right?
C: I do like Nick’s music.
JT: There you go.
DC: We played another battle of the bands and he (Charlie) came and then voted against us. He doesn’t like us (laughs).
RRX: I always like to nerd out about music in these interviews, so I like to ask each person to name one album that influences you the most.
JT: I can probably figure out a couple of yours (Dan’s).
DC: What is mine?
JT: I was gonna say A.M.
DC: I was gonna say that too, I love Wilco.
JT: Yeah, we don’t sound like Wilco at all, but Jeff Tweedy’s the shit.
RRX: So A.M. the Wilco album? Cause I’m thinking to myself, there’s the Ovlov album, or the Arctic Monkeys.
JT: Yeah no, the Wilco one.
DC: Yeah, it’s super country-esque. I like country, it’s not totally my jam, but that album just rips. Also The Blue Album by Weezer is just a classic. I can guess yours probably.
JT: Yeah, I don’t even know.
DC: I can’t pronounce that King Gizzard (and the Lizard Wizard) album because I can’t speak, it’s Polywann- something?
JT: Yeah, but I wouldn’t say that.
DC: Or wait, Murder of the Universe
JT: That one is a very influential album to me. But if I were to pick one album amongst the others, of any album –
DC: Wait… Face Stabber?
JT: No! I was gonna say, for most influential, Reverse Shark Attack, by Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin.
RRX: I love that album.
JT: Yes, because that album sounds terrible. I love it, but it just sounds like it was ran through a blender. The fact that you can make something that sounds so awful and that I can still like it is amazing. It makes me feel like the bar is set really low.
RRX: I’m also just noticing and really enjoy the Guitar Hero sticker on that fridge over there among the other stickers.
JT: Yeah, the original theme was for all the stickers to be Guitar Hero.
DC: I was riding my bike through Albany one day and I noticed someone had left out an entire Ps2 with Guitar Hero controllers and two full sheets of Guitar Hero stickers!
RRX: That’s incredible.
DC: We didn’t use the stickers for the longest time because we thought they’d be worth millions.
JT: But then we looked it up: they’re worth four dollars. Nobody cares. So we just tatted that fridge up and now it just looks like it belongs in a Christian frat. But anyway, I used to play Guitar Hero professionally.
RRX: So, “Through the Fire and Flames,” it’s nothing to you?
JT: It’s like cake. Yeah, it’s a big thing. It’s totally the reason why I like playing the drums, too – it’s a big part of me.
RRX: Any future goals you want to mention?
DC: I think we’re… a pretty shitty band, uh, first off because we don’t know how to promote anything and we’re just awful at booking gigs, we don’t know how to speak in public – so, right of the gate we got all that, but, we’re gonna try harder, Google doc that’s pretty professional. And, ya know, Facebook… we have one. And we have a record!
JT: It’s coming out soon!
DC: We have a single out January 31st. Then February 15th, another single is coming out, then the album on the 21st.
JT: It’ll be on all platforms too. We’re gonna have tapes, probably. We, uh, don’t tell the feds this but we have a single out on Spotify right now that shouldn’t be out right now. So don’t listen to it.
DC: It was accidentally put up.
RRX: Who’s goin on tour with you guys?
JT: Well, we’re playing with Laveda because they basically booked- because they’re playing SXSW, so they booked basically the whole tour. It’s a big thing to go into Austin and come back, so-
DC: We were like, ‘Can we come?’
JT: (laughs) yeah, cause I was trying to book a tour for Lemon around then and she was like, ‘Well why don’t you just come??’ So we’re already in the process of getting transportation figured out.
Lemon of Choice released their first full length, Lime of Decision on February 21st.