Smile Politely

Light Pollution: A soothing joyful exhaustion

Jim Cicero speaks into the phone slowly and quietly, leaving gaps between words and unintentionally displaying his utter exhaustion.

It is noon on a Friday and Cicero is tired — the kind of tired you can only be from working passionately all week, only to look forward to a weekend filled with more work. But even with the very late nights and occasional early mornings, Cicero and the rest of his band, Light Pollution, have something very rare keeping them going — they like it.

Cicero and Light Pollution’s drummer Matthew Evert met their sophomore year in college in Dekalb, Ill., and started playing music together in 2005. As the founding fathers they have stuck with the band from its beginnings to its current state. They self-released 500 copies of an EP in 2008, but what started off as a folk ensemble in its early stages was transforming into a more focused group of shoegazers.

“It was impossible to do a lot of stuff with the lineup we had before,” Cicero explains. “Now it feels more like a real band.”

As Light Pollution endured its transformation, the music world started to pay more attention to these suburban Illinois boys. If there is such thing as a big break, they caught one in March of this year when Carpark Records, home to Beach House and Toro y Moi among others, scooped them up.

The publicity naturally progressed after the signing. Their show with Tanlines, Memoryhouse, Keepaway and Psychobuildings was reviewed positively by Stereogum in April of this year, and Pitchfork showcased a photo review of the same lineup. They were also interviewed by Spinner after their stint at SXSW and received publicity at Brooklyn Vegan.

Signing to a label has a set of consequences for any band, good or bad. Things you were used to working toward as a band have shifted in responsibility to someone else, and things you didn’t have the opportunity to work at before have now become a reality. Even good stress is stress just the same.

“I was used to doing all the leg work like booking and emailing,” Cicero says. “Now there’s just as much work – it’s just a different kind.”

One of the new opportunities presented to Light Pollution was that of putting out a full-length album in June of this year titled Apparitions. Cicero credits growing up in the Midwest with the overall feeling of the band and inspiration for the album.

“I think it’s reflective in the mood of the songs,” Cicero says. “We definitely couldn’t have gotten that from anywhere else.”

Another uniquely new opportunity for Light Pollution is music videos. Cicero directed the video for “Drunk Kids” and is currently working on the next one for “Witchcraft”.

“I’d had the idea for a long time for a car wash video,” Cicero says. “We got about a million car wash clips and my friend Eddie filmed and edited it.”

For all the stress that goes into making an album, a video or just making a band function, the stress is undetectable in Apparitions. From start to finish Light Pollution draws you into one deep breath of dream-like hypnosis. Their soothing melodies will offer a comfortable contrast to Hot Cops and Tractor Kings on Friday night. 

The secret to their calm creativity and productivity under pressure?

“We basically just do whatever we want.”

Come see Light Pollution at Mike ‘n Molly’s on Friday at 10:15 as part of Pygmalion Music Festival. If the busy men of Light Pollution can take time out of their schedule, so can you.

(Photo by Larry Gilmore)

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